Pyramid (architecture) , ceremonial structures used as tombs or temples that were built by the people of certain ancient civilization , notably the ancient Egyptians , the Aztecs , and the Maya , and certain other ancient peoples of the northern Andean region of South America . The Pyramids of Egypt are of an exact pyramidal form , having four triangular sides that meet at a point at the summit . Pyramids in Central and South America by contrast are flat-topped , and usually have steps leading to the summit.
The Egyptian pyramids were built as royal tombs , and were designed to hold the body of the pharaon . Those in Central and South America were temples on the summit of which religious rituals were performed , although they sometimes also served as the tombs of important rulers.
Pyramids in Egypt
In Egypt , the first pyramid were built in about 2700 bc . They probably developed from the mastaba , a low , rectangular tomb with a flat roof , originally built in mudbrick and later in stone . These gradually increased in size and complexity until they looked like a stepped pyramid-that is , a pyramid with sides that rose in giant steps . The most famous example of a step pyramid is the pyramid of Dsozer at Saqqara , which was built in about 2630 bc . It was six steps on each side , each step 60 m (200 ft ) high . Over time , the step pyramid developed into the true pyramid with smooth sides.
The largest and most famous pyramids of ancient Egypt are those that held the bodies of the pharaons Khufu , Khafre , and Menkaure at Giza , near modern Cairo . The Great Pyramid of Khufu has a volume of some 2.6 million cu m (91.8 ,million cu ft ), and it is believed that 2.5 million blocks of stone ,...