When we see the great pyramids of Egypt, we are in awe of how they built such wonderful edifices so big and long-lasting. We rarely see the early attempts, the pyramids on the short side of the learning curve. They are still standing. We just don’t see them front-and-center in movies or documentaries, and even those touring Egypt are given little explanation about them. These are the pyramids of King Sneferu.
When King Sneferu came to the throne of Egypt, the cool thing that all the pharaohs had was a Step Pyramid, like the original one built by King Djoser and designed by Imhotep (not the mummy). King Sneferu could easily have had one one because his predecessor King Huni had died before his could be finished. All Sneferu had to do was step in and put the last few blocks on.
But King Sneferu had a vision. He didn’t want any old Step Pyramid. He was going to build Egypt’s first smooth-sided pyramid, and make King Huni’s pyramid way taller in the bargain. It didn’t work. The core of Huni’s pyramid couldn’t handle the modifications and nowadays the Step Pyramid at Meidum looks like this:
It’s not on a hill - that’s the outer layers of the pyramid that have fallen down all around it. The name of the structure in Arabic is Heram el-Kaddaab, which means something like The Sort-Of Pyramid.