In the distant past, many civilizations built pyramids as monuments. The most famous are those of Egypt
, followed by the Mayan pyramids in Mexico. They have also been found in Sudan, Iran, and China. The reason for the pyramid shape is quite simple and practical - 80% of a pyramid's mass is in the lower half, meaning that it is the most practical shape to support a large building. It's the form of stone building most likely to still be standing in a recognizable shape when the archaeologists show up a thousand years later.
However, due to a mixture of the distinctive geometrical shape and the immense labor required to build them, a lot of people have assumed there must be some special significance to the shape. Or that they were built by aliens
, because, people with Bronze Age tools could not have designed such accurately geometric monuments. Predictably, this also shows up in fiction. During the 70s
there was an actual fad about the pyramids serving as a focus of cosmic energies ('pyramid power') and that resting in houses or boxes shaped like them could grant many physical and mental benefits. And sharpen razor blades.
There is also the incorrect belief that the Egyptian Pyramids were built by slaves. In actuality
they were most likely built by volunteers who believed that, by participating in the creation of the Pyramids, they can get a share of the Pharaoh's luxurious afterlife, sometimes working along with native Egyptian peasants who had no work to do during the Nile's flood season; they may have been press-ganged into it, but it's just as likely that they were enticed with offers of food (grain, veggies, and beef) and beer in exchange for their labor (the invention of currency was still 2,000 years in the future, so that was the equivalent of paying wages). They also could have been conscripted peasants, like the corvee
of Pre-Revolutionary France or the Czech Robot. note
It was still quite a feat of engineering, organization, and patience, but not necessarily the result of blood-soaked tyranny Hollywood History
would present. Not related to the other kind of pyramid of power
, or the pyramid that offers cash
Anime and Manga
- "Pharaoh Andrew", an episode of Script Fic Calvin and Hobbes: The Series, has the gang going to the Pyramids of Giza for Calvin's school report. They end up having to fight off some mummies.
- In the Good Omens fanfic I shall endure..., Azirapahile and Crowley deconstruct the concept of pyramids whilst providing additional background detail to several Bible stories, with a courtesy dash of Erich von Daniken thrown in for free.
- Sports film Semi Tough has people using all kinds of fad religious getishes to win at the game. One team actually does use "Pyramid Power."
- Because giant alien death robots who turn into cars wasn't enough, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen had them building and destroying the pyramid at Giza, which houses a solar power collector.
- Played with in National Treasure. Upon finding a complicated, ancient structure under a city, one character wonders how it was built. The protagonist replies that it was built the same way the pyramids were, and his friend confuses his intention, and assumes that he means that the aliens built them.
- Pyramids are Forgotten Superweapons in Stonehenge Apocalypse, which is some kind of alien device that is a countdown till The End of the World as We Know It. ... for some reason.
- Pat Flanagan's 1973 book Pyramid Power. It popularized the notion that the shape of a pyramid, in and of itself, has mystical properties — from preserving food to sharpening razor blades.
- This is also the title of a book by Eric Flint, the second in a series. It involves a five sided alien pyramid landing in Chicago.
- In the Discworld novel Pyramids, the pyramids act as "time dams", preserving the Old Kingdom unchanging for thousands of years. They don't sharpen razor blades, though ... they take them back in time to before they were blunt.
- Mentioned in The Light Fantastic, the scholarly tome Iyt Gryet Teymple hyte Tsort, Y Hiystory Myistical describes the Great Pyramid of Tsort. A copy was located in the Unseen University Library.The book described the effort that went into building the Great Pyramid; it was comprised of 1,003,010 blocks of limestone, built over 60 years and cost the lives of thousands of slaves. It was apparently done as a way of sharpening razor blades (as opposed to burying Kings). People got very excited about the significant mathematical fact that its height plus its length divided by half its width almost precisely equalled 1.67563, or precisely 1,237.98712567 times the difference between the distance to the sun and the weight of a small orange. It was held that something like this could not possibly have come about by chance.
- The late bible scholar Zechariah Sitchin wrote in his book The Stairway To Heaven that the Giza pyramids were in fact constructed as Navigation facilities (like those used in airports/space centers), by Ancient Astronauts no less.
- In The Cat Who Blew the Whistle, there is a character named Elizabeth Hart who is big on the idea of pyramid power. Unannounced, she and her boyfriend pop over to the protagonist's (Qwilleran's) place and set up a makeshift portable pyramid. After they leave, Qwilleran's intelligent Siamese cat, Koko, makes his way to the very center of the pyramid and there is a blackout across the entire town that doesn't stop until he exits the pyramid.
