Snefru was the first king of the 4th dynasty (2613 – 2589 BC). He ruled for an estimated 24 years. Unlike most kings, he was not declared kingship though birthright but through marriage. He was a superior military manager and advanced Egypt’s economy. Establishing trading routes along the Mediterranean, Snefru planned in moving ahead his empire to great lengths. His most famous contribution was the Bent Pyramid of Dahshur.
Hetepheres I was the wife of Snefru, and probably was his half sister. It’s believed he was born from one of the wives in his father’s harem which made him lack royal blood. Marrying his half sister might have been the key to legitimizing his rule as Pharaoh. Together, both Snefru and Hetepheres gave birth to Khufu, the builder of the Great Pyramid. Snefru’s parents were Meresankh and Huni was his stepfather.
Like most Pharaohs, Snefru was active in foreign affairs with countries from the Mediterranean and received materials such as cedar for construction of many ships. This most probably came from Lebanon. Although trading and exporting was very important to his success, so were his military skills. Campaigning against the Libyans and Nubians, Snefru found himself leading massive campaigns that often lead to victory. Campaigning against Nubia offered great rewards such as raw materials for construction and the safety of Egypt’s southern borders.
Snefru was intelligent and very logical. In order to accomplish his tasks as Pharaoh he needed no barriers. To complete many of his wishes, Snefru kept the power of the royal family fixed. Most of his appointed officials were members of his ruling family and as a result the administrative powers remained within that structure. This logical and brilliant strategy might be why he was able to construct his three pyramids. Although this logic may have helped build the three pyramids, his brilliant strategy might not have been so helpful in holding firm the “Old Kingdom” as this appeared to fall after his death.
Like most Pharaohs, death was a very important aspect of Snefru’s life. He constructed the pyramid at Maidum, which was originally a seven-stepped pyramid. Once erected, the steps of the pyramid were filled in. This formed a true pyramid; however, eventually the pyramid failed and the outer casing soon collapsed. Although this pyramid failed, Snefru still did not give up. His next major plan was the construction of the Bent Pyramid located in Dahshur. Unlike his last project, the bent pyramid was planned as a pyramid. The sides soon became too steep and a quick fix was needed. They changed the degree of the pyramid which made the structure more stable.
Snefru will most likely always be known as being one of Egypt’s most prominent pyramid builders of his time. In addition, he will also be known as contributing to the continuous evolution of religious beliefs during his reign.