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Dynasties of Ancient Egypt
Predynastic Period
Protodynastic Period
Early Dynastic Period
1st 2nd
Old Kingdom
3rd 4th 5th 6th
First Intermediate Period
7th 8th 9th 10th 11th
Middle Kingdom
11th 12th
Second Intermediate Period
13th 14th 15th 16th 17th
Abydos Dynasty
New Kingdom
18th 19th 20th
Third Intermediate Period
21st 22nd 23rd 24th 25th
Late Period
26th 27th 28th
29th 30th 31st
Hellenistic Period
Argead Dynasty
Ptolemaic Dynasty

Known rulers, in the History of Egypt, for the Fourth Dynasty.

The Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Dynasties of ancient Egypt are often combined under the Old Kingdom period.

The pharaohs of this dynasty include some of the best-known kings of ancient Egypt known for constructing pyramids, perhaps the hallmark of Egypt. All of the kings of this dynasty commissioned at least one pyramid to serve as a tomb or cenotaph. Like the Third Dynasty, these kings maintained their capital at Memphis.

Sneferu, the dynasty's founder, is known to have commissioned three pyramids, and some believe he was responsible for a fourth. So although Khufu, his successor and son by Hetepheres I, erected the largest pyramid in Egypt, Sneferu had more stone and brick moved than any other pharaoh.

Khufu (Greek: Cheops), his son Khafre (Greek: Chephren), and his grandson Menkaure (Greek: Mykerinos) all achieved lasting fame in the construction of their pyramids. To organize and feed the manpower needed to create these pyramids required a centralized government with extensive powers, and Egyptologists believe the Old Kingdom at this time demonstrated this level of sophistication. Although it was once believed that slaves built these monuments, study of the pyramids and their environs have shown that they were built by a corvée of peasants drawn from across Egypt, who apparently worked while the annual Nile flood covered their fields. While the pyramids suggest that Egypt enjoyed unparalleled prosperity during the Fourth Dynasty, they survived as a reminder to the inhabitants of the forced labor that created them, and these kings – Khufu in particular – were remembered as tyrants: first in the Papyrus Westcar, and millennia later in legends recorded by Herodotus (Histories, 2.124-133).

The archetype of the Turin King List, which otherwise records all of the names of the kings of this dynasty, has two names missing, which the scribe indicated with the Egyptian word wsf ("missing"). Sextus Julius Africanus reports Manetho had the names Bikheris and Tamphthis in those positions, while Eusebius does not mention either. Some authorities (such as K.S.B. Ryholt) follow Africanus in adding a possible Egyptian version of these names to the list; others omit them entirely.

The earliest known records of Egypt's contact with her neighbors are dated to this dynasty. The Palermo Stone records the arrival of 40 ships laden with timber from an unnamed foreign land in the reign of Sneferu. The names of Khufu and Djedefre were inscribed in gneiss quarries in the Western Desert 65 km. to the northwest of Abu Simbel; objects dated to the reigns of Khufu, Khafra, and Menkaura have been uncovered at Byblos and to the reign of Khafra even further away at Ebla, evidence of diplomatic gifts or trade.

It is unclear how this dynasty came to an end. Our only clue is that a number of Fourth Dynasty administrators are attested as remaining in office in the Fifth Dynasty under Userkaf.


Fourth Dynasty
Name Dates Comments
Sneferu 2613–2589 BC (24 years)
Khufu 2589–2566 BC (23 years) Greek form Cheops
Djedefre 2566–2558 BC (8 years)
Khafre 2558–2532 BC (26 years) Greek form Chephren
Baka (?) c. 2532 BC Son of Djedefre who might have ruled briefly. Perhaps identical to Manetho's Bikheris.
Menkaure 2532–2503 BC (29 years) Greek form Mykerinos
Shepseskaf 2503–2498 BC (5 years)
Djedefptah 2498–2494 BC (4 years) Perhaps identical to Manetho's Tamphthis who according to him succeeds Shepseskaf.



See also[]

Preceded by:
3rd Dynasty
Old Kingdom
4th Dynasty
Succeeded by:
5th Dynasty