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Related to pyramid: pyramid scheme, Pyramid power


, structure

pyramid. The true pyramid exists only in Egypt and Sudan, though the term has also been applied to similar structures in other countries. Egyptian pyramids are square in plan and their triangular sides, which directly face the points of the compass, slope upwards at approximately a 50° angle from the ground and meet at an apex. The pyramids of Sudan, associated with the African kingdoms there, are later and smaller but greater in number.

The prototype for the pyramid are the mastabas of the Old Kingdom (2680–2565 B.C.), which are rectangular in plan and have only two sloping sides. After these came the step-pyramid at Sakkara, built c.2620 B.C., which soon evolved into the straight-sided true pyramid. This monumental structure was developed around the IV dynasty and continued to be the favored form for royal burial through the VI dynasty.

Each monarch built his own pyramid in which his mummified body might be preserved for eternity away from human view and sacrilege. As a result of the lack of sophisticated machinery, the construction of each pyramid took many years and required measureless amounts of building materials and labor. Entrance into a pyramid is through an opening in the northern wall. A small passage, traversing lesser chambers, leads to the sepulchral room deep beneath the surface. Stone blocks forming a gable divert the weight of the great masonry masses over these chambers. Though the pyramids were usually built of rough stone blocks laid up in horizontal courses, many were constructed of mud bricks with a stone casing.

The three pyramids of Giza near Cairo, all of the IV dynasty, are the largest and finest of their kind. The Great Pyramid of Khufu or Cheops (begun c.2680 B.C.) was designated one of the Seven Wonders of the World and is the largest pyramid ever built. A solid mass of limestone blocks covering 13 acres (5.3 hectares), it was originally 756 ft (230 m) along each side of its base and 482 ft (147 m) high. It has several passages, two large chambers in addition to one beneath the ground level, and two small air chambers for ventilation.

Although not true pyramids, pyramidical structures were also built by the Mesopotamians and by the Maya of Mexico and Central America. Mesopotamian ziggurat was square in plan and built up in receding terraces. Mayan pyramids, built in steep, receding blocks, also were topped by ritual chambers, and in some cases, possessed an interior crypt. Stepped funeral pyramids dating from the 4th cent. B.C. were discovered in the 1990s in the Altai region of Siberia. The Romans built small pyramidical tombs of which the most famous was the Pyramid of Cestius (62 B.C.–12 B.C.) in Rome. Built of concrete faced with marble, it has an interior tomb vault and is 116 ft (35 m) high. Many modern architects have admired pyramids for their pure geometry. In the reconstruction of the Louvre in Paris, architect I. M. Pei added a pyramidal entrance pavilion (1987–89).


See I. E. S. Edwards, The Pyramids of Egypt (rev. ed. 1961); P. Tompkins, Secrets of the Great Pyramid (1971); K. Mendelssohn, The Riddle of the Pyramids (1974).


, in geometry

pyramid, in geometry, solid figure bounded by a polygon (the base, or directrix) and the surface generated by a moving line (the generator) passing through a fixed point (vertex) and continually intersecting the perimeter of the polygon. The surface, or lateral faces, of the pyramid are triangles having as a common vertex the vertex of the pyramid; in a regular pyramid the base is a regular polygon and the lateral faces are congruent triangles. The altitude of a pyramid is the perpendicular distance from the vertex to the base. The volume of a pyramid is equal to one third the product of the altitude and the area of the base. The frustum is the portion of a pyramid between the base and a plane parallel to the base cutting the pyramid into two parts.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


A polyhedron with a polygonal base and triangular faces meeting at a single common apex.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved


Ceppo, Lichtstock, Lightstock, Weihnachtspyramide

A Christmas pyramid is a triangular or pyramidal structure made up of shelves of unequal lengths joined along their outside edges by supporting posts or poles. Christmas decorations are displayed on each shelf, with the lowest and longest shelf often reserved for a Nativity scene. Family and friends may arrange apples, cookies, nuts, small gifts, evergreen branches, Christmas cards, stars, figurines, candles, flags, and other embellishments across the other shelves according to their taste. A star or pinecone often adorns the apex of the pyramid. In one variation of the pyramid popular in central Europe several centuries ago, a propeller sits atop a pyramid shaped like a tall, round, layer cake. A central axis pole supporting the propeller runs through each of three circular shelves. Rising heat currents from the candles on the shelves below cause the propeller to spin, which in turn causes the axis to spin and the layers of the pyramid to rotate.

