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article imageThe Mystery of Khufu Pyramid Construction Revealed

By Tea Lulic     Apr 1, 2007 in Technology
Approximately 4,500 years ago, one civilization embarked on the road of building one of the greatest mysteries in the world – the Great Pyramids. Today, someone is claiming he has cracked the mystery open.
His name is Jean-Pierre Houdin and he is a French architect. His theory: the Khufu Pyramid was built with the help of the spiral ramp to hoist these huge stone rocks into place. He spent 8 years trying to develop a realistic scientific theory capable of fully explaining the construction of this monument.
Ironically, the civilization which built them did not know anything about iron tools, the wheel or pulleys. So, how did they build these mysterious monuments? Nobody knows for certain or maybe, just maybe he has cracked this mystery open.
The Khufu Pyramid is 146 meters in height. How were these stones lifted is the question that I will try to reveal the answer to.
But, before I reveal Jean’s theory, let us look at the theory that has existed before Houdin's. Many of you know about Herodotus (if not, he was one of the greatest Greek historians). In one of his local legends, Herodotus mentions a tyrannous King pushing 1,000 slaves to move the blocks of stone and build this structure. While explaining this and describing it, he mentions machines. He says that machines were put beside the pyramid to lift these stones. However, if we think logically, these sorts of machines were not the building stone of this structure. How could they support 65 tons of blocks? It just wouldn’t work!
Jean-Pierre Houdin worked with a team to design a 3D model of his theory. So, what is this theory I am talking about? Houdin has taken into account the copper and stone tools that were available at the time. He also included the strength of the workers and the granite and limestone blocks. He claims that the pyramid was built with a ramp. For the first 140 feet an outer ramp was built. After this, an inner ramp was completed in a corkscrew shape to complete the monument.
What about the King’s chamber you may ask? Well, Houdin said that counterweights were used for the chamber to be built.
Let’s look at his theory in 3 separate points:
1. Massive stone blocks which represent 73% of the pyramid’s volume were supplied by the 43 m level external ramp. This ramp had two separate carriageways. These carriageways were 400 m in maximum length with an 8% slope. Furthermore, the carriageways were used alternatively. The unused carriageway was lifted by two courses, enabling the next course to be built.
2. An internal ramp was shallow with a slope of a 7%. It ran inside the pyramid so the 43m level above can be completed. This was not used when they started building the pyramid. Above the 43m external ramp was used. This ramp was progressively dismantled providing stones weighing 2 tones. Recessed landings were set up to help the rotation of these blocks in full 90 degrees. This was done by wooden jibs which helped position these blocks to go up another flight. The stones that were kept in reserve filled up these recesses. This descended to the base of the pyramid.
3. Great Gallery was used as a “site crane.” This allowed counterweight carriage with stones to travel on wooden strollers. The counterweight helped lift these stones, some of them weighing 63 tones.
To illustrate all of this, I will provide you with the full explanation using pictures from the 3D model Houdin designed.
Fifth year of reign. As you can see in the picture, the external ramp consists of two lanes. The first 43 meters were built with this ramp. Big stones were transported on it.
Fourteenth year of reign. The picture shows that +43 meters of the pyramid were finished. External ramp has reached its maximum and now the internal ramp has three flights. The King’s Chamber ceiling is constructed by means of counterweight through the Great Gallery.
Fifteenth year of reign. This is the interior ramp at +43 level. It is still not used. However, it is built in the pyramid +7 m. If you look on your right side, you will notice that the second degree is under construction which is supposed to help the lifting of the ceilings in the King’s Chamber.
Fifteenth year of reign. Two degree pyramid look alike. First degree: +43; Second degree: +43 - +54 meters. The second degree is constructed around the King’s Chamber. +54 meters – third ceiling constructed.
Fifteenth year of reign. The number of workers decreases because the use of counterweight allows for this. The King’s Chamber is built through the use of counterweight which is positioned in each of the ceilings.
Fifteenth year of reign. The external ramp is still in service. Levels one and two are built. First three ceilings are also built. Rafters are located inside the pyramid.
Nineteenth year of reign. Level +113 m reached. Parts of the interior ramp can be seen. The King’s Chamber is deep within the pyramid. The cracks in the first ceiling are not yet present.
Nineteenth year of reign. Construction reached level +113m. King’s Chamber has been finished for quite awhile. The external ramp is starting to be demolished and its stones are used to build the pyramid further. Blocks are transported to final position via internal ramp.
Twentieth year of reign. Construction of the pyramid is finished. Capstone is in place.
Twentieth year of reign. The summit is reached. Recesses are starting to be filled in, gangway is being dismantled, and rough blocks are being surfaced.
Twentieth year of reign. Construction is done. Frontal ramp which gains access to the internal ramp remains.
If you would like to read in more detail about the construction of this pyramid please click here. There is also animation and explanation with it (sort of like a documentary) on Houdin’s website which you can find here.
There is a big possibility that the Khufu Pyramid was built in this way. Houdin spent 8 years investigating, analyzing and trying to find the possible explanation for this mysterious monument. He has stated that he is planning to do some non-invasive tests on the pyramid to prove his theory. I think his theory is plausible.
It is essential to understand how these stones were lifted to be able to crack the mystery of the Great Pyramids and one of the Seven Wonders of the World. If Houdin proves his theory, I wonder how ancient Egyptians thought of all of this. It is fascinating that, without any tools or knowledge of it, monuments such as these were built. Maybe our society is missing something and the answer is staring right at us.
Pictures Courtesy of Dassault Systemes
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