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Everybody wanted a pyramid

Dated back to 5000 years ago, pyramids started to become popular. Those were the period when almost “everybody” wanted a pyramid. Ancient pyramids can be found several places around the world, each belonging to different cultures and civilizations. Where are they found?

Photo. Pyramids are almost everywhere across the globe. One of them is the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt, the tallest pyramid in the world. 

The construction of pyramids across different cultures and geographic locations is a fascinating aspect of human history, indicative of the remarkable architectural and engineering skills of ancient civilizations. 

Pyramids are found most widespread around the world - even more extended than most of us can imagine. There are thousand of them. So far I have counted pyramids or pyramid shaped constructions in at least 13 countries (verified). These have been a fascinating and mysterious subject for me for years, and I something I want to learn more about. I have also experienced some of the sites where pyramids are located such has Mexico, Guatemala, Spain and Boliva.  

Why are pyramids found in so many ancient civilisations? 
The reasons behind the construction of the pyramids in ancient times vary. Some of them are: 

  • Symbolise power 
  • Show wealth
  • Religious, ceremonial, and burial purposes
  • Hide treasures
  • Shape of the construction: building tall buildings - a pyramid is the most stable building you can build. 
  • Demonstrate technological advancement and architectural innovation
  • Astronomy
  • Energy transmission 

Image. Ancient Great Pyramid of Giza. Generated from DALL·E - ChatGTP - OpenAI. 

Great Pyramid of Giza 

Pyramids were the biggest structure that people could build in ancient time. And also the most stable. The shape of the construction enabled the people to build tall buildings. The pyramid is the most important, well preserved and visible testemony of ancient time. 

Due to its stability it has survived over time many places. I find both the construction, concept and story behind these wonders fascinating. There are so many mysterious related to them. And there are still discoveries that shades new lights on these amazing constructions. 

The tallest pyramids in the world are (based on information from Wikipedia): 

  • Great Pyramid of Giza: 138.5 metres. Giza, Egypt
  • Pyramid of Khafre: 136.4 metres. Giza, Egypt
  • Borobudur : 118 metres. South-East Asia, Indonesia
  • Red Pyramid: 105 metres. Cairo, Egypt
  • Red Pyramid: 105  metres. Cairo, Egypt    
  • Bent Pyramid: 104.71 metres. Circa 2600 BC. Cairo, Egypt    
  • Toniná pyramid: 74 metres. Chiapas, Mexico    
  • La Danta: 72 metres. El Petén, Guatemala    
  • Great Pyramid of Cholula: 66 metres. Cholula, Mexico. The largest pyramid by volume known to exist in the world today.
  • Pyramid of the Sun: 65.5 metres. Teotihuacan, Mexico    

The pyramid's design, with a wide base narrowing to a point at the top, is inherently stable. This shape distributes the weight of the structure downwards and outwards, reducing the risk of collapse over time. This stability is a key reason why many ancient pyramids have survived for thousands of years. The pyramid shape, therefore, was not just an architectural choice but a complex symbol that held multiple layers of meaning, from the practical to the profound, across various ancient civilizations. The pyramids were probably built independent of each other or “in the shape of a pyramid”.  

Here is a brief overview of pyramids or pyramid shaped structured around the world:

