May 14, 2012

Egyptian Bent Pyramid

The Bent Pyramid, also known as False, Rhomboidal and Blunted, lies to the south of the second of the group, and has definitely been ascribed to Seneferu. This pyramid appears to have been originally planned as a geometrically true pyramid but, for some unknown reason, was so hurriedly completed that the builders, in their haste, stopped before reaching the originally planned height. This deduction has been made because at about half-way up the pyramid, the angle of inclination decreases from roughly 54 degrees, 31 minutes to 43 degrees, 21 minutes. It has also been noted that it is not too accurately aligned to the cardinal points. Built on a base approximately 620 feet square, the Bent Pyramid would have reached a height of about 336 feet. Externally, it is the best preserved of all the existing pyramids. No other pyramid has retained so much of its outer casing. Internally, it is quite unique in that it has two separate entrances, one in the north face and another in the west face. The northern entrance leads downwards a distance of over 241 feet directly into an ante-chamber/vestibule, 16 feet wide and over 41 feet high. Directly beyond the ante-chamber/ corridor is a second chamber about 16 by 20 feet and about 57 feet high. The second entrance in the west face, leads downwards nearly 211 feet, levels out for over 66 feet more and ends directly in the second chamber.

Bent Pyramid
Not many objects were found in the chambers and corridors; some remains of an owl and several skeletons of bats were discovered wrapped together and in a wooden box in one of the floor cavities of the upper chamber. Here also, after considerable excavation of the two chambers, no sarcophagus was to be found, much to the dismay of the explorers.

The subsidiary pyramid, over 120 feet to the south, is 181 feet square and when finished must have measured over 106 feet high. This, too, has an entrance on the north face, which has a corridor descending into a small chapel with a pit in the middle of the floor. Directly beyond the chapel is a chamber nearly 8 feet square.

Subsidiary pyramids such as these are commonly found in the complexes of the main pyramids and are generally thought to have been used for one of two purposes: either they could have been the Queen’s Pyramids or they could have served as burial pyramids for the entrails of the kings.

The pyramid complex of Meidum provides the general plan for all the successive pyramidal complexes. It, like its successors, contained a main pyramid, a chapel, a smaller pyramid, and a mortuary temple, all enclosed within a wall. A causeway leading from the entrance of the mortuary temple connected to a valley temple on the bank of the Nile. This valley temple was built for the express purpose of receiving the body of the dead pharaoh, which was brought to it by boat. If the river had overflowed, the boat could dock directly at the temple; however, a canal was also dug, connecting the river to the door of the temple, so that in dry seasons the boat could still reach its mooring even if the river bank had receded from the temple entrance (see Fig. 6).

To the north of the Bent Pyramid stands a pyramid, known as the Northern Stone Pyramid of Dahshur. Strangely, this pyramid is nearly of the same angle of slope as the top half of the Bent Pyramid, 43 degrees and 36 minutes, and is 719 feet square at the base. The northern entrance leads down a corridor to twin ante-chambers and a main chamber over 50 feet high. The actual ownership of this pyramid is not known but is tentatively credited to Seneferu. This would indicate that he possibly had a choice of as many as three pyramids in which to be buried.

Once the art of majestic pyramid building reached its apogee in the Giza Pyramids (discussed in chapter 5), a steady decline of pyramid construction prevailed. The many pyramids of the Fifth and Sixth dynasty were not as complex and grandiose in size and quality. The stones and other building material used were of such inferior quality that many of the succeeding kings’ pyramids are now nothing more than rubble. However, in the Fifth and Sixth Dynasty artistic skills were developed much further than they had been in previous dynasties. But when the Sixth Dynasty ended, heralding the close of the Old Kingdom, arts and crafts declined and most of the temples and tombs of the Pyramid Age were pillaged and destroyed.

A resurgence of pyramid building activity began during the Twelfth Dynasty the pyramids built being more ornate, but of lesser quality than the previous ones. Since the first Step Pyramid built in the Third Dynasty to the last major pyramid built in the Thirteenth Dynasty, only thirty pyramids are considered by Egyptologists to be of any consequence, either historically or architecturally (see list of pyramids on pages 58-9).

The absence of mummies in these, remains an inexplicable phenomena if one believes, as do most Egyptologists, that approximately one thousand years of pyramid building and elaborate tunneling was performed for the sole purpose of the interment of the bodies of the pharaohs in sarcophagi. Obviously, the sealing of the sarcophagi and the many tunnels and passageways to “safeguard the tomb from despoilers” becomes somewhat incomprehensible when, upon opening the burial chamber for the first time since it was sealed, no body is found. There are also cases where burial chambers were found with holes dug through one side. Egyptologists believe that these holes were dug by pillagers. If so, the robbers must have had great skill in tunneling, a plan of the chambers within the pyramid and an insatiable desire not only for the precious jewels and other items entombed with the body, but also for the body itself!

Currently there are three major schools of thought on this subject. The first claims that the tomb robbers took the bodies in order to completely defile the previous pharaoh. They disposed of the mummies in some unexplained way so that they are lost forever to posterity.

The second school believes that those burial chambers are actually dummy rooms and the real burial vaults are yet to be found within each pyramid. This explanation is more reasonable, since it is obvious that even the immense pyramids, with all of their elaborate safeguards were vulnerable to thieves. Possibly the builders were cunning enough to equip rooms with sealed sarcophagi and some jewels in order to deceive thieves into believing they had actually found the main chambers. This would explain the appearance of the alleged burial chambers upon initial entry by modern archaeologists empty rooms devoid of everything save for sealed, yet empty, sarcophagi. It is certainly conceivable that the pharaohs were extremely aware of the skill and determination of the criminals of their days and in their apparently successful efforts to confound them unwittingly created a mystery which has endured to the present time.

The third group of scholars believes that the pyramids, especially the Great Pyramid at Giza (see chapters 6.& 7), were never built as burial vaults but, instead, were created as temples of initiation.

These scholars have no theory as to why the sarcophagi have consistently been found sealed but empty.

As has been seen, the mysteries of the pyramids are manifold even the experts cannot agree as to the real reason for the erection of the pyramids, the methods of construction used in these massive structures and, of course, the absence of mummies in what were, apparently, sealed sarcophagi.

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