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No. 116: Mar-Apr 1998

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Those Ancient Greek Pyramids

That's right. Greek pyramids! On Greek soil, at Hellenikon and Ligourio west of Athens in the Argolid region, are two limestone pyramids that are stylistically very much like those at Giza near Cairo. The big difference is size; the Greek pyramids are only the size of a large room compared to the Great Pyramid's height (with capstone) of almost 500 feet.

When excavations were made around the Greek pyramids in the early 1900s, pottery fragments from the Fourth Century B.C. were found, and it was presumed that the pyramids were also constructed then; that is, about the time of Alexander the Great. Recent dating of crystals from internal surfaces of the limestone blocks using thermoluminescence puts the construction times back two millennia. The Hellenikon pyramid dates to 2730 B.C.; the Ligourio, to 2260 B.C. This means that the Greek pyramids were built in roughly the same time frame as the Egyptian pyramids.

Why would the ancient Greeks want to build miniature pyramids? The classical scholar Pausanias wrote in the Second Century A.D. that the Hellenikon pyramid was a cenotaph for the dead fallen in a fratricidal battle 4,000 years ago. Nobody believed his story until now.

(Hammond, Norman; "Did the Early Greeks Simply Copy the Pyramids of Egypt?" London Times, August 1, 1997. Cr. A.C.A. Silk. Also: Barnett, Adrian; "Written in Stone," New Scientist, p. 11, October 4, 1997.)

From Science Frontiers #116, MAR-APR 1998. 1998-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987