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Judi Lynn

(161,057 posts)
Tue Nov 29, 2022, 10:33 PM Nov 2022

The Biggest Human-Made Pyramid On Earth Isn't In Egypt

The Great Pyramid of Cholula is 2,000 years old.

Social Editor and Staff Writer

Sep 16, 2022 9:34 AM

cholula pyramid
Image credit: diego_cue,CC BY-SA 3.0

In Mexico sits the Great Pyramid of Cholula, also known as the Great Pyramid of Tepanapa, a 2,000-year-old human-made structure that went completely unnoticed by the Spanish army when they invaded in 1519. An impressive oversight when you consider that it’s the biggest pyramid on Earth. How did they miss it? Quite simply, it’s hidden inside a hill.

The Cholula Massacre was one of the most infamous endeavors of conquistador Hernán Cortés who stormed the city of Cholula on October 12, 1519. Cortés’s army arrived anticipating a fight but were met with a sacred city believed to be home to a holy pyramid for every day of the year; structures built to place divine protection over the city.

Instead, as the lives of 3,000 people were taken (amounting to 10 percent of the city’s population) the many pyramids became the subjects of looting. Having claimed the many religious artifacts, the Spanish settled in Cholula and began erecting their own churches.

One of those, the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remediosa, was to become – effectively – a hat, after it was unknowingly placed on top of the Great Pyramid of Cholula. At 66 meters (216 feet) tall and 450 meters (1,475 feet) wide, it’s the largest pyramidin the world, with a volume that’s nearly twice that of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

cholula pyramid
When the Spanish invasion happened, nobody knew the world's biggest pyramid was sitting beneath a hill. Image credit: Janice Waltzer, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


~ ~ ~

The Largest Pyramid in the World
Hidden beneath a hill in Cholula, Mexico lies the largest pyramid ever built.

Dean Nicholas | Published in History Today Volume 66 Issue 8 August 2016

The world’s largest pyramid can be found not in Egypt, but hidden beneath a hill in a small town in the central Mexican state of Puebla. Known variously as the Great Pyramid of Cholula, Pirámide Tepanapa, or, in the indigenous Nahuatl language, Tlachihualtepetl, or ‘artificial mountain’, the structure measures 400 by 400 metres and has a total volume of 4.45 million cubic metres, almost twice that of the Great Pyramid of Giza. It was first constructed around 200 BC and expanded or rebuilt several times over the following centuries by different civilisations, including the Olmecs and the Toltecs. According to Aztec mythology, it was built by Xelhua, a giant whose edifice so upset the gods that they hurled fire down upon it.

Excavated part of the pyramid

At its height over 100,000 people lived around the pyramid, although by the time the Spanish arrived in 1520 it had become covered by dirt and was hidden from view, with newer temples constructed on its outskirts. Hernán Cortés and his men slaughtered many of the Cholulans, probably to scare the inhabitants of the nearby Aztec capital Tenochtitlan into submission, but, to judge by the church they built on top (still standing today), the Spanish were clearly unaware of the hill’s true nature. The pyramid was re-discovered in the late 19th century and since then archaeologists have begun to excavate the network of tunnels that run through its base.


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(13,475 posts)
1. Awesome...
Tue Nov 29, 2022, 10:41 PM
Nov 2022

I would personally bet that the age/timing of some of these structures is much older, but that's just me

I wish I had the funds and energy/body to go explore these sites!

Judi Lynn

(161,057 posts)
3. I seriously doubt it's just you! "Experts" have a very long way to go to get to the truth.
Tue Nov 29, 2022, 11:54 PM
Nov 2022

They've been unable or unwilling to acknowledge the responsibility the invading Europeans had in destroying so much of the humanity already living in the "New World" as well as as much evidence of their culture as possible, to make it appear this really was not a vast crime against humanity when they slaughtered almost all the population from the north to the southern tip of South America, and destroyed their books, homes, crops, etc. etc., etc., pretending they were all nearly idiots, pathetic "savages" no one had to pity when they got massacred, and their families slaughtered, then treated like trash right up to this very minute. They definitely got the full treatment. The invaders had to dehumanize them in order to avoid admitting guilt for abusing them so profoundly and stealing their lives, and their world.

