The exact methods of the construction of the pyramids is still unknown and the scale and speed at which they were built boggles the mind. So everyone knows its easier to just believe that extraterrestial aliens came to Earth thousands of years ago, taught man to stack big piles of stones, and then disappeared for some reason leaving man to it.
Joking aside, the evolution of the pyramids is known, they started out as large rectanuglar blocks called mastabas. The Step Pyramid or Pyramid of Djoser was the first great pyramid and is made up of six mastabas stacked on each other. The Bent Pyramid is a transitional pyramid between the older step pyramids and the Great Pyramids of Giza everyone is familar with.
The Engineering Mistake of The Bent Pyramid
The Bent Pyramid is of special interest as it represents a transition and evolution of Egyptian engeering and a monument to how the Egyptians sometimes got engineering wrong.
The most curious and eye-catching part of this pyramid is that is it rises from the desert at a steep 54-degree inclination, but then at around half way up, the angle changes to a shallower angle of 43 degrees. Thus the pyramid is visibly "bent".
- Lower Angle: Steeper 54 Degrees
- Upper Angle: Shallower 43 Degrees
- Stability: It is Thought The Pyramid Was Too Unstable With the Steep Angle
It is believed that the Bent Pyramid is a transitional form of pyramid. It marks the transition from the older step-side pyramids to the more famous smooth-sided pyramids.
The belief among archaeologists is that as they built the pyramid at a steep angle (which would have made it taller), the pyramid may have become unstable while it was being built. The ancient Egyptian architects were then forced to alter the plan and built the upper half at a shallower angle so that it wouldn't collapse.
Age And Uniqueness of The Bent Pyramid
The pyramid is among the oldest of the Egyptian pyramids and dates from the Old Kingdom. It was built by Pharaoh Sneferu in around 2600 BC and was his second pyramid.
- Built: Circa 2600 BC
- Pharaoh: Pharaoh Sneferu
- Height: 101 Meters or 332 feet
All pyramids one sees in Egypt today are ruins. They may still be standing but they are ruins. The pyramids were the most prominent building in a pyramid complex that included temples, auxuarily pyramids, and other structures. Before admiring the pyramids, see how the ancient pyramid complexes of Egypt once looked like and then try to picture what they were when visiting the ruins of them today.
- Limestone: The Pyramids were Once Encased In Polished Limestone
- Bent Pyramid: the Only Pyramid With The Limestone Still Largely Intact
The pyramids were also once beautiful and they were encased in polished limestone. But over the millenimia the limestone as been quarried offer the pyramids to be used in new buildings in Cairo. With the Great Pyramids of Giza, only a small part of the limestone remains up the top on one of the pyramids and that has been darkened by years of Cairo's polution.
One thing that makes the Bent Pyramid unique is that it is only pyramid (out of around 90), that still has its original polished limestone casting remaining largely intact.
If one looks closely, one will see a much smaller "side pyramid". This adjecent pyramid once contained the mummy of Sneferu's wife, Hetepheres.
Visiting The Bent Pyramid Today
The Bent Pyramid has only very recently openned to the public. Egypt decided to open the pyramid to tourism in 2019 (for the first time since 1965).
- Opened to The Public: In 2019
Today tourists are able to got through some of the 4600 year old chambers via a 79 meter long narrow tunnel from the northern entrance to the pyramid. Inside a substantial wooden stairway has been built for the tourists. It is also true that there are secret chambers and passages in many of the pyramids - including the Great Pyramid of Giza.
- Side Pyramid: The 18 Meter High Small Adjacent Pyramid with Sneferu's wife Hetepheres Is Also Open to The Public
There are plenty of day tours to the Dahshur Necropolis (that includes the Bent Pyramid, Djoser Pyramid, and others) from Cairo. The Bent Pyramid is not located in the necropolis at Giza but at the ancient royal necropolis of Dahsur aorund 40 km (25 miles) south of Cairo.