A few miles south of Cairo stands one of the most unusual pyramids built by the ancient
Egyptians. It is the called the Bent Pyramid; named for its bent shape which is the result of a
change in angle approximately half way to its point. Below you will find a list of information
that will answer such questions as why it has this shape, where the structure is located, and
who built it; written for kids and adults alike.
General Bent Pyramid Facts
The Bent Pyramid was built around 2600 BC at the royal necropolis (ancient cemetery) of Dashur.
This archaeological site is approximately 24 miles (40 kilometers) south of Cairo on the west
bank of the Nile River.
This pyramid was built by the Old Kingdom pharaoh Sneferu who reigned over ancient Egypt from
2575 to 2551 BC. He was also responsible for the construction of the famous Red Pyramid and the
This structure is called the Bent Pyramid because of the change in angle from 54 degrees to 43
degrees approximately half way to its peak.
The structures original height was 344 feet (105 meters).
Unlike most of the pyramids in Egypt the Bent Pyramids exterior polished limestone casing is
still largely intact; making it one of the best preserved pyramids.
The ancient Egyptians did not call this pyramid the Bent Pyramid; their name for it is subject
to translation and was either "Sneferu is Shining in the South" or "The Southern Shining
This structure was significant in the evolution of pyramid making in ancient Egypt due to the
fact it was the first pyramid to have been constructed as a true pyramid, with smooth sides, not
a step pyramid.
There are no drawings or writing anywhere on the pyramid.
Another aspect of this pyramid that makes it unusual, besides its odd shape, is the fact that it
has two entrances.
Theories on Why the Bent Pyramid is Bent
The most widely accepted theory on why the angle of the pyramid was changed was to avoid the
structure collapsing. It is believed the builders may have noticed signs of weakness in the
structure during construction and altered the angle to avoid its collapse. The fact that the
next pyramid project by Sneferu, the Red Pyramid, was built at a shallower angle of 43 degrees
seems to support this theory and indicate that the builders learned from their mistake.
One theory is that the angle of the pyramid was changed to speed up the project. The shallower
angle meant less stone was needed to complete the building. Some people have theorized that the
pharaoh was aging and feared the pyramid (his tomb) would not be completed before his death.
This seems unlikely because
Sneferu went on to build the Red Pyramid after the Bent Pyramid; he obviously lived many years
after the completion of the Bent Pyramid.
The least accepted theory is that the bent shape of the pyramid was planned from the start.
Perhaps for some unknown religious reason.