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Architect Claims to Solve Pyramid Secret 209

Posted by Zonk
from the that's-one-way-to-do-it dept.
Alreadybutnotyet writes "A French architect claimed Friday to have uncovered the mystery about how Egypt's Great Pyramid of Khufu was built — with use of a spiral ramp to hoist huge stone blocks into place. The construction of the Great Pyramid 4,500 years ago by Khufu, a ruler also known as Cheops, has long befuddled scientists as to how its 3 million stone blocks weighing 2.5 tons each were lifted into place. 'The most widespread theory had been that an outer ramp had been used by the Egyptians, who left few traces to help archeologists and other scientists decode the secret to the construction. Houdin said he had taken into account the copper and stone tools available at the time, the granite and limestone blocks, the location of the pyramid and the strength and knowledge of the workers.'"
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Architect Claims to Solve Pyramid Secret

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  • History Channel (Score:3, Informative)

    by StarWreck (695075) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @10:51PM (#18570145) Homepage Journal
    This is old news to me. I saw the "Spiral Ramp" idea on either the History Channel or The Discovery Channel at least a couple years ago. The show even had a CGI model of the spiral ramp.
    • Re:History Channel (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 01, 2007 @10:55PM (#18570165)
      rtfa.

      According to his theory - shown in a computer model available at http://www.3ds.com/khufu [3ds.com] - the builders put up an outer ramp for the first 140 feet, then constructed an inner ramp in a corkscrew shape to complete the 450-foot structure.
      • Re:History Channel (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ravenshrike (808508) on Monday April 02, 2007 @12:15AM (#18570461)
        And none of this explains the many anomalies within the pyramid. Or the fact that the only stones that have been dated from the pyramid have been from the sheathing, which may or may not be the same age as the rest of the pyramid itself. Or why when the anomalies were to be fully explored the egyptian government shut down outside exploration of the pyramid.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I'm no expert, but the way I read it, it explains many anomalies. The theory explains many of the voids and passages inside the pyramid that seemed to have no practical purpose.
        • Re:History Channel (Score:5, Informative)

          by Tatarize (682683) on Monday April 02, 2007 @06:01AM (#18571493) Homepage
          The Egyptian government does that a lot. They have a fairly practical approach. When you can't get at the information without messing the stuff up, you don't get the information. Develop something to see through walls without damaging anything and they'll let you do it. Try to figure it out by tearing into stuff or using large vibrations and they won't.
    • Re:History Channel (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Baby Duck (176251) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @11:10PM (#18570217) Homepage
      If you go to the site, you'll see where he debunks previous ideas. One of those ideas is an *external* spiral ramp. But it would be twice the volume (I think...watch the movie for the exact multiplier) of the pyramid itself, which is infeasible for a 20 year project and harder to leave no evidence of after dismantling.

      This guy's internal spiral ramp theory uses known tunnels that allow the pyramid to be built inside out while helping to keep laborers out of the sun.

      He doesn't simply CGI all of this. He computer models it with physics to show how it could have been done with materials present for the time, and a reasonable workforce size, inside of 20 years.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Oligonicella (659917)
        Nope. The one on Discovery wasn't a huge, gently sloping mound, it used the limestone to create a mortar and wound around the pyramid. They even duplicated the mixture and had men haul a rock up it.
      • by catbutt (469582)
        I don't get why an external spiral ramp would add much to the volume, if any.

        Couldn't they just leave some of it unfilled in, with the ramp being subtracted from the volume rather than added?

        Then, when they have reached the top, they would start filling in the ramps from the top down. The small rocks and rubble that were used to make the actual inclines could then be moved into spaces within that were left unfilled.
        • by jrumney (197329)
          They certainly could have done that, but it would have left visible traces which would have been found long before now.
      • They took the stone mason from this "This Old House" and in 30 days built like 10 meter tall Pyramid. They used a simple outside ramp and "turning" posts at the corners. Hardest part was placing the cap stone.

        Was a great show, I guess it sis not make it to France.

      • by sumdumass (711423)
        Whatever happened to the concrete theory were Core samples showed signs of bacterial growth that can only be present on the outside of the pyramids?

        My understanding is that In mortar mixes, this bacteria can be inside the finished stone too. I thought it was used to explain the exact levelness of each layer and all too. Or am i Thinking of another pyramid?
      • Re:History Channel (Score:5, Interesting)

        by stonecypher (118140) <stonecypher AT gmail DOT com> on Monday April 02, 2007 @04:47AM (#18571299) Homepage Journal
        Yeah, or you could just watch the history channel special where a bunch of modern people did it using no modern tools, in order to show that it was in fact quite possible.

