A pyramid (from Greek: πυραμίς pyramis) is a structure whose shape is roughly that of a pyramid in the geometric sense; that is, its outer surfaces are triangular and converge to a single point at the top. The base of a pyramid can be trilateral, quadrilateral, or any polygon shape, meaning that a pyramid has at least three outer triangular surfaces (at least four faces including the base). The square pyramid, with square base and four triangular outer surfaces, is a common version.
A pyramid's design, with the majority of the weight closer to the ground, and with the pyramidion on top means that less material higher up on the pyramid will be pushing down from above. This distribution of weight allowed early civilizations to create stable monumental structures.
Pyramids have been built by civilizations in many parts of the world. For thousands of years, the largest structures on Earth were pyramids—first the Red Pyramid in the Dashur Necropolis and then the Great Pyramid of Khufu, both of Egypt, the latter the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still remaining. Khufu's Pyramid is built entirely of limestone, and is considered an architectural masterpiece. It contains around 1,300,000 blocks ranging in weight from 2.5 tonnes (5,500 lb) to 15 tonnes (33,000 lb) and is built on a square base with sides measuring about 230 m (755 ft), covering 13 acres. Its four sides face the four cardinal points precisely and it has an angle of 52 degrees. The original height of the Pyramid was 146.5 m (488 ft), but today it is only 137 m (455 ft) high, the 9 m (33 ft) that is missing is due to the theft of the fine quality limestone covering, or casing stones, to build houses and Mosques in Cairo. It is still the tallest pyramid. The largest pyramid by volume is the Great Pyramid of Cholula, in the Mexican state of Puebla.
Famous quotes containing the word pyramid:
“So universal and widely related is any transcendent moral greatness, and so nearly identical with greatness everywhere and in every age,as a pyramid contracts the nearer you approach its apex,that, when I look over my commonplace-book of poetry, I find that the best of it is oftenest applicable, in part or wholly, to the case of Captain Brown.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)