Many tourists who visit Egypt think that the land of the Pharaohs only has the Pyramids of Giza a. However, Egypt hosts a large number of pyramids in Saqqara with the Step Pyramid of Djoser being the center point, El Fayoum, and Dahshour that hosts many pyramids with the Red Pyramid of Senfru, the second largest pyramid in Egypt as the most important highlight.
Moreover, the pyramids of Dahshour mark the most important transitory period in the building of the pyramids in ancient Egypt. It was in Dahshour where king Senfru, the father of King Cheops, had two attempts to build two real pyramids; the first was his Bent Pyramid and the second was his Red Pyramid.
The Pyramids of Dahshour are located in the governorate of Giza, about 37 kilometers to the South of the center of Cairo, the Egyptian Capital.
Dahshour is located near many important highlights, as it is located about 20 kilometers away from the Pyramids of Giza, 20 kilometers away from Saqqara, and about 15 kilometers away from Memphis. This is why many travelers who spend their vacation in Egypt can add Dahshour to their program while spending few days in Cairo.
The history of the Pyramids of Dahshour
Dahshour was the Southern necropolis of the ancient city of Memphis, the first capital of unified Egypt as early as the ruling period of the 4th dynasty of the Old Kingdom.
King Senfru, who ruled Egypt from 2613 till 2589 BC, is the founder of the 4th dynasty and he is the one to be credited from the real development of pyramids’ building in Egypt. It is not Cheops, his son, as many people think today.
Senfru was the first king to try to build a proper pyramid in ancient Egypt. His first attempt in Meidum turned out to be a disaster. A crisis occurred when he tried to fill out the spaces between the layers to form a proper pyramid. These stones collapsed and caused the death of hundreds of workers. The site was deserted right away afterwards.
However, King Senfru never lost hope in achieving his dream to have the first proper pyramid in Egypt and he redirected his efforts towards a new location and that was Dahshour.
He started by building his first pyramid that is now called the bent pyramid because the outer layer of limestone started falling apart causing this bending in the overall look of the pyramid. Afterwards, Senfru was able to clearly make his dream come true when he constructed the Red Pyramid, the first proper pyramid in Egypt and the second largest pyramid in the country today.
Six decades after the successful attempts of Senfru, some kings who belong to the 12th dynasty tried to build their pyramids in Dahshour as well. However, all their trials failed. The results included a bizarre looking construction and some rubbles of sand that still exist in Dahshour up till today. The Pharaohs include Amenmhat II, Amenmhat III, and Senusert III.
The reason why this pyramid was called the red pyramid is actually due to the red color of the bricks that were used in its construction. The Red Pyramid might be approximately equal in the size of its base to the Pyramid of Cheops in Giza as it the length of each of its sides is around 220 meters. However, it is much smaller in height.
Being the second largest pyramid in Egypt, after the grand pyramid of Cheops in Giza, the Red Pyramid of Senfru is around 100 meters in height. The entrance of the pyramid is 28 meters above sea level and it is situated in its northern section. There is a passageway of around 60 meters that takes the guests from the entrance till the three similar chambers at the bottom of the pyramid.
The Bent Pyramid of Dahshour is in fact the very last stage before building a proper pyramid. It has a square shaped base with the length of each side being around 190 meters long and the whole pyramid is approximately 100 meters in height.
Historians claim that the reasons behind this bending of the pyramid are either two things. When the architects first designed the pyramid, the Inclination degree was set to be 54.14 meters. However, the architects found that the pyramid would be extremely high that way so they changed the inclination degree during the construction phase. The other reason is that the king wanted the workers to finish the pyramid quickly in order to be buried there.
The king Amenmhat, who ruled Egypt from 1911 till 1877 BC chose Dahshour to construct his pyramid that made out of mud bricks. However, his construction had been largely damaged with time passing by.
To the West of the Pyramid of Amenmhat II in Dahshour, a number of ancient tombs were unearthed and a number of remarkable jewelers were discovered and they are now put on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
Situated near the Pyramid of Amenmhat II in the northern section of Dahshour, this pyramid was made out mud bricks that were then coated with limestone. However, today, the pyramid looks like a strange formation of rocks due to the fall of many of its parts. Although the original height was 78 meters, today of course it is much less.
Included in the UNESCO world heritage sites, many travelers who tour Egypt explore the ancient site of Dahshour as part of their holiday in the land of the Nile.