Interesting facts about the Bent Pyramid
1. The Bent Pyramid is located in the Dahshur Necropolis
The Bent Pyramid is the oldest of the pyramids built at Dahshur, a royal necropolis in the desert on the west bank of the Nile River. This necropolis is located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Cairo, the capital of Egypt.
It’s also the furthest south of the other two famous ancient Egyptian sites in the area, the Saqqara Necropolis which is home to the Pyramid of Djoser. The Giza Necropolis is located further north and is world-famous for being the location the two biggest pyramids ever constructed are located, the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Pyramid of Khafre.
2. It was built during the Old Kingdom
The Bent Pyramid was constructed during the 4th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt. The Old Kingdom lasted from around 2686 until 2181 B.C. This period is known for the reigns of the great pyramid-builders as most of the biggest and most famous pyramids were built during this time.
The Fourth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt lasted from around 2613 until 2494 B.C. and it’s considered to be the “Golden Age of the Old Kingdom.” The construction of the Bent Pyramid started at the beginning of the 4th Dynasty and was completed around 2600 B.C.
3. The Pharaoh who built it constructed multiple Pyramids
The man who started the construction of the Bent Pyramid was also the founder of the 4th Dynasty, Pharaoh Sneferu. His name literally translates to “Horus, Lord of Maat, has perfected me,” which kind of gives us an indication that he thought rather highly of himself.
This is most probably the main reason why he indulged in large-scale building projects such as the pyramids and temples at Dahshur, and he certainly didn’t mess about it!
Accounts of his reign vary, with sources claiming he reigned either for 24, 30, or even 48 years.
4. The size of the pyramid is enormous
The Pyramid of Sneferu was one of the largest construction projects in history at the time. Even though at first sight, the pyramid doesn’t look that big, its size is enormous.
It has a total height of 104.71 meters (344 feet) with its distinctive bent located at a height of 47.04 meters (154 feet). The base of the pyramid has a length of 189.43 meters (621 feet), which is almost the length of 2 football fields.
The total volume of the Bent Pyramid is an astounding 1,237,040 cubic meters (43,685,655 cubic feet).
5. This is how it was called in Ancient Egypt
Even though the pyramid is now referred to as the “Bent Pyramid,” it had a completely different name in Ancient Egypt.
Back then, it was referred to as either the “Southern-Shining-Pyramid” or “Sneferu-is-Shining-in-the-South.” This clearly refers to both the Pharaoh and the fact that the limestone it was decorated with shone like a bright star in the Egyptian sun back in the day.
6. It marks an important moment in architecture
The Bent Pyramid is one of the best-preserved early pyramids that were constructed in Ancient Egypt, especially considering that it was built over 4,600 years ago!
One of the most important facts about the Bent Pyramid is that it’s considered to be the first attempt in history to try and build a smooth-sided pyramid. All previous pyramids were so-called step pyramids which consisted of flat platforms stacked on top of each other.
Unfortunately, something went horribly wrong and an adjustment had to be made before the halfway mark, something that gave the pyramid its peculiar look and modern-day name.
7. The structure might have collapsed if the angle wasn’t changed
So why did they suddenly change the angle from about 54°27′44″ at the base to 43°22′ above the bend?
While the conclusion is mostly speculation, it makes sense that the angle was changed because they faced a huge problem during construction. The angle at the base was most probably too steep and the soil not stable enough to support its weight, hence the angle was quickly changed to avoid the structure’s collapse.
The best proof to support this theory is that Sneferu instantly ordered the construction of another pyramid, now referred to as the “Red Pyramid.” The construction from its base started at the exact same angle as the top section of the Bent Pyramid.
This means that Snefuru managed to perfect the construction of the smooth-sided pyramid through trial and error. After his Meidum Pyramid collapsed and he barely managed to avoid a similar fate during his second attempt, he finally managed to create the world’s first-ever smooth-sided pyramid!
8. Its limestone casing is remarkably still largely intact
As you can see, the Red Pyramid lost just about all of its smooth outer limestone casing stones. This is the case with just about every Ancient Egyptian pyramid, except for the Bent Pyramid (at least compared to the others).
One of the most remarkable facts about the Bent Pyramid is that its polished limestones are still largely in place is because they were put in place with larger clearances between them.
This has avoided the effect of thermal expansion loosening the casing stones which made it easier to remove, something that has been done extensively in order to use the stones in other building projects.
9. The Pharaoh’s soul also had a pyramid in the area
While the Bent Pyramid was originally constructed to house the tomb of Sneferu, a satellite pyramid was constructed to house a separate part of his soul, referred to back then as the “Ka.”
This pyramid, which was built with thick limestone, is located just a short distance to the south of the main pyramid and originally stood 26 meters tall (85 feet). it has a base length of 52.8 meters (173 feet) and rises at an angle of 44°30′ which is nearly the same angle as the red Pyramid.
It’s clear that the satellite pyramid hasn’t been preserved quite as well as its bigger brother!
10. There are two ways to enter the Bent Pyramid
One of the most amazing facts about the Bent Pyramid is that both the main structure and the satellite pyramid can be accessed by tourists! Egypt has decided to open up both ancient structures for visitors in July 2019.
The main pyramid has 2 entrances, one fairly low on the north side which leads into a chamber located below ground level. The other entrance is much higher on the western façade of the pyramid.
Both chambers have corbelled roofs and the chamber on the north side has a narrow connection to the passage leading up to the western chamber.
11. There was a huge causeway connecting the pyramid and its temple
Even though the Bent Pyramid appears to be located in a desolate desert landscape, it used to be connected to the other structures in the Dahshur Necropolis through a huge causeway. This road connected the pyramid with the nearby temple of which now only fragments remain.
The causeway was completely paved with limestone blocks and enclosed with a low limestone wall.
12. The entire area that surrounds the pyramid was man-made
One of the most fascinating facts about the Bent Pyramid is that the entire area that surrounds the structure might have been a huge landscaped garden. The pyramid itself is located at an elevated plateau which appears to have been man-made on closer inspection.
It’s fair to conclude that the pyramid was built far away from other structures and put on a plateau as if it’s located on a pedestal signifies its importance. It’s also believed this was done to emphasize the power of King Sneferu at the time!
This concludes the ultimate list of facts about the Bent Pyramid, one of the most fascinating structures ever constructed, and which used to be the tallest building in the world upon completion over 4,600 years ago!