        I wonder which part of piling sand onto the side of rocks in the desert you think couldn't be handled by tens of thousands of slaves over the course of decades. Is it the finding the sand? The moving it? I mean, is it also difficult for ancient people to get saltwater at the coast? Wood in the forest, perhaps?

        For every person that remembers how much work it is to move a bunch of sand, I'll show you a person who forgets just how many slave-years were put towards shit like this back then. The pyramids were how Egypt showed social, technological, religious and cultural superiority. They weren't just about kings' egos; they were important tools in establishing position during trade, in scaring slaves into not rebelling, and so on. In the age where a two story house seems unlikely, man-made mountains are no joke.

        When you hear ten thousand slaves for 25 years, it's not an exaggeration. Do you really think that this is more than 250,000 slave-hours? There are entire support towns excavated around the base of most of the pyramids; these things were obviously engineered from the perspective of city planners. It's no simple matter to coordinate, feed and home 10k people today, let alone when rocks still seem like a good thing to make weapons from.

        They weren't just sitting around playing hackeysack, y'know.
        • Re:History Channel (Score:4, Interesting)

          by stonecypher (118140) <stonecypher AT gmail DOT com> on Monday April 02, 2007 @04:51AM (#18571315) Homepage Journal
          250,000 slave years, not hours. Sigh. Much more impressive that way. If you lay the slaves end to end like one of those M&Ms from Los Angeles to New York things, you'd get a line of unbroken work stretching back to the seperation between H. heidelbergensis (barely apes) and H. rhodesiensis (barely human.) That's almost exactly the time where neanderthals and homo sapiens split apart.

          So yeah, much more impressive that way.
        • by Skreems (598317)

          I wonder which part of piling sand onto the side of rocks in the desert you think couldn't be handled by tens of thousands of slaves over the course of decades.
          The part where it's the most accurately constructed building in the world today by a factor of 10.
          • Huh? Care to elaborate?
            • by Skreems (598317)

              The passages inside the pyramid are all extremely straight and precise, such that the longest of them, referred to as the descending passage, which is 350' 0.25" long deviates from being truly straight by less than 0.25 inches, while one of the shorter passages with a length of just over 150 feet deviates from being truly straight by a mere 0.020 inches.

              That's from Wikipedia, but similar measurements are available in basically any exhaustive reference on the pyramids. Similar precision is shown in every as

              • Oh for christ's sake, you mean physical alignment? Dude, there are chip fabs that can't tolerate deviances of a thousandth of an inch over half a mile. If you think this is the most accurate building on Earth, you don't know a thing about buildings on Earth.

                We could make them more precise, but we don't because A) it's expensive to do so, and B) we don't need to.

                Don't confuse your ignorance of when we do and when we need to for that we never do and have no need. Building characteristics are frequently c
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Z1NG (953122)
            After reading your comment, I agreed with your sig.
          • Er, the pyramids aren't even the most accurately aligned buildings of the ancient world, let alone the modern world. Several of the stone circles (though not Stonehenge itself,) many of the Aztec calendars and several of the Greek solar calendars are significantly better physically aligned than are the pyramids. Or, did you think people who could make something like the Antikythera Mechanism couldn't align things to the sky?

            Now, if you want to talk about *modern* buildings, if you think the pyramids are b
        • Re:History Channel (Score:5, Informative)

          by Carewolf (581105) on Monday April 02, 2007 @05:32AM (#18571411) Homepage
          Of course recent research shows that the workers probably wasn't slaves. They were treated much better, had good homes, received health treatment, etc. They were probably professional craftsmen.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Peyna (14792)
            I'm curious if this "recent research" is based off of writings that were found? Imagine how the story of how the U.S. got rich would look if the right person wrote it? Slaves from Africa? Nah. How about "professional immigrant craftsmen" working those fields instead?
            • by ktappe (747125)

              Imagine how the story of how the U.S. got rich would look if the right person wrote it? Slaves from Africa? Nah. How about "professional immigrant craftsmen" working those fields instead?

