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Dahshur Pyramids
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Dahshur forms the southernmost area of the Memphis Necropolis and contains a number of pyramid complexes and monuments. The major monuments at Dahshur date to the 12th and 13th Dynasties, but do not compare with the sheer scale of the works of Huni and Snofru. The White Pyramid of Amenemhet II, the Black Pyramid of Amenemhet III, and the Pyramid of Senusret III dominate a number of smaller monuments to minor rulers, nobles, and officials, telling of a fairly stable and peaceful period in Egypt's history. Interestingly enough, the Black Pyramid and the Pyramid of Senusret III are made of brick, not stone. Why the materials were switched is unclear, though it is known that at that time new construction methods were coming to Egypt from other countries as trade and foreign relations became foremost.

The Pyramid of Amenemhet II at Dahshur (  also called the White Pyramid )

Dahshur is an interesting field to explore, because it has only recently been open to the public and so far is not so very crowded with tourists. It has some interesting and otherwise fine (and large) examples of pyramids. This pyramid was most likely called "Amenemhet is well cared for", and is located east of the better known Red Pyramid, but is not nearly as well preserved as some others in the area. We call Amenemhet II's structure the White Pyramid, though it is certainly no longer white. It derived this name many years before when stone thieves stole the casing, leaving behind many limestone chips that made the pyramid at that time to appear white.

The core of the pyramid was built much like that of Senusret I's pyramid, with a core that had corners radiating out. A framework was made with horizontal lines of blocks to form a grid, or framework between the corners. Here, however, the filling was sand. The burial chamber also has a false flat ceiling toped by a more structurally sound gabled ceiling. The burial chamber itself is rather unique. The entire complex was surrounded by an enclosure wall that was much more rectangular then that found in older pyramids. It was oriented east-west.Behind the pyramid between it and the west part of the - enclosure wall are found tombs of the royal family.

The Pyramid of Amenemhet III at Dahshur ( also called the Black Pyramid )

Amenemhet III attempted to build his first pyramid at Dahshur, but it turned out to be a disaster. Today the pyramid named "Amenemhet is Mighty" is a sad dark ruin on the Dahshur field, aptly sometimes called the Black Pyramid. Even though it took 15 years to build, rather then being buried in this pyramid, Amenemhet III chose to build a second pyramid at Hawara, closer to his beloved Fayoum.

Even with the nearby Bent Pyramid as a reminder, Amenemhet III's architects built the his pyramid on unstable subsoil. The Bent Pyramid is built upon compacted gravel, while Amenemhet III's is built on hard clay. The builder's compounded this mistake by building the pyramid in one of the lowest locations of any pyramid in Egypt. It lies only 33 feet above sea level. Further problems arose from the shear number of corridors and chambers within the substructure, and the reliance that the builders placed on their ceilings which had no real stress relieving devices above the king's burial chamber.

Most of the king's section of the pyramid lies under the eastern quadrant of the pyramid. The burial chamber is also sheathed in fine white limestone, and oriented east-west. Though Amenemhet III was not buried in this pyramid, there was a pink granite sarcophagus within the burial chamber near the west wall. The queen's section mostly lies under the southern quadrant of the pyramid. There was a second outside entrance to the queens chambers lying opposite that of the king's entrance, only on the west side of the pyramid.

The pyramid core was built of mudbrick, just as earlier 12th Dynasty pyramids. However, it liked the stone wings and framework of the earlier pyramids. The builders attempted to strengthen the structure by building the core in step form. The outer mantle was made of five meter this blocks of fine white limestone held together with a system of wooden dovetail joining pegs.   Near the top of the pyramid, the wall's angle of inclination decreased. The pyramid was capped off with a beautiful dark gray granite pyramidion, discovered in the rubble in 1990,  that was originally 1.3 meters tall. All four sides of the pyramidion bore inscriptions and  religious symbols.

The Pyramid of Ameny Kemau at Dahshur

The pyramid of Ameny Kemau  was originally about 50 meters tall (164 ft). While the superstructure is almost completely destroyed, the substructure is better known. The entrance to the structure was in front of the east side, slightly north of its axis. This entrance leads to a corridor that first apparently led through several small chambers and a barrier before reaching a larger chamber with a stairway leading off to the right (north). This short passage lead to another stairway that again angled back towards the west before making a final left 90 degree turn towards the south and the burial chamber.

