Bent’ pyramid: Egypt opens ancient oddity for tourism

Egypt has recently opened the bent pyramid built for King Sneferu, to the public. The pyramid is 101 meters and lies south of Cairo. The structure marks a milestone in the construction of pyramids.

Tourists will now be able to go down the narrow tunnel which is 79 meters long, from an entrance on the northern face of the pyramid. This leads to two chambers inside the structure which dates back 4,600 years.

They also will be able to enter into an 18-meter high side pyramid which was made for the wife of King Sneferu, Hetepheres. This has been opened up for the first time since the year 1956. The bent pyramid is one of the three pyramids built for the founding king of the fourth dynasty in Egypt. These are located in Dahshur, which is at the south end of Memphis necropolis. It is a UNESCO world heritage site.

The pyramid appears unusual to experts who say that the first 49 meters of the structure keep up their smooth limestone casing. However, they are built at a steep angle of 54 degrees which leads up to a tapering top. This has been reopened to the public for the first time since 1965 when restoration work had forced it to close.

The straight sides of the Red Pyramid which is just north of the structure are contrasted by the angular top. The Red Pyramids are the first of the fully formed pyramids and architecturally are the first step towards the Great Pyramids of Giza.

The angle of the bent pyramid, according to Mostafa Waziri, the secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, had to be changed when cracks appeared in the structure. Mohamed Shiha, the director of the Dahshur site has said that since Sneferu lived so long ago, architects wanted to complete the pyramid shape. nobody is sure of where he has been buried, and whether it was in one of these pyramids at all or not is a mystery.

Authorities seek to increase tourism at Dahshur which lies 28km south of Cairo central. The site is in the open desert and does not receive as many tourists as Giza.

As the pyramids were opened, archaeologists have presented many late period masks, mummies and tools which they discovered in the excavations which began last year and continue now.  Many hidden tombs were found in the process, along with a wide array of objects and coffins.

Tourism is a major source of income for Egypt and to promote this, the opening of the pyramids is a major step. Tourism has been dwindling since the 2011 uprising, and the country is recovering from its major consequences.

Another tomb which has been unveiled by archaeologists is that of Sa Eset. This was closed since its excavation in 1894 and contains hieroglyphic funerary texts which are well preserved. Foreign ambassadors invited to attend the opening were led through small spaces in the tomb which will not be opened up to the public for another two years.

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