Giza Plateau News Article

Sphinx and Osiris Pyramid

How the Egyptians Should Have Built the Pyramids


PUBLISHED: 10:17 GMT, 3 September 2014 | UPDATED: 18:26 GMT, 3 September 2014


Attaching poles to blocks would have helped construction, physicists reveal


Physicists at Indiana University, has suggested that the men who built the pyramids should have transformed blocks into dodecagons


They could have done this by strapping wooden rods onto the blocks


The shape would have enabled them to roll the heavy stones along


Experts don't claim that the ancient Egyptians used this technique, but say that it would have saved them time and effort


They worked out that 50 men would be needed to move a block weighing 2.5 tonnes at a speed of 50cm per second


It may have been over 4,500 years since the Great Pyramid of Giza was built, but it still remains a mystery as to how the last of the world's 'seven wonders' was constructed.


Now physicists have suggested a new theory of how the blocks could - or at least should - have been moved with minimal effort.


The method involves rolling large 12-sided chunks of limestone from local quarries.


In an experiment, they have shown that transforming the rock cuboids into dodecagons - 12-sided shapes - makes them easier to move.


The Great Pyramid is made from 2.4million limestone blocks weighing around 2.5 tonnes each and it is thought that workers moved around 40 blocks a day, leading experts to assume that ancient Egyptians must have had a technique for shifting them relatively easily.


Joseph West, a physicist at Indiana University, suggested the technique of strapping wooden rods to the building blocks in order to turn its profile from a square to a dodecagon.


His idea centres around reducing both the drag and the amount of effort needed to move the blocks as well as the pressure exerted on the ground.


While not as easy to roll as a cylinder, the new shape would have been easier to move than a cuboid.


'The rods form the corners and new faces that transform the square prism into a dodecagon which can then be moved more easily by rolling than by dragging,' Dr West wrote in the study.


His team tested their idea on a scale model. Their concrete blocks measured 8 inches (20cm) square and 16 inches (40cm) long, weighing in at 66lbs (30kg).


They fixed three chunky pieces of dowel to each rectangular face of the block and then tied a rope to the top of it.


The physicists measured the force required to roll the block and said that that a coefficient of dynamic friction equal to 0.3 was needed for a steady rolling motion.


This means that a team of workers or slaves would only have needed to apply a force 0.15 times the weight of the stone to drag it along by the rope.


They also worked out that 50 men would be needed to move a block weighing 2.5 tonnes at a speed of 20 inches (50cm) per second.


'For full scale pyramid blocks, the wooden rods would need to be posts of order 11inches (30cm) in diameter, similar in size to those used as masts on ships in the Nile,' they wrote in the paper.


Dr West wrote: 'In this configuration, static friction acts in the direction of the desired motion, rather than opposing the motion.


'In effect the block and rope combination becomes a 2:1 pulley, though the pulley was not yet formally known to the Egyptians at that time.'


Other theories as to how the slaves could have moved vast blocks effectively, include dragging them on sleds and lubricating roadways with water so they could be slid along.


Dr West's method may have proved more convenient for labourers, who could have reused the rods and wouldn't have needed to collect water from the Nile.


It has previously been suggested that the Egyptians strapped circular rockers to blocks to turn them into cylinders, iO9 reported.


But experts have discounted the technique because the cylinders would have exerted so much pressure on roads that they would have rapidly worn them out.



For centuries it's been thought that the ancient Egyptians built their huge pyramids by hauling heavy granite blocks up specially crafted ramps.


But in December, a Newport engineer called Peter James branded the idea 'impossible', claiming the ramps would need to have been a quarter of a mile long or else they would have been too steep to carry the large blocks up.


He believes, instead, that the Egyptians built an inner core of zigzagging ramps, using smaller, lighter blocks while the larger outer casing stones were placed on the outside using scaffolding.


This means the pyramid was built up in layers and the top would have been built using scaffolding on the outside.


Peter James and his company Cintec are experts in construction and have been restoring the Egyptian pyramids for the past 18 years.


Mr James told the MailOnline: 'Looking at the pyramids from a builder's point of view, and not an archaeologist's, it's clear that the current theories are nonsense.


'Just look at the numbers. Under the current theories, to lay 2 million blocks, the Egyptians would had to have laid a large block once every three minutes.


'It would have been impossible to build the pyramids using ramps around the outside, too, because they would have ended up being larger, in some cases, than the pyramids themselves.


'Plus, what happened to the ramps once the pyramids were finished? I believe the Egyptians built the pyramids like a modern-day builder builds a house.


'They would have set out the four corners a pyramid, like the four corners of a house. They then would have built four access points in the centre of the pyramid.


'Next they would have established where the burial chamber would need to be built, and that would have been built using granite.


'Starting from the walls of the burial chamber, the Egyptians could build ramps using the lighter, smaller rocks in zig-zags around the structure, placing these rocks on top of each other as they go in order to build the pyramid up in layers.


Heavy blocks could then be either pulled up these ramps on sledges, or placed on the outside using scaffolding made from timber and lashings.'



There are conflicting theories as to how the ancient Egyptians constructed pyramids and techniques probably developed over time.


An illustration of the 12th Dynasty Tomb of Djhuihotep shows 172 men pulling a statue along on a sledge, leading some experts to suggest that huge block needed for the pyramids were transported using the same technique.


This theory has been built on, with some experts suggesting that roads were coated in a layer of water to make them slippery and easier to slide sleds along.


Some experts have suggested that workers rolled stones along.


Dr H Parry said a cradle-like machine could have been used, while another expert suggested wooden curves could have been fitted to each block to make cylinders.


Historical accounts suggest that ramps were built for workers to carry blocks up the structure, but an engineer recently put forward the idea that the giant structures were built from the inside out.

Source:The Daily Mail


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