Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Science Technology

How the Ancient Egyptians (Should Have) Built the Pyramids 202

KentuckyFC writes The Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt is constructed from 2.4 million limestone blocks, most about 2.5 tonnes but some weighing in at up to 80 tonnes, mostly sourced from local limestone quarries. That raises a famous question. How did the ancient Egyptians move these huge blocks into place? There is no shortage of theories but now a team of physicists has come up with another that is remarkably simple--convert the square cross section of the blocks into dodecadrons making them easy to roll. The team has tested the idea on a 30 kg scaled block the shape of a square prism. They modified the square cross-section by strapping three wooden rods to each long face, creating a dodecahedral profile. Finally, they attached a rope to the top of the block and measured the force necessary to set it rolling. The team say a full-sized block could be modified with poles the size of ships masts and that a work crew of around 50 men could move a block with a mass of 2.5 tonnes at the speed of 0.5 metres per second. The result suggests that this kind of block modification is a serious contender for the method the Egyptians actually used to construct the pyramids, say the researchers.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How the Ancient Egyptians (Should Have) Built the Pyramids

Comments Filter:
  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @03:31PM (#47759577) Homepage Journal
    Nice Explaination: Lots of beer and bread

    Not so Nice:Whips and violence

    Some of the confusion seems to come from an unwillingness to accept that humans can be very self absorbed and mean. While some form of simple machinery must have been used, the basic resource for the pyramids was an expendable supply of labor. People tend to accept harder or more dangerous work if that is the life they know. We saw that recently in coal mining disaster where many people died because the owners did not have a practice of clearing the mine between shift changes. It increases profits and make coal cheaper, but is a huge risk to the workers. Raising the pyramids was probably not different.

  • String Theorists (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @04:40PM (#47760139) Journal

    Well, this method comes from physicists.

    Clearly string theorists since, according to the summary, it creates a "dodecadron" cross-section. So having a cross-section somewhere between a 2D dodecagon and a 3D dodecahedron it clearly relies on converting the block into some multi-dimensional object with a strangely dimensioned cross-section.

  • by careysub ( 976506 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @05:04PM (#47760329)

    Did you read this article you linked to? It refutes this theory:

    "However, even though this method is feasible and workable, it is unlikely that the GP's builders used it. The segments used by Bush had holes drilled into them to accommodate ropes which held the segments onto the block, yet none of the ancient segments found have such holes in them. How these alternative proposals fail is most clearly seen by considering the extreme case. Neither theory accounts for the movement of the fifty-ton granite slabs used in constructing the internal chambers of the GP. Considering the immense size of these monoliths, the flexible pole method would be rendered even more awkward. Forward motion would be extremely tedious--assuming that these monoliths could even be lifted by this method. Bush's idea would also be problematic. The dimensions of these slabs are not uniform, so each slab would have needed specialized circle segments. The largest monolith is about 27' x 4' x 8' at its ends.

    The key failing of the cradle and the (actually extremely similar) pole theory is that it does not explain how they moved the far larger slabs that were not square blocks.

    Also we have actual evidence of their methods - dragging on sledges. We have sledges, sledge tracks, and pictures of giant statues being dragged on sledges. They took the time to draw us a diagram, and people still look for other answers.

"You must have an IQ of at least half a million." -- Popeye