Guest Thinkers

# How to build a pyramid without cranes

Archaeologists have long struggled to explain how the Egyptians got blocks weighing tons to the top of the 481-foot-high Great Pyramid… Now we know the answer – and it doesn’t involve aliens from outer space. In the latest issue of Archaeology magazine, French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin has proposed that the Egyptians used a ramp that ran like a corkscrew inside the pyramid, with holes at the corners to allow the blocks room to turn outside. This new theory provides a more satisying answer than previous theories, which were based on the notion of external ramps and cranes that could not possibly have raised the final blocks to the top:

“A radical new idea has recently been presented by Jean-Pierre Houdin, a

French architect who has devoted the last seven years of his life to

making detailed computer models of the Great Pyramid. Using

start-of-the-art 3-D software developed by Dassault Systemes, combined

with an initial suggestion of Henri Houdin, his engineer father, the

architect has concluded that a ramp was indeed used to raise the blocks

to the top, and that the ramp still exists–inside the pyramid!

The theory suggests that for the bottom third of the pyramid, the

blocks were hauled up a straight, external ramp. This ramp was far

shorter than the one needed to reach the top, and was made of limestone

blocks, slightly smaller than those used to build the bottom third of

the pyramid. As the bottom of the pyramid was being built via the

external ramp, a second ramp was being built, inside the pyramid, on

which the blocks for the top two-thirds of the pyramid would be hauled.

The internal ramp, according to Houdin, begins at the bottom, is about

6 feet wide, and has a grade of approximately 7 percent. This ramp was

put into use after the lower third of the pyramid was completed and the

external ramp had served its purpose.”

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