Other Free Encyclopedias » Online Encyclopedia » Encyclopedia - Featured Articles » Contributed Topics from P-T » The First True Pyramids - MAJOR CHANGES., STANDARD BUILDINGS., KING SNEFERU’S THREE PYRAMIDS., SNEFERU’S MEIDUM COMPLEX., INTERIOR OF THE MEIDUM PYRAMID.

SNEFERU'S BENT PYRAMID AT DAHSHUR

feet meters slope meidum

In the fifteenth year of King Sneferu’s reign (2610 B.C.E.), he abandoned his building project at the Meidum Pyramid and moved his court 25 miles north to Dahshur. At this point in his reign, the Meidum Pyramid was still a step pyramid, more similar in shape to Djoser’s pyramid at Saqqara than to the true pyramids built later. The move to Dahshur indicates a break with the step-pyramid style in an effort to create a true pyramid. The builders’ first attempt was the pyramid that Egyptologists call the Bent Pyramid. Step pyramids slope at approximately 78 degrees on each face. A true pyramid like the Great Pyramid at Giza has faces that slope at 53 degrees. The faces of the lower section of the Bent Pyramid were first constructed with a slope at sixty degrees, but this slope was too steep to form a true pyramid that could be supported adequately. At some point in the construction, the builders added more stone to the lower levels and reduced the slope to 54 degrees, 27 minutes, in order to support the inner core. As work proceeded, further structural problems emerged that forced the builders to reduce the angle of slope even further to 43 degrees on the upper half of the pyramid. This reduction accounts for the distinct bend in the shape of this pyramid. The base measures 188 meters (617 feet) and is 105 meters (feet) high. It is thus substantially larger than Djoser’s Step Pyramid or the Meidum Pyramid. The interior of the Bent Pyramid is unique because it has two passageways: one beginning on the north side and one beginning on the west side. The northern entrance, like the northern entrance at Meidum, slopes downward. It continues for 74 meters (242.7 feet) until it reaches the center of the pyramid. A vertical shaft then leads to a burial chamber that measures 6.3 by 4.96 meters (20.6 by 16.2 feet). The corbelled ceiling is seventeen meters (55.7 feet) above the floor of the chamber. The second, western entrance slopes downward for 65 meters (213.2 feet). It leads to a second corbelled chamber 7.97 by 5.26 meters (26.1 by 17.2 feet) with a ceiling height of 16.5 meters (54.1 feet). This chamber is in reality directly above the chamber reached from the northern entrance. Some time later, workers created a rough tunnel through the masonry to connect the two chambers. No clear explanation exists to explain the presence of two entrances. Speculation, though, has focused on the western entrance as a reflection of a second burial known from earliest times at Abydos. The western orientation of the second passage could also somehow connect with the cult of Osiris, king of the dead, with whom the king’s essence traditionally unites at death. Thus in this view, the Bent Pyramid’s internal plan could refer symbolically both to the idea of the king uniting with the circumpolar stars and to the idea that the king unites with Osiris in death. The small chapel on the eastern side of the pyramid would be a link to the king’s role as Son of Re, the sun god. The chapel at the Bent Pyramid parallels the chapel at the Meidum Pyramid by its position on the east side. These two chapels are also similar because they consist of only an altar and two steles. Later in the Fourth Dynasty, a much more elaborate pyramid temple would be included on the east side of the pyramid. Rainer Stadelmann, however, disputed a real connection between the purpose of these chapels and the later temples. He posited the theory that the construction of these chapels occurred when it became clear that Sneferu would not be buried either at Meidum nor at the Bent Pyramid. The subsidiary pyramid located south of the Bent Pyramid demonstrates that the builders had learned from their experience with the Bent Pyramid. The angle of slope resembles the 53 degree angle at Khufu’s Great Pyramid at Giza. The construction method also avoided some of the errors associated with the Bent Pyramid. Horizontal layers of masonry now replaced the inward-sloping blocks that made the Bent Pyramid so unstable. It paralleled the subsidiary pyramid at Meidum and perhaps somehow reflected the same purpose as the South Tomb at Djoser’s complex in Saqqara. Thus it could have been used to bury a statue or somehow refer to the second tombs for each king known from the First Dynasty at Abydos.

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