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Dahshur

Dahshur

DAHSHUR IS A SMALL PYRAMID FIELD IN AN ISOLATED desert setting to the south of Saqqara. Only accessible to the public since the mid-1990s.

Anyone making the journey down here is likely to have the site completely to themselves. In pyramid chronology, Dahshur comes after Saqqara but before Giza and Abu Sir. The two main pyramids here were both built for the pharaoh Sneferu (R.2613-2589 B.C.), father of Khufu, builder of the Great Pyramid at Giza.

The Bent Pyramid was begun first. It can lay claim to being the first pyramid proper-all those that had come before were stepped. So it is perhaps understandable that the builders erred in their calculations: The pyramid started to rise at an angle of 55 degrees, but halfway up it must have become clear that the structure was becoming unstable, and it was completed with a less steep slope of around 44 degrees. The result is the distinctive “bent” look.

Uniquely, the Bent Pyramid retains much of its original white limestone casing. From nearby, you can appreciate how smooth the surfaces of not just this, but all pyramids would originally have been.

For reasons that remain unknown, in the 30th year of his reign, Sneferu abandoned his first pyramid and began a new one. Known as the North Pyramid (also called the Red Pyramid), this was constructed with a gentler slope of 43 degrees. A stair on the north face allows visitors access to the interior. From the entrance 100 feet (30 m) up, an excellent view to the south takes in the pyramids of Saqqara, Abu Sir, and Giza. A 70yard (65 m) passage leads down to three chambers, the first two of which have high corbel ceilings, foreshadowing the Grand Gallery of the Great Pyramid at Giza.

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