              It sounds as if you want to believe the pyramids were built with slave labor. Then go ahead--tell us where the slaves came from, considering the Egyptians were not generally a conquering civilization. And how they performed such meticulous work that a knifeblade could not be inserted between any of the stone blocks. That

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Peyna (14792)
                It sounds as if you want to believe the pyramids were built with slave labor.

                No. My point was that we should be careful to rely upon what they wrote down in determining what they did. If this "recent research" is based off of other archeological findings, such as, for example, finding workers' living quarters where they found evidence of them eating food which slaves would not have been permitted to eat, then that might be considered better proof.

                My point had nothing to do with whether they were slaves or
            • by Blain (264390)
              It's based off of the growing understanding of the way ancient Egyptian culture functioned. There were slaves in Egypt, but they were a very small part of the population, and were primarily used in the homes of the elites. The vast majority of the population were dependent workers who were dependent upon the temples that controlled the vast majority of the agricultural land that they worked on. They worked on the land and on other projects for the benefit of the temples or the king (no separation between
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Blain (264390)
            Yes and no. Yes, there were some well-paid (well-fed) professionals in charge of the construction of the pyramids. No, there were no slaves involved with the production of the pyramids. There was, however, a huge body of workers that rotated to the pyramid site from different regions to work on these pyramids. They were peasants who were not slaves, but their lives were pretty bleak. They had the same diet while working on the pyramids as they did when working in the fields. Working on the pyramids (o
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by stonecypher (118140)
              Given that peasants in Egypt weren't paid, did not own their homes, had no control over their occupation, could be bought and sold with or without their families, and could be killed at the whim of any upper class citizen with no ramifications, I'm curious what you believe the distinction between peasant and slave is. Is it just the ostrich feather?

              As far as I know, Carthage was the only empire in that area and timeframe which did not make significant use of slaves, and even they still traded in slaves as
    • by Seumas (6865)
      Much older than that. There was a Nova "This Old Pyramid" special about ten or fifteen years ago that talked bout the spiral ramp pyramid building method. There have been reasonable explanations of why this was probably not the method used for just as many years, too.
      • Re:History Channel (Score:5, Informative)

        by jeffasselin (566598) <cormacolinde@gma ... com minus author> on Sunday April 01, 2007 @11:18PM (#18570255) Journal
        I thought the same thing, then read the FA and realized he's proposing that they built a spiral ramp INSIDE the pyramid, instead of outside. Advantages being keeping the workers out of the sun, and it could have been much smaller. It's certainly the first time I see someone proposing an interior ramp.
    • by coredog64 (1001648) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @11:56PM (#18570397)
      Hey, I saw that too. I think the show was titled "This Is Spiral Ramp" and there was a bit about how Khufu wanted his pyramid to go to 11...
      • by dave420 (699308)
        I remember that show. Apparently the pyramid was supposed to be 12x as large, but the wrong unit was recorded by a scribe.
    • by kinglink (195330)
      No no . this is completely different because of X Y and Z. That's why this guy is a genius, the fact he has no proof or evidence doesn't matter he's a genius and deserves tons of credit.

      I agree with the parent, this theory was there for a while, he might have fine tuned the ending, but nothing groundbreaking here. Using the workforce and all the known data we can prove all major theories for the pyramids. The solution isn't the "easiest way" they could have built the period, it's for the ACTUAL way and t
      • by fbjon (692006)
        Are you perhaps referring to those marks which are there, you know, inside the pyriamid in the form of inexplicable corridors with no apparent use (anymore)?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kcelery (410487)
      It is interesting to find from the website that the Egyptian were using translational method instead of rotational method. Some findings had shown the heavy rock were so heavy to be pulled. The builders prayed to their god. And so their god sent the primitive engineers to help the Egyptian. And it was the scarab.

      If you happened to move an metal barrel of 2' in diameter and a height of 4', you would notice that there are two ways to do it. Either slide along the floor or lay it horizontally with the axis

  • I saw the condensed version (due to my preferences) and clicking it just said "Nothing to see here; move along." It would have been funny if it had stayed like that....
  • by arbie (995367) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @10:55PM (#18570163)
    Seems like this would be easy to verify. There should be the remnants of the tunnels still in place. HAs he found any?
    • by Baby Duck (176251)
      A quick trip to Google Image search for Khufu tunnel [touregypt.net].
    • Seems like this would be easy to verify. There should be the remnants of the tunnels still in place. HAs he found any?

      From TFA: "Houdin said he plans to verify his theories through non-invasive tests on site."