Once they give up their snotty racism, they might be more capable of seriously taking on the challenge of learning how advanced the ancestors of the survivors in today's Americas really were!

Interesting video on YouTube, 10 minutes:

(It was amusing hearing the narrator in the YouTube mentioning the stupid church built on top of the pyramid looks like a hat!)


(22,282 posts)
4. I completely agree with your assessment
Wed Nov 30, 2022, 02:00 AM
Nov 2022

of the attitudes of Europeans when they reached the Americas. On the dating of the pyramid, though, I think archaeologists have techniques for dating them pretty well.

I'm guessing that there might have been earthen pyramids in Mexico, like the earthen mounds in the present US, prior to the building of pyramids with stone and brick.

Interesting phenomenon of human behavior that later cultures often build their sacred monuments over pre-existing ones from previous cultures, sometimes without knowing that there already was a temple or other religious structure there before. When they do know that there was something there before, the newer one is intended to supplant the previous religion, e.g. a mosque over the destroyed site of the Jewish Second Temple. But choosing the same site for a Christian church as a previous Toltec temple, without knowing that the temple was there, is interesting. A totally different culture and religion considered the same location as suitable for a religious structure. I'd guess that the Spanish thought that a hilltop, which could be seen from everywhere below it, was a way of showing dominance, as in literally and figuratively "looking down on" the native population.


(115,061 posts)
6. I am currently reading "Indigenous Paleolithic of thevWestern Hemisphere",
Wed Nov 30, 2022, 08:45 AM
Nov 2022

which addesses in depth the issues you raised. A very depressing read.

Judi Lynn

(161,057 posts)
5. Wonderful information. Stunning. So glad to see it. The whole world would be affected.
Wed Nov 30, 2022, 05:03 AM
Nov 2022

Clearly everyone's perspective would have to go through serious adjustments to make room for the awareness of such a discovery.

This tends to put a dent in the fundie proclamation that the world is six thousand years old! Surely it is witchcraft!

The President who forbids research isn't much of a Renaissance individual.

It's spectacular they've determined there is a structure under the vegetation and dirt. Their president should move on, and let the people get busy who can learn the truth which would change so much in our view of human life on this planet. Everyone needs to know.

Gunung Padang. It's a name which is going to be well known in our future. Thank you, so much.


(22,282 posts)
7. I was looking for more information on
Wed Nov 30, 2022, 10:46 AM
Nov 2022

the Gunung Parang site, e.g. remains of a civilization that would have built it - pottery, human remains/skeletons, roadways, remains of villages/cities that housed the people, iron artifacts from people able to smelt iron for the iron in the cement, forges for smelting iron, etc. I wanted to know more about the people capable of building a pyramid 25,000 + or - years ago.

I came across a Wikipedia article that has some alternative suggestions about the site.

It looks like It is a little premature to say that a 25,000 year old civilization built the structure. There is much more study needed to confirm it. The research on it still needs to be part reviewed. One difference between this structure and the pyramids of Egypt, Mexico, and Peru is the length of time for the construction. The Egyptian pyramids took years, decades to build, but were constructed by one civilization within the life of that civilization. Same in Mexico and Peru., except in Mexico overlapping and succeeding civilizations built on what was there before over a span of a few hundred years.

But at Gunung Padang, there are lapses of thousands of years between early layers and later ones. So instead of one "civilization" building it, it looks like people in the region who used the location gradually added things to it over several millennia. It still requires more study to determine what cultures (likely several) contributed to it and what evidence of their existence they left behind. Might be a long time coming due to the politics of the area.


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