Pyramid Secrets

Barbara10Broek By Barbara10Broek, 11th Aug 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Science>Physical Forces

Discusses the construction of Great Pyramid of Giza and several others.

What is the most widely accepted method by which the Egyptians built the Giza Pyramids?

Most Egyptologists believe that the pyramid is the natural evolution of the burial system, which began with a simple pit and progressed to the mastaba—a rectangular structure made of brick or stone. The first known Egyptian pyramid, the Step Pyramid of Djoser, probably began as a mastaba and was expanded by adding successively smaller mastabas on top.

In the century between the construction of the Step Pyramid and the Great Pyramid at Giza, the ancient Egyptians perfected their craft through trial and error. For example, some archaeologists believe that the tower-like Meidum Pyramid began as a step pyramid and suffered a catastrophic collapse during an attempt to convert it into a true pyramid.

The collapse at Meidum may have occurred while the Bent Pyramid was being constructed. If so, this could explain why the angle of ascent decreases abruptly partway up the Bent Pyramid, and why the construction technique also changed at this bend. Up to the bend, the stones in the pyramid body were laid to slope inward. After the bend, and in later pyramids, the stones were laid horizontally, a more stable configuration.

Construction on the Great Pyramid of Giza began about 2600 B.C. It is estimated to have taken 20 years and perhaps 30,000 workers (although estimates vary widely). The builders were likely a combination of skilled craftsmen and peasants who were unable to farm during the Nile’s flood season.

Some of the stone was quarried nearby, and some came from upriver and was transported by barge at flood time. It is thought that the ancient Egyptians possessed no tools more sophisticated than levers, rollers, and bronze saws. Sleds lubricated with water may have been used to drag the stones up a ramp to the growing pyramid. As each new layer of stone was laid, the ramp was extended in length, as well as height, to keep its slope constant.

The workmanship of the Great Pyramid is extraordinary. For example, it rests on a base of limestone blocks that is within half an inch of being perfectly level. Such accuracy was likely achieved by flooding the area, leaving just the high spots exposed. These would be cut down, some water released, and the process repeated until the base was level.

The Great Pyramid still holds many mysteries. One is the purpose of the four “air shafts” that run diagonally through it. Such shafts would have been a construction nightmare and are absent from previous and subsequent pyramids.

If the Great Pyramid at Giza could be weighed, would it be the heaviest building on the planet?

Modern buildings do not compete with the Great Pyramid at Giza in Egypt in terms of mass. In fact, better materials and design have permitted skyscrapers to become less massive even as they have grown taller. For example, Chicago’s Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) weighs 223,000 tons, 142,000 tons less than the Empire State Building, which was built four decades earlier and is 200 feet (70 meters) shorter.

Designers of modern buildings are usually interested in maximizing internal space; consequently, buildings are up to 95 percent air on the inside. On the other hand, the Great Pyramid is nearly solid stone with the exception of two small burial chambers. Most descriptions of the Great Pyramid give its weight as six million tons.

However, according to Guinness World Records, the largest pyramid is actually the Quetzalcóatl Pyramid in Cholula, Mexico. Its volume is 4.3 million cubic yards, compared to 3.27 million cubic yards for the Great Pyramid at Giza.


Building, Egypt, Giza, Meidum, Pyramid, Quetzalcatl, Step Pyramid

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author avatar peachpurple
31st Aug 2015 (#)

i didn't know that mexico has pyramids!

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