      I'd be surprised if he has no info at all about what is inside the pyramid, but sounds like he's short of being able to convince a skeptic.

  • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @10:58PM (#18570177)
    A far off alien culture sees a third-rate planet called EARTH inhabitied by primitive beings. After a few open atmosphere concerts (Earthling Aid) and a telethon (Dough for Doh!), they raise enough money to send an engineering fleet to ask the earthlings what they want built.

    Due to some translation errors, and an over active project manager's ego, a simple request for a small pond to keep water for a herd of goats gets "innovated" into a series of pyramids that can be seen from far away. The rest is history.

    • by Moraelin (679338) on Monday April 02, 2007 @03:13AM (#18571023) Journal
      Based on my experience with programming projects, I'd say it must have been like this:

      - the client's manager (the pharaoh) couldn't be arsed to actually think what he needs and to specify it, and probably was also affraid to sign anything that doesn't cover all potential aspects, hypothetical future needs, buzzwords, etc, in one go. So it has to have not only a pond, but also sphinxes, obelisks, etc, just in case someone ever needs them, and sometimes because he just didn't really understand what he wants. Maybe also a case of new alpha dog having to piss on everything and mark his territory, so building a pond doesn't sound as grandious as restructuring the whole burial process in Egypt.

      - the team's marketting guy just had to sell the biggest and most expensive thing he could, even if the client doesn't actually need it. So he took the Pharaoh to a restaurant and to golf, and established himself as the guy the Pharaoh can trust, unlike those pesky IT nerds... err... embalmers who insist that they need a pyramid for it like a fish needs a bycicle. He had to cut the price and deadline a bit, though, but he's proud that he made a sale, and it's not his problem how that's going to be built with only 20 men within the promised time.

      - some other politics and power games were involved, such as between the vizier for construction and the vizier for agriculture, or between the nomarch (governor) of Saqqara and the nomarch of Thebes. Extra funds and grandious requirements are piled just to make a silly "I'm greater than you because my pet project got more funding than yours" point.

      - the builders' manager had read in some "Construction Week" ragazine for managers that pyramids are the latest cool buzzword, and everything should be built with pyramids. He doesn't really understand what those are, when they're used, and when they're not used, since those ragazines are little more than fashion magazines and never actually give you the actual information needed to make an informed choice or design. So the pond must have pyramids too, he's sure that's what makes a project successful. He's also the only guy the marketter consulted with, if any.

      - a couple of workers don't give a fuck about actually solving the problem, they just want the latest buzzwords on the resume so they can apply to an even better paid job. They heard that spiral ramps are the latest buzzword, so they have to have "has used spiral ramps" on their resume. The original spec for 3 ft tall pyramids in the corners of the pond gets ballooned into a gigantic monstrosity just so they can get that buzzword on their resume. (Of course, now there's a problem with the deadline, but that's not their problem.)

      - the architect fully cooperates with the above, or maybe is one of the above, plus he has to justify his job. His boss doesn't really understand architecture, but can be smoked with lots of buzzwords and complicated diagrams. A complicated architecture with lots of clever buzzwords, (A) makes the boss go, "whoa, this guy is so smart, I'm happy we have him to plan all this for us", i.e., establishing credentials, and (B) "whoa, these projects are so complicated, good thing we had an architect to plan it for us", i.e., making sure he gets to keep his job and be called upon for the next pond too, and (C) it lets him get paid for months, maybe years, of just painting diagrams, which is good.

      - a couple of workers are in it just for fun and playing with the biggest rocks and newest techniques, and only incidentally get to be paid for it. They'll cheerfully help inflate the spec even more, because it lets them play with big stones and logs instead of the boring old bricks for a 3ft decoration.

      - most of the builders are contractors or consultants paid by the hour. 'Nuff said.

      - at least one manager involved has realized that, according to the corporate rules, he'd get a promotion if he had just a couple more people under him. Unsurprisingly, his solution to everything is to hire more people and push for even mo
    • A far off alien culture sees a third-rate planet called EARTH inhabitied by primitive beings. After a few open atmosphere concerts (Earthling Aid) and a telethon (Dough for Doh!), they raise enough money to send an engineering fleet to ask the earthlings what they want built.
      Due to some translation errors, and an over active project manager's ego, a simple request for a small pond to keep water for a herd of goats gets "innovated" into a series of pyramids that can be seen from far away. The rest is history.

