Discover the mysteries behind the North American pyramids, from the oldest Brazilian pyramids to the majestic Great Pyramid of Cholula. Learn about the different archaeological sites, their constructions, and the secrets they may hold.
Explore the amazing wonders of Mexico, from El Tajin‘s Pyramid to the mysterious Pyramid of Comalcalco. Uncover the history of North American pyramids and the evolution of the pyramid structure.
Most believe Egypt and Africa are home to the most and largest pyramids in the world. To the south, in modern-day Sudan, lies an ancient civilization with more than 200 pyramids. Meanwhile, numerous other civilizations sprang up across the American Continent, many of which constructed impressive pyramids.
However, North America hosts the largest pyramid known to humankind – The Great Pyramid of Cholula. This enormous structure was constructed with an astonishing 4.45 million cubic meters. That means the pyramid is bigger than the vaunted Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, which only musters 2.5 million cubic meters.
An Incredible Amount of North American Pyramids
Counting them all may prove difficult, but North America alone is home to over a thousand pyramids. The Americas are also marvelous in their abundance of ancient pyramids throughout Central and South America. Some are among the oldest ever discovered.
Constructed around 5,000 years ago, the Brazilian pyramids are considered to be some of the oldest on our planet. It is estimated that there were approximately 1,000 of them in Brazil alone!
Uniquely built from seashells instead of stone like their Egyptian counterparts, these pyramids have been buried and forgotten. Researchers accidentally mistook them for piles of rubble, or locals later crushed them down for livestock farms and roadways.
Unfortunately, this has resulted in many being destroyed over time.
Across America, you can find approximately 2,000 pyramids if you were to count them all. The number of pyramids in Africa is much lower, at around 350, mainly in Sudan and Egypt.
Sadly, most Nigerians built out of mud and clay have been destroyed over time. Nevertheless, when we look across continents, several thousand ancient structures remain standing for us to marvel at today.
The New Birth Place Of Pyramids
For centuries, Pyramids have been a source of wonder around the world. According to mainstream chronology, Egypt’s earliest pyramid was built by Third Dynasty Pharaoh Djoser at Saqqara over 4,700 years ago. This marks it as one of the oldest cut-stone constructions in existence.
Interestingly enough, though, pyramids found in South America appear to be roughly contemporary with this iconic Egyptian monument. Amazingly, the Brazilian pyramids are around 300 years older than their well-known Egyptian counterparts.
It turns out that this architectural wonder was not exclusive to one country but instead sprouted up all over—namely in America and Africa.
Historians have dated the construction of these monuments as early as 5,000 years ago in the American Continent and approximately 4,700 years ago in Africa – a mere blink of an eye when viewed from a historical perspective.
The evolution of a pyramid
Although some pyramids may derive from the innovations of prior structures, Egyptologists assert that the Egyptian pyramids are a development of mastabas. It is thought that Djoser’s Step Pyramid evolved from the Mastaba tomb because Imhotep acted as Djoser’s royal architect.
Unveiled during the Fourth Dynasty, Sneferu’s architects went a step further in perfecting their craft and constructed the first smooth-sided pyramid at Dahshur, The Red Pyramid. This magnificent structure was then used to inspire Egypt’s Greatest Pyramid, The Pyramid of Khufu.
North American Pyramids are Different.
On the other hand, North American pyramids are distinct. Despite countless studies and investigations, we still cannot accurately determine why ancient civilizations in Brazil elected to construct monumental pyramid mounds out of seashells.
Whether it was an independent invention or stemmed from similar structures found in modern-day Mexico, scientists hypothesize these pyramids were intended as temples resembling Step Pyramids.
Ancient civilizations, such as the Olmecs, Maya, and Aztecs, have long left their mark on Mexico with towering pyramids that still remain today. These masterfully designed superimposed structures are nothing short of majestic!
Everyone knows about The Great Pyramid at Chichen Itza. However, many other lesser-known pyramids are worth exploring in this vibrant country for a truly unforgettable experience.
North American Pyramids Are Amazing
Dating back to the 8th century CE, El Tajin’s Pyramid is a stunning stone structure with 365 symmetrically arranged niches – each 60 centimeters deep.
Archeology has revealed this awe-inspiring pyramid may have been constructed as an ode to the solar calendar with its numerous inscribed messages engraved in stone.
The pyramid of Comalcalco stands out among other North American pyramids. Contrary to the traditional limestone-built structures crafted by ancient Mayans, this grandiose structure was constructed with a different material. As far as we know, no other Maya pyramid has been made in such an unorthodox way.
Nestled near the bustling city of Villahermosa in Tabasco stands the extraordinary Pyramid of Comalcalco. What makes this structure so remarkable is it was constructed out of fired brick – a rarity among ancient monuments!
Studies conducted at this site have unveiled strange symbols etched into these bricks, hinting at secrets held by its mysterious architects.
Researchers contend that the symbols found in Comalcalco share striking resemblances with ancient Roman ones. Additionally, it has been suggested that the fired bricks utilized for its construction bear a remarkable likeness to those employed by Romans of yore thousands of miles away.
Of all three discussed here, Cholula is notably popular due to its incredibly vast size. As per Guinness World Records, it is officially recognized as having surpassed every other pyramid and historical monument built on our planet!
The Big North American Pyramid
The Great Pyramid of Cholula is an unrivaled 4.45 million cubic meters in volume. This ancient pyramid is almost twice as large as the Great Pyramid of Giza with its 2.5 million cubic meter estimate!
The city in which it was built was a major hub during pre-Columbian times. Records suggested that more than 100,000 people resided there prior to the Spanish Conquistadores arriving.
Standing an awe-inspiring 25 meters tall and measuring 300 by 315 meters on each side, the Pyramid of Cholula is a grandiose example of human ingenuity. According to one single ethnic group’s vision, it was built over six layers. This structure has been undisturbed for centuries as part of its archaeological site spanning 154 hectares (0.59 sq mi).
To date, only three out of the six superimposed structures have been studied in much depth. Yet, what knowledge we do possess about the North American pyramids allows us to marvel at those who constructed it during Pre-classical times.
Staggering Size of North American Pyramids
Tlachihualtepetl is home to the largest pyramid base in all of North and South America. Its oldest construction phase features talud-tablero architecture. This has become iconic for the area surrounding Teotihuacan, a major nearby city.
When excavated, many skeletons were found amongst various artifacts, such as ceramics that likely served as offerings during burials there. The final alteration made to this pyramid was the construction of stairs on its western side, which lead up to a temple facing Iztaccíhuatl.
Unfortunately, during colonial times, considerable damage was done when the Camino Real de Puebla path was built along its northern face. Then again later, with the installation of railway tracks across its west end.
According to mainstream researchers, the pyramid had been intentionally concealed before their arrival for reasons unknown yet speculated today.
However, many believe the Spanish built a cathedral on the top of the sacred mound in the ancient tradition of sacred geography, claiming the space in the name of God.
It appears that the Spanish conquistadors were aware of Cholula’s North American pyramids, and some accounts even evidence this through their writings. Regardless, the ancient site of Cholula is an awe-inspiring sight to behold.
If you enjoyed this article on North American pyramids, read up on Indonesia’s pyramid, Gunung Padang next!