Feb
07
2009

What is the Bent Pyramid?

bent pyramid - courtesy brogge1 - CC-BY

bent pyramid - courtesy brogge1 - CC-BY

The Bent Pyramid is a unique example of early pyramid development in Egypt. This was the second pyramid built by Sneferu, his first pyramid having suffered catastrophic collapse.

The lower part of the pyramid rises from the desert at a 55-degree angle, but the top section is built at a much shallower angle of 43 degrees, giving the pyramid its “bent” appearance.

The most commonly accepted premise for Egyptologists is that due to the steep angle of construction, evidence of failure began to show.  Not wanting to repeat the results for Seneferu’s first pyramid, the architects ordered the lower construction angle to reduce the weight on the upper parts of the structure. It seems to have worked as the Bent Pyramid is one of the best preserved and still wears most of its outer casing.

The adjacent ‘Red Pyramid,’ built immediately afterwards by the same king, was constructed at an angle of 43 degrees from the beginning giving it a ‘flat’ appearance when compared to the others.

This was still the ‘experimantal’ age of pyramid building in Egypt. The knowledge of the art of pyramid building was not a ‘sudden’ event, as many purveying their New Age nostrums would have us believe.  There was a long period of development and experimentation before the first ‘true’ Egyptian pyramid was built.

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2 Comments »

  • eiffel says:

    Here’s my stab at what happened. There were two pyramids under construction at the same time. The first one collapsed when only the lower part of this one had been built. So, just to be safe, they changed angle of this one and built the rest of it at the shallower angle.

  • digs says:

    Thanks for that. However all evidence points to successive rather than simultaneous construction dates. Sneferu went on to build a third pyramid as well, the Red Pyramid.

    The ‘year of reign’ dates found on various artifacts at each location provide the calendar.

    However, your theory may not be that far off base. If as some think, the Meidum Pyramid was started by Sneferu’s predecessor Huni, Then Sneferu may have finished it after Huni died (many Egyptian kings completed a previous king’s project), as well as beginning work on his own tomb, you might be right. That would have both pyramids being under construction at the same time. The collapse could have taken place shortly after the Meidum Pyramid was topped-off but before the Bent Pyramid was finished, thus the change in the angle of the latter. Good thinking.

    But being an ‘orthodox’ historian, with no imagination whatever, I will stick to the established history that all three of the pyramids near Meidum were built by Sneferu, one after the other.

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