Bent pyramid

Bent pyramid DAHSHUR

The BENT PYRAMID is an ancient Egyptian Pyramid located at the Royal necropolis of DAHSHUR, approximately 40km south of Cairo, built under the Old Kingdom Pharaoh SNEFERU (c. 2600 BC).  A unique example of early pyramid development in Egypt, this was the second pyramid built by SNEFERU.

The Pyramid rises from the desert at a 54 degree  inclination, but the top section is built at a shallower angle of 43 degrees.  Archaeologists now believe that the BENT PYRAMID represents a transition form between “step-sided” and “smooth-sided” pyramids.  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.

Bend pyramid

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 43degrees from its base.  This fact also contradicts the theory 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.

In 1974, Kurt Mendelssohn suggested the change of the angle to have been made as a security precaution, in reaction to a catastrophic collapse of the MEIDUM Pyramid while it was still under construction.
It is also unique amongst the approximately 90 Pyramids to be found in Egypt, in that its original polished limestone outer casing remains largely intact.  British structural engineer Peter James attributes this to larger clearances between the parts of the casing than that used in later pyramids.  These imperfections would work as “expansion joints” and prevent the successive destruction of the outer casing by “thermal expansion”.

Entrance to bent pyramid

The ancient formal name  of the Bent Pyramid is generally translated as (The)-Southern-Shining-Pyramid or SNEFERU-(is)-Shining-in-the -South.  The Bent Pyramid has 2 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 tourists, although plans have been proposed to open it).  The 2nd 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 (50ft long), leads via a rough connecting passage from the western entrance.

Bent pyramid door

The western passage is blocked by 2 stone blocks, which were not lowered vertically, as in other pyramids, but slid down 45degree 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, referenced above, enters the passage between the two PORTCULLISES.


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