Latin American/Pre-Colombian Pyramids Facts

Latin American/Pre-Colombian Pyramids Facts
Although people often like to draw comparison between the ancient Egyptian pyramids and the pyramids of Latin America, especially Mesoamerica, they are very different in age, size, distribution, and function. The oldest Egyptian pyramid, Djoser's Pyramid, was built around the year 2650 BC, while one of the oldest known Pre-Colombian pyramids, the Pyramid of La Venta, is dated from about 800 to 400 BC. Pre-Colombian pyramids tend to be much smaller than Egyptian pyramids, but are distributed over a much wider geographic area and were built by different cultures. The Olmecs (ca. 1200-400 BC) were the first people in the Americas to build pyramids in the area around the modern Mexican city of Veracruz. The Maya (Classic Period, AD 300-800), who lived in the Yucatan and what would be the modern countries of Mexico and Guatemala, built the most and most ornate pyramids. The people of the central Mexican Valley, such Teotihuacan (ca. 200 BC-AD 700s), the Toltecs (AD 700-1168), and the Aztecs (AD 1300s-1519) all built pyramids. Unlike in Egypt where pyramids served as tombs for the kings and queens, Pre-Colombian pyramids primarily served as temples, where human sacrifice rituals were often performed.
Interesting Latin American/Pre-Colombian Pyramids Facts:
The term "Mesoamerica" is often used to refer to different Pre-Colombian cultures of central America.
The Pyramid of the Sun was the largest of the pyramids at Teotihuacan and is believed to have been built around AD 200. It 216 feet high, 720 feet long, and 280 feet wide for a total base of 8,555 feet.
The Pyramid of Kukulcan, also known as El Castillo, at Chichen Itza, is perhaps the most recognizable of all the Mayan pyramids. It is a step-style pyramid that stands ninety-eight feet tall with the temple and has a base of 181 feet.
The Toltec site of Tula has a number of pyramids, including five-tiered step pyramid.
The site of Caral in northern Peru contains the remains of two ceremonial pyramids that may be around the same age as the Great Pyramids of Giza (ca. 2500 BC).
The Aztecs performed more human sacrifice than any other Mesoamerican culture. In 1475, the Aztecs conducted the "Victory Feast," where they sacrificed more than 20,000 victims in one month on top their pyramids in their capital city of Tenochtitlan.
The triangular form of both the Pre-Colombian and Egyptian pyramids may have been a result of them being sun worshippers - the pyramids may have represented the rays of the sun.
The Maya city of Palenque is one of the most studied Mesoamerican sites. Palenque is home to several notable pyramids, including the Temple of the Inscriptions.
The Temple of the Inscriptions is one of the rare Mesoamerican pyramids that contained a tomb. The king of Palenque, K'inch Janaab' Pakal (AD 603-683) is believed to have been buried underneath the temple.
Maya pyramids generally had a smaller base than those of the Mexican Valley, but are generally considered to be of better workmanship and more aesthetically pleasing.
Most Maya pyramids were made of limestone.
Mesoamerican pyramids were usually decorated with mythological motifs.

Related Links:
Ancient History Facts
Animals Facts

Educational Videos