Episode 05: He Who Makes Beautiful Things

The Great King Sneferu

By 2610 BCE a new ruler controlled the thrones of Egypt. Neb-maat Sneferu, first ruler of the Fourth Dynasty, was an ambitious and successful monarch. In his reign, Egyptian workers would raise not one but three might pyramids. The development of these monuments was not an easy path and many mistakes were made; but those problems help Egyptologists gain better appreciation of the development and concepts of pyramids themselves.

In this episode, we explore: Sneferu’s three pyramids; his military campaigns; some noteworthy members of the royal family; and life in the Nile Valley, for subjects of the great king.

  • Time Period: circa 2615 – 2670 BCE.
  • King: Sneferu
  • Dynasty: IV
  • Notable Sites: Meidum, Dahshur

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D4-Sneferu-Statue
One of only a few surviving images of King Sneferu (Cairo Museum, Dominic Perry 2019).
D4-Meidum-Sneferu Exterior-Chris (10).jpg
The Meidum Pyramid, viewed from the South-East, evoking a scene similar to the ancient lifestyle (Chris Ward, 2019).
D4-Meidum-Sneferu Exterior-Chris (76)
The eastern face of the Meidum pyramid (Chris Ward 2019).
D4-Meidum-Sneferu Interior-Chris (7)
The descending passage of the Meidum Pyramid (Chris Ward 2019).
D4-Meidum-Sneferu Interior-Chris (58)
The burial chamber (unused?) of the Meidum Pyramid (Chris Ward 2019).
Meidum-Wikimedia
The Meidum Pyramid from North-West (Wikimedia).
Meidum-with-Causeway
The Meidum Pyramid from the East with causeway visible at centre (Dominic Perry, 2019).
Bent-Pyramid-Northwest
The Bent Pyramid, Sneferu’s Second Monument. Viewed from the North-West (Dominic Perry, 2019).
Dahshur-Bent-Pyramid-with-Satellite
The Bent Pyramid from the West, with the Satellite (Ka?) Pyramid on the southern face (Dominic Perry, 2019).

“Listen to that wind!” The Bent Pyramid on a sunny afternoon, 2019.

Hetepheres

SC63207
The bed, chair, canopy and curtain-box of Hetepheres (reproduction, Boston MFA)
CR6654-d1
The bed of Hetepheres (reproduction, Boston MFA)
D4-Hetepheres (3) edited
Curtain rings in the canopy box of Hetepheres (original, Cairo Museum. Dominic Perry, 2019)
D4-Hetepheres (1) - edited
The carrying-chair of Hetepheres (original, Cairo Museum. Dominic Perry, 2019)

Nefer-Ma’at, Rahotep and Neferet

Meidum-Geese-Facsimile
The Meidum Geese (facsimile by Charles Wilkinson, Metropolitan Museum of Art). Detail of original scene below (Dominic Perry, 2019).
rahotep-nofret-brightened (4)
The dyad statue of Rahotep and Neferet, Cairo Museum (Wikimedia).
rahotep-nofret-brightened (1)
Rahotep and Neferet (Dominic Perry, 2019).
Dahshur-Red-Pyramid-skiphoward-cropped
The Red Pyramid, Sneferu’s third and final attempt (Skip Howard, 2019).
D4-Dashur-Sneferu Red-Chris (49)
The first (Lower) chamber of the Red Pyramid (Chris Ward 2019).
D4-Dashur-Sneferu Red-Chris (110)
The second (Upper) chamber of the Red Pyramid (Chris Ward 2019).

Select Bibliography

Nicolas Grimal, A History of Ancient Egypt, 1994 (Amazon).

Erik Hornung, Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt: the One and the Many, 1996 (Amazon).

Mark Lehner, The Complete Pyramids, 2008 (Amazon).

John Romer, A History of Egypt: from the First Farmers to the Great Pyramid, 2013 (Amazon).

