Egyptian pyramids are the tombs of pharaohs. They are built with stone, and commonly have smaller buildings such as temples, smaller tombs (for family members) and a pyramid for the pharaoh's soul adjacent to them.
It is understood that the shape of the pyramid was a representation of the "primordial mound" of Egyptian mythology. The shape also represents the rays of the sun descending to Earth.
Before pyramids, mastabas (rectangular, flat-roofed mudbrick structures) were wealthy Egyptians' tombs. It is believed that the first pyramid was conceived by Imhotep (an architect) in the third dynasty for the pharaoh Djoser. This pyramid is called the Step Pyramid of Djoser, because it involved levels, or "steps" of decreasing size placed on top of each other.
There are more than 100 pyramids in Egypt, all built on the western bank of the Nile.
Stone used for building pyramids included gypsum (as mortar), basalt, limestone, granite and mud bricks. It is not known exactly how the pyramids were built. Stone blocks were quarried and carried to the building site. It is commonly thought that the stones were layered using ramps.
The largest Egyptian pyramid is the Pyramid of Khufu, considered the only structure from the Seven Wonders of the World still intact. Until the Lincoln Cathedral spire was built (around 1300 A.D.) it was the tallest man-made structure.
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