Ancient Pyramids Around the World | History | Smithsonian
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Ancient Pyramids Around the World

No matter if the civilization was Mesopotamian, Egyptian, or Mayan, its legacy today is in part marked by towering pyramids

Saqqara, Egypt: Pyramid of Djoser

Pyramid of Djoser
(Jon Arnold Images Ltd / Alamy)

There are more than 100 pyramids in Egypt, but this was the first, built during the reign of Pharoah Djoser (2630 B.C. to 2611 B.C) as a grand mausoleum for himself. Previous pharaohs’ tombs were flat-topped mounds made mostly of mud, but Djoser’s chief architect, Imhotep, came up with a more durable and attractive idea: A “step pyramid” design, involving six successively smaller layers of carved limestone rising some 200 feet high. Imhotep, also a reputed healer, was later worshipped as a god of medicine in Greco-Roman culture.

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