However, with it’s sides sloping at 43°22′, it is substantially shorter at 104 meters (343 feet). Nevertheless, it is the fourth highest pyramid ever built in Egypt, with almost 160 layers of stone.
Stripped from its limestone casing, this pyramid reveals the reddish sandstone used to build most of its core. This explains its modern-day name, the Red Pyramid.
Its Ancient Egyptian name was “The Shining One”.
The severe structural problems encountered while building the Bent Pyramid South of Dashur, led Snofru (Sneferu) to build yet another pyramid, at a small distance to the North. Significantly, the Red Pyramid was the first successful, true, cased Pyramid built in Egypt, ushering in the era of the Giza style pyramids.
Built by Khufu’s father, Snefru, what really makes this pyramid special today is the lack of crowds and circus atmosphere that plagues the Giza Plateau, along with the fact that it can currently be entered without limitation.
East of the pyramid is what remains of a mortuary temple, as well as the first capstone (Pyramidion) ever found belonging to an Old Kingdom Pyramid. It was recovered in fragments and reconstructed. The mortuary temple itself, though nothing much remains, is significant because Snefru pioneered the east west alignment of Egyptian temples to match the path of the sun.
The Red Pyramid History
The inscriptions found on the back of the casing stones gave us clues to how long the pyramid took to build and also revealed the sequence of work that took place.
An inscription found at the base of this pyramid has shown that work had started during the year of the 15th cattle count of Snofru’s reign. Since the cattle counts were held at irregular intervals during this reign, this refers to somewhere between Snofru’s 15th and 30th year. It is very likely that the pyramid construction was started at the time when structural problems encountered when building the Bent Pyramid forced the builders to temporarily abandon this project.
Interestingly, a second inscription found 30 courses of stones higher is dated 2 to 4 years later than the inscription found at the base. This gives an idea about the speed at which the Egyptians were able to build a monument like this pyramid.
Within four years, 30 percent of the pyramid had been completed, and the entire pyramid was finished in about seventeen years.
There is little doubt that Snofru was finally buried in this pyramid, although the fragments of human remains found inside the burial chamber are not certain to have been his.
Interestingly, during the reign of Pepi I of the 6th Dynasty, this pyramid along with its southern neighbor, the Bent Pyramid, was considered as one estate.
* base length: 220 m
* slope: 43o 22′
* height: 104 m
* burial chamber: 4.18 x 8.55 m (height: 14.67 m)
The broader base and lower slope were intended to better spread the mass of this pyramid and thus avoid the structural problems that had temporarily halted works on the Bent Pyramid.
The entrance is located 28 m high up in the Northern face of the pyramid.
A descending passage (at an angle of 27 degrees) leads down for 62.63 m to a short horizontal corridor 7.4m long. This is followed by two almost identical antechambers with corbelled roofs. Both antechambers measure 3.65 by 8.36 m and are 12.31 m high.
The burial chamber can only be reached via a short passage which opens high up in the wall of the second antechamber. The burial chamber measures 4.18 by 8.55 m. Its corbelled roof goes up to a height of 14.67 m. It is located well above ground level, in the core of the pyramid.
The chapel built against the Eastern face of the pyramid was finished hastily, probably after the death of Snofru. It is somewhat more elaborate than the eastern chapel of the Red Pyramid or the pyramid at Meidum in that it houses an inner sanctuary, flanked by two smaller chapels.
There is no trace of a causeway leading down to the Valley Temple, of which few remains were found at the end of the 19th century.
In fact, all three of the chambers in this pyramid have corbelled ceilings, with between eleven and fourteen layers. Even with some two million tone
s of stone above, this ceiling design is so strong that there are no cracks or structural problems even today.
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