- In the Doctor Who New Adventures novel SLEEPY by Kate Orman, the planet Yemaya has pyramids that seem to focus psychic powers, with a Continuity Nod to the Osirians (the Ancient Astronauts who influenced the Egyptians in "Pyramids of Mars") and the Exxilons (Space Mayincatecs from "Death to the Daleks"). This is partly because her previous two NAs, which happened to be set in Mexico and Egypt respectively, had both had a pyramid on the cover and she wanted to maintain the theme. (Her fourth NA, Return of the Living Dad, is largely set in a New Age bookshop/cafe called The Pyramid.)
- Stargate SG-1, apart from having the real pyramids in Egypt turn out to be ancient landing pads for Goa'uld spacecraft, also had Goa'uld-built pyramids appearing on alien planets as Supervillain Lairs and the like. The Goa'uld were the ancient Egyptian gods, after all. Their Cool Starships are also basically giant flying pyramids with extra high-tech superstructures added (which explains how they fit onto their "landing pads").
- The original Battlestar Galactica had the heroes find the lost planet of Kobol. The ancient pyramids on that planet looked suspiciously like the ones in the Giza Plateau. They contained a written account of the Lost 13th Tribe, and where they went. So, of course, the writings had to be accidentally destroyed by a Cylon air raid before Adama could read them.
- Mythbusters did an episode exploring the notion that a pyramidal shape can preserve food and sharpen razor blades. In the end, no significant difference between items stored in a pyramid and items stored in some other shape could be detected, and Adam admonished his cohorts against testing "oogie-boogey myths" like this again.
- Done in the Nineties revival of The Tomorrow People. The plot is that an immortal Egyptian pharoah is trying to recreate the circumstances required when the stars align to give him great power, which requires him to move a bunch of obelisks all over Europe (supposedly explaining why they were brought to London, Rome etc in the nineteenth century). The protagonists point out that this would mean he would have to have built a central focusing pyramid in the middle of them, in central London...they then look behind them and see the pyramidal top of the Canary Wharf Tower. Note this was years before it was used as the Torchwood Tower in Doctor Who.
- One of The Sifl and Olly Show's fake "Rock Facts" claimed that the pyramids of Egypt were built by humans, but it was in anticipation of the prophecied arrival of... David Bowie.
- In the Doctor Who story "The Pyramids of Mars", the point of the titular Martian pyramid is beaming some sort of forcefield energy at a pyramid in Egypt, thereby keeping a Sealed Evil in a Can sealed.
- Chouriki Sentai Ohranger had one of these from an ancient Pangean civilization as the source of the Ohrangers' power. King Ranger also has a pyramid Humongous Mecha named King Pyramider. Its adaptation Power Rangers Zeo keeps the mecha pyramid, this time called Pyramidas. Also in both shows, the Blue Ranger's sphinx mecha can equip the Ohranger Robo/Zeo Megazord with a pyramid-like helmet.
- The Alan Parsons Project poke fun at the concept with 1978's "Pyramania", with the cover of its parent album, Pyramid, showing a copy of the aforementioned book by Flanagan.
- The Grateful Dead's performance at the Pyramids of Giza (also in 1978) was a byproduct of this trope, with a total lunar eclipse taking place at one point.
- A prominent feature of The Twilight Zone pinball game is The Power, a one-eyed pyramid with a deep voice. It mocks you during the game, but defeating it yields a decent score bonus and a Door panel.
- The Tremere clan from Vampire: The Masquerade is obsessed with this trope, incorporating pyramid symbiology into the design of their rigid organizational structure in hopes of attaining greater mystical power. It doesn't work out very well.
- In the Illuminati card games, the Bavarian Illuminati's Eye-In-The-Pyramid logo is used as Sigil Spam in all of the card illustrations. If you can't see the pyramid in some of them, you're not Illuminated enough.
- In Through The Ages, the Pyramids grant you one extra civil action per turn. Arbitrary, but probably no less arbitrary than the powers the Civilization games gave them.
- In Rifts, Pyramid Power is a major feature of the Atlantis sourcebook. They're like Ley Line dams, basically, and they were/are used both by the ancient Atlanteans and the Splugorth for things like dimensional travel.
