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Monday, November 17, 2008

Internal Ramp Might Explain Pyramid's Mystery


This 4-minute video explains the internal-ramp theory.

A French architect may have solved the mystery as to how ancient Egyptians were able to move two million stone blocks ~ each weighing about 2.5 tons ~ to construct the Great Pyramid.

A little-known cavity spiraling upward inside the pyramid’s structure seems to support the theory that the 4,500-year-old monument to Pharaoh Khufu was constructed inside out.

The presence of a spiraling inclined interior tunnel contradicts the prevailing wisdom that the monuments were built using an external ramp. "The paradigm was wrong," French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin said recently. "The idea that the pyramids were built from the outside was just wrong. How can you resolve a problem when the first element you introduce in your thinking is wrong?"

He says for centuries Egyptologists have ignored evidence of an internal ramp.To deliver blocks to the 481-foot peak at a reasonable grade, the ramp would extend a mile, and workers would have had to continually increase its height and length as the pyramid rose.

Click here for the National Geographic article.
This post is from my "Ancient Tides" blog.



5 comments:

Rogro said...

Interesting idea, but a simpler explanation that does not require discovering hidden passageways is that the outside faces of the pyramid were the ramps used for its construction. At 52 degrees they are too steep for men to walk up, but the angle is a good one for dragging up stones with ropes. Originally the faces were smooth and very similar to, well . . . ramps.

Michael said...

Just watched the Timewatch episode on the theory and I noticed something. when the overhead view of the notch up the side of the pyramid is shown two or three post holes can be seen clearly cut in to the floor of the notch. These were not mentioned in the program, surprisingly. They would back up the theory of some sort of crane being used in the notch to lift and turn the blocks.

Philip said...

Difficulties with the internal ramp:
1. No internal ramps have ever been discovered in this pyramid or any other. You would expect some part of the internal ramp to have collapsed and become visible over the years.
The scan is very suggestive, but not conclusive. It could be a spiral or it could be just variations in density around the center. It was not explained very well.
2. How do you fill in the notches afterwards?
3. Still does not explain how you build the top of the pyramid when you have no space left to work.

It is a very novel idea, and I would love to see it proved, but to me it violates the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) design principle, which the Egyptian engineers (like all good engineers after them) followed so well.

The internal ramp is clever and novel, but Egyptian architecture is built on very simple ideas, sometimes scaled up to enormous dimensions. For instance they did not even have the concept of arch, instead employing corbelling in the roof of the grand passageway.

The crane theory is not as sexy but it seems the simplest to me. Yes it does involve a huge number of cranes and a lot of wood, but we are talking about the Pharaoh here, a man who commanded a collosal empire. A few hundred square kilometers of woodland is not so much to sacrifice for him. Expensive? yes, Pedestrian? yes but practical, simple and scalable.

Rogro said...

How many men pull each stone? How are they harnessed? How far in front of the stone does the team of men extend? Does the notch provide enough room for those men to position the stone below the crane? If so, the notch may be large enough that they could do without the crane by making the turn in a 90 degree arc.

How do ancient people fashion timber into cranes study enough to lift blocks weighing more than two tons? I think they could have made cranes good enough to swivel a block 90 degrees, but lifting blocks 4 or 5 feet at a time to build a pyramid does not seem plausible.

With internal ramp and most other ramp theories, the workers would spend much of their time returning empty sleds. This is not an efficient way to build a pyramid.

I think they used the ramps that we can still see-- the faces of the pyramids. The lifting of a stone may have been accomplished by pulling a counterweight sled filled with sand bags down the opposite face. A rope or ropes would connect the two sleds of course. Workers would not have to move much. Most of the work would be done on the side opposite, where sandbags would be passed up the structure bucket brigade style.

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