A pyramid is a structure or monument, usually with a quadrilateral base, which rises to a triangular point.
Although largely associated exclusively with Egypt, the pyramid shape was first used in ancient Mesopotamia in the mud-brick structures known as ziggurats.
Pyramids have been built at various times through many places in the world including Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, western Asia, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, India, Thailand, Mexico, South America, and on some islands of the Pacific Ocean.
The Egyptian pyramids are the most famous pyramids in the world. They were built as burial places and monuments to the Pharaohs and their families.
The shape of Egyptian pyramids is thought to represent the primordial mound from which the Egyptians believed the earth was created. The shape of a pyramid is thought to be representative of the descending rays of the sun, and most pyramids were faced with polished, highly reflective white limestone, in order to give them a brilliant appearance when viewed from a distance.
The three pyramids in Giza Necropolis are the most famous Egyptian pyramids. These pyramids were originally covered by casing stones made of highly polished white limestone. These stones reflected the sun’s light and made the pyramids shine like a jewel. Some of the casing stones that once covered the structure can still be seen around the base.
The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza Necropolis. It is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that still standing.
The Great Pyramid of Giza at 147 metres (482 feet) tall held the title for the world´s tallest man-made structure until the Lincoln Cathedral was built in England in 1311. It held the record for an incredible and unparalleled 3871 years!
There is about 140 pyramids in total that have been discovered in the area of the Ancient Egypt.
These famous monuments of Ancient Egypt were constructed from about 2630 BC until about 1530 BC.
The oldest Egyptian pyramid is believed to be the Pyramid of Djoser, it was built in Saqqara around 4650 years ago (2640 BC). This pyramid and its surrounding complex were designed by the architect Imhotep, and are generally considered to be the world’s oldest monumental structures constructed of dressed masonry.
Egyptian Pyramids often contain multiple chambers and passages.
In spite of the enormous heat outside, the temperature inside the pyramids actually stays relatively constant, around 20°C (68°F).
All Egyptian pyramids were built on the west bank of the Nile, which, as the site of the setting sun, was associated with the realm of the dead in Egyptian mythology.
Among American pyramids the best known include the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon at Teotihuacán in central Mexico, the Castillo at Chichén Itzá, and various Inca and Chimú structures in Andean settlements.
American pyramids were generally built of earth and then faced with stone, and they are typically of stepped form and topped by a platform or temple structure. The Pyramid of the Sun, with base dimensions of 220 by 230 metres (722 by 755 feet), rivals in size the Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza, which measures 230 square metres (2,476 square feet).
Monte d’Accoddi is an ancient pyramid in northern Sardinia, Italy and dates from around 4,000 to 3,650 BC. The structure was initially built by the Ozieri culture, a prehistoric pre-Nuragic civilisation that constructed more than 200 related archaeological sites. The pyramid is believed to be the earliest known sacrificial site in Western Europe, evident by the trace remains of sheep, cattle and swine in the chalcolithic Abealzu-Filigosa layers.
Greek pyramids, also known as the Pyramids of Argolis, refers to several structures located in the plain of Argolid, Greece and dates from around 2000 to 400 BC. The best known of these is known as the Pyramid of Hellinikon. In the time of the geographer Pausanias it was considered to be a tomb. Twentieth century researchers have suggested other possible uses.
Nubian pyramids are pyramids that were built by the rulers of the ancient Kushite kingdoms. The area of the Nile valley known as Nubia, which lies within the north of present day Sudan, was home to three Kushite kingdoms during antiquity (2500 BC to 300 AD).
In Roman times the pyramid returned to the Egyptian use as a tomb and the Pyramid of Cestius still stands today in Rome near the Porta San Paulo. Built between 18 and 12 BC, the pyramid was the tomb of the magistrate Gaius Cestius Epulo and rises 125 feet from a base of 100 feet. There is some disagreement over whether the Romans took the pyramid shape from Egypt or from Nubia, as the shape and interior design of Cestius’ pyramid could be interpreted as either but not definitively as one or the other.
The Louvre Pyramid in Paris, France, in the court of the Louvre Museum, is a 20.6 metre (about 70 foot) glass structure which acts as an entrance to the museum. It was built in the 1980s as the main entrance to the Louvre Museum by Chinese American architect I.M. Pei. The modern glass structure, which forms a nice contrast with the historic facades of the Louvre, has become a landmark in its own right. It is surrounded by three smaller pyramids.
Though some popular versions of history held that the pyramids were built by slaves or foreigners forced into labor, skeletons excavated from the area show that the workers were probably native Egyptian agricultural laborers who worked on the pyramids during the time of year when the Nile River flooded much of the land nearby.
The ancient Greek historian Herodotus wrote that it took 20 years to build and required the labor of 100,000 men, but later archaeological evidence suggests that the workforce might actually have been around 20,000.
In every culture which made use of them the pyramid was the centerpiece of a surrounding complex.