How was the Great Pyramid built?
By Finn Rasmussen, M. Sc.
Summary
A thorough investigation of the Grand Gallery shows, that this room was designed for transportation of building blocks. It is suggested how this transportation could be performed with use of levers. The peculiar walls of the ascending passage show that they were part of a similar transportation machinery. This leads to an understanding of the building process of the Great Pyramid. The extraordinary structure of chambers and corridors in the Great Pyramid can be explained as a consequence partly of Cheops´ religious reform and partly of traditional burial rituals.pRf1
The great pyramid at Giza was built by king Cheops about 2500 B.C. As far as I know there is no convincing explanation as to how the pyramid was built. In this article we will look at the interior corridors, shafts and chambers to see if we can learn something about the building method. In particular the biggest and most extraordinary room, the so-called Grand Gallery, may give some information.
Grand Gallery
The Grand Gallery is a 48m long corridor ascending 26.3 degrees. It does not seem to have been constructed for people to climb for there are no steps. The height, 8.6 m, is not designed for human beings. The Grand gallery is a very rough room without decorations or texts. It is difficult to imagine that it is the entrance to a king’s tomb. In both sides of the corridor is a ramp 0.52 m. broad and 0.52 m. height, and the Egyptian cubit is exactly 0.52 m.pRf3 The breadth of the floor between the ramps is 1.07 m.pRf2 In the walls immediately above the ramps are inlaid stones which are 0,45 m. high. There are 25 inlaid stones on either side and the distance between them is 1.67 m. In the ramps are holes close to the wall under each inlaid stone. There are two more holes in the lower end of the ramp and one more at the upper end, which means that there are 28 holes in each ramp. The wall above the holes is somewhat hollowed as if from wear.
If the Grand Gallery had a function in the building process it could have been as an aid for transportation of building materials. The Egyptians did not have wheels or pulleys. We know that they moved heavy stones horizontally using sledges pulled by many men, probably with mud or water under the sledge. A few sledges have been excavated in Egypt. The biggest one 4.2 m. long was buried at Dahshur near the pyramid of Senwosret III from the twelfth dynasty. The floor of the gallery could be used as a slide. The height of the gallery suggests the use of long levers. Balks made of cedarwood have been found in pyramids from the fourth dynasty. Cedrus Libani grew in Libanon and Cypres and the tree can grow to be 40 meters in height. A pair of parallel levers would be placed in the sides of the floor and pass through the opening in the top of the gallery, which was not covered at the first stage of the building process. The roof of the gallery has the same breadth as the floor. On the top of the levers there could be fastened a horizontal pole for two men to push back and forth. The levers could rest on beams mounted in holes of the two walls. The holes were apparently where the inlaid stones are now, which means that the distance between the levers were 1.67 m, which is a little more than three cubits.
The machinery that I have described here and outlined at figure right above will be called a conveyer-beltThis design is my suggestion, but there could be other designs based on the same principles. The conveyer-belt should be experimentally tested in order to see if it works, or if a modification can make it work. I would like to hear if someone is interested in such an experiment.
The movement of the lever from start position to end position will only move the bottom of the lever about 0.60 m. Consequently the sled has to be moved three times before the next levers could take over. This determines the distance between the beams on the sleds to be one cubit. The length of these beams must be two cubits in order to be shorter than the breadth of the floor. The beams project over the side of the sled.
The working method described here explains other peculiarities of the Grand Gallery. The so called Red Pyramid built by Cheops´ father immediately before the Great Pyramid had three chambers with corbelled walls like the Grand Gallery. They did not have a ceiling, which is only found because the Grand Gallery had no roof at first. Furthermore the chambers of the Red Pyramid have vertical end walls, while the end walls of the Grand Gallery lean into the room. The reason for this construction probably was that the Grand Gallery had open ends at first.
We now need to estimate the labour. Because the ascending angle of the gallery is 26.3 degrees, the friction will be sufficient for keeping a sled from sliding down even if water was used under the sled. An average block in the pyramid weighs 2.3 tons. Considering the angle and the friction, the necessary force on the block would be 2.1 tons. The two arms of the lever are 8 m and 0.85m. The force at the top end of each of the two levers consequently has to be 110 kg. A considerable part of this force will be performed by the weight of the lever. Probably the levers would be too heavy and difficult for the men at the top of the levers alone to lift across the beam of the sled. Consequently there had to be two men at the bottom of the levers standing on the ramps. The pair of levers would have to be connected with a pole to be lifted by these men. For the 25 pairs of levers there had to be 100 men working. The total weight of the great pyramid is 6.3 million tons. This means 2,7 million blocks. In 20 years of 365 days of 10 hours of 60 minutes there are 5 million minutes. That means two minutes for each block. This speed could probably be achieved by the suggested conveyer-belt.
