Meidum Pyramid – An Example Of Engineering Gone Wrong

The Meidum Pyramid which is not often featured in our regular Cairo tour packages, is believed to have been built for Pharaoh Huni. However, the pyramid was never completed due to a design fault which caused it to collapse.

Meidum Pyramid in Egypt

The inner core of the collapsed pyramid at Meidum. Aka the Meidum Pyramid.

One of the great things about starting your tours in Cairo, is that there are so many fantastic Cairo tourist attractions to see in and around the city. In fact, some of Egypt’s most famous tourist attractions are located in the area, including the collapsed Meidum Pyramid.

A Brief History Of Meidum Pyramid

Historical records show that the pyramid was built for Pharaoh Huni who was the last ruler of the 3rd Dynasty. Construction was not completed during Huni’s reign, but it was continued during the reign of Pharaoh Sneferu.

Originally, the pyramid was meant to be built following the typical stone pyramid design which had been invented by an architect known as Imhotep. However, the architect responsible for designing the pyramid decided to make a number of design changes. He also made these changes after construction of the pyramid was already underway.

Meidum Pyramid was originally meant to be a step pyramid, but this too was changed, and by filling in the steps, it was essentially transformed into a “true” pyramid. Unfortunately, the architect had made a few errors which would eventually prove to be catastrophic. The most obvious error was the fact that the outer layer of the pyramid stood on sand rather than on bedrock.

By the 15th century, the outer layers had collapsed, leaving only the inner core. What had remained of the outer layers has slowly but surely collapsed as well during the years, reducing the original pyramid to a mere shadow of what it once was. Today, one can still see the 65 meters high inner core, along with all the rubble from the outer layers.

Opposing Theories Regarding The Collapse

Some historians and archeologists believe that the collapse was caused simply by natural erosion and other environmental conditions. Nonetheless, the vast majority of experts believe that the serious design flaws are directly responsible for the disaster. They believe damage would have been occurring gradually over the years, followed by a sudden major collapse.

Many historians also believe that the failure of this pyramid is what caused Pharaoh Sneferu to change the design of a second pyramid he was having built at Dahshur. During construction of that pyramid, a radical change was made to the original design, resulting is a somewhat odd looking pyramid known today as the Bent Pyramid.

Opposing Theories Regarding Sneferu’s  Burial

It is not really known whether Sneferu was buried in the pyramid or not. Some argue that he would probably have been buried here and was perhaps moved elsewhere when the structure collapsed. To date, no evidence has been found that would suggest someone has been buried in this location. The remains of both Huni and Sneferu have never been found, although some experts think Huni’s burial is a strong possibility given that construction of the burial chamber was completed during Huni’s reign.

Visiting And Exploring Meidum Pyramid

In addition to this pyramid, tourists can also see a subsidiary pyramid on the south side, located in between the Meidum Pyramid and the enclosure wall. You can also explore a memorial temple on the east side and a nearby mastaba of an unknown noble.

If you want to enter the pyramid, you will need to enter via a robber’s tunnel. The initial part of the tunnel is quite steep and also confined; something worth thinking about if you’re uncomfortable being in confined spaces. However, once the tunnel reaches the chamber it becomes quite spacious.

Visiting Other Nearby Attractions

As mentioned further up the page, there are several famous attractions in and around Cairo, and we strongly recommend that you spend a few days exploring the area. Many of our high quality Egypt tour packages include a visit to the pyramids, but some only include the Giza Pyramids; Dahshur and Djoser.

We also offer several high quality Cairo tours, all of which can be customized to meet your needs exactly.  No other country in the world can offer the sort of experience that awaits you in Egypt, and with decades worth of experience behind us, no other tour operator can match our expertise when it comes to providing a truly amazing Egyptian experience.

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Last Updated on March 26, 2024