Of all the architectural wonders of ancient times, pyramids are perhaps the most disconcerting. Not only because of the technical complexity of which many of them were built, or because of their tremendous structural quality (which has helped them to remain standing until our days), but because of all the incredible mysteries we find about them: How were they built? For what purpose? How did they develop such construction techniques? These and other questions leave thousands of researchers, tourists and architects uneasy.
In this post, I will mention 4 wonderful pyramids of ancient times, different than the well-known pyramids of Giza, in Egypt, and Teotihuacan, in Mexico.
Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor (China)
It looks like a mountain, well, it is not. In fact, it is the mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of the unified China. It is actually a very old pyramid, built in the third century BC. What happens is that, after 2000 years of oblivion, the local vegetation has grown on top of the large pyramidal tomb, and now it looks like a hill in the rural landscape of China. Do you know about the famous terracotta warriors? Bingo: they were found there.
The Emperor spent nearly forty years building his mausoleum, which has 2.13 square kilometers of surface and, along with 181 other tombs spread throughout the area, covers a total area of 60 square kilometers. It is believed that more than 700,000 workers worked on its construction. It was built according to the urban plan of the city of Xianyang, the former capital of the Qin Dynasty, also divided into two parts: an interior and an exterior. The truncated pyramid shape has a base of 350 meters and a height of 76 meters.
Visoko pyramids (Bosnia)
Here is some controversy. While a large number of scientists from several disciplines believe that the so-called Bosnian pyramids are a pseudo-archaeological claim, and that there is no evidence of human construction in what they consider “natural formations,” others, led by the Bosnian researcher Semir Osmanagić, believe that it is one of the most important architectural, archaeological and historical discoveries of mankind. Leaving aside the controversy, in case these high hills are really pyramids, we would be in the presence of an extraordinary fact: there have been constructions for more than twelve thousand years, which would contradict all human chronologies known so far.
Semir Osmanagić points out (and apparently brings out) about the existence of a series of stone blocks buried under years of sedimentation, subterranean passages, ceramic objects with inscriptions and artificially worked stones. True or false, it is an interesting story.
Caral pyramids (Peru)
In Caral, there are seven great pyramids surrounded of other several small. There are actually 32 mounds in total. The builders of this old civilization organized this city in two main sectors: the high one, in the north, and the low one, in the south. In the high sector, there are 6 main pyramids surrounding an empty space. In the low sector, stands the Pyramid of the Amphitheater and several smaller buildings aligned with it.
Different activities were carried out in each of the many pyramids of Caral. Each one had a different role in the social and religious order of its inhabitants. The Greater Pyramid, for example, which is located in the Upper Sector of Caral, consists of a stepped pyramidal volume and a circular square attached to its façade, and it’s believed it was made for ritual sacrifices. A long staircase of 9 meters wide rises until a height of 28 meters at the top of the pyramid, joining the two previous elements (pyramid + circular square), main components of this building
Prang Temple (Cambodia)
Koh Ker is the modern name for a formerly significant city of the Khmer empire called Lingapura (town of Lingas) or Chok Gargyar (“city of splendor”). It is located in northern Cambodia, in a sparsely populated jungle area, about 120 kilometers from Siam Reap and Angkor. More than 180 monuments have been discovered in an area of 81 square kilometers. Most of them are hidden in the forest, which is still partly mined.
Among the Khmer kings Jayavarman IV and Harshavarman II, Koh Ker was the capital of the entire empire (from 928-944 AD). Jayavarman IV (928-941) pursued an ambitious construction program in Koh Ker, including a large water reservoir and numerous temples, including a 36-meter high, seven-tiered pyramid (you can see it in the picture above.)
The Koh Ker style (921-944) not only includes numerous monuments and sculptures that were created in Koh Ker, but also the temple complexes Prasat Krahom and Baksey Chamkrong in Angkor. New in architecture at the time of Jayavarman IV, is the type of the step pyramid, represented by the Prang and the Baksey Chamkrong.