The levers described here could not be used at the lower end and the upper end of the Grand Gallery. This could explain the absence of two holes in the wall at the lower end and one hole in the upper end. The suggested conveyer-belt might have been used for transportation of all the building materials for the levels between the Queen’s Chamber and the King’s Chamber. The conveyer-belt had to be gradually extended for every layer of stones in the pyramid. The easiest way to build a layer would probably be to start by placing the polished corner stones carefully, then place the rest of the polished casing stones. Then the rest of the layer could be filled up with non-polished blocks except the area above the conveyer-belt.

How were the blocks brought up to the start of the conveyer-belt in the Grand Gallery?.
We don’t know how, but we can see that the ascending passage leading up to the Grand Gallery has the same direction and the same breadth as the floor of the Grand Gallery. The length of the ascending passage is 39 m and the transversal height is 1.20 m. It is possible that the ascending passage is the remains of a former conveyer-belt, which we will call the first. Figure on left shows a diagram of the ascending passage. We see that the upper part is regularly built, but we have to look at the irregular parts, which are remains from the previous function of the passage. In the walls we find twelve inlaid stopRf4nes in the same distance from the floor as the inlaid stones of the Grand Gallery. The inlaid stones are mainly placed in blocks so large that it would be more work to remove the block and make a whole new block than to inlay stones in the holes. It is probable that the holes with the inlaid stones were used for beams just like the holes in the second conveyer-belt in the Grand Gallery. Apparently the two conveyer-belts were different. There were no ramps in the first one. The wall stones with vertical edges are probably original, and they all have a horizontal edge besides. This gives us a hint that the walls of the conveyer-belt were originally built on top of these stones. The fourth girdle probably resembles the original look of the girdles the best. It is formed out of a single stone in order to stabilise the construction. Another purpose could be support for the beams or for a bridge. The top of the girdle was more narrow to make room for the levers. In both sides part of the fourth girdle is replaced with stones with slanting edges. The reason for the repair could be to remove the holes for the beams. The inlaid stones show that there were two beams beside each other. In this way, the people pulling on top of the conveyer-belt could control the lever. Because of the lack of a ramp, there would not be room for people working
at the bottom. Between the third and the fourth girdle there are indications of two pairs of levers. The distance between the girdles is 5.2 m, a little less than 10 cubits. At the first conveyer-belt every pair of levers had to pull 5 cubits of the conveyer-belt, which is considerably more than the 3 cubits at the second conveyer-belt. Probably this could be done by four men at the top of every pair of levers. Since the men at the bottom were saved, the total amount of labour was the same.
An objection to the theory could be that some of the original wall stones don’t have inlaid stones where they should have. The answer to this is that some of the original stones have been cut again and even moved to another place when the ascending passage had been built. An example of the new cutting is a wall stone in the upper part of the east wall. The stone is regularly cut, but it has two inlaid stones. Between the fourth girdle and the granite plug, two inlaid stones give a clear indication of a pair of levers. The rest of this part of the ascending passage is not accurately investigated because extensive exfoliation has taken place. (Edgar,
1910, page 232).
From the upper end of the Grand Gallery the materials had to be brought further up. A way to do this would be to have a third conveyer-belt with the same ascending angle. The upper end of it would be near the south surface of the pyramid. The height of the end is about 50% of the height of the pyramid, but the volume is 87.5% of volume of the pyramid. Except for the small part on top of the conveyer-belt all this building material could be brought up with the
interior conveyer-belts. The remaining 12.5% had to be brought up on the surface of the pyramid. Probably the transportation at the surface began at an early stage and was responsible for much more transportation. The first reason for building the Grand Gallery
was the transportation of the huge blocks for the King’s Chamber. Nevertheless the interior conveyer-belts are responsible for far the most of the transportation of building material. The Great Pyramid could not have been built without the use of them. См. далее...