Unfortunately this is one of the forgotten sites of Egypt. Rarely will you find it included in the regular tourist itineraries, as most of the visitors nowadays follow a very traditional and established itinerary, which mainly includes Pyramid sites such as the Pyramids of Giza, and the Step Pyramid of Sakkara! I have noticed, in the last few years, that some travel agencies are starting to organize trips, to the Pyramid of Meidum and the Pyramid of Dashur, in a one-day trip.
We just hope they keep doing this, as this Pyramid has a special magic! In my opinion, a visit to this collapsed Pyramid is very worthwhile! It is one of those sites that had, and still keeps, lots of secrets!!
Meidum Pyramid is located 65 Km to the south of Sakkara. To visit to it you simply drive along the road that takes you to Sakkara, go pass that site, and continue straight on for about an hour until you see the Pyramid. There is another way to reach Meidum that is a little longer, but a lot faster. You take the road to the Fayoum Oasis and then join the Assyut desert road. After about 77Km you will see the Pyramid on your left side. There is an admission fee of 25LE.
In the last few years I have led special groups to this Pyramid. Every time I go there I am overwhelmed with it, as well as having a feeling that there are still dozens of secrets in this site still undiscovered! I class it as a virgin site because Egyptologists have never really done a proper investigation here.
The Plan of the Pyramid
The last King of the 3rd Dynasty, King Huni, built the Pyramid of Meidum in the style of a Step Pyramid, originally being 8 steps built on top of one another! For a long time Egyptologists thought that the Pyramid was built by King Snefru, the builder of the two Pyramids in Dashur, believing this as they found some graffiti in the funerary Temple, located at the eastern side of the Pyramid, which had been discovered at the end of the 19th century. But some Ancient Egyptian travellers, from the 19th Dynasty (1300 B.C), had left this graffiti; recording their admiration for the great structure that King Snefru had built here! It now seems more likely that King Huni had left his Pyramid unfinished, and his successor, King Snefru, finished the building for him, therefore latter generations thought it was the work of Snefru.
It is hard today to believe that one King would actually have had 3 Pyramids built for him, the two in Dashur, and a third one in Meidum. Today, many believe that it had been the work of Huni in the first place, completed by his son after his death.
The Pyramid is called the Collapsed Pyramid as it looks from afar like a huge tower surrounded by a pile of rubble. The Pyramid was 93m high and built with a square base with sides measuring about 114m long. The entrance of the Pyramid was located almost 30m above ground level, in the northern face. It leads to a corridor that descends for 54m, which it is unique among all the other descending corridors, as you don’t have to bend down inside it, unless you are really a tall person! You need a torch to light your way, as most of the lamps are broken (I have told the inspectors there, several times, to change them, but none of them listened to me!). At the end of the corridor you will find a small chamber, roughly cut in the bedrock, exactly underneath the apex of the Pyramid, and at the end of this room you will find a wooden ladder that leads up to the burial chamber. On your climb up, you will notice some huge beams of cedar wood that are 4600 years old.
The burial chamber is very small, compared with other burial chambers found inside Pyramids. It has a corbelled roof, that is not well done, and the rest of the room is empty. In the 19th century, a small wooden coffin was found here, and later it was taken to the Egyptian Museum. In 2001 a French team of Egyptologists found a small corridor at the end of the wooden ladder that takes you up to the burial chamber, which is about 3m long. This discovery has not been officially released to the public yet!
In front of the northern side of the Pyramid, about 300m to the north, there are some tombs, built in the 4th Dynasty, and found in 1855. These tombs yielded great treasures to the Egyptian Museum! Among them you will find the tomb of Ra-Hotep and his wife, Nofert. Here were found two beautiful limestone statues of them, still in perfect condition, and they are among the most famous masterpieces in the Cairo Museum today. Ra-Hotep was the son of King Snefru, the commander of the Egyptian army in the 4th Dynasty, and a chief Priest in the centre of worship of the God Ra, the sun God.
Near to the tomb of Ra-Hotep, another one was found, the great tomb of Nefer-Maat. There were some great paintings found there, considered the best and the oldest ever found in a tomb. They are now exhibited in the Egyptian museum and are in the same room as the statue of Ra-Hotep and his wife. The most famous is called the “Scene of the Geese of Meidum”. It is a beautiful scene of 6 Egyptian geese together, made on a mud brick wall that was covered with a coat of stucco and painted. It is another of the greatest masterpieces of the Egyptian museum. To the east of the Pyramid, there is another set of tombs dating back to the 4th Dynasty. One of them is a tomb for an unknown person as it was found with no inscription at all. Going inside is a real adventure! The only entrance, to get inside this tomb, was actually made by tomb robbers! I usually take my groups there, but first I always make sure that they are fit, as it is very difficult to get inside, but worth the visit if they can. The entrance leads to a descending corridor that is about 10m long. Then you will find a small shaft, inside of which there is a modern wooden ladder that takes you down to another tunnel, at the end of which you will find a hole in the wall, like a needle hole, which you can’t get through that easily; you have to crawl on your stomach! Yes, the same way the ancient tomb-robbers once did it. Afterwards you will find a larger passageway made of huge blocks of limestone. Midway along this tunnel you will find an entrance to the burial chamber; it is made of limestone, but is so impressive and elegant! At the end of the chamber there is a huge granite sarcophagus with the lid slightly ajar and set aside. It is empty, as it was plundered by the tomb robbers thousands of years ago. Underneath the lid, you will notice a small, ancient, wooden hammer that is stuck underneath the heavy lid, forgotten by the tomb robbers (See Opposite Picture).
Tomb number 17 is a major highlight in this area, so make sure you don’t miss it!
In front of the eastern side of the Pyramid, you will find a small funerary Temple that is intact, even today! This Temple has no paintings or inscriptions, but when you enter it, you will notice that in front of the door on the western wall, there is some black graffiti, which was left by passing travellers in the 19th Dynasty who came here and then recorded their visit. In front of the Temple, you will see a causeway that traditionally led to the mummification Temple, which was located at the far end, unfortunately the mummification Temple has been lost and destroyed, nothing of it remains!