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Red Pyramid and Bent Pyramid

Travel pictures from Egypt

by Dr. Günther Eichhorn

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The Bent Pyramid and the Red Pyramid are some of the oldest pyramids. They are close together in Dahshur. They are from the Old Kingdom, built by Pharaoh Snofru (2613-2589 BCE), father of Khufu and founder of the 4th dynasty. The Bent Pyramid was the first successful pyramid built in the typical pyramid shape. Pharaoh Huni (2637-2613 BCE) had started a pyramid in Meidum, his son Snofru tried to finish it. This pyramid was built with walls that were too steep for the construction material, so it collapsed. Snofru learned from that and when the Bent Pyramid started to show signs of weakening, they changed the angle of the walls on the Bent Pyramid halfway during construction from the steep 53° to a more moderate 43° and therefore managed to build the first lasting pyramid. Before that, the burial monuments were in the form of the Step Pyramid. The Red Pyramid is the oldest pyramid in the straight pyramid shape, built just after the Bent Pyramid.

Both the Bent and the Red Pyramids are about 105 m (344 ft) high. They are the third largest pyramids after the two largest ones in Giza. The Bent Pyramid retains most of the outer casing. Only one of the Great Pyramids in Giza has some of the casing left at the top. Originally, the pyramids were a gleaming white, which must have been a very impressive sight.

The Red Pyramid provides access to the burial chamber. You reach it through a very steep passage with 125 steps, 63 m (207 ft) long that starts 1/3 up the pyramid and climbs down to about ground level. When I climbed in there, there were no lights inside. My flashlight didn't provide enough light for my camera, so I didn't get a picture of the inside. There are two 12 m (39 ft) high antechambers and a 15 m (49 ft) high magnificent main chamber, in which human remains were found, probably remains of Pharaoh Snofru himself.

The Red Pyramid and the Bent Pyramid are part of the UNESCO World Heritage SiteMemphis and its Necropolis.