Are Egyptian Pyramids Older Than Mayan Pyramids

July 30, 2022

The pyramids are among the most iconic and enigmatic structures in human history, capturing the imagination of explorers, historians, and tourists alike. While the Egyptian pyramids often take center stage in our collective imagination, the Mayan pyramids of Mesoamerica are equally captivating and mysterious. But which came first? Are the pyramids of Egypt older than their Mayan counterparts? Let's delve into the historical timelines of these two ancient civilizations to find out.

The Timeline of Egyptian Pyramids

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The construction of the Egyptian pyramids dates back to the Old Kingdom period, around 2600 BCE to 2100 BCE. The most famous of these, the Great Pyramid of Giza, was constructed during the reign of Pharaoh Khufu, around 2580-2560 BCE.

The Timeline of Mayan Pyramids

Guatemala Pyramid Jaguar Temple

Temple of the Jaguar

In contrast, the Mayan civilization, which thrived in parts of modern-day Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, built their first pyramid-like structures during the Preclassic period, between 2000 BCE and 250 CE. However, the more complex and famous Mayan pyramids, such as the one found in Tikal or the pyramid of Kukulkan at Chichen Itza, were built much later, during the Classic period between 250 CE and 900 CE.

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The Verdict

In terms of chronology, it's clear that the Egyptian pyramids predate their Mayan counterparts by several centuries. The Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was already a few centuries old when the earliest Mayan structures began to take shape.

Commonalities and Differences

Although the Egyptian pyramids are older, both types of pyramids served somewhat similar and somewhat different purposes. Egyptian pyramids primarily served as tombs for pharaohs and their consorts, while Mayan pyramids were more multifunctional, serving as ceremonial sites, observatories, and even as places of governance.

Controversy Over the Age of the Ancient World

While the conventional timelines place Egyptian pyramids as older than the Mayan pyramids, it's worth noting that some researchers question the traditional dating of ancient structures. Notable figures like Dr. Robert Schoch and Graham Hancock have proposed alternative theories suggesting that certain monuments, like the Great Sphinx of Giza, may be much older than previously thought. According to their work, weathering patterns on the Sphinx indicate that it could have been exposed to long periods of rainfall, which doesn't align with the climate history of the Giza Plateau as understood within the conventional timeline.

This controversy adds another layer of complexity to our understanding of ancient civilizations and their monumental structures. While mainstream academia largely upholds the traditional timelines, the hypotheses put forth by researchers like Schoch and Hancock invite us to keep an open mind and consider that our knowledge of the ancient world is still evolving.


Whether one adheres to the traditional timeline or entertains alternative theories, the pyramids of Egypt and Mesoamerica stand as monumental achievements in human history. Both sets of pyramids hold their own unique features and significance, and the quest to fully understand them continues to captivate scholars and enthusiasts alike.

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Further Reading

To learn more about the Mayan pyramids and the mysteries they hold, check out our book "The Maya Calendar: An Archetypal Structure of Reality" available on

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