Angry about Senefru pyramid deterioration?

Nevine El-Aref , Saturday 27 Apr 2013

Ahram Online gets to the bottom of the viral pictures of the Senefru pyramid that scares many Egyptians precious monuments are falling apart


Entitled: "Collapsed Pyramid…Today…At the beginning of the last Intermediate Period" author Youssef Zeidan posted on his Facebook wall a photo showing a deteriorated part Senefru’s Bent Pyramid with its soft casing and some of its block missing.

This photo triggered the anger of Egyptians who felt that their ancient heritage is under a real threat that could lead to its loss and disappearance.

"How can they lead our ancient Egyptian heritage and civilisation into oblivion like that?" wonders Ali Hussein, a private engineer adding: "I am really sad. This photo needs an immediate explanation from authorities."

Meanwhile Hanan Ezzat, a housewife described the whole situation as: "futile."

"We are surrounded by people who don’t care about our heritage as they see the monuments as a sort of polytheism, which must be demolished," says Ezzat.

Notably, no Egyptologist even mentioned the Bent Pyramid's state of neglect.

An internet search shows pictures and drawing on websites and archaeological books from the 18th and 19th centuries that suggests this damage to the Senefru's Bent and Red pyramids was already present.

In order to reconcile the news published on Zidian’s wall with the internet search, Ahram Online spoke with Nasser Ramadan General Director of Dahshur Archaeological projects, who asserts that this news is just a rumour.

This part has been collapsed for a least several centuries, he says.

"These blocks may have fallen during Greco-Roman or Islamic times when they used to use some of the pyramids’ blocks and casing to construct new buildings," Ramadan explains.

Indeed, the results of a web search of the Bent Pyramid are many older photos taken from the same angle showing the area with the missing casing blocks. "Most pyramids in Egypt lost almost all of their casing and blocks long ago due to environmental changes or construction progress of other new buildings in antiquities."

He commented that this is also seen in the famous Giza pyramids where the King Khufu Great Pyramid lost all its casing, while King Khafre’s pyramid only has a small part of its casing at the top remaining.

Never fear
Within a week or two, says Ramadan, the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) will start the second phase of a restoration project on Senefru’s Bent pyramid. This phase is part of a larger project started three years ago, even before Egypt's January 25 Revolution exploded in 2011.

This project aims to completely restore the external part of the pyramid, consolidating weakened blocks by injecting it with the same material and fix fallen blocks in their original location.

In the first phase, new wooden steps were installed inside the pyramid as well as new lighting and ventilation system to facilitate visiting tours. Cracks in several of the inside walls were fixed and repaired.

The Bent Pyramid is King Senefru’s second attempt to build a complete smooth-sided pyramid.  The first one was in Meidum, 100 kilometres south of Modern Cairo.

Archaeologists believe that the Bent Pyramid is a transitional form between the step-sided pyramid of king Djoser in the Saqqara Necropolis and smooth-sided pyramid, such as Senefru’s Red Pyramid in the Dahshur Necropolis and those of the Giza plateau. The bent pyramid is a unique example of early pyramid development in Egypt.

It has been suggested that instability during construction of the Bent Pyramid's steep incline forced the builders to adopt a shallower angle to avoid the structure's collapse. This theory appears to be borne out by the fact that the adjacent Red Pyramid, built immediately after by Senefru, was constructed at an angle of 43 degrees from its base.

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