Some of the earliest pyramids, known as step pyramids, feature enormous ledges that seem like giant steps every now and then. Archaeologists believe the stairs were created as stairways for the pharaoh to utilize in order to reach the sun deity. Later pyramids feature slanted or flat sides. These are called plain or regular pyramids.
No one is sure why the early pyramids had these large steps, but some researchers think they may have been used by workers to access higher levels within the pyramid structure. Other experts believe the steps may have been used by priests to access special rooms where they could commune with the sun god directly. Either way, they're huge features of early Egyptian architecture that still inspire wonder today.
Most pyramids were built using a combination of limestone and sandstone, but some very early ones were made out of granite. The Egyptians believed that limestone was good for health, while granite was useful for building projects. Over time, others added their ideas to the design and now there are many different types of pyramids found around the world.
The largest pyramid in Egypt is named after King Khufu. It is based on the step pyramid model and has two peaks. The main peak is 125 feet (38 meters) high and the smaller one is 105 feet (32 m). They are surrounded by walls nearly 5 miles (8 km) long.
The first form of pyramid featured a temple on top and was intended for priests to climb in order to make sacrifices to the gods. The stairs that led up the sides of these pyramids were steep, but not too difficult for the priests to climb. The most important religious events took place atop these pyramids. Priests would perform rituals during their climbs up the steps in an attempt to appease the gods and gain their favor so their communities would have good crops and healthy animals.
As time went on, people began building more utilitarian pyramids for various reasons. Some built them as tombs for themselves or members of their families. Others used them as burial sites for the dead. Still others used them as ball courts or places where soldiers trained with weapons.
Almost all Mayan pyramids were built from limestone, which can be found everywhere in the Mayan region. However, some modern architects have constructed their buildings out of clay because it's easier to build with than stone and ruins of such structures have been found throughout the Mayan area.
The Egyptians also made use of pyramids as tombs, but they were usually made of brick or stone. The Maya did not have access to iron tools like the Egyptians did, so they made do with what they had. If you visit Egypt today, you will still find many limestone pyramids despite the fact that metal tools have replaced them since the days of the pharaohs.
During the Third Dynasty, the Step Pyramid was constructed as Pharaoh Djoser's tomb. It was designed by Imhotep, a legendary architect who was eventually deified. The Step Pyramid has six stepped tiers and reaches 204 feet (62 meters) tall. It was the biggest structure in the world at the time. After Djoser's death, his body was removed from the sarcophagus and buried with him. The site now contains two pyramids—one for Djoser and one for his wife, Queen Sekhetkha.
In addition to being an impressive monument on its own, the Step Pyramid serves as a landmark for the ancient city of Giza. It is located near the Great Pyramids and across from a modern village called Imgizi. Today, much of the area is a tourist resort but some parts remain uninhabited desert.
The name "Step Pyramid" comes from the fact that each level is slightly smaller than the one below it. This allows more space for the average Egyptian to get out of the way and make room for the next generation.
Construction on the pyramid began around 2680 BC and it was completed around 2560 BC. At the time, this made it one of the most advanced civilizations in the world. However, within a few decades of Djoser's death, they disappeared from history books.
Some scholars believe that they were destroyed by floods or earthquakes, but this isn't certain.