The Pyramids of Dahshour encapsulate ancient Egypt. Although places like the Giza Plateau are greater tourist sites, Dahshour is something akin to a great book, telling us great and glorious stories of Ancient Egyptian History.
Dahshour is one of Memphis’s most important cemeteries and is one of many vast necropoleis located in the great Ancient Egypt Capital. Located about 30Km south of the Giza Pyramids, and in the southern wing of Saqqara, the Dahshour area contains pyramids of the IV and the XII Dynasties. Here you will find the Pyramid of Amenemhat II, and the Pyramid of Amenemhat III, or the Black Pyramid. In fact, the great King Snefru (2680-2656 B.C), the founder of the IV Dynasty, was the first king who chose to build his tomb in this royal area, as it was close to the capital, Memphis.
The Bent Pyramid
First, he built the southern pyramid, or what we call today the Bent Pyramid. The architect was horrified to find he made a mistake during its construction and he didn’t realize it until the height of the pyramid reached about 48m (with an angle of 54 degrees)! He made a quick decision and altered his design in order to make it safer (and to prevent what had happened at Medium). When he finished, the pyramid’s angle was just 43 degrees! Today, it is called the Rhomboid or Bent Pyramid. Egyptologists, analyzing why he made the change, think that the angle of 54 degrees was going to result in a very wobbly but huge and high pyramid This would have made the pyramid very unstable, especially when cracks started to appear, which they did and were later filled with gypsum.
The Southern (Bent) Pyramid of Dashur was built from local limestone and cased in fine, Turah limestone. Its height is about 101m, with a length of 188.6m on each side. The original entrance of the pyramid is found the northern face as usual, but Professor Ahmed Fakhry (1905–1973), during his 1951 excavations, discovered another unknown entrance on its western side.
One of the most remarkable features of the pyramid is the existence of cedar beams, which are thought to have been imported from Lebanon. East of the pyramid is a small Mortuary Temple consisting of one small shrine. To the south is a small subsidiary pyramid, cleared in 1947 by the Egyptologist Abd El-Salam Hussein.
The Red Pyramid
About 2Km to the north of the southern pyramid, another pyramid was built for King Snefru. This time his architect was more careful. He avoided all of his previous mistakes by following the same angle from bottom to top – 43 degrees. This is what helped to create the first, perfect, complete Pyramid in history. This became the “blueprint” for all future Pyramids, which appeared during the IV, V, and VI dynasties. This “perfect pyramid” is known as the Northern Pyramid due to its location but also, Red Pyramid, as the builders had favored a special kind of rosette limestone to build the inner burial chamber. It is 99m high, and each side of the base is 220m in length.
28m above the ground, on the northern face of the pyramid, lies the entrance. A steep, 60m long, passage leads down to the first chamber, which in turn connects to the second chamber by a low, rectangular passageway. Both of these chambers are about the same size, with high walls, and a corbelled ceiling. At the far end of the second chamber is the entrance to the burial chamber; a wooden ladder takes you up to the entrance, about 8m above the floor level, and a wooden bridge spans the burial chamber itself. About 16m above you is the high, corbelled ceiling(supported by an arch)
Useful Tip – bring a flashlight as the illumination is very poor.
On the eastern side of the pyramid is the Mortuary Temple of King Snefru. Though totally ruined, you’re still able to see how it was once laid out, and you can also see some of the original fine, Turah limestone casing stones. Plus, situated here is what is thought to have been the capstone of the pyramid, though there is much dispute to that fact, as the angle of slope is different from that of the Pyramid.
The cemetery of Dahshour contains other pyramids, smaller in scale, built out of mud bricks, and dating back to the XII Dynasty. These belonged to Amenemhat II, Senusert III, and Amenemhat III. Inside the Pyramid of King Senusert III, a precious collection of jewels and gold were found, which is now found globally at select museum locations. Specifically the collection that belonged to some of the Princesses of the XII Dynasty.
Many tombs were uncoverd in the area of the pyramids, but were either in bad condition or never completed.
click on the pictures below to enlarge