Pyramids and ziggurats provide a great deal of vital information about ancient cultures and civilizations which forms the backbone of most archeological investigations and studies. The most famous pyramids were the Great Pyramids built by the Egyptians while the great civilization of Mesopotamia is best known for the ziggurats. These two structures are similar in the outward appearance in that they share the same general form of a pyramid. However, the purpose as to which these two structures served in the society, which was actually the main purpose for them to be erected, were different especially in the religious context.
Pyramids have over time been thought of as the final resting places for the Pharaohs. However, recent findings have aided in uncovering that the pyramids were built with extremely narrow shafts so as to guide the souls of the pharaohs straight unto heaven. On the other hand, ziggurats are believed to have been built so as to house the gods. Therefore, only priests were allowed entry into the ziggurats. Ziggurats also served as retreat areas for priests especially when there were water overflows in the ground levels. In addition, ziggurats offered security to the entire priests in a kingdom.
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The geographical difference in location as to which these two structures were built is also of note. The ziggurats were mainly built in Babylon, Assyria and Sumer which was collectively referred to as Mesopotamia and corresponds to the present day Iraq and Syria while pyramids were common in Egypt and parts of South America.
Finally, ziggurats are different from pyramids in how they are built. Ziggurats have their sides receding and have steps, terraces or ramps while pyramids have extensive staircases but possess a smoother exterior. Ziggurats are multi-storied and all have seven levels that are taken as signifying the seven planets of the heavens. They do not have chambers in them and are rectangular or square shaped. On the other hand, pyramids have chambers are triangular shaped and all faces meet at the top. They are either 4-faced or have five faces.
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