      The amazing thing is that there are really people who passionately believe the Pyramids were built by aliens. The Pyramids generate quite a lot of theories about their origins from 'Pyramidologists' around the world. Some are quite serious most of them are ridiculous to the point of being funny. The chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, who regularly gets swamped in these proposals coined a word for 'Pyramidologists', he calls them 'Pyramidiots'.

    • Accompanied by that intergalactic hit single "Do They Know Its Zaphod Beeblebrox Day?"
  • by GFree (853379)
    Doesn't have that SlashRating© bullshit on the side of the article. The horror has ended!
  • Feasible... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dan East (318230) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @11:33PM (#18570301) Homepage Journal
    So what we have here is a feasible theory with no supporting physical evidence. I don't know I would call this "uncovering" or "discovering", since it is completely speculative.

    Personally, I think the most "obvious" method would be correct. The Egyptians would not have been able to do a computer simulation to determine if their building plans were feasible. Thus I would think they would have gone with the most obvious, full-proof method, even if it would have required more resources. The article is short on details, but any building techniques beyond a certain level of complexity would likely have been too much of a gamble for them to attempt.

    Dan East
    • Re:Feasible... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @11:51PM (#18570381) Journal
      It looks like a gimick to get people to download their 3D viewing software (but I'm not sure, as I'm on Linux/Firefox, so all I know is that the required plugin is not available for me.) At least, that is the interest of the hosting company - the architect story may be legitimate.
      • I did not download their 3D viewing software. But that company's (DSS's) main business is CAD/CAM software. They bought Spatial, the devlopers of ACIS geometry kernel. They have also bought Uniras/CATIA. I have been working with their geometry kernel for more than 10 years. As a geometry modeling company they are quite decent. Dont know about their 3D viewing software through a browser idea. Without OpenGL it is impossible to render the geometry under reasonable timeframe. When I connect to my office machin
    • Unless the great pyramid was the first one they ever built, some of these methods (especially rope twisting scaffold to raise the capstone) may have been tried on smaller pyramids. Thus, the gamble might not have been as big.
    • by saskboy (600063)
      I think the concrete theory is most plausible from what I've heard so far. It's a lot easier to pour a pyramid than lift formed rocks.
    • Re:Feasible... (Score:4, Informative)

      by WrongMonkey (1027334) on Monday April 02, 2007 @12:24AM (#18570485)
      The Egyptians didn't have simulations, but they did have a lot of trial and error. The pyramids at Giza are only the most famous. There were many other projects that show a refinement of methods. These were sophisticated people with generations of engineering experience, so the "obvious" method may not be not correct.
      That said, you are correct about this article being speculation. The author is making quite a claim without any physical evidence.
      Examples of other pyramids: http://www.egyptologyonline.com/pyramids.htm [egyptologyonline.com]
      • Sounds to me like ....

        Aliens built it, told the people how to make them.

        Either they slowly forgot how to build them well, or the tools used to build them gradually broke down.

        Thats why the first generation was the best and they got worse as time went on till they completely gave up because all their
        alien tools broke down or ran out of power source (darn nuclear batteries)

        And I bet the Egyptian govt knows this and 100% blows the religeons out of the water, and yes that means all , Islam to Christianity to Ju
  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Sunday April 01, 2007 @11:37PM (#18570319)
    The sphynx was covered to its neck in blown in sand not so long ago. Some other buildings bear evidence of using sand to cover the site as they built up with rough stone, then as they dug it out again, the stones were dressed nicely from the top down. Egyptians are used to sand - it is everywhere - there is no shortage of it. This architect clearly could not see the forest for all the sand...
    • All you need do is assemble a Great Pyramid sized pile of sand, stop it from blowing away for 20 years, make it firm enough to carry huge stones on rollers and remove it afterwards.
      • by khallow (566160)
        Maybe if you wetted the sand. Wooden runners might have been enough bracing to support the stones on hardened mud. Depends how much clay and similar minerals were in the available sand.
        • by cheekyboy (598084)
          OH yeah do the math, 100000000 trillion litres of water, from where?

          Just try attempting this even on a 100th scale, you will fail.

