Pyramids Power and Pharaoh in Popular Culture

Let us take a look at something from the approach of someone who has no Anthropology training to speak of and instead considers themself a social scientist. I took a quick survey of my co-ed fraternity and I began with a simple ideal for this survey: put down the first word you thing of when you read the word Egypt. Out of the 100 members, a total of 63 forms were submitted to me with 35 being female and 36 male. Out of those forms, the results were not surprising with a staggering 60 people responding with Pyramid as the word that they most associate with Egypt.

I conducted this survey Monday afternoon after our discussion of The Great Pyramid of Kofu sparked my interest in the subjects once again. The Pyramid is seen as the defining image of Egypt for many reasons. It is one of the of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, being both the oldest and the only remaining of these wonders and is a magnificent feat of engineering and study to this day serving to awe tourists and visitors with it’s beauty and size.  Oddly though, these aren’t what drew me to The Great Pyramid however. What drew me in was its depictions in other media such as movies, cartoons, and comic books. I consider myself a die hard geek and so I recall The Great Pyramid in dozens of depictions ranging from Giant Robot, spaceship, living being, or being built by wizards, aliens, or ancients monsters.

Beginning with one of my favorite depictions of the pyramid was its depiction in the television shows Power Rangers Zeo. The great pyramid in actuality is the great robot known as Pyramidas that was able to fire massive laser beams, fly, and transform into it’s massive battle mode complete with arms and a face. However to most 90’s kids who were on the geekier side of the fence the most famous image of the pyramid came from the show Yu-gi-oh, in which the main character possessed a magical necklace shaped like a pyramid that contained the spirit of an Egyptian Pharaoh that allowed him to become the great king of games, a master strategist. He promptly used these ancient magical powers to play card games and stop ancient monsters (it was a simpler time). The final scene I would like to present is of the movie Transformers Revenge of the Fallen, in which the most powerful and evil Robot was actually fueled by a power beacon that it had hidden in the top of The Great Pyramid.

What is interesting to consider though is that one theme is present in the three example listed as well other depictions of Pyramids in popular culture: the theme of Power. Pyramidas was the strongest robot in the show, the evil robot in Transformers was the strongest in that, and the magical amulet in Yu-Gi-Oh was said to contain great power of the Pharaoh. If memory serves the pyramids were built as a sign of the Pharaoh’s power and authority and it would seem that from its modern depictions the Pyramid is still viewed as a sign of great power and authority some thousands of years later.


1 thought on “Pyramids Power and Pharaoh in Popular Culture

  1. Mel Walker

    It’s interesting how big of an impact pyramids have had on the popular culture and the popular conscience. They are one of the most distinctive architectural marvels in history. Even without knowing the history or meaning behind them, it’s easy to recognize the power they represent. They dominate the landscape of Egypt. And, as you point out, they dominate the landscape of pop culture. Every adventure hero seems to end up in Egypt at some point, finding treasure or breaking curses. A lot of video games include pyramid or ancient Egyptian-inspired levels ( Super Mario 64 springs to mind). They are consistently in the background or referenced in TV shows, movies and books. I found a list of other examples on TV Tropes, but I have to warn that it can be an addicting website:

    It’s also interesting that outside of pop culture some people believe that pyramids hold some sort of mystic power. The mythbusters did an episode testing some of the supposed “magic powers” of pyramids, debunking all of them of course. It’s amazing that after all these years the pyramids still inspire so much awe and still hold such power and mystique. The pharoahs who had them built wanted to be remembered and wanted the pyramids to stand as symbols of their power. Even in the present day these goals are still being achieved. The pyramids of Egypt capture the public imagination like no other monuments.

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