Tallest Buildings in the Ancient World

Looking back at history it’s truly amazing to see what people were capable of building. Some of these accomplishments are truly remarkable given the technology of the day. Among these accomplishments are the tallest buildings in the ancient world.

Civilizations all over the globe built massive structures. There’s been evidence of tall earthen structures in North America, Central America, Africa, the Middle East, and even East Asia.

Their purposes varied, but typically involved a religious or spiritual purpose.

Scholars are still unsure as to how some of these buildings were built given the technology, population and societal structures at the time. Materials to build the structures were sometimes brought from miles away. In addition, the manpower involved required a society with central leadership that could unify the population towards a single purpose.

Several of these buildings will be familiar as they have been discussed at length in the history books. Ultimately though, many of these buildings did not last the test of time.

Tallest Buildings in the Ancient World

Tallest Buildings in the Ancient World chart
  • 8000 BCE – Tower of Jericho – 28 ft
  • 4000 BCE – Anu Ziggurat – 40 ft
  • 2648 BCE – Step Pyramid of Djoser – 205 ft
  • 2610 BCE – Meidum Pyramid – 307 ft
  • 2605 BCE – Bent Pyramid – 332 ft
  • 2600 BCE – Red Pyramid of Dashur – 344 ft
  • 2570 BCE – Great Pyramid of Giza – 481 ft

The tallest known building dating back to the furthest date in recorded history was the Tower or Jericho. This building was constructed around 8000 BCE at a height of 28 ft. For comparison, the average human is about 5.6 ft.

You need to fast forward another 4,000 years to get to the next significant structure built. This one was called the Anu Ziggurat. Built in Uruk, a city in ancient Sumer, the structure stood 40 ft and could be seen from outside the city walls.

After this, the ancient pyramids of Egypt began their reign of tallest buildings. Starting in 2648 BCE with the Step Pyramid of Djoser there were several others built in rapid succession. Each one topped the previous record and were built within a 50 year period.

Finally, in 2570 BCE the Great Pyramid of Giza was completed. Standing at a massive 481 ft the building could be seen for miles. This structure stood alone as tallest building in the world for over 3,800 years and is still intact today.

For reference, the Great Pyramid was the tallest building in the world throughout the entire length of the Ancient Olympics.

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Source: World Economic Forum

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