Bent

The Bent Pyramid, Dahshur, Egypt, 2017

Everyone knows about the pyramids of Giza in Egypt – the Great Pyramid of Khufu, plus those of his successors, Khafra and Menkaura.  These monuments of the Fourth Dynasty in Egypt’s Old Kingdom are renowned, but they were not the first of the pyramids built by the ancient Egyptians.
The first of those pyramids was the Step Pyramid at Saqqara, built for a Third Dynasty king named Djoser.  (It was originally a single level tomb building that just got bigger and higher.)  There were some others built, too, prior to the pyramids at Giza, perhaps the most interesting and unusual being the Bent Pyramid at Dahshur.

The Bent Pyramid, Dahshur, Egypt, 2017

What is unusual about this pyramid is that, as its name suggests, it bends in the middle, with its lower level inclined at an angle of 54 degrees, but about midway up shifting to a shallower angle of only 43 degrees.  I have read in a recently published book that this change in inclination may have been intended from the start, to make the pyramid resemble a squat type of obelisk found in certain Egyptian temples, but over the years most people have thought that the change in the inclination was not originally planned, but was a necessary change in order to prevent the pyramid from collapsing.  (This would also show that the pyramid form was developed by the Egyptians over time by trial and error, rather than being constructed by space aliens, who would presumably have known how to build them properly.)
This pyramid was built around 2600 BCE for a king called Sneferu, the first king of the Fourth Dynasty, who actually had three pyramids built – the Bent Pyramid, an earlier one at Meidum that partially collapsed in antiquity, and a later one, also at Dahshur, that was the first true straight edged pyramid built, which is called the Red Pyramid and is only slightly smaller than the famous Great Pyramid at Giza.

The Bent Pyramid (foreground) Looking Toward the “Black Pyramid” of Amenemhat III, Dahshur, Egypt, 2017

I mention Giza again at this point to also compare it to the site of Dahshur, as comparing the two is like comparing the ridiculous to the sublime.  Everybody who visits Egypt goes to see the pyramids at Giza, at while it is certainly a must-see site, it also has a circus atmosphere of sorts, filled with lots of tourists plus locals forever trying to sell you all kinds of stuff and trying to convince you to ride on their camels or donkeys.
Dahshur, on the other hand, is the complete and total opposite.  Perhaps because the pyramids are located near an army base, when I visited in 2017 the place was almost deserted, with just a handful of other tourists (if any) and not one person there trying to sell anything to you.  For this, I think Dahshur may be my favorite place in Egypt.  It is the Egypt of old, the Egypt as I would like to imagine it – with nothing there to occupy your mind but the wind and the sand and the stones of old.

The Step Pyramid, Saqqara, Egypt, 2017

About Dave Rudin

Dave Rudin is a fine art photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. He specializes in art nude and travel photography, using black & white film and making silver gelatin prints in a darkroom.
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1 Response to Bent

  1. Pingback: Red | Figures of Grace

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