It seems there are at least a few contenders for the title of oldest known pyramids, including:

  1. Egypt
  2. Bosnia
  3. Brazil
  4. Peru


The earliest known Egyptian pyramids are found at Saqqara, northwest of Memphis. The earliest among these is the Pyramid of Djoser (constructed 2630 BCE–2611 BCE) which was built during the third dynasty. This pyramid and its surrounding complex were designed by the architect Imhotep, and are generally considered to be the world's oldest monumental structures constructed of dressed masonry.

(strictly speaking, Egyptian pyramids are claiming to be the oldest "monumental structures constructed of dressed masonry", and it is not clear - to me as a layperson - that the other pyramids compete in this category)


In addition, 90% of all these experts said that the the Bosnian pyramids are by far the world’s largest and oldest pyramids. There are five (5) pyramids in Bosnia and it is said that they are 12000-26000 years old. In 2010 UNESCO added the Bosnian pyramids into their World Heritage sites.

I note that the UNESCO site does not seem to list any Bosnian pyramids.


Dating from 3000BC, the oldest of the Brazilian pyramids predate the earliest Egyptian example by several hundred years.


Archaeologist Ruth Shady further explored the 5,000 year-old city of pyramids in the Peruvian desert, with its elaborate complex of temples, an amphitheater and ordinary houses.

I think it is fair to define "pyramid" as: a monumental structure with a square or triangular base and sloping sides that meet at the top in a point.

So which pyramids take the prize for being the first built?

  • 1
    Without doing any research, I don't see a conflict here. All four statements can all be true. Bosnia, then Brazil & Peru, then Egypt (using dressed masonry, unlike previous efforts).
    – Oddthinking
    Jan 19, 2013 at 8:50
  • 5
    Well, the Bosnian ones can't take the title as they are not man made, but are natural geological formations!
    – Rory Alsop
    Jan 19, 2013 at 9:02
  • Ha! I did say I didn't do any research!
    – Oddthinking
    Jan 19, 2013 at 9:52
  • 1
    @RoryAlsop - Technically that would make them the oldest pyramids as long as they formed before the man-made ones. :)
    – rjzii
    Jan 19, 2013 at 13:18
  • 4
    If we consider Brian's definition, we can't count the Egyptian ones either, well known to be alien made.
    – Kenshin
    Nov 15, 2013 at 13:38

1 Answer 1


There aren't pyramids in Brazil. All the native brazilian tribes were in the Paleolithic state, with some starting to implement rudimentary agriculture. There aren't pre-colombian bricks or stone constructions in Brazil.

What exists in Brazil are the "Sambaquis" ("shell midden" or "shell mound") that are just piles of organic matter. Sambaquis can be found in several other locations (including North America and Europe) and are not usually classified as pyramids.

Midden http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midden

Sambaqui http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sambaqui (only in portuguese, but you can check the pictures)

  • 4
    independent.co.uk/news/… says, "And, unlike the Egyptian stone pyramids, the Brazilian ones were built exclusively of sea shells. That is why archaeologists in the past had never realised what they were. For years Brazilian prehistorians had thought that the sites were simply immense piles of domestic rubbish from settlements. But research carried out over the past four years has revealed that the "piles of ancient rubbish" were in fact deliberately built square structures of roughly pyramidic design."
    – ChrisW
    Nov 15, 2013 at 11:15
  • 2
    Ok, so that will depends on one definition of pyramid. In Brazil's schools we are taught that "sambaquis" are human constructions but not pyramids. I graduated from high school in 2008 that may have changed since then. Nov 15, 2013 at 15:33

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