Red Pyramid

the first true pyramid
the first true pyarmid, in the desert of dashur

Sneferu built three pyramids, two in Dashur and one in Maidum. The Red Pyramid is his second effort, and is the first true “pyramid-shaped” pyramid built. It is very large — only the Great Pyramid at Giza built by his son Cheops is larger — and has the interior structures are remarkably similar to its larger, younger cousin.

This is the first pyramid built as a pyramid shape from the start (prior pyramids were built as step pyramids and the “filled in”. ) Some of the original facing stone remains on the east side, but the bulk of the exposed stone is a reddish local limestone.

the corner of the pyramid, showing the red inner core
all of the casing stones have been removed, leaving the reddish limestone core

The Eyewitness Guide oddly reports that the Red Pyramid is so-called ‘because of the ancient red graffiti found in side”. That is the first time I’ve heard this — especially since the pyramid is quite obviously reddish all on its own. Up close, though, the interior of the blocks are quite yellow.

the inside of the stones looks yellowish
the inside of the stones looks almost yellow, and soft

The Red Pyramid is only slightly smaller in area than the Great Pyramid (about 220 m square), but the angle is much lower. It honestly makes the pyramid look much larger, I think. It’s hard to comprehend the size of the thing, and so the gentle slope is a strange optical illusion.

The remains of the limestone pyramidon (the single capstone of a pyramid) have also been found, so we know that the pyramid was indeed finished. It is younger than the Bent Pyramid, and seems to have been built with the well-learned lessons of the earlier pyramid in mind.

the face of the shallow red pyramid
the face of the shallow red pyarmid

It’s a long trek up to the entrance of the pyramid (and you can see how many other people were hanging around.). After spending quite a few breathless moments in the Great Pyramid, I wasn’t sure about heading into this on. “Chew gum, so your mouth doesn’t get dry, and go down backwards” was the advice from our driver and our guide. It didn’t work. Ten feet in, I climbed back out. Mark went inside and took the pictures on the

the shallow slope is quite noticeable  the tiny inner passageway
the pyramid is quite shallow. The narrow passageway inside, covered in grafitti

It can be entered by a a passage in the north, and a steep passage leads to corbelled chambers and the burial chamber. The entrance is long and slightly claustrophobic (I discovered that pyramid brought out a previously unknown sense of panic in closed spaces) and opened into the first chamber, then through another small tunnel and to the second chamber, which contains a tall cedar scaffold leading to the entrance of the burial chamber.

the first chamber   scaffolding to the burial chamber
the first chamber, with a tiny passage to the seond and the scaffolding to the burial chamber.

After the climb and near-crawling, the burial chamber is a bit of a letdown — there was never any sign of a true burial here. Sneferu is buried in his other Dashur pyramid, the Bent Pyramid. to the south.

passage to the burial chamber
the newly installed lights in the passage to the burial chamber

the bottom of the burial chamber at the end of the passage

The view from the entrance over the pyramid field is quite spectacular. Close in, you can see the military base that once included the pyramid field here, and further on, you can glimpse Saqqara, and on a clear day, the three pyramids of Giza

view from the pyramid entrance
view towards the east, from the entrance of the pyramid

view north of saqqara
view north to saqqara and the step pyramid of djoser

the pyramid field
the pyramid field, from the entrance of the red pyarmid

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