Ancient pyramids are by far one of the greatest relics of our world. For millenniums they have stood in our sight withholding their secrets for the world to wonder about them. How were they built? What’s inside? What do the writings on the wall say? Read on and find out 24 facts about ancient pyramids that most people don’t know.
1. Because of their delicate nature, many rooms inside discovered ancient pyramids have yet to be explored by modern day humans.
Hollywood would lead you to believe that many ancient pyramids around the world contain inaccessible areas because of booby traps, hidden-doors, and/or ancient curses, but the truth is that many of these areas have been filled with sand and sealed after their construction as they were solely used for workers to access other areas or as a source of oxygen.
Other areas cannot be explored because the structures are simply too old and historians fear destroying precious artifacts.(source)
2. The United States of America has an ancient pyramid in Collinsville, Illinois that has a base larger than the Pyramid of the Sun.
Unlike other pyramids the Monks Mound was built of soil and clay instead of stone and was completed in 1100CE. The name comes from French descendants that claimed the land in the 19th century and donated a portion of the land to Trappist Monks.(source)
3. Researchers now believe Egyptians used wet sand to reduce friction in order to move the large stones to build the pyramids.
For years scientists, archaeologists, and conspiracy theorists have been trying to figure out how Egyptians were able to move such large pieces of stone to construct the pyramids. Recently a wall painting that has been misinterpreted as a ritualistic ceremony has been revealed to be to be an illustration of the practice used to move the stones.(source)
4. The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only surviving ancient wonder of the world.
Out of the 7 ancient wonders of the world the Great Pyramid still stands today. It took the Egyptians 20 years to build it and it was finally completed in 2560 BC. It was the largest structure in the world for nearly 4,000 years until the Lincoln cathedral was built c. 1300 AD.(1,2)
5. It took 18 years to explore the shafts inside the Queens chamber of the Great Pyramid.
In 1993 German engineer Rudolf Gantenbrink took a first attempt at exploring the shafts by using a crawler robot. After climbing more that 200ft he discovered that one of the shafts was blocked by what appeared to be doors made of limestone and eroded copper that seemed to be handles.
After a second attempt in 2002, where National Geographic Society discovered another wall behind the original one, the Djedi Project (in 2011) used a micro-snake camera that was able to see around corners rather than look straight ahead. They successfully discovered hieroglyphics written in red paint as well as determine that the limestone had a polished back end, which could mean it was there for a greater reason. They also believe that the copper was there for decorative purposes.(source)
6. Many pyramids have false doors that Egyptians believed were a connection between the worlds of the living and the dead.
The false doors were usually used as offering chapels for family members to place offerings for the deceased. The majority of these doors face the west side of the pyramids do to Ancient Egyptians associating the west with death.(source)
7. Over 2 Million stones blocks were used to build The Great Pyramid of Giza covering nearly 15 acres of land.
Historian and archaeologist John Romer believes that a 1 – 1 scale model of the pyramid was built on the ground before construction thus explaining the unmatched precision of the construction. Experts estimate that the pyramid weighs over 5 million tons. Thirty times larger than the Empire State Building, the Pyramid’s features are so large they can be seen from the Moon.(source)
8. Contrary to popular belief, the largest pyramid in the world is in Mexico.
While the Great Pyramid of Giza is the tallest Pyramid in the world the Great Pyramid of Cholula is in fact the largest with a volume of 4.5 million cubic meters.(source)
9. Hieroglyphics were not discovered in the Great Pyramid until recently in 2011.
It may seem hard to believe but prior to 2011 there were no known hieroglyphics inside the Great Pyramid. After a very tedious exploration (see fact 6) some red paint was found in a previously inaccessible area that historians believe to be hieroglyphics.(1,2)
10. Without modern day technology the builders of the Great Pyramid were able to point the pyramid towards True North by using astrology.
The construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza is by itself is a modern marvel. While researchers are already baffled by the Egyptians ability during that time period, scientists, historians, archaeologists and astrologists are trying to figure out how they managed to align the pyramid to True North using only their knowledge of astrology.(source)
11. The builders of the pyramids also had their own tombs. Over 600 graves have been discovered.
This first graves were unearthed in 1990 by tourists. Archaeologist Zahi Hawass believes that this may mean that the slaves were paid laborers rather than the slaves they’ve been perpetrated to be in Hollywood films.(1,2)
12. The Great Sphinx that guards the Great Pyramids is the largest monolith statue in the world.
The Great Sphinx, like the Great Pyramids was made out of limestone. It’s still debated as to who carved the stone and for what reason. It is generally believed that it was built in 2500 BC for the king pharaoh Khafra.(1,2)
13. During the 12th century Kurdish ruler Al-Aziz attempted to destroy the pyramids and succeeded in damaging them.
Near the end of the 12th century Al-Aziz attempted to destroy the Great Pyramids. His workers, who were unable to remove more than 2 stones a day found the process to be more of a liability than to build the actual pyramids themselves.(1,2)
14. Regardless of the heat around it the temperature inside the Great Pyramids stays the relatively the same.
The air shafts built into the pyramids allow the pyramids interior temperature to remain at a constant 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius).(source)
15. Since 1983 it has been widely debated on whether or not the Great Pyramids align with Orion’s Belt.
This idea was brought forward by Robert Bauval and it has been challenged by Bauval’s critics. Ed Krupp of the Griffith Observatory believes that certain irregularities between the stars and the pyramids make the idea invalid.(source)
16. The pyramid of Giza actually has 8 sides to it, but the effect can only be seen from the sky.
The center of each main side is indented thus making the pyramid have 8 sides. It’s not visible to the naked eye and is best seen from above when the sun draws shadow on it.(source)
17. Scientists and historians have been able to figure out what the Great Pyramids may have looked like years ago.
Being made from polished limestone the pyramids would reflect the sun thus emanating a beacon of light that could be seen from miles away.(source)
18. Most Aztec pyramids are open to the public for exploration .
Five archaeological parks are open to the public. Out of the five, Teotihuacan is the most prominent giving that it contains the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon which are two of the worlds largest pyramids.(source)
19. While Egyptian pyramids were used primarily as tombs, Mesoamerican pyramids were used mainly as temples.
20. Some Mayan pyramids were built with materials imported from Brazil.
Mica, a mineral found in thousands of miles away in Brazil was used to build buildings, houses, temples etc. It has been used in Indian, Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Chinese cultures.(source)
21. Mesoamerican pyramids are know to have ball-courts that were used for games and other forms of entertainment.
Many of the rules of these games have been lost in translation over the years, so the Mesoamerican ball game (El juego de la pelota) is looked at a formally as a medley of relative games played on the mason courts near the temples.(1,2)
22. Hundreds of metal spheres were found beneath an ancient pyramid in Mexico City.
Once again, robots save the day by finding hundred of yellow orbs that can also be referred to as ‘fool’s gold.’ Historians have not yet figured out what they were used for.(source)
23. Egypt isn’t the country with the most pyramids. Nubia, Sudan is home to 250 pyramids that were built nearly 800 years after the pyramids in ancient Egypt.
The Nubian pyramids were built by the rulers of the Kingdom of Kush an ancient African Kingdom located in what is now the Republic of Sudan. All of the tombs have been plundered centuries ago.(source)
24. Historians believe that children were sacrificed in the Pyramid of the Sun
Not many artefacts were discovered in the Pyramid of the Sun but burial sites have been found along with 12 bodies (10 of them were decapitated). The state of the bodies and the inclusion of animal remains lead historians to believe rituals may have taken place in the temple possibly dedicated to it’s erection.(source)