It all started in ancient Egypt around 3150 B.C. with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt. According to the Egyptians’ beliefs when a pharaoh died, he became king of the dead called Osiris. The massive tombs were built to shelter a pharaoh’s soul that remained with his body. Firstly they had constructed flat-roofed structures called mastabas , later they developed the art of tomb-building into the impressive pyramids. See below when Egyptians built their first pyramid and who managed to construct the highest one.
6. Pyramid of the Magician
115 feet (accepted median height), 35 meters
Located in the ancient, Pre-Columbian city of Uxmal in Mexico, the Pyramid of Magician is the most distinct Mayan structure on the Yucatán Peninsula. It is considered unique because it was built on an oval base and it has rounded sides, considerable height, steep slope, and unusual elliptical base. The construction of the pyramid started in 6th century A.D. and was completed in several phases, over three centuries.
According to one of the folk legends, Itzamna, a magician-god, was supposed to have erected the pyramid in one night, using his magic.
5. Pyramid of Moon
138 feet high (42 meters)
The Moon Pyramid, located in Great City of Teotihuacan, near Mexico City, although smaller than its sister – the Sun Temple (see below), was built on the highest part of the site and thus its summit is the same height as its larger counterpart. It was built in seven stages over the period from 100 A.D. to 400 A.D. In the temple, researchers found buried animals and human bodies, without heads – these could be the offerings to gods or sanctification for the layers of the pyramid as it was constructed.
4. Step Pyramid
204 feet (62 meters) high
The oldest triangular tomb – Step Pyramid- was to be constructed as mastabas for Pharaoh Djoser , but in 2611 B.C. Imhotep, a prominent architect (and also physician, priest, and founder of a cult of healing) had raised the tomb to six stepped layers, 204 feet (62 meters) high. It was the largest building of its time.
The 30-foot (10-meter) wall was surrounding the whole complex of the Step Pyramid. It also included courtyards, temples, and chapels. These constructions covered nearly 40 acres (16 hectares) – the area is comparable to the size of a big town at that time.
All that remained of Djoser, the third king of Egypt’s 3rd dynasty, is his mummified left foot.
3. Pyramid of Sun
216 feet (66 metres) high
The third largest pyramid measures approximately 720 by 760 feet (220 by 230 metres) at its base – it is nearly as broad as the Great Pyramid at Giza. It is located in a famed archaeological site called the Great City of Teotihuacan. It reached its zenith between 100 B.C. and A.D. 650.
Around five centuries before the arrival of the Spanish the city had been abandoned . Why? No one really knows. It might have been overpopulation, disease, internal power struggles or overexploitation of natural resources.
2. Khafre Pyramid
471 feet (144 meters) high
The second largest pyramid in the world , with the statue of Sphinx in front of it, was built around 2520 B.C. by the Khufu’s son, Khafre. In front of the pyramid we can see the typical features of a pharaonic mortuary temple in one place for the first time. These are the hall, courtyard with the columns, niches for royal statuary, storage chambers, and the sanctuary.
The Sphinx depicts the pharaoh as a human-headed lion and it is a symbol of Khafre, the third ruler of the 4th dynasty, as the god Horus.
1. Great Pyramid
481 feet (147 meters) high
The Age of pyramids reaches zenith around 2550 B.C. when Khufu, second ruler of the 4th dynasty moved the royal necropolis to Giza, north of modern-day Cairo. That’s where the largest pyramid ever built emerged. The Great Pyramid called also Khufu Pyramid is comprised of about 2.3 million stone blocks, weighing between of 2.5 and 15 tons each. According to the estimates the buliders would have had to lay a stone block every two and a half minutes. Find out more about Egypt’s pyramids at National Geographic.
Khufu (Great Pyramid) and Khafre Pyramid are the part of the Giza Necropolis complex that stands on the Giza Plateau, near Cairo. The Great Pyramid is the only remaining ancient building of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.