Historical Roofs: Pyramids

23 Sep Historical Roofs: Pyramids

Kukulkan Pyramid in Chichen Itza SiteHistorical Roofs is a weekly series where we take a look at some of the different gorgeous, old roofing from different regions of the world.

So far in our series of Historical Roofs, we have been looking at roofs that have been constructed well in the last millennium. So for this entry in our series, we are going to take a look at something a little more ancient: pyramids. It can be argued that pyramids could be considered all roof, since they often house complicated networks of sarcophaguses underneath. Also, because of the angle of the walls, they must be able to withstand elements like water and sunlight just like a standard roof. However, not all pyramids are the same. Here are two different cultures separated by hundreds of years and thousands of miles that both constructed marvelous pyramids…

Egyptian Pyramids

The first Egyptian pyramids were built over 4600 years ago as burial structures for fallen pharaohs, and proceeded to be constructed for the next 2000 years. The largest of the pyramids built during this time was The Great Pyramid of Giza, which stands to this day at a massive 455 feet tall, and has a volume of over 91 million cubic feet. The pyramid was so gigantic that when Sultan Al-Aziz Uthman ordered to have it destroyed, he gave up nearly right away because the task would prove to be too massive for an entire army. These pyramids were always made of limestone, which would be transported from quarries that could sometimes be hundreds of miles away. Unlike other cultures that made pyramids, Egyptians had developed two technologies that greatly assisted in their construction: the wheel and metal tools. Egyptians were able to greater control the shape of the limestone by using copper drills and saws. The Egyptians never used the pyramids as temples, because they wanted their pharaohs to have a peaceful afterlife. These pyramids were such architectural marvels and so strong, that 118 have been identified today, and still stand as strong as ever.

Mayan Pyramids

A Mayan pyramid is not technically pyramidal, because it is made up of various polygons. But the sides of these polygons never meet at a common point, still classifying the structure as a pyramid. The first Mayan pyramid was built around 3000 years ago as a temple to Mayan deities. Rather than coming to a point on the top like Egyptian pyramids, Mayan pyramids are topped off with a platform that holds a shrine with which to perform rituals like human sacrifice. Also unlike Egyptian pyramids, Mayans would color their pyramids with a vibrant assortment of reds, blues, greens, and yellows. Although these pyramids were often shorter than Egyptian pyramids, their construction was particularly impressive as they were also made of limestone, but lacked the wheel and metal tools that were utilized by the Egyptians. The largest of the Mayan pyramids was the La Danta temple at El Mirador, which measures 260 feet high and has a volume of almost 99 million cubic feet.

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