          • by khallow (566160)
            From the Nile, right next door. And you have about 9 zeros too many even if the ramp were some how pure water.
    • by ceeam (39911) on Monday April 02, 2007 @09:28AM (#18572631)
      Note that when Pyramids were being built the climate in northern Africa was much different to what it is today. There was no such a huge desert. There was an awful lot of people living in Egypt. And in fact, I read somewhere, that agriculture in northern africa basically fed the whole Roman Empire. Some, BTW, claim that deforestation from this agriculture was the main cause of desertification. Same thing in Iraq, BTW - Babylonians were not leaving in the sand.
      • From what I've read things were cooler and wetter in that region thousands of years ago. The Iraq region was also much more fertile due to a complex irrigation system that the Mongols and subsiquent decay managed to destroy.
        • by inKubus (199753)
          There was also a receding ice age which would probably lead to colder temps in the region, which is still continuing, i might add.
    • Piling up (and tearing down) that much sand would've been as great a task as building the pyramids themselves.

      I wonder if anyone has dug around the base of the great pyramids. If they used ramps then there must be some traces of foundations or some such signs left near them.
  • by dcam (615646) <david.uberconcept@com> on Sunday April 01, 2007 @11:45PM (#18570355) Homepage
    There was an smh article [smh.com.au] about this. Choice quote:

    "This is better than the other theories, because it is the only theory that works," Houdin said after unveiling his hypothesis in a lavish ceremony using 3-D computer simulation.


    You'd never guess he is French would you.
  • Let's see 3,000,000 blocks / (365*20)days = 420 blocks/day. Assuming an average of 12hrs of daylight we get 35 blocks an hour which is about 100 seconds / block. Just the cutting and shaping this many blocks with simple tools is amazing, not to mention transporting then raising them. A truly astounding feat.

    •     And when you have tens of thousands of slaves (err, employees) doing it, that sounds like a bunch of slackers. And ditch the 12 hour day idea, our employees will happily work by torch light! :)

    • Let's see 3,000,000 blocks / (365*20)days = 420 blocks/day.

      Are you sure about the number of blocks? Most of the interior of the pyramid is fill, not properly cut and positioned blocks.

  • Reed Punks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hhawk (26580) on Monday April 02, 2007 @12:28AM (#18570491) Homepage Journal
    Sci Fi set in the age of steam is called Steam Punk... Set in the age of Pyramids we would have to call it Reed Punk... This wasn't the first Pyramid built; however they built them, clearly the scaled up from job to job... It wasn't like they programmed "hello world" one day and the next started to create a complete OS from scratch. My guess is his solution is a little bit too neat, and relies on technology more than brawn.

    Has there been any Peer review of this "discovery?"

    This "prof" seems more than anything to be shilling for some 3D modeling software. The software is certainly quite impressive. The scene where the cap stone is raised by turning it, so that ropes attached to it twist and thereby lift it, is quite impressive as well; the ropes are suspended from a teepee like structure of wooden poles. I'm sure it would work once you got it moving the first ½ rotation; up to that point I'm sure you really had to push very hard...

    Our good "prof" set out to find out how he could build a construction project (of the great pyramid) using only the materials of the day, based on whatever evidence there is, and of course on his modern understanding of the world.

    The scenes where wooden carry frames transport major stone blocks by the aid of counter weights seemed straight out of Indiana Jones. It's certainly possible so he claimed, but the technology seems really pushed to the limit(s).

    What happened to the idea that the stones were "wrapped" by four pieces of 90 degree "curves" so that when all tied together the stones could be rolled around like "wheels."
    • by salec (791463)

      My guess is his solution is a little bit too neat, and relies on technology more than brawn.

      Have you read "Germs, Guns and Steel"? Being "primitive" doesn't mean being stupid or unsophisticated (neither today, nor most probably in the past). It just means you don't have certain means at your disposal, because they are not invented yet (as far as one knows) and you have to plan accordingly. Beyond some undetermined scale of particular building endeavor, no amount of brawn will do (due to impossibility of its

      • by hhawk (26580)
        I didn't say these guys are "primitive" but I have not read the book you mention.. There is much evidence for example that they used machines for cutting stone, and the ways they moved and erected large monuments is also very impressive. But from what I can see, the hallmark of all of these has been utter simplicity. This was the bronze age and they made fires more than 1000 degrees (f)...

        I'd much more believe they created giant cantilevered gantry cranes to move the stones than elevators for stones...