The burial chamber lay almost exactly on the pyramids vertical axis, and like a number of earlier pyramids, consisted of an enormous quartzite monolith in which the craftsmen cut two niches, a large one for the coffin and a smaller hole for the king's canopic chest.
The Pyramid of Ameny Kemau represents one of the last monumental pyramids to be built in Egypt. After the Middle Kingdom, very few pyramids were built, and the ones that were most often are only mimics of the earlier grand structures.

The Pyramid of Senusret III at Dahshur

The pyramid of Senusret III at Dahshur is located northeast of the Red Pyramid, and far surpasses the pyramids of his predecessors in the 12th Dynasty in size. It is also very different  in many respects in its underlying religious conception and represents another developmental milestone in pyramid design.

Burial chamber and canopic chamber (annex) that is actually located under the southwest corner of the king's pyramid. A granite sarcophagus fills the western end of the burial chamber. Fragments of a canopic jar found within this tomb bear the name of Khnumetneferhedjetweret (Weret), who was the wife of Senusret II and the mother of Senusret III.Both the tombs on the north and south sides of the pyramid were originally thought to be mastabas, but in 1997, further investigation by Deiter Arnold revealed that they were, in fact, probably small pyramids.

All of these structures including the main pyramid and the subsidiary pyramids were surrounded by an outer perimeter wall with a niched, exterior facade. It was north-south oriented and to the north and south another niched wall was constructed, all of which again points to a revival of interest in Djoser's Saqqara complex.  An inner perimeter wall surrounded only the pyramid and north chapel.

The Pyramid of Snefru (Bent Pyramid) at Dahshur

The southern Pyramid of Snofru, commonly known as the Bent Pyramid is believed to be the first Egyptian pyramid intended by its builders to be a "true" smooth-sided pyramid from the outset; the earlier pyramid at Meidum had smooth sides in its finished state - but it was conceived and built as a step pyramid, before having its steps filled in and concealed beneath a smooth outer casing.

As a true smooth-sided structure, the Bent Pyramid was only a partial success  albeit a unique, visually imposing one; it is also the only major Egyptian pyramid to retain a significant proportion of its original smooth outer limestone casing intact. As such it serves as the best contemporary example of how the ancient Egyptians intended their pyramids to look.
The Bent Pyramid valley temple is rectangular and north-south oriented. It was built of fine white limestone, with an entrance in the middle of the south facade. The entrance was framed with wooden pillars with pennants. During the Middle Kingdom, a limestone stele from the tomb of Snefru's son, Netjeraperef was used to frame the entrance doorway. The pyramid complex was surrounded by a huge wall built probably of local yellowish, gray limestone. This wall enclosed a large, square courtyard to which the causeway connected on the northeast corner.

Several kilometeres to the north of the Bent Pyramid is the last and most successful of the three pyramids constructed during the reign of Snofru; the Red Pyramid is the world's first successfully completed smooth-sided pyramid. The structure is also the third largest pyramid in Egypt after the pyramids of Khufu and Khafre at Giza.

The Pyramid of Snefru (Red Pyramid) at Dahshur

Snofru's Red Pyramid, this area is arguably the most important pyramid field in Egypt outside Giza and Saqqara, although until 1996 the site was inaccessible due to its location within a military base, and was relatively unknown outside archaeological circles.

The Red Pyramid was the first successful, true, cased Pyramid built in Egypt, ushering in the era of the Giza style pyramids. Built by Khufu's father, Snefru, what really makes this pyramid special today is the lack of crowds and circus atmosphere that plagues the Giza Plateau, along with the fact that it can currently be entered without limitation. Not long ago, the area of Dashur could not be visited, which probably explains why such an important monument receives so few visitors. However, it is only a short drive from Saqqara, and only a brief drive from Cairo.

However, within four years, 30 percent of the pyramid had been completed, and the entire pyramid was finished in about seventeen years. East of the pyramid is what remains of a mortuary temple, as well as the first capstone (Pyramidion) ever found belonging to an Old Kingdom Pyramid. It was recovered in fragments and reconstructed. The mortuary temple itself, though nothing much remains, is significant because Snefru pioneered the east west alignment of Egyptian temples to match the path of the sun.Like most Egyptian pyramids, the only entrance is in the north side, and leads to a 206 foot passage descends at an angle of 27 degrees to the first chamber.  The first chamber has a corbelled (step) ceiling with a height of about 40 feet. In fact, all three of the chambers in this pyramid have corbelled ceilings, with between eleven and fourteen layers.

At Dahshur there are the companion temples to each pyramid and auxiliary tombs for members of the family and favored officials. There are also the mastabas of various princesses and queens, which contained many examples of Middle Kingdom jewelry, most of which are now in the Cairo Museum.