Egyptian Pyramids

On Tuesday we started talking about the Pyramids at Giza, and Ethan mentioned that there were more than one hundred pyramids in Egypt total. This made me curious as to what other types of pyramids were out there. I found one in particular rather interesting, the Bent pyramid of Sneferu. This pyramid has the most intact casing of any pyramid in Egypt, and was designed by Pharaoh Sneferu. However, it didn’t turn out very well, and changed angles right in the middle. The pyramid starts at a fifty-two degree angle at the base, and about half way up the pyramid abruptly changes to a flatter 43 degree angle. This change gives it a very peculiar look. It is generally thought that the change was made because with such a steep angle, the pyramid would have been too tall, and would have put too much weight on its base. Another unusual aspect of the Bent pyramid is that it has two entrances. It has an entrance on the north side, as most pyramids have, and also an entrance on the west side. However, the pyramid was seen as a failure, and Sneferu abandoned it to start over. This new pyramid would be called the Red pyramid.

The Red pyramid is named for the red limestone used to build its core. The interesting thing about this pyramid, is that every twentieth casing stone that has been discovered has an inscription on the back side of it. Some had the cartouche of Sneferu drawn on the back, while others had writing in red paint naming the various work groups. The ones with Sneferu’s cartouche were very important because they were the only thing linking the pyramid to him. There were no identifying inscriptions on the inside of the pyramid. Also, many of the stones were dated, allowing archaeologists to create a timeline for when it was built. From the dates on the stones, it is assumed the pyramid took seventeen years to finish. The Red pyramid an unusual layout when it comes to its second chamber. The chamber lies directly under the center point of the pyramid, which is rare for Egyptian pyramids.

For being two lesser known pyramids, I found them more interesting than the famous ones at Giza. Both of these pyramids were built by Sneferu, who happens to be the father of Khufu. Khufu, if you remember from class, was the pharaoh responsible for the Great Pyramid of Giza. Unusual pyramids seem to run in the family.

One thought on “Egyptian Pyramids

  1. These two pyramids are ones that I have not heard of, so I looked them up as well. It is quite interesting how the first pyramid you mentioned is bent. It seems like it was an error that the builders made unknowingly; however, you pointed out that perhaps it is just a structural design. Overall, this pyramid has an odd design to it. Based on all of these features, it seems as if this pyramid was poorly crafted, but a lot is unknown. This first attempt at a pyramid seemed to be too ambitious for the builder. In my opinion, they couldn’t master the design and thus had to compromise. One of the theories of the change in angle involves the idea that the pyramid was collapsing as he was building it, thus requiring him to make it more stable. I am not sure if this is a good theory though because this pyramid has been preserved fairly well compared to the others. For example, the outer casing is the most prominent. Much of the smooth surface still exists, unlike other pyramids.
    Another feature is the chambers location in the center. To me this seems dangerous and unstable. That is where a lot of the weight is concentrated, which can be subject to a quick collapse. Like you said, the location of the chamber in the center is unusual for Egyptian pyramids. This may be the reason Sneferu was not buried there or why he built another pyramid. It is unknown where he was actually buried. His attempts at building pyramids seem to have fallen short, but they managed to get attention for being unique, if not well-crafted.

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