Bent Pyramid of Sneferu – Interesting facts

John Henrique Nov 18, 2022

There is a strange pyramid south of Cairo that has two different angles: at the base, it is 54 degrees, but it tapers at a 43-degree angle towards the top, giving it a “bent” appearance.

Bent Pyramid facts

DimensionsAt the base, the pyramid is 190 meters on each side, and 102 meters high;
Who built itIt was built by Pharaoh Sneferu around 2600 BC;
Where is locatedIt is located 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Cairo, near Dahshur;
Why is it bentIt is bent because its angle was changed during construction, due to stability problems;
How long did it take to build It was built in approximately 20 years;
Who was the pyramid built forThe pyramid’s initial purpose was to house the body of Pharaoh Sneferu;
What did they find insideInside the pyramid they found mummies, masks, and tools used in construction;
When did it opened to the publicIt opened to the public in 2019.

Pictures of the Bent Pyramid

Discovery

In 1956, archaeologists made one of the most incredible discoveries related to Ancient Egypt. That year they excavated the Bent Pyramid.

The peculiar pyramid is located in the Dahshur necropolis, 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of the Egyptian capital Cairo. It was built around 2600 BC, during the reign of Pharaoh Sneferu, the first of the 4th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, who probably ruled between the years 2613 and 2589 BC.

Sneferu, who founded his dynasty, was responsible for building at least three pyramids known to Egyptologists. But this one is certainly the most unusual and important among them.

It was a common project, developed for a normal monument in light of the construction ideas of the Egyptian period. However, not everything went as expected — the project had to be modified.

How was the Bent Pyramid constructed

The pyramid was being built on silky, smooth clay, but it came at a cost. It ended up having numerous stability issues, in addition to the possibility of sinking over time.

This got even worse when the workers noticed that it was starting to crack.

They managed to raise the monument to just over 47 meters (154 ft) in height, which resulted in the bottom section of the building.

Why is it bent

It has been suggested that, due to the steepness of the initial angle, the structure may have started to show signs of instability during construction.

Therefore, to continue raising the pyramid from 47 meters, they decided to change the angle: from the 54 degrees it had at its bottom, the angle had to be reduced to 43 degrees.

The change is quite noticeable and is what gives the monument a strange appearance.

It had become curved, clearly demonstrating the mistake made by the ancient Egyptians, who tried in every way to prevent it from collapsing.

This is the theory currently accepted by the scientific community, regarding the peculiarity of the second pyramid built for Pharaoh Sneferu.

This theory is supported by the fact that the next pyramid built during the reign of Sneferu, the Red Pyramid, raised immediately after the completion of the Bent Pyramid, had the same angle: 43 degrees.

In fact, the pyramid ended up serving as an experiment for the completion of the Pyramids of Giza, which would have properly aligned formats and would take longer to complete.

However, to this day the Bent Pyramid is the object of incessant study by archaeologists due to its immense historical complexity.

It is also the only one of about 90 pyramids found in Egypt to have its original polished limestone on the outside intact.

Old theory about the Pharaoh’s imminent death

For a while, researchers thought that the pyramid’s angle had to be changed because the pharaoh’s death was approaching.

If that were the case, his mummified body, shortly after his death, would be kept in the long-awaited pyramid, which was still being built.

However, this hypothesis is no longer considered valid by Egyptologists.

“Sneferu lived a long time. The architects wanted to reach the complete shape, the pyramid shape,” explained Mohamed Shiha, director of the Dahshur archaeological site, where the pyramid is located, in an interview with The Guardian in 2019. “Exactly where he was buried – we are not sure of that. Maybe in this [bent] pyramid, who knows?”

Another possible explanation for the change in the pyramid’s angle was proposed by Kurt Mendelssohn in 1974, who suggested that the change may have been a safety measure in reaction to a catastrophic collapse of the Meidum Pyramid while it was still under construction.

Inside the Bent Pyramid

After excavations, researchers were able to explore the interior of this very special pyramid. In total, it is 101 meters (331 ft) tall.

It has two chambers, accessed by two different doors through a narrow tunnel of 79 meters (259 ft).

Furthermore, they found a side structure only 18 meters high, which was possibly built for the pharaoh’s wife, Hetepheres.

Egyptologists also found, during the exploration, mummies, masks, and various tools used for construction.

The Bent Pyramid was opened to the public

In 2019, the famous bent pyramid opened to the public for the first time and became a tourist attraction.

Today, experts recognize that the monument is of great importance to the history of Egyptian construction because, thanks to it, Sneferu’s engineers were able to identify the angulation problem and learned from their mistake, raising the next pyramid at the correct inclination.

Related topics:

Pyramids

Written by John Henrique

John has a degree in IT and is the founder of Hyperaxion. He is a science enthusiast and can usually be found reading a book or playing role-playing games.

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