  • Egypt: The most famous pyramids are located in Egypt, particularly on the Giza Plateau, near Cairo. These include the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The pyramids at Giza are quite simple structures. They're big piles of rock with smooth sides and a handful of interior passages. Other notable pyramid sites in Egypt include Saqqara, Dahshur, and Meidum. There are more than 100 pyramids in Egypt- The first was built during the reign of Pharoah Djoser (2630 B.C. to 2611 B.C) as a grand mausoleum for himself. 
  • Sudan: Sudan has more pyramids than Egypt, concentrated in the ancient cities of Meroë, Nuri, and El Kurru. These pyramids were built by the rulers of the ancient Kushite kingdoms.
  • Mexico: Various pre-Columbian civilizations built pyramids in what is now Mexico. Notable sites include Teotihuacan, near Mexico City, where you can find the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon; and the Mayan pyramids at Chichen Itza, Coba, and Uxmal in the Yucatán Peninsula.
  • Guatemala: The ancient Maya civilization built several pyramids, many of which can be found in Tikal, which is one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization.
  • Peru: The ancient Moche civilization built pyramids called huacas. A notable example is the Huaca del Sol in the Moche Valley. Additionally, the ancient city of Caral features pyramid-like structures and is considered one of the oldest urban centers in the Americas. Chavin de Huantar, Peru: Chavin Temple Complex
  • Bolivia: The Akapana Pyramid at Tiahuanaco is essentially a step pyramid whose core is made out of soil. It is faced with massive, megalithic stones.
  • Iraq: The Ziggurat of Ur near Nasiriyah is one of the best-preserved monuments of the Sumerian civilization. Although not a pyramid in the strictest sense, it shares some architectural similarities.
  • Indonesia: The Gunung Padang site in West Java is sometimes referred to as a pyramid-like structure, though its exact nature and age are subjects of ongoing research and debate.
  • Nigeria: The Nsude Pyramids, in the Udi highlands, are circular stepped pyramids that were built by the Igbo people.
  • China: Quin Shi Huangdi dynasty, outside the town of Xian in the province Shanxi in northwestern part of the country. Here have archeologs have found circa 40 remains of pyramids. 
  • Spain: The Pyramids of Güímar are six rectangular pyramid-shaped, terraced structures built from lava stone without the use of mortar. They are located in the district of Chacona, part of the town of Güímar on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Spain.
  • Cambodia: Ankor Wat, holy mountains built by the Khmer regime. A pyramid near Siem Reap called Ta Keo - Pyramid Temple with 5 Towers Near Siem Reap. Ta Keo is a large, temple-mountain style structure, constructed of huge sandstone blocks. 
  • Phimeanakas – sometimes called Vimeanakas – is a large, 3-tiered pyramid of laterite and sandstone construction. 
  • Italy: the pyramid of Cestius is a Roman Era pyramid in Rome, Italy, near the Porta San Paolo and the Protestant Cemetery. The construction is 36 metres tall. It was built as a tomb for Gaius Cestius, a member of the Epulones religious corporation. It stands at a fork between two ancient roads, the Via Ostiensis and another road that ran west to the Tiber along the approximate line of the modern Via Marmorata. Due to its incorporation into the city's fortifications, it is today one of the best-preserved ancient buildings in Rome. Source: Pyramid of Cestius -Wikipedia

These locations represent just a few places where ancient pyramids can be found, highlighting the global extent of pyramid construction by various ancient civilizations for religious, ceremonial, and burial purposes.

These monuments have been the subject of intense debate and speculations since they were discovered: 

  • Japan. The Yonaguni Monument, also called the Yonaguni Pyramid or the Atlantis of the Pacific, is an underwater rock formation located off the coast of a Japanese island. It is twenty meters tall. 
  • Bosnia: “The Bosnian` Pyramid”, or also called the “Pyramid of the Sun”, located in the village Visoko around 35 kilometres north of Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo. It`s the site of a group of hills that it is often said look like pyramids.
  • Portugal and Cuba: there are also reports about discoveries of pyramids below water in the Atlantic Ocean near Portugal and outside Cuba. 

While it's fascinating to consider the similarities between pyramids built by civilizations thousands of miles apart, the current archaeological and historical evidence supports the idea that these structures were developed independently. 

How did ancient civilizations from opposite sides of the world all build pyramids without contact with each other? I assume people have similar ideas and challenges of building tall buildings, and that could explain why they built pyramids independently in different parts of the world. Anyway I think the spread of knowledge and ideas through trade and migration, had an important impact.  

Ancient pyramids were built by several cultures around the world as monumental structures intended for religious, ceremonial, and burial purposes. Each pyramid, regardless of its location, offers insights into the civilization that constructed it, reflecting their beliefs, achievements, and ways of life.

Stein Morten Lund
Updated 8th February 2024

Additional information
Note: This article is written with assistance from ChatGTP and use of information sources as Wikipedia. 

The Hidden Power of the Pyramids: Exploring the Possibility of Wireless Energy Transmission in Ancient Egypt (source: article on LinkedIn). 

Lost underwater pyramid found in Atlantic Ocean after 20,000 years
Curious Spot, 6th March 6, 2023

Discovered ancient Japanese underwater pyramid.
Mysterious exploration of Yonaguni's Monoment & Japan underwater Pyramid
Curious Spot, 12th September 2023

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