- The Arabian Nights expansion of Magic: The Gathering card game features Pyramids as an artifact in which mana can be channeled through to protect lands
- In the Civilization series of games, the Pyramids are one of the World Wonders which you can build for a powerful effect on your civilization. In the first game they allowed a change to any government type in the game. This was very powerful, as you could change to the governments available late in the game in the very beginning and have a great advantage over the computer civilizations. This was changed in the second and third games so that Pyramids grant a free granary to every city (which may be a reference to the old belief that the pyramids were "Joseph's Granaries" from the Genesis story), letting your civilization grow more quickly. In Civ 4, they again unlocked advanced forms of government long before you could otherwise attain them. In Civ 5, they make your civilian units work harder.
- In La-Mulana, the "male" pyramid in the Egyptian-themed Temple of the Sun has a hidden link to the inverted "female" pyramid in the Temple of Moonlight. Using any weapon in the "female" pyramid is punished with a Bolt of Divine Retribution.
- The Temple of the Ancients of Final Fantasy VII did not produce or direct power, it was power—being a giant maze which when solved would shrink into its smaller form, the Black Materia that would summon Meteor and bring about the End of the World as We Know It.
- Serious Sam has the ancient Egyptian civilization having taken their aesthetic from the Sirian race, with the Great Pyramid serving as a communications device to summon a starship once the player takes the Sun Orb to it.
- A few planets in Mass Effect have Prothean-built pyramids on them. No word on whether the pyramids on Earth have a similar story.
- Minecraft allows the player to build a pyramid of power themselves by using resource expensive materials like blocks of iron, gold, diamond, or emerald. By building a pyramid out of those blocks and placing a beacon block on the top, the entire structure glow brightly and shoots out a beam of light to the sky. If the player places an iron bar, gold bar, emerald, or a diamond into the block, they can make the pyramid generate powers like increased speed or strength to anyone that stays in its radius.
- Purple tetrahedral pyramids are a recurring design feature of Kha'ak ships in the X-Universe series. In fact with the fighters, the pyramid is the entire ship.
- In Transformers: Robots in Disguise, one of the O-Parts and the Orb of Sigma were both hidden in different pyramids.
- In Phineas and Ferb, Doofenshmirtz thought that the pyramids of Egypt was built by aliens, when the Egyptians used music to command the aliens.
- One episode has an inversion. When the cast lands on an ancient Egypt themed planet, it's revealed that the Egyptians traveled to space and built pyramids on alien planets.
- "That Darn Katz!" plays it straight: it turns out that the pyramids were built as antennas to beam the earth's rotational energy to the planet Thuban 9 (which is the original homeworld of cats).
- In the fourth season of X-Men: Evolution, Apocalypse attempted to use three pyramids located in Egypt, China and Central America to change every human on Earth into a mutant (not unlike Magneto's plot with the diplomats in the first X-Men film) by launching lots of smaller pyramids into the outer atmosphere and surrounding the planet with an energy field.
- In Detentionaire, there is a giant mysterious pyramid hidden underneath the school, guarded by Tazelwurms. It can only be opened using two special keys and during the solar eclipse, and the inside is inscribed with ancient runes that hold many secrets. The pyramid also houses a huge army of Lizard Folk.
- Danger Mouse had to deal with "A Plague Of Pyramids" (episode title). Baron Greenback scarfs up sand from the Sahara Desert and uses it to create pyramids throughout London thus causing it to sink below sea level from their collective weight.
- Pyramidiology, for the uninitiated, loosely covers all those, er, cultural misperceptions, that have crept in over the years concerning the purpose and role of the Pyramids in Ancient Egyptian society. The sort that have professional Egyptologists grinding their teeth in fury. (An alternative theory suggests the idea was circulated by the in-house dentistry departments serving universities with Egyptology schools). Strictly speaking, it covers the idea that the measurements and dimensions of the Great Pyramid were done with such fiendish exactitude that it is absolutely self-evident the builders were programming in arcane occult knowledge, only to be decoded by those with they eyes to see and the insight to realise. In this world view, the whole future timetable for the world was laid out in stone by God (naturally: Moses and the Hebrews coded it in when slaves of the Pharaoh - they of course built it). Therefore the internal and external dimensions, when decoded, predict *everything*.
- This caused alarm when Victorian "scholars", guided by a tape measure and a selective reading of the Bible, divined the world was going to end in 1914. This became the USP of a then obscure Christian sect called the Jehovah's Witnesses, who worked it into their theology... they've back-tracked a little on this since, though. They don't wish to be reminded what else, apart from the Bible, they used to create God's ineffable timeline...
- Pyramidiology also covers things like:
- A well-known Japanese manga artist had one built as a study in his home in the hope of increasing his creativity, but admitted he spent most of the time under it drinking sake and looking at the stars.