What do you picture when you think about ancient Egypt? Pharaohs? The Nile River? The desert? A sphinx? Mummies?

Of course, all of these things are lasting images of ancient Egypt. But some of the most popular images associated with ancient Egypt are of pyramids.

Pyramids have been built in many countries around the world. For example, Sudan has over 200 pyramids — the most of any country in the world.

Egypt, however, contains the most famous ancient pyramids. Built thousands of years ago as tombs for pharaohs (Egyptian leaders) and their families, over 130 pyramids have been discovered throughout Egypt.

Pyramids have a unique geometric shape. In geometry, a pyramid is defined as a polyhedron made by connecting a polygonal base (a two-dimensional shape with three or more straight sides) with a point at the top, called the apex.

The base of a pyramid can be a triangle, a square, a rectangle or other shapes with even more sides. Each side of a pyramid (each base edge and the apex) forms a triangle.

The Egyptian pyramids may have been modeled after a sacred, pointed stone called the ben-ben. The ben-ben stone represented the rays of the Sun, and ancient Egyptians believed that pharaohs who died reached heaven on sunbeams.

The shape of a pyramid allows weight to be distributed evenly throughout the structure. Most of the weight in a pyramid is on the bottom and it decreases the higher you go. This allowed ancient civilizations to create huge structures of stone that were very sturdy.

The most famous Egyptian pyramids are located at Giza near Cairo. The pyramids at Giza are some of the largest structures ever built. The Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza is the tallest pyramid in the world. It’s also the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still in existence.

The Great Pyramid of Khufu is built of over 1.3 million huge limestone blocks that weigh anywhere from 5,000 pounds to over 30,000 pounds. Its four sides face north, south, east and west precisely.

It was originally 488 feet tall, but today it stands only 455 feet. The missing 33 feet were high-quality casing stones that were removed long ago to build houses and mosques in Cairo. You may have noticed some of these missing outer stones in the photograph of the Great Pyramid of Khufu.

No one knows for sure exactly how the pyramids were built. Without modern machines and building techniques, the ancient Egyptians managed to create architectural masterpieces that still baffle scientists today.

One thing is certain, however: it had to take a tremendous amount of manpower to create the pyramids. Some experts believe the pyramids could have been built with as few as 20,000-30,000 workers. Other experts, however, argue that it might have taken over 100,000 workers!

 

26 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (20 votes, avg. 4.35 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...
    • We did too, Mary! We think it would be a lot of fun to ride a camel beside the pyramids in Egypt! Thanks for sharing this comment with us today! :-)

    • Your guesses have been really awesome, Rahul! We hope you are right about tomorrow’s Wonder, too! GREAT guess! :-)

    • Thanks so much for letting us know you liked today’s Wonder about pyramids, Callie! We’re glad you visited Wonderopolis today! :-)

  1. Dear Wonderopolis,
    That was a cool video! I never WONDERed that before! I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about space. Stay awesome, Wonderopolis!
    XOXOXOXOXO,
    Paige ;)

    • We’ll stay awesome if YOU will, too, Paige! Have we told you lately how much we appreciate your comments and your enthusiasm for Wonder? Well…we really DO! YOU ROCK! :-)

    • Thanks for exploring today’s Wonder and for sharing what you think tomorrow’s Wonder will be about, Rebecca and Joey! We’re so glad you stopped by Wonderopolis today! :-)

  2. I got a model of a pyramid, it was cool. It also came with a mummy and pot I loved this wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • We really appreciate your enthusiasm for this Wonder about pyramids, Megan! Thanks for telling us about your pyramid model! :-)

  3. Thank you so much for showing me these wonders. I really liked wonder number 68 and by the way, I have one more wonder for you that I have always wondered…why or how do boomerangs come back to you when you throw them?

    • We LOVE the idea for a boomerang Wonder of the Day®, Paige! Thank you so much for WONDERing about it and sharing your idea with us! :-)

  4. You are more than welcome. Thank you so much for responding to my wonders. I really like to hear back from you. Wonderopolis is so cool, I love it. I get on every single day to check the wonder.

    • We will always do our best to respond to each comment from our Wonder Friends (like you), Paige! We appreciate you visiting each Wonder and think you are a SUPER Wonder Friend! Have a Happy Thursday! :-)

  5. I really liked the facts about the pyramids like…how many workers there were, and how many blocks it took to make the great pyramid of Khufu. I can’t believe it took 1.3 million blocks. I live in Wisconsin so we don’t have any pyramids here, that’s why I really want to visit Egypt when I grow up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Share

  • Wonderopolis on Facebook
  • Wonderopolis on Pinterest
  • Print

Have you ever wondered…

  • What makes a pyramid?
  • What country has the most pyramids?
  • What is the tallest pyramid in the world?

Wonder Gallery

Sphinx Giza Pyramid Khafre CenterhhhhVimeo Video

Try It Out

Ready to get geometric? Find a friend or family member to help you check out one or more of the following activities:

  • Would you like to check out the pyramids of Egypt? No need to fly to Cairo. Just check out Explore Ancient Egypt online to walk around the Sphinx, climb inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu, and even search for the pharaoh’s burial tomb! What new and interesting facts can you learn about the pyramids and ancient Egypt? Be sure to share your adventure with a friend!
  • When you’re finished exploring ancient Egypt online, grab your art supplies and try one of these fun pyramid crafts:
  • Up for a challenge? With a few simple materials and some basic knowledge of mathematics, you can build a Scale Model of the Great Pyramid. Enjoy learning more about the mathematics of scaling back large structures to create your own miniature versions. After you’re finished with the Great Pyramid, try your hand at the other pyramids with the measurements given online. 

Still Wondering

Explore EDSITEment!’s Egypt’s Pyramids: Monuments with a Message lesson to learn more about the purpose for the pyramids in ancient Egypt.

 

Test Your Knowledge

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day takes a look at what happens to old, dirty bills!

Upload a Photo or Paste the URL of a YouTube or SchoolTube Video.