The Aztecs, Mayans and ancient Egyptians were three very different civilizations with one very large similarity: pyramids. However, of these three ancient cultures, the Egyptians set the standard for what most people recognize as classic pyramid design: massive monuments with a square base and four smooth-sided triangular sides, rising to a point. The Aztecs and Mayans built their pyramids with tiered steps and a flat top.
The ancient Egyptians probably chose that distinctive form for their pharaohs' tombs because of their solar religion, explained Donald Redford, professor of Classics and ancient Mediterranean studies at
. The Egyptian sun god Ra, considered the father of all pharaohs, was said to have created himself from a pyramid-shaped mound of earth before creating all other gods. The pyramid's shape is thought to have symbolized the sun's rays. Penn State
Redford, "The Egyptians began using the pyramid form shortly after 2700 B.C., and the great heyday of constructing them for royalty extended for about a thousand years, until about 1700 B.C." The first pyramid was built by King Djoser during 's Third Dynasty. His architect, Imohtep, created a step pyramid by stacking six mastabas, rectangular buildings of the sort in which earlier kings had been buried. The largest and most well-known pyramids in Egypt Egyptare the Pyramids at , including the Great Pyramid of Giza designed for Pharaoh Khufu. Giza
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