Several authors view the candles as the most important ornaments on the pyramid and suggest that the decorated pyramid serves as an elaborate candlestick. Indeed, one German name for this structure, Lichtstock, means "light stick." Some authorities maintain, however, that the Lichtstock was a simple pole covered with evergreens bearing a single candle. They offer Weihnachtspyramide as the German term for the Christmas pyramid. The Italians call the pyramid a ceppo, which means "log." Some explain this odd name by noting that the ceppo, with its glowing candles, replaced the burning of the Yule log in Italy.

The Christmas pyramid originated in Germany and became a popular Christmas tradition by the seventeenth century. In early times, the pyramid was hung from the ceiling. Families garnished their pyramids with candles and figurines, for example, of soldiers and angels. Along with the paradise tree, the pyramid stands as a possible ancestor to the modern Christmas tree.

From Germany the use of pyramids spread to central Europe, Italy, and England. German settlers brought the custom to America. As early as 1747 Moravian communities in Pennsylvania were celebrating Christmas with decorated pyramids. By contrast, the first American Christmas tree dates only as far back as the early 1800s (see also America, Christmas in Nineteenth-Century; Bethlehem, Pennsyvania, Christmas in).

In Germany the Christmas tree began to replace the pyramid in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The exploding popularity of the Christmas tree in the nineteenth century contributed to the declining use of the Christmas pyramid in many countries. The Italians maintained the tradition of the Christmas ceppo, perhaps because they never adopted the Christmas tree.

In Erzgebirge, a region of Germany famous for its mining industry, miners began carving fancy wooden pyramids in the nineteenth century. The miners had already developed a tradition of carving wooden candlesticks in the shape of miners and angels. The miners represented the men of the region, while the angels represented the women. Families placed groupings of these candlesticks in their windows at Christmas time, displaying one miner for every boy child in the family and one angel for every girl child. Similar wooden figurines eventually began to populate the shelves of their Christmas pyramids. Miners, Christmas trees, and scenes from the Nativity story, whirled round and round on the propeller-topped shelves. Today villages in Erzgebirge build large, motorized community pyramids, vying with one another to see which locale produces the most impressive display.

Further Reading

Del Re, Gerard, and Patricia Del Re. The Christmas Almanack. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1979. Foley, Daniel J. The Christmas Tree. Philadelphia, Pa.: Chilton Company, 1960. Russ, Jennifer M. German Festivals and Customs. London, England: Oswald Wolff, 1982. Sterbenz, Carol Endler, and Nancy Johnson. The Decorated Tree. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1982.

Web Site

The German Embassy in Washington, D.C., offers a page describing the Christmas pyramid on its web site at: ch_15.html
Encyclopedia of Christmas and New Year's Celebrations, 2nd ed. © Omnigraphics, Inc. 2003
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a polyhedron with one face a polygon and the other faces triangles with a common vertex. The polygon, which may also be a triangle, is called the base, the remaining faces are called lateral faces, and the common vertex is called the vertex of the pyramid. Examples of pyramids are illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1

Pyramids are classified as triangular, quadrangular, and so on according to the number of their lateral faces. The line segment drawn perpendicularly from the vertex of the pyramid to the plane of the base is called the altitude of the pyramid, as is the length of the segment. The volume of a pyramid is given by the formula

where B is the area of the base and h is the altitude. A pyramid is said to be regular (see Figure l,b) if its base is a regular polygon and its altitude passes through the center of the base. The lateral faces of a regular pyramid are congruent isosceles triangles. The altitude of each of these triangles is called a regular pyramid’s slant height, or apothem (the projection of the slant height on the plane of the base is the apothem of the base). If a pyramid is cut into two parts by a plane parallel to its base, there result a pyramid similar to the original pyramid and a truncated pyramid.



a massive architectural structure with a square base and sloping sides meeting at an apex. Pyramids, which may be stepped or regular, are characteristic of ancient times. Pyramids were the tombs of the Egyptian pharaohs of the Old and Middle Kingdoms (from roughly 2800 to 1700 B.C.). The structures symbolized the superhuman greatness of the ruler. The largest Egyptian pyramid, that of Cheops at Gizeh, is 146.6 m high and was constructed in the 28th century B.C. In Central and South America, pyramidal structures, which often served as foundations for temples and were associated with cosmologic cults, were erected in the first millennium B.C. In ancient Roman and later in European art, the pyramidal motif was often used in memorial structures.


