The Bent Pyramid at Dahshur

The Bent Pyramid at Dahshur is very significant historically.   Earlier attempts at building these massive structures had revolved around step pyramids, like Zoser's step pyramid at Saqqara, about 10 kilometers north of Dahshur, but the Bent Pyramid is the Egyptians' first attempt to build what we now think of as a "typical" pyramid.

The Bent Pyramid from the northwest.

Like most Egyptian pyramids, the Bent Pyramid has an entrance on its north face, but if you look closely at this photo of the west side , you'll see a black square half-way up and to the right of center, which is another entrance.   On the right-hand side you can also see another much smaller pyramid, which might have been built as a burial place for Sneferu's wife, queen Heterpheres, or might have served some other purpose.   The inside of both pyramids has been explored, but unlike some of the other pyramids it's not usually possible to go inside.

click this photo to go to a 'wallpaper' sized version of the same image

This is a really huge structure, the same size as the Red Pyramid about a kilometer to the north, and second only to the pyramids of Cheops (Khufu) and Chephren (Khafre) at Giza.   It was built by command of the pharoah Sneferu, who ruled from 2613 - 2589 BC and did more than any other person to advance the science and custom of pyramid building.   Sneferu was the father of Khufu, also known as Cheops, who built the Great Pyramid at Giza.   For a sense of scale of the Bent Pyramid, look down at the lower right-hand corner where you can see an Egyptian Tourist and Antiquities policeman on his camel, and if you look really closely you might also be able to see a tourist right next to the pyramid and about six camel lengths in front of the policeman.

Here's what that tourist saw, from a spot about half-way along the photo which is directly above.   The Red Pyramid (sometimes also called the North Pyramid) was built by Sneferu straight after the Bent Pyramid, and is visible on the left of this photo.

As you can see from this shot, when you get closer to the pyramid you lose sight of the whole top half of it because of the bend in the structure.   Some people believe that the shift from an angle of 54 degrees to one of 43 degrees was done because the lower section was showing signs of stress and looked like it might collapse, while others think that the change in plan was made when the builders realized how much material and labor would be required to complete it.

The Bent Pyramid has the best preserved limestone outer sheath of any pyramid in Egypt.   Of the pyramids at Giza, only that of Khafre (also known as the pyramid of Chephren) retains any of its outer covering, near the summit.   The casings of the other pyramids were largely pilfered by later generations who took the materials to build their own temples, churches and mosques.   This view is on the east side of the pyramid, that's the Red Pyramid again in the background.

Everything here is so big and so old, it just makes your head spin and you have to lie down for a while.

Here's a photo the policeman took of me standing on top of the secondary pyramid just to the south of the Bent Pyramid.

me standing on top of the subsidiary pyramid
What did the camel really see behind the pyramid?   If you're an adult and you're not easily offended, then I'll tell you.