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Ancient Egypt - Sneferu's Bent & Red Pyramids


Pharaoh Sneferu, the first king of the Fourth Dynasty, completed the

Meydum Pyramid, and constructed the Bent and Red Pyramids in Dahshur.

The Bent Pyramid

Sneferu most likely completed Huni's pyramid and began work on his own at a new site at Dahshur, 28 miles north of Meydum. Why he changed locations is unknown, but he would build two pyramids at this location and be followed by several kings of the later 12th Dynasty. His first pyramid, called the Bent Pyramid, began at 54 degrees, like Huni's pyramid. However, the corners of the pyramid were built on unstable ground, and structural changes had to be made to 43 degrees. This would give the pyramid it's bent look and cause numerous issues inside. Large cedar beams had to be brought in to brace the collapsing walls, which were shifting inward, and this pyramid was, therefore, abandoned.

The Red Pyramid

Snfereu's final pyramid, the second pyramid at Dahshur, is called the Red Pyramid and is the first true pyramid in the world. This pyramid takes its name from the color of the stonework in the evening sun. The Red Pyramid, also called the North Pyramid, is the largest of the three major pyramids located at the Dahshur necropolis. The Red Pyramid was not always red. It used to be cased with white Tura limestone, but only a few of these stones now remain at the corner of the pyramid's base.

During the Middle Ages, much of the white Tura limestone was taken for building the city of Cairo, revealing the red limestone beneath. Perhaps of greater importance is the fact that some of the casing was dated. This not only gives us clues to how long the pyramid took to build, but also the sequence of work that took place. From these, we know that the pyramid was probably begun between the twenty-second and twenty ninth year of Sneferu's reign. Other dates tell us that two years later, six layers of stone had been constructed. However, within four years, 30 percent of the pyramid had been completed, and the entire complex was finished in about seventeen years.

It was really Pharaoh Sneferu who showed the world how to build pyramids. There were disasters, and this was by trial and error, but he never gave up. He would be remembered by later Egyptians as one of Egypt's greatest pharaohs and future kings would attempt to model their success based on his reign.