Meidum ‘Collapsed’ Pyramid Of Great Builder Pharaoh Snefru

A. Sutherland - - Pharaoh Snefru (Sneferu) was the founder of the 4th dynasty during the Old Kingdom.

Snefru is considered the greatest builder in Egyptian history, who reigned from around 2613 BC to 2589 BC, according to Manetho, an Egyptian priest, living in the third century BC.

Meidum ‘Collapsed’ Pyramid Of Great Builder Pharaoh Snofru

Some suggest the pyramid not to have collapsed until the New Kingdom, but there are a number of facts contradicting this theory. The Meidum Pyramid seems never to have been completed.

He built at least three pyramids that survive to this day and is also contributed with several innovations regarding design and construction of pyramids in ancient Egypt.

Snefru was born and grew up in the royal palace in Memphis, not far from modern city of Cairo. His father was King Huni, who was the last pharaoh of the Third Dynasty and his mother was a royal princess, Meresankh. It is believed she was Huni's sister.

Pharaohs were often wed to their sisters and it was nothing unusual in this ancient Egyptian tradition.

Snefru was the father of Khufu (2589-2566 BC), the 4th Dynasty Pharaoh who ruled during the first half of the Old Kingdom period. Khufu is widely accepted as the ruler who commissioned the Great
Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

These pyramids are the Red Pyramid, the Bent Pyramid, and the third one, Meidum Pyramid (also known as the ‘Collapsed' Pyramid. Inside the Bent Pyramid, an inscription with Snefru's name and a stela discovered by archaeologists alongside the neighboring, subsidiary pyramid shows Snofru himself.)

Meidum ‘Collapsed’ Pyramid Of Great Builder Pharaoh SnofruDespite the fact that a last ruler of the Dynasty III, pharaoh Huni and father of Snefru, erected the Meidum Pyramid, the structure was definitely completed by Snefru, most probably after his father’s death.

A Middle Kingdom papyrus recorded:

"The Majesty of King Huni died, and the Majesty of King Snofru was raised up as a benevolent King in this entire land."

The Meidum Pyramid can be found approximately 62 miles (100 km) south of modern Cairo 30 miles (48 km) south of Memphis.

It was 93m high and built with a 114m long square base. Its entrance, built about 30m above ground level, in the pyramid’s northern face, leads to a corridor descending for 54 meters. In its final form the structure stood about 311ft (95m) high.

The structure seems to have been planned to be a stepped pyramid, and its central square had to form both the nucleus and peak of the pyramid. Around it the builders added a succession of six layers around it, of which each was sloping at an angle of 75 degrees towards the structure's core. All layers were covered with white limestone, however, the last layer, therefore, rested not on solid rock but rather on three layers of limestone blocks and sand.

Meidum ‘Collapsed’ Pyramid Of Great Builder Pharaoh Snofru

Left: Snefru, 1st King of Egypt's 4th Dynasty; Right: Stela depicting 4th Dynasty King Snofru. IMage via

The pyramid became unstable. Its heavy outer layers were completely ruined in antiquity. It is not exactly known when in antiquity this collapse happened. It is believed that the structure at least partially collapsed by the time of the New Kingdom, around 1550 BC.

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What is important is, this pyramid-like structure seems never to have been completed.

For example, the mortuary temple, located under the rubble at the base of the pyramid, in fact, never was finished. Archaeologists have discovered that the temple’s two steles without inscriptions and the burial chamber inside the pyramid itself, has never been completed. Also wooden supports – usually removed after construction - have been found still in place.

Today, the Meidum 'Collapsed' Pyramid hardly resembles a pyramid.

Written by – A. Sutherland  - Senior Staff Writer

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