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International Space Station Imagery: Pyramids of Dashur, Egypt

Status Report From: NASA HQ
Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2008

image

high res (1.5 M) low res (63 K)

ISS017-E-008285 (30 May 2008) --- Pyramids of Dashur, Egypt are featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 17 crewmember on the International Space Station. While the pyramids of Giza are perhaps the most famous, there are several other ancient Egyptian royal necropolis ("city of the dead") sites situated along the Nile River and its delta.

One of these sites is located near the village of Dashur (upper right). The gray-brown built area of Dashur is surrounded by green agricultural land of the Nile Delta, which forms a distinct boundary with the tan desert to the west. It is in the desert that the monuments of the ancient rulers of Egypt are found.

Several monuments are visible in this image, including the large Red and Bent Pyramids built by Snofru, first king of the 4th Dynasty that lasted from 2575-2465 BC. Other visible monuments include the pyramid complexes of Amenemhat III and Sesostris III, both kings of the 12th Dynasty (1991-1783 BC). Both of these complexes are poorly preserved, due both to unstable ground conditions, and dismantling of the limestone blocks forming the outer pyramid casings during later historical periods.

The Bent Pyramid (lower right) is so called as the slope of the outer face was lessened halfway through construction, leading to a distinctive "bent" profile -- explanations for why this was done include decreasing the mass of the pyramid to prevent collapse, or to reduce the work necessary to complete it.

The Red Pyramid to the north (center) was built after the Bent Pyramid, and is named for the coloration of the building stone at the structure's core. An irregular dark feature to the southeast of the Bent Pyramid is not a shadow cast by a monument; it is an irrigation feature extending into the desert.

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