son of the fourth dynasty king Khufu. Hordjedef's (or Djedefhor's) titles include “Overseer of the King's Works.” He was buried in Giza (mastaba 7210/20), east of his father's Great Pyramid. The tomb is unfinished and shows signs of desecration, leading some scholars to suggest a power struggle among Khufu's princes after his death. Hordjedef did not accede to the throne, despite being named as a king in a later Middle Kingdom graffito in the Wadi Fawakhir. This royal status probably can be attributed to his fame as a cult hero at that time. There are signs of reverence at his tomb dating to the later Old Kingdom, despite the desecration.

His later fame is attested by a Teaching attributed to him pseudonymously, in which his name and title are given as The King's Son Hordedef. The Teaching is incompletely preserved in Ramessid and later manuscripts, and the date of composition is very uncertain, possibly in the early twelfth dynasty.

The prince is featured in the late Middle Kingdom Story of King Khufu's Court (Papyrus Westcar), in which he is portrayed in a sympathetic manner, and seems to be presented as the most important of Khufu's princes.

Hordjedef's reputation as a wise man was further attested in the early New Kingdom, when several spells in the Book of Going Forth by Day (Book of the Dead) refer to him as having discovered them in the Temple of Thoth in Hermopolis, an event ascribed to the reign of Menkaure. His words of wisdom (presumably his Teaching) are mentioned in several New Kingdom literary texts: the Harpist's Song from the Chapel of Antef, which is first attested in the late eighteenth dynasty, the Ramessid Satirical Letter of Papyrus Anastasi I, and the list of classic authors in the Ramessid Eulogy of Dead Writers of Papyrus Chester Beatty IV.


  • Beckerath, Jürgen von. “Djedefhor.” In Lexikon der Ägyptologie, 1: 1099. Wiesbaden, 1975.
  • Helck, Wolfgang. Die Lehre des Djedefhor und die Lehre eines Vaters an seinem Sohn: 1–24. Kleine Ägyptische Texte. Wiesbaden, 1984. Edition of the teaching attributed to Djedefhor.
  • Posener, Georges. “Lehre des Djedefhor.” In Lexikon der Ägyptologie, 3: 978–980. Wiesbaden, 1980.
  • Wildung, Dietrich. Die Rölle ägyptische Könige im Bewußtsein ihrer Nachwelt, vol. 1, pp. 217–221. Münchner Ägyptologische Studien 17. Berlin, 1969. Study of Djedefhor in later tradition.

R. B. Parkinson