Digging Up the Past

Chapter 1 - Land of the Pyramids

Sneferu's pyramids


Sneferu's Bent Pyramid

With the beginning of the 4th Dynasty came the development
of the true pyramid. The first king of this dynasty was Sneferu,
who, strange to say, seems to have been the builder of three
pyramids. Why he should build three pyramids is also a matter
of speculation, because not even a god-king can be buried in
three places at one time. One plausible theory is that the first
pyramid he built was at Meidum, about 64 kilometres south of
Cairo. The outside casing of this pyramid lies as a huge mass of
rubble at the foot of the pyramid. It has been suggested that
rather than disintegrating over the centuries, it collapsed when
the pyramid was almost completed.

Perhaps, instead of trying to rebuild this pyramid, Sneferu
ordered the second pyramid to be built at Dashur, some 45
kilometres to the north. This is known as the Bent Pyramid,
because, while it starts out at an angle of 54 degrees (about
the same angle as the Meidum Pyramid), about halfway up, its
angle decreases to 43 degrees. Some cracks, due to the
enormous pressure from the weight of the stone, have been
observed in this structure. Was this the reason it was finished
at a lower angle? Perhaps the builders decided to makesure that
they had at least one pyramid that would not collapse. They
built the third pyramid, the Red Pyramid, at the low angle of 43
degrees, the same angle at which the Bent Pyramid was finished.
After all, pyramid building was still in the experimental stage.

Sneferu's first pyramid collapsed

The Bent Pyramid at Dashur, Sneferu's second


The Red Pyramid, Sneferu's third and best