If you're looking to explore the ancient Egyptian pyramids but don't care for the crowds and lines in Giza, consider visiting Dahshur, just 17 miles to the south and also located within the UNESCO world heritage site of Memphis Necropolis, where two pyramids have just been unveiled to the public. This past Saturday, Egyptian antiquities minister Khaled el-Anany opened two of the country's oldest pyramids to the public for the first time in decades, including the 4,600-year-old Bent Pyramid built for Pharaoh Sneferu, as well as the adjoining "side" pyramid, thought to have been built for his wife, Hetepheres.
The Bent Pyramid has been closed to the public for restoration since 1965, while the "side" pyramid is opening for the first time ever. Appropriately named for its irregular shape, the Bent Pyramid stands at 101 meters (roughly 331 feet) tall and is an important architectural example that represents the change in building techniques between the Djoser Step Pyramid (2667–2648 BC) and the Meidum Pyramid (also about 2600 BC), said el-Anany, according to Bloomberg. Its unusual appearance is due to the changing slope midway; the first 49 meters (160 feet) were built at a steep 54-degree angle, while the upper half was built at 43 degrees. Archeologists believe that the change was implemented halfway through construction in order to keep the pyramid from caving in on itself as cracks were beginning to show, though it has also been suggested that the angle was changed to speed up construction, as the pharaoh's death was near.
Visitors to the pyramid are invited to go inside the 79-meter (259-foot) narrow tunnel, which leads to two chambers deep inside the structure. At the opening, el-Anany also revealed that a selection of mummies, masks, tools, and coffins were discovered during an excavation at a nearby site. “When we were taking those objects out, we found...a very rich area of hidden tombs,” said Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, at the opening. But as for where the Pharaoh himself was laid to rest? “Exactly where he was buried—we are not sure of that. Maybe in this (Bent) Pyramid, who knows?” he said.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest