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King Men-Kau-Re, the goddess Hathor and the deified Hare nome
4th Dynasty, reign of Men-Kau-Re, c.2551-2523 BC
Giza, Men-Kau-Re Valley Temple
Greywacke, h.84.5 cm, w.43.5 cm, d.49 cm
Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition 09.200
George Reisner discovered some of the finest Egyptian sculpture known to exist in the Men-Kau-Re Valley Temple [Reisner 1931, 34-54, 108-115]. An extraordinary pair statue of King Men-Kau-Re and a queen was unearthed there, as well as a series of triads, each depicting the king, the goddess Hathor, and a personified nome god.' The context and precise meaning of the triads is not well understood. According to an early theory, there were originally thirty or more, one for each of the thirty-odd nomes. Their presence in the pyramid complex guaranteed the deceased king a continuous supply of provisions from all regions of the country. A more recent interpretation is that there were eight sculptures, symbolizing the major sites associated with the cult of Hathor.
All together, four complete triads (MFA Boston 09.200, Cairo JE 46499, JE 40678, and JE 40679), one incomplete triad (MFA Boston 11.3,47), and fragments from a sixth grouping were recovered from the site.
The sensitively modelled and beautifully proportioned triad illustrated here is unique in that Hathor, rather than Men-Kau-Re, dominates the group by her central and forward position and larger scale. A major deity since Predynastic times, Hathor was the celestial mother of the sun calf, a guardian of the necropolis, and the protectress of the king. Depicted with gentle curves in contrast to the block seat and the rectangular slab in the hack, Hathor's left arm embraces Men-Kau-Re's waist while her right crosses her midsection to rest on the king's arm. This pose is the same (in reverse) as that of the queen in the pair statue from the same site. The goddess' face is full and round, with subtle modelling of the eyebrows, folds on the upper eyelids, a small mouth with puckered lips, and a chin that recedes slightly. Field photography shows black pigment on the eyebrows and around the eyes. The cosmetic lines extend outward, stopping at the end of the brow. Her headdress, a solar disc and cow horns, is prominently displayed above an incised, tripartite wig, but the jewellery that once adorned her sleeveless sheath dress - a wesekh broad-collar with teardrop pendants and a wide hand bracelet-have largely disappeared. The headdress was not in standard use until Dynasty 5. However, the solar disk, a symbol of the sun god Re, indicates the increased importance of this deity by the end of 4th Dynasty.
Men-Kau-Re stands on Hathor's left with his left foot advanced. His remarkably individualized facial features-the prominent eyes, fleshy nose, moustache, and protruding lower lip are all characteristics recognizable on other representations of the king. Unlike the female figures in the group, Men-Kau-Re's musculature is well defined, giving the overall impression of a youthful, athletic, and forceful ruler. His arms are at his sides with the left hand holding a ritual cloth or staff while the right clasps a hafted, ceremonial mace." He wears the white crown of Upper Egypt, a false beard," and a pleated shendyt kilt with belt. A painted neck ornament in the form of a multi-strand, beaded collar and a pair of bracelets once completed his attire.'

Standing to Hathor's right is a personification of the Hermopolite or Hare nome. Each of ancient Egypt's nomes or provinces was associated with a male or female deity." This nome deity wears the Hare standard (a symbol of her district) on her head, and holds an ankh in her left hand. Carved into the base is an inscription that reads: "The Horus Kakhet, King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Men-Kau-Re, beloved of Hathor, Mistress of the Sycamore. Recitation - "I have given you all good things, all offerings, and all provisions in Upper Egypt, forever."'
Men-Kau-Re (c. 2551-2523 BC), 5th king of the 4th Dynasty, Old Kingdom. Men-Kau-Re was the throne name of the son of Khafre and the grandson of Khufu, the 4th and 2nd kings of the 4th dynasty, respectively.
He also bore the names:
Horus name Kachet
Nebty name Ka
Golden Falcon name Netjeri
He built the smallest pyramid at the Giza plateau, which is called "Men-Kau-Re Is Divine." It is the most southerly of the three huge pyramids built by the 4th Dynasty Kings. The pyramid is remarkable because it is the only one of the 4th Dynasty that was partially constructed of limestone blocks encased in granite. Men-Kau-Re planned to cover the entire surface with granite, but he died suddenly; only 16 courses were clad with granite. The pyramid was completed by his son and successor Shepseskaf, but the temples had architectural additions that were made during the 5th and 6th Dynasties. This suggests that the cult of Men-Kau-Re was very important and perhaps differed from the cults of Khufu and Khafre.
