The three Pyramids of Giza are considered a wonder of the ancient world. They were built to serve as a tomb for the great pharaohs of Egypt. The pyramids maintain historical significance and have continued to be studied for decades. One of the primary mysteries that remain mostly unsolved is the method of construction that was used to erect such humongous structures that have been able to withstand centuries. The lack of technology has made it a difficult practical concept to accept, leading to the rise of various theories on the construction of the Pyramids at Giza.
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While there are a lot of absurd and supernatural theories, some suggestions that have been developed by archaeologists, architects, and engineers are based on realistic evidence and calculation. The pyramids were made from stone, laid at an angle on rectangular foundation, with the sides eventually meeting at an apex. After examination, it is evident that the stone was cut into large blocks and moved into position. Historical evidence suggests that a significant labor force consisting of Egyptian citizens and slaves was involved (Sood, 2016). However, the blocks based on their size would have weighed several tons, which creates significant difficulties of raising them to the heights of the pyramid.
Two major theories about the construction techniques used by the Egyptians are based on the premise of utilizing simple machines. Despite being an advanced society for their time, it is unknown how primitive their use of simple machines was since a lot of these devices were not yet discovered. The most common theory suggested by practically every available source on the subject, including historians, archaeologists, and engineering experts, is that ramps were used to slide blocks up the pyramid by groups of workers. The ramps were constructed on the external perimeter of the pyramid, eventually coiling around as construction progressed.
Lime clay or some lubricant was used to reduce friction, making it easier to slide the blocks. Once at the necessary level, levers or rockers could have been used to move the block into the necessary position (Sayre, 2014). A second theory purported by some Egyptian historians based on correlating data suggests that the Egyptians used a pulley and fulcrum system which would have been a basis for a type of primitive crane. Pulleys were an existing technology on ships (Sood, 2016). Meanwhile, cranelike technologies were known to exist to lift water in the Egyptian irrigation system. The blocks would have been loaded unto a platform of some sort and hoisted to the position and level which was necessary, guided by the applied force and using a fulcrum. A series of cranes would have been built around and on the structure during construction (Brier, 2007).
Out of the two, the ramp theory is more plausible. Engineers and historians consider the crane theory impractical for a number of reasons. The technology was simply not sophisticated enough at the time to deliver such heavy weights to towering heights. Wood, which was already scarce in Egypt, could not practically lift multi-ton blocks at leverage without breaking, nor was there room on the sides of the pyramids to place such structures (Brier, 2007). The ramp theory stands to be more plausible due to the design of the pyramids. Its shape allowed to have built linear ramps in a zig-zag fashion which would have provided a slope necessary to move the blocks based on known volume and dimensions. Based on mathematical calculations, it is evident that the use of ramps correlates with the construction rate and time which would have been necessary to construct the pyramids using the available workforce (De Haan, 2014). The ramp technology is simple enough to deduce that Egyptians were able to construct it as a structure. Furthermore, a ramp system is able to reach the top of the pyramid, in theory allowing to deliver massive stone blocks adhering to any laws of physics or mechanics.
Brier, B. (2007). How to build a pyramid. Archaeology, 60(3). Web.
De Haan, H.J. (2014). More insight from physics into the construction of the Egyptian pyramids. Archaeometry, 56(1), 145-174. Web.
Sayre, H. (2014). The humanities: Culture, continuity & change (3rd ed.). London, England: Pearson.
Sood, V. (2016). Pyramid construction techniques. Imperial Journal of Interdisciplinary Research, 2(9), 189-191. Web.