According to Ancient Egyptian cosmology the pyramid symbolically represented the primeval hill rising from the watery mass. (See the Biblical Leviathan, a submarine volcano)
In foreground, the seventeenth-century sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios sits atop the Great Pyramid of Cholula, the largest pyramid in the Americas. The pyramid echoes the contours of Popocatépetl, and some believe its Indian name, Tlachihualtepetl ("Man-made Hill"), reflects the imitative effort of those who built it. Perhaps construction of Cholula's Great Pyramid, which echoes the contours of Popocatépetl and may have started at this time, was at least in part an attempt to appease the mountain.
But as destructive as these can be, the true king of local ecosystem obliteration is, was and always will be the volcano. It is also set apart from the others because (ironically) in the wake of an eruption comes new life, as we shall see. The ancients knew nothing of meteorology or geology – they simply saw in their environment the will of the gods being acted out in brutish, devastating reality. From this, myths were born.In a nutshell, the prehistory of northeast Africa’s indigenous population would have gone something like this: First, pushed away by the hyperaridity of the Sahara during the LGM and on until the onset of the Holocene, communities settled around wetter and warmer areas, which in the case of eastern-central Africa happened to include volcanic fields of activity. Second, with the advent of a greener Sahara in the first couple of millennia of the Holocene Era, people re-inhabited the northern expanse in greater numbers, bringing with them memories of where they came from.Lastly, toward the age when true civilizations began to form c.5-6kya, hyperaridity returned to the Sahara and the diasporas spread to the desert’s outer rim once again, settling for good among the surviving oases (like Dakhla, Kharga, and Farafra), the Nile Valley, and so on. But like the hardier types mentioned earlier, not all sought refuge in greener environments; those with good survival skills and a fair serving of intestinal fortitude stayed on at remote locations in the eastern desert of Egypt (for instance at Gilf Kebir). Indeed, studies of ceramics [Lange: 2000] found at desert locations have proven to be the original source of certain styles only seen later on in ancient Egypt. This in itself tells us that at least a portion of their history has its roots outside of the Nile Valley, providing further testimony how distant legend and myth also made its way to the river. But ceramics are only part of the tale because of the hint of earlier mummification found in the desert (i.e. the ‘Black Mummy’ exposed recently by Savino Di Lernia of the University of Rome) and the fascinating and archaic rock art found all over northeast Africa which presumes an early source for what would later become the ancient Egyptian hieroglyph writing system. Because of these ample archaeological results outside of Egypt which suggest a root of influence, the next question concerns what exactly would have been the inspiration for volcanic allusions found in ancient Egyptian tales and religious texts.
In the Pyramid Texts we find the king ascending to the sky in what appears to be an unusual way. Normally consistent throughout these archaic texts is that the king ascends by means of the air, an ethereal ladder, a ‘sun’ barque and so on.“ … the sky thunders, the earth quakes, Geb quivers, the two domains of the god roar …”“ … while Geb, with one arm to the sky and the other to the earth, announces me to Re [the sun god] … ““ … I am the flowing fluid, I have issued from the creation waters; I am a snake, multitudinous of coils; I am this head-band of red colour … ”“ … Fifty cubits along its side are fire, the tip of its flame crosses the land from the sky and the gods have said of it: ‘It means blackness(?)’ …”
Etymologists and enthusiasts alike have had a hard time when trying to define the origin of the term ‘pyramid’. In this form it is Greek, and many have noted the prefix of ‘pyr’ (Greek for ‘fire’) but none have made the connection to a ‘volcano’ theme. The actual, purer Greek form of the word is ‘pyramis’, meaning ‘bread’. How to resolve the question of why the Greeks chose the term ‘pyramid’ as a label for these great heaps of stone comes in what bread is. Bread is baked to ‘rise’ from heat/cooking. This reads into a volcano well in how it rises/ascends from/with heat.
Looking even closer at the pyramids of ancient Egypt sheds light on possible volcanic influences. For example, the truncation of a pyramid mimicking the ‘loss’ of the top of a volcanic peak. Or, we can appreciate a dual meaning for the shafts within the Great Pyramid, where one instance is as a metaphysical aid for the pharaoh’s soul to the reach the sky, while the other suggests a reference to the focused expelling of tephra through mountainside vents, with the similar aid of transporting the soul from within to the sky.
In January 2008 Antoine Gigal and her team re-discovered the existence of 7 Pyramids on Mauritius Island. In appearance, they are similar to the pyramids located on another volcanic island off the western – coast of Africa, Tenerife; similar structures also exist on the Mediterranean island of Sicily, which is also volcanic in origin. There are many parallels between the pyramids of Mauritius and Tenerife. On both island, the pyramids are part of a complex: a series of pyramids grouped together in one location. On both islands, the pyramids are made from lava stone and the construction does not use any mortar or other connecting agent.
New information on the connection between pyramids and volcanoes....