Was the Bent Pyramid at Dahshur a massive blunder? Could it have been intentional?
With the abrupt bend half-way up, perhaps because of the awkwardly steep angle it was taking, the Bent Pyramid is often seen as something novel.
Built on the command of King Sneferu, around 2,600 B.C., the king had his workers finish it off with a gentler slope and, seemingly having learned a lesson, commissioned another massive pyramid nearby—the Red Pyramid; the world’s first colossal true, smooth-sided pyramid.
The theory is that the Bent Pyramid began as a smaller, but much steeper structure, climbing with a slope of 60°. Because the firmness of the ground beneath the pyramid was overestimated, at about 38 metres up the pyramid began to settle, with cracks appearing in the casing. At this point a supporting girdle was added to the bottom courses resulting in a change of slope from 60° to 54°. It didn't work. The problems with subsidence continued and the king's engineers took a final, drastic step by creating the 'bend'—lowering the angle for the top half to 43°.
It seems plausible, but would the engineers really have been that short sighted at the beginning to attempt a pyramid with a 60° slope? Could the Bent Pyramid have been exactly what the king ordered?
It's likely that Sneferu was buried in the nearby Red Pyramid, but the Bent Pyramid mustn’t have been viewed as a total failure; long after the king’s death, he was still being worshipped at the Bent Pyramid, and not the aesthetically perfect Red Pyramid.
The current issue of Nile Magazine features Sneferu's next pyramid; the world's first true colossal pyramid: the Red Pyramid of Dahshur. Pick up a copy in the U.K. at WHSmith, or subscribe via the link above.