Cairo Sights

Dahshur (Red Pyramid)

  • Al-Haram Dahshur Map It
  • Menshat Dahshur
  • Archaeological Site/Ruins

Published 01/10/2017

Fodor's Review

Named for the pinkish limestone of which it is made, the Red (North) Pyramid belonged to the 4th-Dynasty pharaoh Sneferu (2575–2551 BC), father of Khufu. It is 721 square feet and was originally 341 feet tall—just a little smaller than Khufu's Great Pyramid. It marks the first successful attempt at building a true pyramid. This is the second of Sneferu's two pyramids. The other is the Bent Pyramid. Why he commissioned two pyramids is unknown; some scholars believe that Sneferu built this pyramid after the Bent Pyramid because he feared the latter would collapse. The North Pyramid contains three chambers with corbeled roofs and a plethora of 19th-century graffiti. Tomb robbers battered the floor of the topmost chamber in search of treasure they never found.

Built for Sneferu, the Bent Pyramid is obviously named for its unique shape, which seems to demonstrate the transition between the step and the true pyramid. It is 599 feet square, and its original height was

344 feet, although it was intended to be 421 feet. It retains much of its limestone cladding.

This was the first pyramid to have been planned as a true pyramid, as opposed to a step pyramid. Its unusual bent angle seems to have occurred because the builders felt that the initial angle was too steep, and that the pyramid would collapse if they did not adjust it. This pyramid is also unusual in that it has two entrances: the typical north-face entrance, and a second in the west face that is just visible above the change in the angle.

Although the pyramid itself was undecorated, its valley temple is among the earliest to be adorned. (None of the decorated portions are at the site; the temple is a bit of a walk to the northeast, and it isn't very rewarding to visit.) The pyramid contains two chambers with corbeled ceilings. A passage from the north entrance leads to the chambers. To the south stands a subsidiary pyramid built of limestone, and on the east are the very ruined remains of a stone and mud-brick mortuary temple.

Built for Amenemhet III (1844–1797 BC), the Black Pyramid was constructed out of mud brick and faced with limestone. The limestone was plundered, leaving only the black mud brick that gives the pyramid its modern name. The pyramid measures 344 feet square and originally rose to 265 feet. The entrance to the burial chamber was not in the north face but outside the pyramid, in a courtyard opposite the southern corner of the east face. The top of the pyramid was crowned by a black basalt pyramidion, now in the Cairo Museum. Amenemhet, like Sneferu, had two pyramids; the other one is in Hawara in the Fayyum. The Black Pyramid is the southernmost of the Dahshur group of pyramids.

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Sight Information


Al-Haram Dahshur, Menshat Dahshur, Giza, Egypt

Map It

Sight Details:

  • £E30

Published 01/10/2017


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