The pyramids are the pharaohs' eternal homes for life after death—and their distinct shapes help them ascend to the afterlife.
There are 118 Egyptian pyramids that we know of today, built in different materials and styles over a period spanning more than 1,000 years. Each pyramid required the mobilization of thousands of workers over several decades as well as millions of tons of building materials. The first monument classified as a pyramid is the Pharaoh Djoser’s funeral complex, which was built in 2600 BCE and designed by the architect Imhotep. The limestone building has different levels to help the Pharaoh ascend to the heavens and was also designed as an eternal home for the afterlife. This became the model for later pyramids, though the building style gradually transitioned toward smooth-sided structures. Standing 140 m tall, the Great Pyramid of Giza is one of the most well-preserved, complete examples of this form of architecture.