The Bent Pyramid
in Dahshur (which forms the southernmost area of the Memphis Necropolis
and contains a number of pyramid complexes and monuments), is the
Bent Pyramid. The Bent Pyramid was probably the ancient Egyptians
first attempt at a 'true' pyramid, with smooth sides.
The Bent Pyramid was built by command of the pharoah Sneferu, the
first ruler of the 4th Dynasty, who ruled from 2613 - 2589 BC and
probably 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.
The Bent Pyramid is also sometimes called the Rhomboidal, False,
or Blunt Pyramid. The ancient Egyptians called it "Snefru Shines
- South (pyramid)".
The Bent Pyramid was probably either the first or second of Snefru's
pyramids, depending on who built the Medium Pyramid. It was almost
certainly built prior to his other project at Dahshur, the Red
Pyramid. Few experts believe that Sneferu was buried in the
Bent Pyramid. Most believe that he was buried in the Red
The Bent Pyramid was planned to be larger than the Great Pyramid
that was built later at Giza by Sneferu's son, Khufu (Cheops) but
for some reason the original plans changed and the pyramids angle
The probable reason for the change is that the foundation of the
pyramid was insufficient for the weight of the stone blocks. The
engineers were unable to control and correct the movement of the
blocks during construction and so, as a comprimise, they changed
the angle of the pyramid to reduce the weight of the upper part
of the structure.
The Bent Pyramid actually went through about three different alterations
away from the original plans, which called for the structure to
have an angle of almost 60 degrees. The was changed to a less steep
slope of almost 55 degrees, requiring that the base be enlarged.
This first alteration can be clearly seen in the ceiling and the
side walls of the north access corridor, about twelve meters from
the entrance. These early stages of construction used the traditional
method of laying the courses of the core with the stones sloping
inward. However, this adjustment in slope proved to be inadequate.
When the pyramid was about 147 feet (45 metres) high, the angle
of the slope was reduced to 45 degrees (later pyramids usually had
a slope of between 52 and 53 degrees), which had the effect of reducing
the mass of the upper part of the pyramid and thus reducing the
load on the substructure. At this point in the pyramid's construction,
the builders began laying the stone courses horizontally (rather
than with the stones sloping inwards). Apparently the builders had
learned that the inward sloping layers of the core, rather than
adding stability, actually increased the stresses within the structure.
The entire structure measures almost 344 feet (105 metres) in height.
Unlike other pyramids, the Bent Pyramid has two entrances. The
first is in the middle of the northern side and is about 12m above
the ground. It leads to the upper chamber. The second entrance is
on the western side and is just above the ground. It leads to the
The Bent Pyramid has the best preserved limestone outer casing
of any pyramid in Egypt.