What is a Pyramid? - Square Pyramids
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# What is a pyramid?

A pyramid is a three-dimensional solid form made out of triangles, and sometimes a square. There are two common kinds of pyramids: triangular pyramids that you make by fitting four triangles together, and square pyramids that you make by fitting four triangles together on a square base, like the one in the picture here. The pyramids of Egypt are square pyramids. You can also have pyramids with hexagonal or octagonal bases, or however many sides you like. If the base has an infinite number of sides, then it's a circle, and the resulting solid shape is not a pyramid but a cone.

To calculate the surface area of a pyramid, you need to calculate the area of each of the triangles (or the triangles and the square) involved and then add them together.

To calculate the volume of a pyramid, first calculate the volume of the rectangular solid around the pyramid. That's the area of the base multiplied by the height of the pyramid. Then divide that by three, because the pyramid doesn't fill up the whole volume of the rectangular solid around it.

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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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