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File:Pyramidofpower 1841.png

If you build it, they will come..[1]

Quick, think of Ancient Egypt. What's the first thing that comes to mind? With 90% certainty, you're thinking pyramids.[2] And why shouldn't you? The Great Pyramid of Giza was the tallest artificial structure on Earth for three and a half millennia and is the only extant example of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Ancient Egypt is inherently cool. Plenty of writers, primarily in the Fantasy genre, like to have pyramids in their works to evoke an Egyptian feel. These will almost always be found in desert areas, and will usually have some sort of curse. Shifting Sand Land levels in video games will usually feature at least one pyramid on the premises.

For cases in which the historical pyramids have something unusual associated with them, see Pyramid Power. For cases where pyramid-shaped buildings show up in science fiction, see Futuristic Pyramid.

Examples of Build Like an Egyptian include:

Card Games


  • Star Wars: The rebel base on Yavin IV is a pyramid. Many of the Yavin IV scenes were shot in the ruins of Tikal in what is now Guatemala, making this more of a case of "Build Like a Mayan."
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Yavin IV is dotted with pyramids, built by the Massassi under the direction of an exiled Sith thousands of years before the Rebels arrived. Much of the architecture and art used by the Sith species (not the order!) in Expanded Universe sources are seemingly based on ancient Egyptian as well as Mesoamerican motifs.
  • Stargate: Pyramids are apparently landing pads for alien spaceships.


  • Pyramids is, you guessed it, about pyramids - or, more accurately, a very reluctant Pharaoh who is called back to govern his backwards kingdom after the death of his father, and his similarly reluctant duty to construct a pyramid for his funeral, which his chief advisor (not evil but horribly misguided) insists must be the biggest and grandest pyramid ever built.[3]—because they manipulate time: they can keep their occupants perpetually young, but mostly just functioning as a literal time sink keeping the country of Djelibeybi stranded in the past even in the modern day. Now the Great Pyramid is about to be finished. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Michael Moorcock's Queen of the Swords. The City of the Pyramid is an immense ziggurat with houses on each terrace.
  • The Ancestral Trail has the Great Pyramid of Loktar plonked down in the western part of the continent, with no evidence of anything else Egpytesque.

Live Action TV

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons and Dragons
    • Adventure I3 Pharaoh. The PCs explore an ancient pyramid to free a pharaoh's spirit so it can reach the afterlife.
    • Adventure WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun. The Temple is in the shape of a two-stepped pyramid.
  • Warhammer has the Black Pyramid of Nagash, the first necromancer (and later responsible for the existence of vampires).
  • Warhammer 40,000 has the Necron Monolith, which is a floating pyramid of doom.
  • In Spelljammer 'verse Ptah is one of widely known powers among the spheres, so of course there are early products of his (and the rest of the pantheon's) worshippers. So you may encounter 80' wide stony Flying Pyramids In Space—now mostly occupied by mummies and less respectasble Undead.
  • Chaosium's Stormbringer!/Elric! game. Temples to Goldar (one of the Lords of Law) are built in the shape of a pyramid.

Video Games

  • The Super Mario Bros. series featured pyramids in the Shifting Sand Lands of 2 and 3, and Super Mario 64 has a big pyramid in the middle of the actual "Shifting Sand Land". There was another pyramid level in New Super Mario Bros Wii
    • Super Mario Land as a whole has a much more Egyptian bend than the rest of the series, with pyramids appearing routinely in level backgrounds and replacing the castles as most end-world stages.
    • The Slipsand Galaxy from Super Mario Galaxy 2 also has a pyramid which also has sand-slides for good measure.
  • Sandopolis Zone in Sonic 3 & Knuckles has pyramids in the background of Act 1. Act 2 is set entirely in one. And that goes for almost every single desert level in the Sonic series. Apparently the ancient Echidnas built pyramids...
    • In Sonic Adventure 2 Dr. Eggman uses the interior of a pyramid as his base of operations.
    • And again in the first Sonic Adventure the ancient echidnas live in a jungle with a Mayan like pyramid which appears in both flashbacks and the present day. A copy of that pyramid later appears on a space station in Sonic Adventure 2.
  • In Star Fox 64, the base on Katina is a pyramid.
  • The second scenario in Rollercoaster Tycoon took place in a vaguely Egyptian desert, complete with pyramids (which guests can't enter) and sphinxes.
  • The community map "Egypt" in Team Fortress 2.
  • The City Building Series features pyramid construction in both its games set in Egypt.
  • The Temple of the Sun in La-Mulana is an Egyptian-themed level built around a pyramid.
  • World of Warcraft has Ahn'Qiraj which has a pseudo-Egyptian look and Uldum which has a more traditional Egyptian appearance.
  • Banjo-Kazooie has several pyramids in its Gobi's Desert level.
  • Stage 4-1 in Purple has a lot of pyramids in the background (and despite that, it's not Shifting Sand Land). Stage 4-2 has a pyramid as a part of the stage itself which houses a Bonus Level switch.
  • The Pyramid of Moore in Final Fantasy V which contains one of the tablets to unseal the legendary weapons.
  • Dragon Quest III has a pyramid dungeon located near an Egyptian-like kingdom.
  • Aladdin Capcom has a stage in which Aladdin must go into an Egyptian-type pyramid to rescue Abu.
  • Collect enough sandstone in Minecraft, and you can build one too!
  • The Shifting Sands track in Super Tux Kart, where the racers even enter into a pyramid.
  • Sophanem and Menaphos in RuneScape
  • When playing the Egyptians in Age of Mythology, you'd obviously build like an egyptian. That said, the developers have done quite some research on the topic so Pyramids aren't that prevalent.
  • Breath of Fire III has Angel Tower, which despite its name is a ziggurat (step-type) pyramid. Curiously, it is not located in the game's desert zone.
  • Final Fantasy VII has the Temple of the Ancients, although its ziggurat shape (and location in a forest/jungle) suggests the Cetra architecture was inspired, like the Yavin pyramids in Star Wars, by the Mayans.
  • The villain of Nightshade, an NES Adventure Game, has an Egyptian fetish of some sort. In addition to dressing up like Set, he's decorated the entire city with nonsensical hieroglyphics.
  • The Taurus Shrine, one of four unearthed dungeons in Persona 2, has a sandy desert motif.
  • Pyramid Scheme, a level in Rocket Robot On Wheels.

Western Animation

  • Star Trek the Animated Series episode "How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth". The Enterprise crew must solve a puzzle involving a pyramid in an ancient city or be destroyed.

Real Life

  • Pyramids have in fact been independently invented in many different times and places. (You don't have the technology to do reinforced concrete or steel-framed skyscrapers, but you want to build something Really Big—piling up the rocks in a shape that's larger on the bottom and slopes up to a more-or-less pointy top is the logical way to do it.) In addition to the Egyptians and the aforementioned Mesoamericans (Mayans and Aztecs), pyramids and pyramid-like structures have been built by many different civilizations.
    • A slightly less rational, but still plausible reason is that Pyramids imitate the shape of mountains.
    • The ancient Egyptian reasons, at least, were that the pyramids resembled both the Mound of Creation, the first land created by the gods, and the rays of Ra.
  1. Clockwise from top left: Earthbound, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Quest for Glory III, Super Mario Bros 3, Ys IV: Mask of the Sun, and Super Mario 64
  2. The other 10% of the time you are probably thinking of The Sphinx.
  3. It turns out that these pyramids indeed can re-sharpen a razor