Egypt – Evolution of the Pyramid

Gosh – the title of this post reads like a boring college course, doesn’t it? But not to worry – I’ll make it brief and promise no quiz afterward…

During our trip to Egypt, we had a chance to visit some of the more obscure pyramids (obscure = not many tour buses). While not as famous as the pyramids of Giza, these lesser known pyramids played a critical role in the advancements in architecture that made it possible to build their more famous cousins.

“Step Pyramid” – The brain-child of architect Imhotep, the Step Pyramid is considered to be the first pyramid ever built from cut stone. Located outside the city of Memphis (one of the first capitals of Egypt), it’s not hard to see where the Step Pyramid got it’s name. It is currently in the middle of a face-lift.

The Step Pyramid was definitely an impressive structure

“Bent Pyramid” – Perhaps my favorite, the Bent Pyramid was Egypt’s first attempt at a “smooth-sided” pyramid (i.e., no steps). However, about half-way through construction, designers realized they were building at the wrong angle and adjusted. The Pharaoh Sneferu didn’t like the way it turned out and ordered a new one built a few miles away. As a result, it went unused. If you were a builder, how frustrating would that be?!?

This angle of the Bent Pyramid really shows the "bend"
Notice how the angle of the pyramid changes about halfway up...doh!

“Red Pyramid” – The Red Pyramid was the last minute replacement for the Bent Pyramid. As you’ll see, they got this one right. It is considered to be the first pyramid with smooth sides and ended up being the 3rd largest one in Egypt.

Standing in front of the massive Red Pyramid

Meg and I had a chance to go inside of the Red Pyramid. The shaft down into the chamber was narrow – maybe 3-4′ high and a few feet wide. It ran for probably a good 200′, which seems like an eternity when you are crouched down and the sunlight is fading behind you. Inside, the smell of ammonia (used to prevent mold) just about knocked you out. Couple that with the stifling heat and we were ready to leave after a few minutes. But we stuck around long enough for Meg to snap some illegal pictures that show some hieroglyphics on wall. Pretty cool.

The hieroglyphics inside the Red Pyramid were well preserved

Despite the tight surrondings and ammonia smell, Meg put on a brave face

My back was not happy with me about this trip!

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