They are formed in the shape of sun rays. Most pyramids had a polished, highly reflecting white limestone surface that gave them a gleaming look from afar. This quality was probably intended to impress and motivate the pharaohs' subjects.
The ancient Egyptians built many things for their gods. Some of these objects are huge and others are tiny, but they all serve a purpose: to honor the deity or deities selected by the king or queen. The pyramids were built as tombs for the pharaohs. They were created in several stages over a period of hundreds of years, with each successive ruler adding onto the one built by his or her predecessor. There are more than 500 pyramids in Egypt today; some larger universities have more building space per student!
It is believed that the Egyptians used wood as the main material for their buildings. In fact, we know this because many of their structures have survived until today. However, the quality of modern construction materials has improved greatly since the ancient times. For example, concrete was not used much by the ancients but today it is used extensively in architecture because of its durability and versatility. Concrete can be made into any shape and used in building bridges, houses, and even pyramids!
Some archaeologists say pyramids are constructed like triangles to allow the pharaoh's spirit to ascend to the heavens, while others believe the sloping sides symbolise the sun's rays. Either way, they are most certainly shaped like triangles.
The first pyramid was built over 4500 years ago by King Chephren of Egypt. It was called a "step pyramid" because its floor plans changed at each level, starting with an almost square base then becoming longer and narrower as it rose. There were also two other kinds of pyramid used in ancient Egypt: the mastaba and the true pyramid. The mastaba is a mound of earth covered with stones or clay and it can be found near every Egyptian home before the Pharaohs. The true pyramid was composed of several layers of stone placed on top of one another with the lowest layer being the ground plane. Each new layer added to the pyramid was slightly smaller than the last so that all could be used for storage. Some true pyramids reached a height of 48 feet (14.5 meters) or more but most were not even half as tall.
The Egyptians believed that the dead king would need food and clothing during the afterlife, so his body was preserved after death in a well-fed and well-dressed state to enjoy the luxury in the next world.
The smooth, angled sides of the pyramid represented the sun's beams and were intended to enable the king's spirit rise to heaven and join the gods, notably the sun deity Ra. The pyramids became the focal point of a worship of the deceased monarch, which was expected to last long after his death. This form of burial was exclusive to the pharaoh; others were interred in graves or cemeteries.
In Egyptian mythology, the god Ra created the world and all that is in it by splitting off a piece of himself. As part of this process, he formed a mirror image of himself called the Ka (pronounced "kha") which, according to some sources, contained everything that would be born on Earth. When Ra completed creating the universe, he lost a piece of himself and the Ka fell from Heaven into Earth. It is this Ka that Egyptians believed was buried with the pharaohs when they were killed or had their bodies taken over time.
Ra's wife, Nut, then took him back up into Heaven where they married so that she could have children with him. From this marriage came the first humans who were cast out of Paradise and given power over the earth. These humans included Khufu, builder of the Great Pyramid at Giza which is considered a manifestation of Ra's body, and his son Menkaure who reigned next.
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. The pyramid's form is said to represent the sun's beams. Actually, it's more like a shaded space within which the body would have been placed for burial.
In fact, there were early attempts to use other shapes for pyramids. One such shape is the hexagonal prism, which was used by some ancient civilizations in Asia and Africa. Another is the tetrahedron, which was used by the Maya.
But despite these attempts, it was only with the construction of the Great Pyramid that the idea of using a square foundation for the structure came about. The reason given by historians is that the Pharaoh Khufu wanted to build the largest possible structure to honor himself. But even before starting to build it, he ordered plans to be made for a pyramid of similar dimensions but with a different layout of chambers. This new design was called "the first true pyramid" because it had a number of features not found in earlier pyramids: a flat floor, a wall around it, and an internal passageway connecting the two. The Great Pyramid was built for Khufu's son Chephren and included a number of interesting details such as a cartouche (an engraved box) showing his name.
Because the pyramid signified the form of the physical body emerging from the soil and climbing towards the light of the sun, the ancient Egyptians considered it as a technique of resurrecting the dead. They believed that by constructing pyramids, they were preparing the way for their bodies after they died.
The pyramid was also used in religious rituals. In this case, it meant to ask God for forgiveness of sins. The priests would build a small replica of the pyramid's burial chamber inside the main sanctuary of the temple. Then, they would offer food to be consumed by ghosts or spirits while praying for forgiveness. Finally, they would burn all the clothes they were wearing when burying them, since clothing represented human life which must be destroyed before entering the afterlife.
In conclusion, the pyramid was an important symbol for the Egyptian people because it was used in rituals to ask for forgiveness for sins and to be resurrected after death.