Original name: The Persistent Pyramid
Original height: 93.5 m / 312 ft
Base length: 147 m / 490 ft
Angle of inclination: 51° 50' 35'
Date of construction: 3rd and 4th dynasty
On the border of the desert, in the vicinity of agriculturally used areas, lies the Pyramid of Meydum. Its untypical form makes it look like a huge block of stone contrasting with the heap of debris that surrounds it.
Construction of the pyramid of Meydum was started by Huni, the last pharaoh of the 3rd dynasty. He intended to build a step pyramid that resembled the one of his to fail. Sneferu finally attempted to finish construction of the monument in several phases. But it seems like he never succeeded.
The monument contains a burial chamber, a valley temple, a causeway and a small sacrificial mortuary temple complete the burial site.
April 13, 2000 - FOX News
And now French and Egyptian archaeologists, armed with a fiber-optic endoscope like those doctors use to peer inside the human body, have discovered two previously unknown chambers and a tunnel that stretches nearly 40 meters (131 feet) into the heart of the enigmatic pyramid.
The structure began as a step pyramid, with stair-step sides like a giant wedding cake, in the style of the famous "first pyramid" built at Saqqara for Pharaoh Djoser. Then the steps were expanded by adding another layer. Finally, its steps were encased in a smooth shell to create one of the first true pyramids. Ninety kilometers (56 miles) south of Cairo, it rose nearly 100 meters (330 feet). It likely was unstable from the beginning and seems never to have been used as a tomb.
A tunnel shaft leads from the outside of the mostly collapsed pyramid to the burial chamber deep inside. But, Gaballah Ali Gaballah told the Eighth International Congress of Egyptologists in Cairo Thursday (March 30), two recesses near the bottom of the shaft have confused archaeologists. Gaballah is head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.
Each recess is about 1.7 meters (5.7 feet) high and 2.1 meters (6.9 feet) across. An unreinforced span of that size should be too great to support the enormous weight of the stone blocks above it. But the Franco-Egyptian team thinks it has solved the mystery.
The Pyramid of Meidum, nearly 328 feet high, was built in three stages.
Examining the masonry along the top of the shaft revealed what looked like a carefully concealed window. In May 1998, the researchers slipped an endoscope a device like a long, flexible telescope about the diameter of a human finger through a joint between building blocks. What they saw through the scope was another tunnel directly above the first. And this one had a "corbelled" roof a top built of overlapping blocks that rise progressively to a point. Such a roof would distribute the overlying weight and relieve pressure on the open corridor below it. The new shaft does not open on the outside of the pyramid, but it does head down toward the two troublesome recesses.
Last year, the team used the endoscope to explore beyond the end of the tunnel and above the recesses. What they found were two identical corbelled chambers, one above each recess and the same width. This rather clever, weight-distributing construction likely explains how the flat-roofed recesses were made possible.
Gaballah notes that the exact purpose of the complex recesses, chambers, and twin shafts is not clear: "The work is still in progress and we don't know what to expect."
In addition to Gaballah, the team included Mustafa El-Zeiri of Egypt and Gilles Dormion and Jean-Yves Verd'hurt of France.
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