Lauer, J. P. Zagadki egipetskikh piramid. Moscow, 1966. (Translated from French.)
Kink, Kh. A. Kak stroilis’ egipetskie piramidy. Moscow, 1967.
Mikhailovskii, K. Piramidy i maslaby. Warsaw, 1973.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


An open crystal having three, four, six, eight, or twelve nonparallel faces that meet at a point.
A polyhedron with one face a polygon and all other faces triangles with a common vertex.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


A massive funerary structure of stone or brick with a square base and four sloping triangular sides meeting at the apex; used mainly in ancient Egypt. In Central America stepped pyramids formed the bases of temples; in India some temples had the shape of truncated pyramids.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. a huge masonry construction that has a square base and, as in the case of the ancient Egyptian royal tombs, four sloping triangular sides
2. Maths a solid having a polygonal base and triangular sides that meet in a common vertex
3. Crystallog a crystal form in which three planes intersect all three axes of the crystal
4. Anatomy any pointed or cone-shaped bodily structure or part
5. a game similar to billiards with fifteen coloured balls
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005

Fujitsu Siemens

(Fujitsu Siemens Computers, Inc. (USA), Milpitas, CA) The joint venture of Fujitsu Computers (Europe) and Siemens Computer Systems in 1999. In 2009, Fujitsu bought out Siemen's share and renamed the company Fujitsu Technology Solutions. See Fujitsu.

In the U.S., Siemens Computer Systems evolved out of Pyramid Technology, which was founded in 1981 by former HP employees. In 1995, Siemens Nixdorf acquired Pyramid, and three years later split the computer operation into Siemens Computer Systems and moved retail and banking systems to an independent company, Wincor Nixdorf ( Over the years, the company introduced several product lines, including the Nile, Reliant and RM families, many of which included a high-speed mesh interconnect for symmetric multiprocessing (SMP). See Siemens.

Multiprocessing Architecture
This earlier Reliant 1000 from Siemens used a high-speed mesh interconnect, providing an unusual degree of flexibility and scalability. (Image courtesy of Fujitsu Siemens Computers.)
Copyright © 1981-2019 by The Computer Language Company Inc. All Rights reserved. THIS DEFINITION IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. All other reproduction is strictly prohibited without permission from the publisher.


This ancient and powerful symbol has general meaning for all and specific meaning for the dreamer. It represents the coming together of the world of man with that of God; the material with the spiritual. The purpose of the pyramids was to bury the dead and to assist them into reaching eternity. In this way, the pyramids were holy places and their architecture and mysticism continues to amaze and to intrigue us. In order to understand its symbolism; consider your current accomplishments and breakthroughs. If you accomplished a personal goal and feel a sense of wholeness, this dream symbol may be an affirmation of those feelings. The pyramid could also represent larger goals and deepest strivings. Whether they represent fulfilled or incomplete goals, a pyramid seems to be a very positive dream symbol.
Bedside Dream Dictionary by Silvana Amar Copyright © 2007 by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
The pyramid is one of two structures built for Fourth Dynasty founding Pharaoh, Sneferu.
Unlike the rest of the Egyptian pyramids which have their entrance at the north side, the El-Lahun Pyramid's entrance is a vertical shaft under a princess's tomb located about a dozen yards off to the east of the southern pyramid side.
Aside from this "pyramid," Waring also claims to notice a "tunnel" beside it.
A camera on the roof of the Louvre fed images to two giant screens which appeared to show the pyramid emerging from its foundations, as if from a giant quarry of white rock.
One of the published photos, and probably the last straw that broke the camel's back showed the couple explicitly having sex on top of the pyramid.
The ministry says it will close down the third pyramid, that of King Menkaure, to start restoration there.
"The outer casing was added to provide a mirror finish to the completed pyramid that reflected the clouds and the movement of the sun," he says.
To peer inside the pyramid, the scientists used an imaging technique called muon tomography that tracks particles that bombard Earth at close to the speed of light and penetrate deeply into solid objects.
This pyramid is so enormous, 10 football fields could fit inside its base.
Scientists have discovered a new pyramid in the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, Mexico!
In 1949, Karl Drbal, a radio technician, filed a patent application in Czechoslovakia on pyramid technology.