At the pyramid's entrance, an inscription records that Men-Kau-Re died on the 23rd day of the 4th month of the summer and that he built the pyramid. It is thought that this inscription dates to the time of Khaemwase, high priest of Memphis and son of Ramesses II, during the 19th Dynasty. Excavations have revealed a pair of statues of Ramesses II on the south side of Men-Kau-Re's pyramid. The statues were made of granite; one represents Ramesses as king, while the other is Re-Atum. The name of Men-Kau-Re is written in red ocher on the ceiling of the burial chamber of the middle subsidiary pyramid (QIIIB). Richard H. Vyse (1784-1853) found a basalt sarcophagus in the main pyramid and, inside it, the skeleton of a young woman. The sarcophagus was lost in the Mediterranean between the ports of Catagena and Malta when the ship Beatrice sank after setting sail on 13 October 1838. The lid from the wooden anthropoid coffin found inside Men-Kau-Re's pyramid still exists.
Men-Kau-Re's principal queen was Khamerernebti II, who is portrayed with him in a group statue that was found in the valley temple. It is believed that she was buried in a Giza tomb (GIIIa). Shepseskaf completed the pyramid complex of his father with mud bricks and left an inscription inside the valley temple indicating that he built the temple for the memory of his father. Men-Kau-Re ruled for 18 years. The objects found in some storage rooms of the temples show that the king's cult was maintained and that the valley temple also functioned as a palace. A decree of Antyemsaf of the 6th Dynasty indicates that the valley temple was in use during his reign; a decree of Pepy II was found on the valley temple vestibule, awarding privileges to the priests of the pyramid city. In the adjacent open court and in the area just east of the temple lie the remains of the Old Kingdom houses. The personnel responsible for maintaining the cult of the deceased king lived there. The Giza pyramid complex was used until the end of the Old Kingdom.
The statuary program found inside the complex displays the superb quality of arts and crafts. The triads found in Men-Kau-Re's valley temple suggest that his pyramid complex was dedicated to Re, Hathor, and Horus. In addition, they show the king's relationship with the gods and are essential to his kingship, indicating both a temple and palace function. The name of Men-Kau-Re was found written on scarabs dated to the twenty-sixth dynasty, which may imply that he was worshiped in that period.
Little else known about Men-Kau-Re's reign. The textual and archaeological evidence of the Old Kingdom indicate that the palace of Men-Kau-Re was located near his pyramid and not at Memphis. Men-Kau-Re exploited granite from Aswan and sent expeditions to Sinai. The Greek historian Herodotus mentioned that Men-Kau-Re died suddenly and added that there was an oracle from the Buto statue that foretold that he would live for 6 years. Men-Kau-Re started to drink and enjoy every moment of his remaining years; however, Men-Kau-Re lived for 12 years, thus disproving the prophecy. Herodotus also said that Men-Kau-Re's daughter committed suicide and that the Egyptians loved Men-Kau-Re more than his father and grandfather. The Late period tales were based on Men-Kau-Re's reputation during the Old Kingdom. He ruled with justice, gave freedom to his officials to carve statues and make offerings, and moderated the firm rules.
The Oxford Encyclopaedia of Ancient Egypt; Donald Redford (Ed) 2001; Oxford University Press, written by Dr Zahi Hawass
Black and White Images from the Boston Museum's Giza project (see; From Men-Kau-Re's valley temple, four slate triads extracted 11-August-1908.
The Complete Pyramids; Mark Lehner; 2000; Thames & Hudson
Egypt in the age of the Pyramids; Markowitz, Haynes and Freed; 2002; MFA Publication
Reisner had some problems finding Men-Kau-Re's Valley temple. He thought that it had been covered by shifting sand by the end of the 6th Dynasty and he needed to use two light rail lines to help removing and dispersing the sand. The temple is approx 600 Metres from the Mortuary temple and they are joined by a causeway. The temple was built on the route that construction materials were brought to Giza - Lehner  interprets this that the builders were aware that this was the last major construction on this site.
The temple was the final part of the construction, and was not finished before Men-Kau-Re died. He used large locally quarries limestone to form the foundations, but the superstructure was completed by his successor Shepseskaf in mud brick. During the 6th Dynasty it was re-built by Pepy II, because it was totally ruined by flooding.
The Triads were found in the magazine area, which is located in the top right of the map behind the Offering Hall.
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