A pyramid is a building where the outer walls are triangular and converge at the top. The base of a pyramid is usually trilateral or quadrilateral,
meaning that a pyramid usually has four or five faces, but may be of any polygon shape. In geometry, a pyramid is a polyhedron formed by connecting a
polygonal base and a point, called the apex. Each base edge and apex form a triangle. It is a conic solid with polygonal base.
A pyramid's design, with the majority of the weight closer
to the ground, means that less material higher up on the pyramid will be pushing down from above: this allowed early civilizations to create
stable monumental structures.
For thousands of years, the largest structures on Earth were pyramids: first the Red Pyramid in the Dashur Necropolis and then the Great Pyramid
of Khufu, the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still remaining. The largest pyramid ever built, by volume, is the Great Pyramid
of Cholula, in the Mexican state of Puebla. This pyramid is still being excavated. Pyramid-shaped structures were built by many ancient civilizations,
including the Egyptians, Mayans, Sumerians and Cambodia.
The most famous pyramids are the Egyptian pyramids — huge structures built of brick or
stone, some of which are among the largest constructions. Egypt has the most pyramids in the world, with Sudan coming in at a close second. There are
138 pyramids discovered in Egypt as of 2008.
The Great Pyramid of Giza is the largest in Egypt and one of the largest in the world. Until Lincoln
Cathedral was built in 1400 AD, it was the tallest building in the world. The base is over 52,600 square meters in area.
It was one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and the only one of the seven to survive into modern times. The Ancient Egyptians covered their faces
with polished white limestone, though most of the stones used for the purpose have fallen or have been removed and used to build the mosques of Cairo.
The largest pyramid by volume is the Great Pyramid of Cholula, in the Mexican state of Puebla. This pyramid is considered the largest monument ever
constructed anywhere in the world, and is still being excavated. The third largest pyramid in the world, the Pyramid of the Sun, is also located
in Mexico. There is an unusual pyramid with a circular plan at the site of Cuicuilco, now inside Mexico City and mostly covered with lava from
an ancient eruption of Xictli. Pyramids in Mexico were often used as places of human sacrifice.
The 27-metre-high Pyramid of Cestius was built in Rome, Italy,
by the end of the first century BC and still exists today, close to the Porta
San Paolo. Another one, named Meta Romuli, standing in the Ager Vaticanus (today's Borgo), was destroyed at the end of the 15th century.
The Mesopotamians built the earliest pyramids, called ziggurats. In ancient times these were brightly painted. Since they were
constructed of mud-brick, little remains of them. The Biblical Tower of Babel is believed to have been a Babylonian ziggurat.
North American pyramids:
Many mound-building societies of ancient North America built large pyramid like earth structures known as platform mounds. Among the largest
and best-known of these structures is Monk's Mound at the site of Cahokia, which has a base larger than that of the Great Pyramid at Giza.
While the North American mounds' precise function is not known, they are believed to have played a central role in the mound-building
people's religious life.
Many giant granite temple pyramids were made in South India during the Chola Empire, many of which are still in religious use today. Examples of
such pyramid temples include Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, the Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram.
However the largest temple pyramid in the area is Sri Rangam in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu. The Brihadisvara Temple was declared by UNESCO as a World
Heritage Site in 1987; the Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram were added as extensions to the site in 2004.
There are many square flat-topped mound tombs in China. The First Emperor of Qin (circa 221 BC) was buried under a large mound outside modern
day Xi'an. In the following centuries about a dozen more Han Dynasty royals were also buried under flat-topped pyramidal earthworks.
Examples of modern pyramids are:
The Louvre Pyramid in Paris, France, in the court of the Louvre Museum, is a 20.6 meter (about 70 foot) glass structure which acts as an entrance to the museum. It was designed by the American architect I. M. Pei and completed in 1989.
The Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco, California, designed by William Pereira.
The 32-story Pyramid Arena in Memphis, Tennessee (built in 1991) was the home court for the University of Memphis men's basketball program, and the National Basketball Association's Memphis Grizzlies until 2004.
The Slovak radio building in Bratislava, Slovakia. This building is shaped like an inverted pyramid.
The Walter Pyramid, home of the basketball and volleyball teams of the California State University, Long Beach, campus in California, United States, is an 18-story-tall blue pyramid.
The Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas, United States, is a 30-story pyramid with light beaming from the top.
The Summum Pyramid, a 3 story pyramid in Salt Lake City, Utah, used for instruction in the Summum philosophy and conducting rites associated with Modern Mummification.
The Palace of Peace and Reconciliation in Astana, Kazakhstan.
The Pyramids at Osho Commune in Pune, India (for meditation purposes).
The three pyramids of Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas.
The Co-Op Bank Pyramid or Stockport Pyramid in Stockport, England is a large pyramid-shaped office block in Stockport in England. (The surrounding part of the valley of the upper Mersey has sometimes been called the "Kings Valley" after the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.)
The GoJa Music Hall in Prague.
The Muttart Conservatory greenhouses in Edmonton, Alberta.
The unfinished Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang.
Small pyramids similar to those of the Louvre can be found outside the lobby of the Citicorp Building in Long Island City, Queens NY.
The Pyramids of the City Stars Complex in Cairo, Egypt.
Pyramid building belonging to 3DPLM Software Solutions, at Hinjwadi, Pune, India.
Henri Broch (1976), La mystérieuse pyramide de Falicon, Éditions France-Empire, ISBN B0000E80JW
"In the Shadow of a Long Past, Patiently Awaiting the Future". http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/17/world/middleeast/17cairo.html.
"Some Egyptologists, notably Mark Lehner, state that the Ancient Egyptian word for pyramid was mer."
"Mark Lehner (2008). The Complete Pyramids: Solving the Ancient Mysteries. p. 34.". Thames & Hudson.