It is not well known that there are Greek pyramids . There are more than 16 pyramids spread all over the Greece. The oldest one is the pyramid of Hellinikon
The existence of pyramids in Greece was unknown to most people until recently, and even today not much is known about them. For example, the pyramid of Hellenikon, near Argos, is older than the Pyramids of Egypt. In fact, Pausanias (in Graeciae Descriptio) says that this pyramid was a memorial in rememberance of the first battle fought by soldiers bearing shields!
Pyramids in Greece are usually smaller than the ones found in Egypt (exeptions are a few sculpted pyramids) and they are in a rather poor state.
There in no clear evidence as to the use of pyramids in antiquity. Archeologists believe that they are memorials or observation-communication towers (phryctoriums). Only for the pyramid at Helenikon there is a reference by Pausanias for its probable purpose.
Most Greek pyramids have not been studied yet, with the exception of the pyramids at Hellenikon and Ligourion which were dated and studied by Dr I. Lyritzis of the Academy of Athens.
In this section we also present some sculpted pyramids about which there is some controversy as to whether they are man made or natural occurences. We think that this matter should be further investigated because, for example, visitors at the pyramid at Taygetus mountain are surprised by the abrupt change in rock texture at the base of the "pyramid" (At the level of the base of the pyramid the mountain side abruptly becomes rather smooth)
THE PYRAMYDS OF HELLENIKON AND LYGOURION
After a rough excavation in 1901 and a brief return in 1937 by the American School of Archeology no other work was done on these sites. American archeologists in 1938 pronounced the structures as late classic or early hellenistic and the archeological community accepted this.
Matters changed after more recent excavations when later and more accurate dating techniques were employed (for example a new method for dating the age of masonry)
The state of the structures in 1991, before the new excavations began can be seen from the remarks of Dr Lyritzis in his book "the Mystery of the Greek Pyramoids": "....in 1991 on visiting the two pyramids we realized the extent of the abandonment. The structures were covered with plant growth and roamed by shhep and goats. Masonry had been removed and used as ready building materials by the locals. Even worst, in the past masonry from the structures was used in lime production. It is probable that in this way two other pyramids were distroyed, in Astros and Sikywn and a third one in Viglaphia in South Lacony. These are mentioned by travellers of the early nineteenth century...."
Today the state of the pyramid at Hellenikon is a lot better. After the excavations of Dr. Lyritzis the local authorities cleared and fenced the site and cleaned the structure.
At the South-eastern edge of the plain of Argolid, near the springs of the Erasinos river (nowadays 'Kephalari') and on the main arterial road which in antiquity lead from Argos to Tegea and the rest of Arcadia and Kynouria, there is a small fort at present known as the 'pyramid' of Hellenikon. According to evidence from the excavations and the typical features of the structure which dates to the end of the 4th century B.C. and not to the prehistoric period, as some scientists have been recently willing to demonstrate. During the later years of Antiquity, the ''Pyramid'' was considered as a burial monument , a ''polyandreion'', while nowadays there is no doubt that it was a fort of the type of small strong-holds which controlled the arterial roads and which are known from other regions of the Argolid.
It has the shape of a tour with its external sides sloping and surrounding a rectangular building of total dimensions 7,03 by 9,07 m. These external walls, which rise with a gradient of 60o up to 3,50 m high become vertical to in order to support the floors of the building. The main entrance of the monument is situated at its eastern side, that is the side which is turned towards the bay of the Argolid. From inside this gate a narrow corridor which leads to a smaller entrance, opened on the southern wall of the main space, a square room with sides about 7 m long.
This impressive monument is built entirely from the gray limestone of the district with large blocks in a trapezoidal and partially polygonal system.
Excavations of the monument whose stone structure had remained stable for 2400 years, were undertaken by Th. Wiegand in 1901, but mostly by L.Lord in 1938. Both published the results of their excavations in specific monographies.
The Academy of Athens has published results of dating the Hellenikon pyramid( 9-2-1995). Dating measurements were performed by the Laboratory of Archaeometry at Dimokritos Resarch Institute in Athens and by the Nuclear Dating Laboratory of the department of Physics at the University of Edinbourgh in Scotland. The method of Optical Thermoluminescence was employed to date samples taken from the pyramid. It was determined that the pyramid was erected at about 2720 B.C. It must be noted that, according to these results, the Hellenikon pyramid predates, by at least 100 years, the oldest Egyptian pyramid (Djoser - 2620 B.C.) and by 170 years the Great Pyramid of Cheops (Khufu - 2550 B.C.) .
Although the pyramoid structures of Argolis are of great interest, writen references are rather scarce Pausanias (2nd century A.D.) regards the structure as a "polyandrium" i.e. a group burial monument for the citizens of Argos (Perieg. Korinthiaka: 2, 25, 7).
In particular, for the pyramid at Hellenikon writes: " ...walking on the road away from from Argos towards Epidaurus there is a pyramid structure on our right, it is adorned with shields in the Argolic style..." and he continues to say that the pyramid was erected after the fratricidal battle between the twin brothers, Proetus and Akrisius, during a war of succesion following the death of their father, king Avas of Argos. The battle ended in a deadlock and the pyramid was erected as a burial monument in honour of the fallen in this battle.
Pausanias also says that, in this battle, shields (aspides) were employed for the first time. This later remark by Pausanias is indicative of the great antiquity of the structure.
THE LIGOURION PYRAMID
This Pyramid is found in northwestern Peloponnese, near the village of Ligourion, on the foot of mount Arachnaeum, not far from the site of ancient Epidaurus.
Its base has approximate dimensions of 14 X 12 metres and its has been dated to about 2100 B.C. with the method o thermoluminescence.
THE CHANIA PYRAMID
This unique structure is a monolithic cone carved out of a huge rock.
The existense of this structure is largely unknown to the public and has never been studied in any way. Its age and possible uses have not been ascertained. It is thought, however, that it a structure of some considerable prehistoric antiquity.
The pyramid is located in the south of the Chania area, in the island of Crete, at an altitute of 290 m above sea level.
Its approximate dimensions are: Heihgt: 8.5 m, Circumference at the base: 29 m. The interior of the cone has a chamber, carved out of the solid rock, of approximate dimensions(lxwxh): 2.2 X 2.1 X 1.4 m and its entrance is to the west of the structure.
The aproximate dimensions of the entrance are: 1.2 X 0.7 m. and the floor of the chamber is 4.6 m below the apex of the cone.
THE PYRAMID OF MOUNT TAYGETUS
These rock structures are still subject of cotroversy, as to whether they are manmade or natural occurences. Some researchers are convinced that this structure, found on one of the peaks of mount Taygetus, was carved by the hand of man, in remote antiquity, to form this pyramid shape. Others however believe that this is nothing but an natural rock formation.
Visitors to this area, however, are surprised by the abrupt change in the texture of the rock surface near the base of the "pyramid". It is very striking the smooth texture of the rock surface above the base level of the "pyramid" when compared to the surrounding ground below. No erosion mechanism has been suggested (to date) which could create this shape naturally. Particularly curious are the strange shadows cast at dawn and sunset.