A pyramid is any three dimensional polyhedron (geometric figure with flat faces and straight edges). Except the base, all sides of a pyramid are triangular. The triangles meet at a point called the apex. Pyramids usually have three to four faces. The base may be a triangle or a square. The shape of Egyptian pyramids is thought to represent the primordial mound from which the Egyptians believed the earth was created. The shape is also thought to be representative of the descending rays of the sun. Most pyramids were faced with polished, highly reflective white limestone in order to give them a brilliant appearance when viewed from a distance.
The Egyptian name for pyramids was 'mer’ meaning ‘place of ascendance'. The word pyramid comes from the Greek word pyramis, which means ‘wheat cake'. Pyramids reminded the Greeks of pointy topped wheat cakes, which is why pyramids got their name. The first pyramid ever is said to have been built by Imhotep in Egypt. Pyramids have mostly been used as tombs for dead kings and queens. There is a burial chamber in the central part of all Egyptian pyramids. Egyptians believed that their Pharaohs would achieve eternal life if they were buried in the pyramids. Often jewellery, money and household goods were found inside pyramids because it was said that a dead person would need these belongings even after his death. The pyramid shape has been used in many a temple too.
IN THE NEWS
Archaeologists have discovered a new pyramid under the sands of Saqqara, an ancient burial site that has yielded a string of unearthed pyramids in recent years but remains largely unexplored. The 4,300-year-old monument most likely belonged to the queen mother of the founder of Egypt's 6th Dynasty and was built several hundred years after the famed Great Pyramids of Giza. The discovery is part of the sprawling necropolis and burial site of the rulers of ancient Memphis, the capital of Egypt's Old Kingdom, about 12 miles south of Giza. All that remains of the pyramid is a 16-foot-tall structure that had been buried under 65 feet of sand.
PYRAMIDS FROM ACROSS THE WORLD
Egypt: Egyptian pyramids are the world’s most famous pyramids. They are made of bricks or stones and took many years to build. The Great Pyramid of Giza is famous all across the world.
Mesopotamia: Mesopotamian pyramids were called ziggurats. They were made of mud and brightly painted.
North America: Platform mounds were built by mound-building societies in ancient North America for religious purposes.
China: There are many flat-topped pyramids in China which were used as tombs for kings.
Greece: There are many monuments in Greece which archaeologists have called pyramids, like the ones at Helleniko and at Ligourio.
Mesoamerica: Mesoamerican pyramids are usually stepped with temples on the top. They are similar to Mesopotamian pyramids. The Pyramid of Cholula is the world’s largest pyramid by volume.
Louvre Pyramid: The Louvre Pyramid is a modern day pyramid situated in the courtyard of the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. It is made of glass and metal. It is actually one large pyramid surrounded by three smaller ones. It has been designed by I.M. Pei, an American architect, and was completed in 1989. It is made of 666 glass panes and is the entrance to the Louvre Museum.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN PAPER PYRAMID
- Take a square piece of paper.
- Fold it diagonally, that is, fold one corner over to the opposite corner from right to left and crease it so that you get a triangle.
- Fold it again this time from left to right. You have another, smaller, triangle.
- Now, using scissors, just cut almost all the way through, starting at the top of the triangle, alternatively, first from left to right and then from right to left.
- Unfold the thing and lay it flat. Find the centre and lift it. Your paper pyramid is ready.