Bent Pyramid
The Bent Pyramid, located at the royal necropolis of Dahshur, approximately 40 kilometres south of Cairo, of Old Kingdom Pharaoh Sneferu, is a unique example of early pyramid development in Egypt, about 2600 BCE. This was the second pyramid built by Sneferu. The lower part of the pyramid rises from the desert at a 55-degree inclination, but the top section is built at the shallower angle of 43 degrees, lending the pyramid its very obvious "bent" appearance. Archaeologists now believe that the Bent Pyramid represents a transitional form between step-sided and smooth-sided pyramids (see Step pyramid). It has been suggested that due to the steepness of the original angle of inclination the structure may have begun to show signs of instability during construction, forcing the builders to adopt a shallower angle to avert the structure's collapse. This theory appears to be borne out by the fact that the adjacent Red Pyramid, built immediately afterwards by the same Pharaoh, was constructed at an angle of 43 degrees from its base. Another theory suggests that at the initial angle the construction would take too long because Sneferu's death was nearing, so the builders changed the angle to complete the construction in time. The Bent Pyramid has a small satellite pyramid which was the final resting place of Sneferu's queen; interestingly there is a connecting tunnel which runs twenty-five metres between the two pyramids, which was built so that Sneferu could visit his queen in the after life. It also has an early form of offering temple on its eastern side. It is also unique amongst the approximately ninety pyramids to be found in Egypt, in that its original polished limestone outer casing remains largely intact. The ancient formal name of the Bent Pyramid is generally translated as, (The)-Southern-Shining-Pyramid, or Sneferu-(is)-Shining-in-the-South.

Interior passages
The Bent Pyramid has two entrances, one fairly low down on the north side, to which a substantial wooden stairway has been built for the convenience of tourists (though so far the pyramid is not open to the busy tourists, though plans have been proposed to open it). The second entrance is high on the west face of the pyramid. Each entrance leads to a chamber with a high, corbelled roof; the northern entrance leads to a chamber that is below ground level, the western to a chamber built in the body of the pyramid itself. A hole in the roof of the northern chamber (accessed today by a high and rickety ladder 50' long) leads via a rough connecting passage to the passage from the western entrance. The western entrance passage is blocked by two stone blocks which were not lowered vertically, as in other pyramids, but slid down 45° ramps to block the passage. One of these was lowered in antiquity and a hole has been cut through it, the other remains propped up by a piece of ancient cedar wood. The connecting passage referred to above enters the passage between the two portcullises.

Pyramid temple
On the east side of the temple there are the fragmentary remains of the pyramid temple. Like the pyramid temple of the Meidum pyramid, there are two stelae behind the temple, though of these only stumps remain. There is no trace of inscription to be seen. The temple remains are fragmentary but it is presumed to be similar to that of the Meidum temple.

Queen's Pyramid
On the south side of the Bent Pyramid there is a much smaller pyramid, popularly known as a Queen's Pyramid, but more accurately as a subsidiary pyramid. Unlike the subsidiary pyramids associated with - for example - the Great Pyramid, which have a single sloping shaft descending to a burial chamber, this pyramid has a descending passage which ends at a very short horizontal passage, followed by an ascending passage that may have been used to store stone blocks to plug the passage. The chamber at the end of this ascending passage is so small that it cannot have been used for a human burial, which may support the idea that these subsidiary pyramids were intended to hold the royal viscera and were thus analogous to the canpoic jars of later times.

Causeway and Valley Temple
Surrounding the Bent Pyramid was a courtyard, from the north-eastern portion of which a causeway ran down to a Valley Temple. (There may have been a further causeway from this to the river side.) This is thought to have been the first pyramid with a Valley Temple, which became a standard feature from this time on. Here the Valley Temple consisted of an entrance passageway flanked by storage chambers, an open courtyard and an inner sanctum fronted by ten square columns behind which were six niches in which stood statues of Sneferu, building of the pyramid and complex. Unlike most later Valley Temples, this one was decorated with scenes depicting the nomes of Egypt and the hebsed festival.

Building Activity

  • removed 2 media
    about 5 years ago via