Pyramid Image Gallery

© Photographer: Ivan Freaner, SXC
A Mayan pyramid at Chichen Itza, Mexico.­ See more pictures of pyramids.

The ancient pyramids are among the most astonishing structures in the world. Built in ancient times by workers who didn't have the benefit of modern tools and machinery, they are a constant source of fascination. Most of us think of ancient Egypt when pyramids come to mind, but they exist in many parts of the world. Why did the ancients build pyramids? What was their purpose? Is there any special meaning behind the pyramid shape? How were they built without earth-moving or heavy-lift machinery? In this article, we'll examine pyramids around the world, how they were constructed and who used them.

What is a pyramid?

A pyramid is a geometrical solid with a square base and four equilateral triangular sides, the most structurally stable shape for projects involving large amounts of stone or masonry. Pyramids of various types, sizes and complexities were built in many parts of the ancient world (like Central America, Greece, China and Egypt). In the history of Egypt and China, they were primarily tombs and monuments to kings and leaders. The pyramids of the Mayans and Aztecs of Central America were mainly religious temples, though some of them housed burial chambers.