Rahotep and Nofret

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Rahotep was a high official who lived at the end of the 3rd and the beginning of the 4th Dynasty. According to his titulary, he was the physical son of the king.


Although not accepted by all Egyptologists, it is generally assumed that, based on the placement of his mastaba at Meidum, Rahotep's father was Snofru, the founder of the 4th Dynasty.
It is, however, sometimes argued that Rahotep's father was Huni, the last king of the 3rd Dynasty. This is mainly based on the fact that Rahotep's tomb was located at Meidum and that, despite the absence of Huni's name at the Meidum cemetary, Huni has been assumed to have been the builder of the collapsed pyramid at this site.
It has also been argued that the title 'physical son of the king' was purely honorific and does not imply that Rahotep's father was a king at all. There have indeed been examples of the title 'son of the king' being honorific, but the addition of 'physical' in Rahotep's case does seem to suggest that Rahotep was a the son of an actual king.
The name of Rahotep's mother is not known. 

Rahotep's titulary shows him to have held several offices in the civil administration, in priesthood and in the military. He was a 'unique Chief of Seers at Heliopolis', 'Chief of the Hall', 'Keeper of the Ames Sceptre',  'Eldest of the Palace', 'great unique one at the place of the beer measurers', a 'Great One of the city of Pe', 'overseer of transporters', 'general', 'controller of the archers' and a 'physical son of the King'.  


He was married to Nofret, who bore the title '
known to the king', which indicates that she was part of the royal entourage, perhaps through her marriage with prince Rahotep.
The names of her parents are not known. 

Rahotep and Nofret had several children: the princes Djedi, Neferkau and Itu and the princesses Mereret, Nedjemib and Sethtet.

The quality and beauty of two marvellously preserved seated statues of Rahotep and Nofret, found in 1871 in their brick mastaba at Meidum, confirm their high rank. It is not unlikely that they were created by highly skilled sculptors working for the royal ateliers. The faces of the statues express the same solemness and self-assuredness as the royal statues of the same dynasty.
The realism in these statues is increased by the glass inlaid eyes and their realistic sizes: the statue of Rahotep measures 1.20m in height, Nofret's 1.18m. More personal details, such as the slight frown on Rahotep's face, and his moustache, add to the impression that the statues were intended as idealised portraits.

The statues of Rahotep and Nofret.
Source: 
Tiradriti, Egyptian TreasuresHarry N. Abrams Inc., 1999, p. 65


© Jacques Kinnaer 1997 - 2017