The Egyptians, however, established the pattern for what most people remember as traditional pyramid design: huge constructions with a square base and four smooth-sided triangle sides rising to a point. (Tierred stairs and a flat top were used by the Aztecs and Mayans to construct their pyramids.) Although there are examples of different shapes being used in ancient Egypt, these are exceptions rather than the rule.

In fact, the pyramids at Giza were not originally built as tombs but as temples for the Egyptian gods. The earliest ones were constructed **around 3100 B.C.** and were made of limestone and granite. Over time, more expensive materials were used for the building material, such as sandstone and marble. The size of the pyramids also increased over time; the Great Pyramid, for example, was about five times taller when it was completed in 270 A.D. than it was when it was first built.

There are many theories about why the Egyptians built these structures, some quite interesting. One theory is that they were used as solar telescopes. When sunlight strikes a pyramid's surface at just the right angle, it will be reflected back into space. This phenomenon can only happen at certain times of the year, so the pyramids were probably used to track where the sun was in the sky during **those times**.

- What is the shape of the pyramids in Egypt?
- Are Egyptian pyramids based on squares?
- How many sides does the Great Pyramid of Egypt have?
- What is a massive monument from ancient Egypt having a rectangular base and four triangle faces?
- What was the name of the last pyramid built in Egypt?
- What was the shape of an ancient pyramid?

The pyramid's form is said to represent the sun's beams. Actually, it's more like **a shaded area** of land.

The first true pyramid was built by **King Chephren** (r. 2713-2633 B.C.) of Egypt. It was located in Giza, near Cairo. Other kings who added to **this original construction** were Khafre (r. 2633-2582 B.C.) and Menkaura (r. 2582-2572 B.C.). Most of these pyramids were made of limestone, but some were constructed from granite.

The Egyptians invented **woodworking tools** extensively used in modern carpentry. They made tools such as axes, adzes, and hammers out of wood. Also, they constructed houses and other buildings using wood. In fact, many structures still standing today were built using techniques learned by the Egyptians...

Pyramids have been used throughout history as tombs, memorials, and sometimes even as temples.

The Great Pyramid of Egypt, as seen in the diagram at the top of the page, has a square base and four triangular sides, and this is what most people think of when they hear the term "pyramid." However, from a mathematical standpoint, the base might have any number of sides, three or more. The pyramid itself may have any number of sides too, including infinite ones. There are actually two types of pyramids: those with three sides (triangular) and those with four (square). It all depends on how you define a side of the pyramid.

There are several reasons why scientists believe the Great Pyramid has exactly four sides. First of all, it can be counted. Second, if it had **any other number** of sides, then each side would have to be equal to the others in size, which is not the case. Finally, the fact that it's made up of blocks of stone that were once joined together makes sense only if it's a solid object with **four walls**.

People have wondered about pyramids with **more than four sides** for thousands of years. In 563 B.C., Aristeas of Proconnesus suggested building structures with more than four sides as a way to increase productivity per worker. In 1776, George Washington wrote a letter to his friend John Adams asking him to find out how many sides the White House was built with.

A pyramid is a monumental building with a rectangular base and four sloping triangular sides that meet at the summit that is made of or coated with stone and brick. The word "pyramid" comes from **Greek πύραμά τε κατασκήνωση** (púra ték káskoníso), meaning "a powdery white substance burns in a furnace". In English, the term also applies to **any structure** with similar proportions. There are several examples of pyramids around the world.

The Egyptians built **many large structures** using this design, some of which still stand today. Some of these structures are burial sites for members of **the Egyptian royal family**. Others have been destroyed over time or used for other purposes. However, even after being modified or replaced, many elements of the original pyramid design were preserved.

Pyramids were originally constructed out of limestone or granite but later on they were also made out of mud bricks or plaster. The Egyptians preferred to use fine quality stones for their construction because only then would they last for thousands of years later.

It is estimated that there are not more than one thousand true pyramids in the world today. They are found mainly in Egypt but also in other parts of the Middle East.

The ancient Egyptians built pyramids for almost 1,200 years. Some of them, such as the Pyramids of Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure, as well as the Step Pyramid, the Bent Pyramid, and the Red Pyramid, were successful (the third largest in Egypt). But most were not; only one builder's effort resulted in a pyramid that still stands today. This last pyramid is called the Great Pyramid because of **its size** compared to the others (it's larger than **any other Egyptian pyramid**). It was also probably designed by someone different from those who designed the others.

Although they are now visible only from above due to erosion, when the Ancient Egyptians built their pyramids, they did so using exactly the same techniques as today. They took a large pile of rocks and mud called "soil" and then shaped it into a pyramid. Using these same methods, people have been building pyramids since **the early days** of Egypt, even though they are no longer used for burial purposes.

It is estimated that there are between 20,000 and 30,000 stones in **the Great Pyramid** alone. Each stone weighs about 20 tons, so the entire pyramid does not weigh much more than this many stones.

In fact, the Great Pyramid is so heavy that if it were placed on top of the White House, it would be able to crush it like a peanut shell.

An ancient, huge structure having a square or rectangular foundation and four triangular sides that meet in an apex, such as those erected as tombs in Egypt or temple bases in Mesoamerica. A pyramid-shaped structure, generally with a square or rectangular foundation. The ancient Egyptians built many pyramids over time, some larger than others. The largest known pyramid is that of Giza, which is 2 miles (3.2 km) on each side and reaches a height of 467 feet (140 m). It was constructed for Pharaoh Khufu around 2590 BC. Other important pyramids include Thutmose III's (1479–1425 BC), Amenemhat IV's (1387–1356 BC), and King Zoser's (2690–2650 BC). In Mexico, the pyramids were used for **similar purposes** to those of Egypt—as tombs for the rulers of the city-states to show their status and power.

A pyramid has the same base at its bottom as it does at its top. This is not so for other shapes, such as a rectangle or a square. If a rectangle has heights of 1 foot and 3 feet, then it has a base of 1 foot times two legs plus 3 feet times two legs, or 10 feet square.