CAIRO: Most tourists visiting Egypt think that Giza Pyramids are the oldest, best preserved and largest of Egypt’s some seventy Pyramids. They, however, have not experienced a trip to the 4,600 year-old Red Pyramid at Dahshour.
The Red Pyramid was built during the reign of Pharaoh Snefru (2613 B.C.–2589 B.C.), who was the father of Pharaoh Cheops of the Great Pyramid at Giza, said Head of Giza archaeological site, Kamal Wahid.
“The area of Dahshour, located some 40 kilometers south of the Giza Pyramids, is known mainly for several pyramids, one of which is the oldest and is among the largest and the best preserved in Egypt,” said Wahid.
Dahshour Pyramid is Egypt’s the most ancient “true” pyramid that was built around 60 years before the Great Pyramid at Giza. When it was completed, it became the “blueprint” example for all the Pyramids, which appeared during the 4th, 5th, and 6th dynasties, including the three pyramids at Giza, according to Wahid.
“It is the outcome of accumulated architectural experiences carried out by ancient Egyptians who have tried so hard to reach a perfect pyramid shape. The Red Pyramid also represents the conclusion of more than 600 years of attempts to build a stable edifice to house the mummy of the Pharaoh,” archaeologist Sherif el-Sabban told The Cairo Post.
The Bent Pyramid, located 2 kilometers to the south of the Red Pyramid was also built for Snefru but it is unfinished because its angle was too wide [54 degrees]; a mistake, which was not realized until the height reached about 48m, was going to result in a very high Pyramid, which would have been very unstable, according to Sabban.
“The Bent pyramid was not used for the burial of Snefru and it seems the architect decided to build another pyramid to please the Pharaoh. He learnt from his and others’ mistakes and has built the Red Pyramid with its current architectural features including 43 degree sides. By doing so, he had created the first, perfect, complete Pyramid in history,” said Sabban, adding that the Red Pyramid became the standard of all Egypt’s Pyramids that have been built later.
The Red Pyramid is so-called because the builders used a reddish limestone to build it. It is 100 meters high and each side of the base is of 224 meters long, Cairo tour guide Hamed Mostafa told The Cairo Post.
“Dahshour area is not popular simply because it is far from Giza; the road to the pyramids is uneven and bumpy and the Red Pyramid itself has not been completely excavated. The pyramid is unique with its northern entrance some 40 meters above ground level and with its descending corridor leading to the burial chamber which was found empty when the pyramid was first excavated in the early 20th Century,” said Mostafa.
Kevin Philips, an American tourist who visited Egypt and Dahshour Pyramids in 2009, told The Cairo Post through email that he enjoyed his visit to the site and admired “such architectural marvels which answer questions about the evolution of royal tombs and pyramids in ancient Egypt.”
“Dahshour is a must-see monument. It evoked a great part of the Egyptian history though it is not a major site. I had wonderful time taking pictures with people,” said Philips.