the Southern Pyramid Complex of Sneferu – The Red Pyramis – Dahshur Pyramids


the South Pyramid Complex of Sneferu from which rises the immense bulk of the South Pyramid of Sneferu, also known as the ‘Bent Pyramid’ or ‘Rhomboidal Pyramid’. It is probable that this was where King Sneferu was buried. This structure measures 188.6m sq. and is 101.15m high. The angle of the slope is 54°31’13’ to a height of 49.07m, and then changes to 43°21′; this change of slope gives the pyramid its popular names. It is constructed of local limestone, cased with fine white Turah limestone laid in sloping courses, the blocks being tilted from the outside to the inside, which makes them very Dyn. difficult to remove. In construction it is similar to the 3 pyramids.

No satisfactory explanation for the change of angle has been forthcoming. One theory has it that if the original angle had been maintained the great weight of the masonry would have crushed the interior structures—they are certainly cracked, and have been repaired anciently by plastering. Others suggest that the pyramid needed to be finished in a hurry, and that by changing the angle this was accomplished. Yet another proposal is that the casing would have slipped, but this is impossible because of the method of construction. A recent theory is that the collapse of the Maydum pyramid while this one was building caused the change of plan.

The entry to the pyramid is on this N face at 11.8m. On either side are sockets for a flap door. A descending passage 79.53m long but . only 1.1m high ends in a horizontal corridor with a corbelled roof 12.6m high. To reach the lower chamber a ladder has to be climbed to a point on the wall 6.25m above the floor. The lower chamber is also corbelled and on the S wall are the entries to two passages. One is vertical and leads to no known passage or room. The other, higher in the wall, c 12.6m with damaged ceiling, slopes upwards to a horizontal passage leading to the upper chamber lying beyond a portcullis. A remarkable feature of this room are the cedar beams which must have been imported from the Lebanon. From the horizontal passage a further corridor slopes up to the W face of the pyramid, where it emerges 33.32m from the base. Climbing about inside this pyramid, which is unlit, gives a very good idea of the conditions that the early pyramid investigators encountered, even though the modern visitor is helped by the ladders left by Fakhry.

At the E of the pyramid is a small Mortuary Temple consisting of a little shrine, open to the E and W, under which was a large limestone slab surmounted by an alabaster offering table. The shrine is flanked by two large stelae and surrounded by a mud- brick wall. Alterations were made to the temple both in the Middle Kingdom and the Ptolemaic period, when the worship of Snefru was revived, and the excavators found a bowl of charcoal still on the alabaster offering table waiting for the incense to be added.

A Subsidiary Pyramid lies to the S of the main structure. It was cleared (1946—47) by Hussein and found empty; no trace of any burial was dicovered, only some pottery. It was too small to have contained the material of Snefru’s Queen Hetepheres found at Giza (Rte 23] and so far her original burial place remains undiscovered. The Valley Temple of the pyramid lies to the E of the building about half way to the cultivation. It is a simple rectangular building (47.16m by 26.20m) surrounded by a thick brick temenos wall. It contains an interesting collection of sculptured friezes representing the royal estates of Upper and Lower Egypt as well as two large limestone stelae adorned with the names and representations of the king. Additionally there must have been larger-than-life statues of the king, but only fragments of these remain, and the whole temple is gradually sanding up.


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