Monday, August 07, 2006

Pyramids Around the World

Although the famous Pyramids of Giza are an amazing sight, they are not the only pyramids around. In fact, pyramids, or pyramid-shaped mounds, seem to be a popular cultural motif of ancient societies. And can you blame them?

Mountains, places of mystery for many ancient cultures, seemed to occupy a liminal space between the heavens, the earth, and the underworld. They were the highest things around - they still are, I suppose - and they were the seats of the gods. Thunder, lightning, rain, (powerful and magical forces of life and destruction) all came from the mountains into the lives of everyday people. Furthermore, they often marked the edge of the known world - the rim of the universe. Control over such a powerful thing would denote both a connection to and a mastery of the known and unkown. Certainly those that could build mountains were like to the gods. And those that were buried under them? They had become - literally and figuratively - the groundwork of society.

Of course, there are other theories about what a pyramid is meant to represent. Possibly it is a univerally appealing shape. Some think it has magical properties that the ancients were wise enough to exploit. Maybe it was just a natural process of one-upsmanship from the mound that a burial produces. We may never know what pyramids truly represented to the cultures that have past. (Current pyramids - such as that built over the underground entrance to the Louvre - seem to represent enigma and intellectualism to most, symbolizing the mystery pyramids are for us.)

In any case, it is clear that pyramid structures occur on every continent. Some of the places that pyramids, or artificial mountains, have been discovered are Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, England, and North and South America, just to name a few. And new ones are being discovered - in fact, just lately, an archaeologist in Bosnia has hypothesized that what was thought to be a hill outside Visiko, Bosnia-Herzogovina, is actually a pyramid. If the ancient societies' hope was to build convincing mountains, they seem to have succeeded. And they certainly succeeded in building a part of their culture into the landscape of time and history.

LINKS: (although [as a site] definitely in the realm of pseudoscience/esotera, this site still provides a good overview of various pyramids around the world. I just wouldn't put any stock in the editorial. Scroll to the bottom for links to the different areas of the world - it's divided into four) (a fun, interactive site from NOVA that allows you to explore different parts of Egyptian culture associated with the pyramids, as well as the pyramids themselves - even provides cross-sections of some!) (a page with links to sites for burial mounds around the world. Actually a site on First Nations burial mounds in the US) (a site on ancient kofun, or Japanese burial mounds) (an article regarding the apparent pyramid [?] outside Visiko) (a professional, if lengthy, analysis of the claim that the hill outside of Visiko is a pyramid)