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Sneferu is the first king to build a true pyramid (after a few false starts, obviously). Three major pyramids are associated with him: The Red Pyramid and Bent pyramids in Dashur, and the oddly shaped collapsed pyramid at Maidum. A number of smaller step pyramids are associated with him as well, including one at Seila (which we spent a day trying to find.) Looking at the monumental building projects of his reign, the evolution of the true pyramid that we are so familiar with is clear: the pyramid at Maidum is a step pyramid changed into a true pyramid shape; the Bent pyramid is the first attempt at a smooth pyramid, and the Red pyramid is the final version.
The pyramid at Maidum was probably started by his predecessor, Huni (although there is little to link the earlier pharaoh to the building of the pyramid) and that Sneferu merely completed it. When he moved to Dashur, he built two pyramids. The first, the Bent Pyramid, changes angles abruptly about 2/3 of the way up the side, from about 54 degrees 31 minutes to 43 degrees 21 minutes. There are a number of different theories as to why the pyramid was altered: it was done on purpose, it was because the angle was too steep to continue building, it began to collapse, it was too heavy, to lessen the workload to finish it. No one is sure what the real reason is. The Bent pyramid is unique for other reasons as well -- it has two entrances, and a multitude of chambers inside, although the burial chamber has never been found.
The northern pyramid, the Red pyramid, is the first "true" pyramid. It has almost the same angle as the top of the Bent pyramid, which supports the belief that the Bent Pyramid was finished first and the Red pyramid built based on the lessons learned from the earlier one. The engineering was a bit better on this second try, and no cracks marred the foundation or the pyramid itself. The inner core of rocks was more carefully fitted together, which made the whole structure more stable. Of course, all the casing stones are gone (except for a few on the east side) and all that remains is the softer rock interior.
Sneferu married Hetepheres I, who was his half-sister, or full sister, in order to legitimize his rule. His mother, Meresankh, was not royal. Remember that the power/divinity of the pharaoh was passed on by the woman -- while the king was the ultimate authority, he had to be either the son of a royal woman, or married to o ne. This may possibly explain the abundance of incestuous marriages to keep the royal power associated with a single male line. Manetho justifies the break between the third and fourth dynasties by noting that Sneferu came from another line of the royal family. While he was directly related to the kings of Dynasty III, his claim is by marriage. Sneferu was very interested in maintaining the "royal family" and most of his court and officials were family members. He rearranged the ownership of land among his nobles to ensure that they did not garner too much power.
Sneferu had a number of children from his wives. Other than Hetepheres, he had at least two other wives who gave him six children. The evidence suggests that the sons of his first wife were buried in Maidum, before he moved to the newer burial grounds in Dashur. No one knows why he didn't move back to Saqqara, like everyone else.
His military campaigns against the Nubians and Libyans are recorded on the Palermo stone, and he began to trade with the Mediterranean nations. To supply Egypt with the cedar wood they needed for building the royal barges and doors of palaces, he sent a fleet to Lebanon to trade for it. Like previous pharaohs, he led expeditions to the Sinai -- and was later revered as a god in that area.
Sneferu was well-remembered as a good and wise king, and his cult survived well into the Middle Kingdom.