Before I went to Egypt, I thought a pyramid was a pyramid was a pyramid and, of course, they all looked like Cheops pyramid – the big, perfect pyramid with the Sphynx majestically sitting out in front. Well…I learned a few things. For a start, not all pyramids look like one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Some pyramids, in fact, you need to use your imagination to realize they ARE a pyramid, or were at some point in time anyway.
The ravages of wind and scouring sand played havoc with these structures as well as just decades of hanging around.
There was also the issue of quality control, even way back then. Some pyramids simply were not made very well and they did not stand the test of time. Other pyramids got off to a bad start. The bent pyramid was started with a steep angle and it was going to be huge. The architect decided to change the slope – it is a pyramid but the pharaoh didn’t like it so he had another built.
The squared off pyramid was made with a step or mastaba. As the story goes, the pharaoh had the mastaba built over his tomb (they started building their tombs the minute they became pharaoh so that they’d have a wonderful afterlife – the bigger and more ornate the structure, the longer they were in power. They didn’t stop building until they died because it was thought to be bad luck). Back to the story. He had someone go off in the distance to see if they could see his tomb. Nope…so he had another mastaba added. Nope, not seen yet so added another, then another…it was finally with six levels that it could be seen from a distance so he quit.