        In an
        • The defining characteristic of being the "bronze age" is the ability to smelt copper and forge bronze. i.e. the Temperatures achievable in furnaces and forges. If they couldn't make thousand degree fires, it wouldn't be the bronze age.
      • Here's a challenge for you. Input: copper, stone, wood tools, ropes, boats, sliders (like on a sled). No wheels, but you do get to use levers. Power supply is limited to bone and muscle - yours, or any animal you can train to do it.
        Now, spend a few thousand years figuring out clever ways to put these tools together to get things done.
        People often forget the element of time. We aren't as clever with rope and levers and ramps, because we have huge amounts of power to use or waste.
        "Technology" doesn't
        • It annoys me whenever people toss out the idea that "Aliens must've told them what to do" with the implication that ancient people were too ignorant to figure how to do things themselves. Like you said, these people lived every day with these tools and materials and were no different than us. They were always looking for ways to get more out of what they had. They had people who thought just like modern engineers or skilled craftsmen. The problem is that they usually didn't write things down or the idea
  • On the website that explains it all, http://khufu.3ds.com/introduction/ [3ds.com], there is a link to download the website's soundtrack. I'm sorry but I can't take them seriously anymore if they pull off crap like that.
  • I have doubts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 02, 2007 @06:21AM (#18571523)
    As an archaeologist I have read a number of serious academic articles about the use of 3D reconstructions to present ideas. I won't get into all the gory details of archaeological theory here, but the short version is this:

    Images serve as extremely persuasive representations of the past, and it often the case that a reasonably compelling image which doesn't clash do badly with out own pre-conceived notions will often be accepted without being questioned very much. A good example of this is the popular image of the Neanderthals as stooped brutish creatures - An image based upon work which was discredited more than 100 years ago (I forget the exact date). CG images can be even more persuasive due to their ability to move around and show people and systems in action.

    I appreciate that this project is based upon actual engineering work, and isn't just a bunch of pretty pictures, however watching the presentation I can't help but feel that they are a little bit in love with their own images. They claim to be certain that their 'internal ramp' hypothesis is correct, and twice claim it is backed up by strong evidence, and yet they present no physical evidence whatsoever. All they have is a model which doesn't disprove their theory and a pretty 3D model. It is interesting study to be sure, but until they find physical evidence (and to be fair they have expressed an interest in looking for some) statements like 'This revolutionary idea sweeps away all the other hypotheses put forward up to now' (page 4 of the pdf) go much to far.
  • When I was a kid in high school in the early 1970's (yeah, I'm a jurassic geezer), this was one of the theories of how it got built. Although not given much credit by scientists, it was considered more likely than aliens and anti-gravity technology.
    Always remember, Hollywood got it last idea before the pyramids were built.
  • Simulation time (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Spackler (223562) on Monday April 02, 2007 @08:18AM (#18571985) Journal
    Ok, I am going to start an actual simulation for building the Pyramids.

    All of you guys come out of your mother's basement and be my slaves.
    No wages. Bad conditions. Whips and chains. Move some heavy rocks
    for me and we will build one. Move it or die.

    This is going to be fun but I hope there are no uprisings.

    (PS: Yes, I know that Nova did it. However, mine will be full size. None of this 9 foot tall crap.)
  • 1. go here http://www.construire-la-grande-pyramide.fr/html/ i ndexGB.htm [construire...yramide.fr]

    2. click "The Theory"

    3. click "3. THE THEORY REVEALED"

    Then you can see in detail what he is talking about. The animations work in linux with firefox and no plugins here. It looks like a way to pile rocks into a pyramid using brain power and not much else. Wonderful. I bet it might be right. No concrete required.
    • by pizpot (622748)
      The Egyptions did not sit around all day staring at their computers. They stared at rocks. Chances are if you can make a complex computer program, they could make a complex pile of rocks. Brains haven't evolved much since they got complex. ie) they were like us. No aliens required.
  • AFAIK this has been the accepted standard theory behind pyramid construction for years. I saw a thing from the History Channel which detailed exactly this theory probably two years ago, and I'm fairly sure said documentary was made during the mid 90s.

    There's some evidence that the ancients were better moving large rocks using levers than we are these days, (Stonehenge, in particular) but that in itself isn't a huge revelation. I remember the saying that as the printing press improve{s,d}, so engineering h
  • Isn't it really a helical ramp? It sounds more like a conical helix than a spiral, and wikipedia agrees with me.
  • If you're looking to get the XPI plugin for viewing the application/x-virtools, have a look here web browser plugin details for virtools files [vox.com].


    Spoiler: it doesn't work on linux.

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