Sneferu (Snefru or Snofru – “he of beauty” or “he has perfected me”) was the founder of the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom. The Turin Canon gives him a reign of twenty-four years, but most Egyptologists consider tis to be an underestimate given the quantity of construction undertaken during his reign. It seems likely he reigned for at least thirty years, but probably not the forty-eight ascribed by Stadelmann.
The identity of his father is not confirmed, but it is likely that he was the son of Huni by a minor wife, possibly Queen Meresankh I. He married Hetepheres I, the daughter of Huni (by another wife) to cement his position.
Sneferu and his children had a major impact on the Egyptian culture: Khufu, built the Great Pyramid; Nefermaat I and Kanefer were his Viziers; and Ankhhaf was the Vizier of his nephew Khafre. Other sons of Sneferu included included Netjeraperef, Rahotep, Ranefer, and Iynefer. His daughters included Meritites I (the wife of Khufu) Hetepheres A (the wife of Ankhhaf), Nefertnesu, and Nefertkau.
Sneferu’s expeditions into the Lebanon to fetch cedar wood are recorded in the Palermo stone. The Palermo Stone also records his expeditions to Nubia and Libya to seize resources, livestock and prisoners of war. One raid in Nubia resulted in the capture of “seven thousand prisoners, men and women, and twenty thousand cattle, sheep, and goats”. A series of raids into Libya reportedly gained eleven thousand prisoners, and thirteen thousand cattle. This no doubt helped support his extensive building works.
He built three large pyramids, the “collapsed pyramid” at Meidum, the Bent Pyramid, and the Red Pyramid at Dashur, and at least one of the seven small pyramids. The Medium Pyramid was the first, although there is some conjecture that it was started by Huni and only completed by Sneferu. It started as a seven stepped structure (but with a steeper incline than that of Djoser’s Step Pyramid). It is now in a rather poor state. The Bent Pyramid followed. It was probably planned to continue at an incline of 55 degrees, but when this was found to be untenable, the slope was amended to 43 degrees. Finally, he complete the Red Pyramid – also at Dashur.
Copyright J Hill 2010