Pharoah Snefru

Died in 2589 BCE


First King of the Fourth Dynasty Alternate spellings: Sneferu, Snofru, Soris

Name of ship(s) he sailed on: Snefru is credited as possibly using cedar wood to build Nile River boats up to about 50 meters (about 170 ft.) in length

Primary Goal:
To establish trading routes along the Mediterranean, and to advance Egypt’s economy
Snefru is credited with being the first Pharaoh of Egypt’s Fourth Dynasty (about 2600-2450 BCE). He ruled for an estimated 24 years. He was not declared king through birthright like most kings, but was declared king through marriage. He established trading routes along the Mediterranean, and greatly advanced his empire. Of all of his contributions, his most famous is the Bent Pyramid of Dahshur.

Snefru was the first King of the Fourth Dynasty (about 2600-2450 BCE). His father (possibly his step-father) was Huni and his mother was Meresankh I, a lesser wife and therefore not of royal blood. Snefru was married to Hetepheres I, who was at least his half sister. Why would he have married his half-sister? By doing so, it might have legitimized his rule as Pharaoh. Snefru and Hetepheres I gave birth to Khufu, the builder of the Great Pyramid. He may have been influenced by his father who was the first king to build a true pyramid. In fact, he constructed three major pyramids: The Red Pyramid and Bent Pyramid in Dahshur, and the pyramid at Maidum. Snefru died in 2589 BCE and it is assumed that he was buried in the Red Pyramid.

Snefru was remembered as a good and wise king. Ancient literature repeatedly depicts him as a ruler who would address common Egyptians as “my friend,” or “my brother.” His military campaigns against the Nubians and Libyans are recorded on the Palermo Stone, and he began trade with the Mediterranean nations. About 2600 BCE Pharaoh Snefru sent forty ships to Byblos in Phoenicia and they returned richly laden with cedar wood. Early pharaohs imported copper, malachite and turquoise from Sinai and began sending expeditions south for ivory, ebony and incense.