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article imageEgyptian secrets: New theory explains how pyramids were built

By Subir Ghosh     Sep 24, 2010 in World
Scientists have long tried to understand how the ancient Egyptians erected their giant pyramids. Now, a Norwegian architect and researcher says he has the answer to this ancient, unsolved puzzle.
Ole J Bryn, an architect and associate professor the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's (NTNU) Faculty of Architecture and Fine Art, believes researchers were needlessly preoccupied with the weight of the stones. In the bargain, they overlooked two problems: How did the Egyptians know exactly where to put the enormously heavy building blocks? And how was the master architect able to communicate detailed, highly precise plans to a workforce of 10,000 illiterate men?
This issue remained at the back of his mind when Bryn began examining Khufu’s Great Pyramid in Giza. Better known as the Pyramid of Cheops, it consists of 2.3 million limestone blocks weighing roughly 7 million tons. At 146.6 metres high, it held the record as the tallest structure ever built for nearly 4000 years. Bryn had quite a tall problem at hand.
Ole J Bryn believes researchers were needlessly preoccupied with the weight of the stones. In the ba...
Ole J Bryn believes researchers were needlessly preoccupied with the weight of the stones. In the bargain, they overlooked two major problems: How did the Egyptians know exactly where to put the enormously heavy building blocks? And how was the master architect able to communicate detailed, highly precise plans to a workforce of 10,000 illiterate men?
Ole J Bryn / NTNU
What Bryn discovered was quite simple. He believes that the Egyptians invented the modern building grid by separating the structure’s measuring system from the physical building itself, thus introducing tolerance, as it is called in today’s engineering and architectural professions.
Bryn delved into the plans of the thirty oldest Egyptian pyramids, and discovered a precision system that made it possible for the Egyptians to reach the pyramid’s last and highest point, the apex point, with an impressive degree of accuracy. By exploring and making a plan of the pyramid it is possible to prepare modern project documentation of not just one, but all pyramids from any given period.
What Bryn discovered was quite simple. He believes that the Egyptians invented the modern building g...
What Bryn discovered was quite simple. He believes that the Egyptians invented the modern building grid, by separating the structure’s measuring system from the physical building itself, thus introducing tolerance, as it is called in today’s engineering and architectural professions.
Havard Houen / NTNU
"As long as the architect knows the main dimensions of a pyramid, he can project the building as he would have done it with a modern building, but with building methods and measurements known from the ancient Egypt," Bryn pointed out.
Some of findings ― Retracing Khufu’s Great Pyramid ― were published in the Nordic Journal of Architectural Research recently. In it Bryn discussed aspects that can explain the construction of a multitude of the Egyptian pyramids by taking the building grid, and not the physical building itself, as the starting point for the analysis.
If the principles behind Bryn’s drawings are correct, then archaeologists will have a new “map” that demonstrates that the pyramids are not a "bunch of heavy rocks with unknown structures” but, rather, incredibly precise structures.
One of Ole Bryn s sketches.
One of Ole Bryn's sketches.
Ole J Bryn / NTNU
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