Toby Wilkinson, Early Dynastic Egypt, 2001 (Amazon).

David Wengrow, The Archaeology of Early Egypt, 2006 (Amazon).

Robert Wenke, The Ancient Egyptian State, 2009 (Amazon).

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Duamutef's top-dog, Derek says:

    You’re actually considering dedicating a portion of your life’s time to addressing whackadoodle fringe theories concerning the pyramids, & who built them, & what they were built for, etc… Dude, you’re too kind. Such people need a slap in the face & to be told to stop getting their jollies by insisting that there are unseen mysteries hiding in the plainly obvious (yes, there are still some some unsolved aspects about the pyramids, but their era of construction, their being built by actual Egyptians of the era, & their being constructed as a either tombs for the pharaoh or as a projection of their pharaoh’s power, is not a mystery, but an absolute certainty).

    Perhaps more interesting (scratch that-UNDOUBTEDLY more interesting) would be a historical look into the Egyptomania which swept over Europe following the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt, & the bizarro theories which emerged from the proud Europeans whose minds were incinerated😱 by the fact that the building & cultural achievements of mighty Rome were outright dwarfed & totally eclipsed by a far older yet far more spectacular civilization which was based in North Africa, & all the subsequent denial-driven theories they cooked up alongside such a revelation in a pathetic attempt to make sense of it all😰. For example, you could speak about the work of Crackpot King, Charles Piazzi Smyth, who, in the mid-1860’s, wrote “Our Inheritance In the Great Pyramid” (if you’ve never read it, I urge you to. It’s a real hoot😂), which argued that the biblical Noah (yes, Noah) was the architect of the Great Pyramid, & utilized the divine British inch as his unit of measurement (an idea which ties into his belief that the lost tribes of Israel settled eventually upon the island of Britain; I told ya this dude is hilarious). Of course, his own work was undermined by his pupil, Flinders Petrie, who went to Giza to take his own measurements of the pyramid in order to confirm Smyth’s theory, only to realize that Smyth’s measurements were inaccurate. Petrie, himself, could be tossed into the discussion of dumb-dumb theorists, as he was an ardent eugenist & therefore concluded that ancient Egypt MUST have been conquered by a superior Caucasoid race, who went on to rule, facilitate, & oversee the creation such a wondrous civilization. And then, of course, we have the Pyramids=Granaries🌾of Joseph. I find these historical fringe theories of idiocy to be of far greater interest than modern ones, as they speak to the deeply flawed sociological issues of an ignorant past, whereas modern crackpot theories speak of pathetic individuals who need to get a life, & whose stupid ideas deserve absolutely no recognition by anybody

    1. DominicPerry says:

      Hi Derek,

      I will definitely cover Egyptomania…one day 🙂

      Dominic

  2. Duamutef's top-dog, Derek says:

    Is dynasty 4 really the best in Ancient Egyptian history🤔? Two words: Stone Pyramids.

    Heck yeah, they’re the best!😀

    Snefru’s pyramids are so awesome.

    Anybody who thinks Khufu’s pyramid is the most mysterious of them all (it’s not. Not even close), let us avert their attention to the tower jutting up through a rubble heap that is the Meidum pyramid; a ruin which still causes great arguments amongst top notch Egyptologists down to the present day.

    The Bent (aka Blunted, aka Rhomboidal) Pyramid is my favorite of all, for the very reason touched upon in the podcast: It represents the human shortcomings of a civilization that seems perfect in so many other ways. It’s endearing in its imperfection. It’s beautifully flawed😋. It’s special😊. It’s so very lovable♥️.

    And, in terms of simple beauty, the overlooked Red Pyramid may be the one which takes the top spot above all the others, with its rich hue, & its gently angled slope on all 4 sides, all coming to a point to create that “true pyramidal” form. 😍My oh my, so sweet.

    I hope to see them someday in my lifetime (or, at least, get to see one of them someday, lol!).

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