The Pyramid of Sneferu

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

The pyramid of Maidum was originally a seven-stepped pyramid. It was enlarged to an eight-stepped pyramid. Eventually the steps were filled in and a smooth outer facing turned it into a true pyramid. It stands on the desert's edge and is the only structure in the vicinity. It is a huge structure that is surrounded by the debris from the casing that collapsed. When the casing collapsed is uncertain.

Some believe that the collapse was the cause for the change in the angle of the Bent Pyramid. Others believe it did not happen until the Roman times or possibly the Middle Ages. The theory as to the reason for the collapse is that the distribution for the stresses was calculated incorrectly. The stress was outward instead of inward such as in the pyramids at Giza. Another belief is that the smooth outer casing did not provide good bonding for the fill that was placed on there later. The foundation was not sound enough for this change and the way the blocks were laid was not well chosen. The four outer buttress walls gave way and the walls collapsed.

The Maidum Pyramid is thought to have been started by Huni, the last ruler of the 3rd Dynasty, and then completed by his son, Sneferu (Snofru). Sneferu was the first 4th Dynasty pharaoh (2613 - 2494 BC).

The original size of the pyramid was 144m square and 42m high. The entrance into the pyramid is on the north side up a 30m stairway. A passageway descends down 57m to a level that is below the pyramid's foundation. The passageway levels out and comes to a vertical shaft that leads up to the burial chamber. This chamber has a corbelled roof and the walls are lined in limestone. The construction timbers are still visible in this room. The chamber is on the same level as the pyramid's foundation.

Near the pyramid is a cemetery which contains some important and quite large mastabas. The most noted of these are the twin mastabas of Neferma'at and his wife Itet and Re'hotpe (Rahotep) and his wife Nofret. In the mastaba of Re'hotpe (Rahotep) were the found the statues of Re'hotpe and his wife.

These statues are now in the Egyptian Museum. There is also a mastaba in the cemetery in which the entrance is the robbers' passage. This chamber is not decorated and is a little difficult to get through. Inside the huge blocks of stone that sealed the original entrance are still in place. A little north of the Maidum Pyramid is the remains of the Seila (Silah) step pyramid. It is made of limestone and is thought to be from the 2nd Dynasty.

Egyptian farmers walk next to the 'collapsed pyramid' of Meydum

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 corbeled 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.

Snefru - Snofru