- The Red Pyramid of Snofru -

  Dashur   Snofru    
  Bent Pyramid of Snofru   Meidum Pyramid    
  Red Pyramid of Snofru        
             
           
           


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The severe structural probles encountered while building the Bent Pyramid at Dashur South, led Snofru to build yet another pyramid, at a small distance to the North.

Stripped from its limestone casing, this new pyramid is has a redish colour, hence its modern-day name, the Red Pyramid. Its Ancient Egyptian name was xa, The Shining One.

An inscription found at the base of this pyramid has shown that work had started during the year of the 15th cattle count of Snofru's reign. Since the cattle counts were held at irregular intervals during this reign, this refers to somewhere between Snofru's 15th and 30th year.

Interestingly, a second inscription was found 30 courses of stones higher. it is dated 2 to 4 years later than the inscription found at the base. This gives an idea about the speed at which the Egyptians were able to build a monument like this pyramid.

The work on this pyramid probably started when structural problems encountered when building the Bent Pyramid forced the builders to temporarily abandon this project.

The Red Pyramid was built with a slope of only 43°22'. Its base length is 220 metres, that is 32 metres more than the Bent Pyramid. Its height is the same as the Bent Pyramid in its final state: 105 metres.

The broader base and lower slope were intended to better spread the mass of this pyramid and thus avoid the structural problems that had temporarily halted works on the Bent Pyramid.
 

   
 

3-dimensional view on the Red Pyramid, revealing its internal structure.
Source: Lehner, Complete Pyramids, p. 104-105.

The internal structure of this pyramid is a further continuation of the pyramid at Meidum and the Bent Pyramid. Contrary to this latter monument, however, there is only one internal structure, making it a lot more simple.

The entrance is located high up in the Northern face of the pyramid. A descending passage leads down for 62.63 metres to a short horizontal corridor. This is followed by two almost identical antechambers with corbelled roofs. Both antechambers measure 3.65 by 8.36 metres and are 12.31 metres high.
 

   
 

The Red Pyramid owes its name to the redish appearance of the exposed stones of its core.


 

The burial chamber can only be reached via a short passage which opens high up in the wall of the second antechamber. The burial chamber measures 4.18 by 8.55 metres. Its corbelled roof goes up to a height of 14.67 metres. It is located well above groundlevel, in the core of the pyramid.

The chapel built against the Eastern face of the pyramid was finished hastily, probably after the death of Snofru. It is somewhat more elaborate than the eastern chapel of the Red Pyramid or the pyramid at Meidum in that it houses an inner sanctuary, flanked by two smaller chapels.

There is no trace of a causeway leading down to the Valley Temple, of which few remains were found at the end of the 19th century.

There is little doubt that Snofru was finally buried in this pyramid, although the fragments of human remains found inside the burial chamber are not certain to have been his.

Interestingly, during the reign of Pepi I of the 6th Dynasty, this pyramid along with its southern neighbour, the Bent Pyramid, was considered as one estate.