Pyramids are some of the most mesmerizing structures on the planet, fascinating people to this day! Dating back millennia, it’s believed they’ve been used for a variety of purposes over the centuries. The most famous ones, of course, are the pyramids of Giza which once belonged to the pharaohs and rulers during ancient Egypt. Famous or not – there’s always been a veil of mystery covering these monumental marvels. Let’s lift the veil and reveal the truth, through these 22 interesting facts about pyramids…
Across the ages and across the world…
- Pyramids have been discovered that date from many different ages and many different countries, including Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, India, Thailand, Mexico, South America, and also on some of the Pacific islands.
The Egyptian pyramids
The idea behind these fascinating structures
There are all kinds of ideas as to why the ancient Egyptian pyramids were originally built. Studies and archaeology appear to show that they were monuments built to appease the pharaohs or rulers of the time.
Into the afterlife
It’s believed that pyramids were stocked up with items and trinkets that a pharaoh’s followers would believe he’d need to be able to move on into the afterlife. In fact, pyramids acted as tombs of sorts for various ancient rulers.
How many are there?
To this day, there are 138 different pyramids still standing in Egypt.
Closer to Amon-Ra
Built to have smooth, angled sides, the Pyramids were supposed to symbolise the rays of the Sun. Their design was a way to help the king’s soul rise to heaven and join the gods, specifically the Sun god Ra.
The oldest pyramid
The Step Pyramid is the oldest known pyramid in Egypt, located in an ancient burial ground called Saqqara, built around 2630 BC.
The largest pyramid
Built in 2584 BC, the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of three collectively called the Great Pyramids of Giza, is the largest one, that has stood for millennia. Located just outside of modern-day Cairo on the west bank of the River Nile, it’s the largest pyramid in the world and stands at 147 metres, 481.4 feet. It’s estimated that the structure weighs almost 6 million tons – but how on earth could you weigh such a structure in full?
How many people worked on the Great Pyramid’s structure
For twenty years, one hundred thousand people worked on the Great Pyramid’s structure for three months of each year during the Nile’s annual flood when it was impossible to farm the land and most of the inhabitants were unemployed.
A glittery finish
It’s believed that the ancient Egyptian pyramids once benefitted from a glittery finish or powdering, thanks to a scattering of limestone. From what we know of the ancient Egyptians, putting on a show is hardly surprising!
The Sudanese pyramids
Home to more pyramids and tombs than Egypt
Sudan is thought to be home to more pyramids and tombs than what you might find in Egypt. Across the Sudanese sands, close to the River Nile there are more than 200 different structures.
A world heritage site
In fact, many of the Sudanese pyramids have been recognised by UNESCO as world heritage sites.
100 versus more than 230
Surprisingly, Sudan is home to more pyramids than its neighbour. Sudan is in the lead with more than 230 (possibly more because some are unidentifiable due to weathering), while Egypt holds the second place with over 100 pyramids.
The Sudanese pyramids are smaller
The pyramids in Sudan aren’t as big or as historically significant as the ones in Egypt. Still, the Sudanese pyramids were found with hieroglyphics, mummies, and treasures. Interestingly they weren’t restricted to members of the royal family. In fact, even priests and high-ranking officials would often be buried with a small pyramid atop their graves.
The Nubian Pyramids
Also called the Pyramids of Meroe, these pyramids are the most iconic attractions in Sudan. Meroe was once the key city of the Kingdom of Kush, governed by the Nubian kings, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD.
Another lost battle in height
And yet again, Egypt wins over Sudan, because the Nubian Pyramids are much smaller than their Egyptian counterparts.
Despite the greater quantity of pyramids in Sudan, the Egyptian ones are more popular with tourists!
Perhaps most fascinating of all is that the Pyramid of Giza appears to be at the dead centre where the longest lines of latitude and longitude meet. This was discovered by Dr. Joseph Seiss, and it suggests that it’s the epicentre of the world!
The Mexican pyramids
How many pyramids are there in Mexico?
Nobody knows the exact number. Sadly, the pyramids in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán are long gone, but thankfully dozens of others across Mexico still stand.
Who built the pyramids in Mexico?
Pre-Columbian cultures like the Olmecs, Mixtecs, Toltecs, Zapotecs, Aztecs, and Maya created these fascinating structures. Each civilization left a mark with its specific building style, though they all used materials like clay, stone, and mortar.
How old are the pyramids in Mexico?
The most important pyramids were built over roughly two millennia, from around 900 B.C.E. to about 1000 C.E.
Where are the best pyramids in Mexico?
You can find them along Mexico’s eastern coast, as well as inland, around Mexico City and farther south in Oaxaca.
The colossal pyramid
The 53m-tall Great Pyramid of Cholula also has a church at its peak and a variety of different tunnels and paths. It’s a popular tourist site as well as a functioning chapel for worship.
The Italian pyramids
Yes – there’s a pyramid in Italy!
Even though it’s flanked by modern roads and buildings and it’s not as large as those you’ll find in Egypt or Sudan, the Pyramid of Cestius remains a hugely popular Italian landmark. It’s believed that this structure is a Roman tomb dating back to 18BC. However, we understand that you need special permission to be able to get in and take a look around.
The number of pyramids across the globe
The number of pyramids still standing across the globe is thought to be more than 5,000 in total. So, what are you waiting for, put on your Indiana Jones hat and try finding them all?
Do you know any interesting or fun facts about pyramids? Share them in the comments below!
Want to discover more? Check out these interesting facts about Ancient Egypt