August 25, 2010
from Heritage Website
Archaeologists have discovered a large structure - to the northeast
of the 4,600 year old
Bent Pyramid - which may be the remains of an
ancient harbor. It connects to one of the pyramid’s temples by way
of a 140 meter long causeway.
The discoveries were made by a team from the Cairo department of the
German Archaeological Institute, and the Free University of Berlin.
The team used magnetic survey and drill cores soundings to make the
finds. The structure is mostly unexcavated and only a portion of the
causeway has been unearthed.
The structure itself is U-shaped, 90 meters by 145 meters.
built with mud brick and has no wall on its east side.
structure can be interpreted as (a) harbor or something like that,”
Nicole Alexanian of the German Archaeological Institute,
She said that it may have been beside water,
that ships could enter by a canal in this area.”
Harbors are known from later Egyptian pyramids and may have served
as a receiving point for the body of the pharaoh.
It is unlikely,
however, that the newly discovered structure was used for the burial
of the Bent Pyramid’s creator - the pharaoh Snefru. It is widely
believed by Egyptologists that his final resting place was the
Pyramid, located two kilometers to the north of the Bent Pyramid.
Snefru was the first ruler of the fourth dynasty and constructed two
pyramids at Dahshur (the Bent and Red Pyramids), one at Meidum, and
one at Seila.
These were the first “true” pyramids - those with
After he died, his son Khufu inherited the throne and
began construction of the
Great Pyramid at Giza.
An excavated portion of the newly discovered 140 meter causeway.
connects the U-shaped structure to one of the Bent Pyramid's
The structure has three meter high walls.
1 - A shot
of the Dahshur landscape.
Pyramid is on the left, the Black Pyramid (of Amenemhat
III) is in the middle and the Red Pyramid is on the
2 - At left
archaeologists excavate part of the 140 meter long mud
an unexcavated u-shaped building to the temple seen at
background the Bent Pyramid can be seen.
3 - A shot
of a temple near the Bent Pyramid.
A 140 meter
long causeway starts here and ends at a newly discovered
u-shaped structure which may be a harbor.
4 - A team
carries out drillings.
revealed that a 90 meter by 145 meter U-shape structure
exists close to the Bent Pyramid.
to one of the pyramid's temples through a 140 meter long
mud brick causeway.
5 - An
excavated portion of the newly discovered 140 meter
the U-shaped structure to one of the Bent Pyramid's
structure has three meter high walls.
6 - The
passageway of the newly discovered causeway. It can
easily fit two fully grown men.
are three meters high and built with mud brick.
with a vault at the top.
have bits of undecorated white and yellow plaster on
Archaeologists can tell that these walls have gone
through four phases of plastering.
that this causeway was maintained for at least 40 years.
A 140 meter roofed causeway
The causeway runs due east of the temple and has a vaulted roof.
This appears to be the earliest known instance in which a roofed
causeway was used in an Egyptian pyramid complex.
“The walls - they built them to a really astonishing height, almost
three meters,” said Dr. Alexanian. “It was like a tunnel -
astonishingly it’s also very steep.”
The interior of the causeway contained a passageway more than 2.5
Its walls were lined with undecorated white and yellow
plaster which appears to have been maintained for a long time.
“Four phases of the plastering could be distinguished which attest
that it was renewed several times,” said the team in a recent
“From (the) state of weathering of the different plaster
layers it can be inferred that the causeway was used for a
substantial period of time i.e. at least 40 years.”
Building the Bent Pyramid
Archaeologists are not certain why
Snefru went to the trouble of
building four pyramids in Egypt.
The Bent pyramid, as its name
suggests, has an odd angle - with a slope that looks like it was
changed part way through construction. It has been suggested that
this was an error made by workers trying to grasp new construction
However research done by the German team suggests that the geology
of the plateau played a role in the pyramid’s odd shape.
“The ground had to be stable - this was a problem with the Bent
Pyramid,” said Dr. Alexanian. “The ground where the Bent Pyramid is
built on, it’s not always stone, there was some taffla. It’s
something like muddy structures in the ground.”
This affected construction.
“Therefore they got problems doing the
ground, therefore they altered the angle of the pyramid.”
Flattening the plateau
There is also evidence that the pyramid builders altered the plateau
to make it flatter - quarrying material from the east. The team
writes in a conference abstract that the topography of the pyramid
“can be hardly explained taking into account only fluvial
processes or processes like gully erosion or soil erosion.”
“for the area of the pyramid plateau a direct
anthropogenic relief forming influence has to be considered.”
other words - humans altered the shape of the plateau.
Alexanian said that flattening the plateau would,
“make the view from
the cultivated area even more dramatic.”
People would have seen a
flat, sharply edged, plateau, with a pyramid built on top and
possibly a canal leading up to it.
A sight that would make someone living 4,600 years ago gasp in awe.