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  • Historians have long puzzled over how the ancient Egyptians

  • built the pyramids.

  • Even just figuring out how they lifted and moved

  • the immense granite blocks, some of which

  • weighed dozens of tons, has proven extremely difficult.

  • The tale emerging is one of a culture

  • with great skill, ingenuity, and determination

  • to leave a mark on the world.

  • Today we're going to take a look at how the ancient Egyptians

  • built the pyramids.

  • Before we get started, be sure to subscribe

  • to the Weird History Channel.

  • And let us know what ancient mystery you

  • would like to hear more about.

  • All right, here's one to build on.

  • The pyramids of Giza were constructed

  • over 4,000 years ago.

  • So it's natural to assume the passage of time

  • is why the methods behind the construction

  • remain so mysterious.

  • While that's partially true, scholars now

  • believe that it's also likely the ancient Egyptians

  • deliberately tried to conceal those methods.

  • Egyptologist Kara Cooney points out that, as much as anything

  • else, the pyramids were works of propaganda.

  • Part of their purpose was to prove

  • the other-worldly and godlike nature of their kings.

  • The sense that these structures were

  • impossible for mere mortals or other rulers to build

  • was a key part of that illusion.

  • So concealing the secrets behind their construction

  • would have been paramount.

  • For many people, the first question

  • that pops to mind when contemplating

  • the construction of the pyramids is, how did they

  • move those giant stones?

  • The answer begins right in the quarries

  • where the granite was taken from.

  • The quarries were filled with natural obelisks of rock.

  • Workers would identify one of these obelisks

  • and then remove the ground around it.

  • The process began by chipping away

  • at the weathered upper layers of the rock.

  • Then they would dig deep trenches

  • around the obelisk to free it from the rest of the ground.

  • Next, the workers would clear a path to one side

  • so that the cut stone could be pushed out horizontally,

  • as opposed to being lifted out vertically.

  • We know this is how they really did it because archaeologists

  • have uncovered a single unfinished obelisk which,

  • for unknown reasons, was abandoned midway

  • through the process of extraction.

  • Even in modern times, quarry and granite

  • and cutting it into a usable shape

  • for construction is extremely difficult.

  • This has led many to wonder how the ancient Egyptians were

  • able to accomplish the task with such precision.

  • While there is still much to be learned,

  • one theory has some compelling physical evidence backing it

  • up.

  • Egyptologists believe the ancients

  • used a very clever method which involves punching holes

  • in the rock with an iron chisel and then stuffing

  • those holes with wooden wedges.

  • The wedges would be drenched with water,

  • which would cause them to expand until they

  • split the rock itself.

  • Then the workers would chisel those fissures

  • until the stone was in the shape of a block.

  • As previously mentioned, the ancient Egyptians

  • made every effort to keep the methods behind pyramid

  • construction a secret.

  • However, some evidence and documentation

  • has survived, including the papyrus diary

  • of a worker named Merer.

  • Merer's diary, along with other sources,

  • hint at a culture with a deep and meaningful understanding

  • of physics.

  • This knowledge allowed the Egyptians

  • to create planes, wedges, pulleys, and levers--

  • different kinds of simple machines.

  • Construction of the pyramids was enabled by the ability

  • to employ these simple machines on a massive scale

  • with incredible creativity and ingenuity.

  • Once the massive obelisks were cut from the ground,

  • the workers faced an even bigger challenge,

  • getting the blocks out of the quarry.

  • Scholars have long wondered how the ancients were

  • able to lift these blocks, which could weigh dozens of tons,

  • without the use of advanced machinery.

  • Recent archaeological discoveries

  • at an alabaster quarry in eastern Egypt

  • suggest that the workers used a simple, but ingenious ramp

  • and rope system to move the blocks.

  • It worked like this.

  • An upwards ramp was built with an adjacent staircase

  • on both sides.

  • Posts would be set at the holes dug into the staircase

  • at regular intervals.

  • The block would then be placed on a flat sled.

  • Finally, the workers would attach ropes to the block

  • and pull them over the poles using them as axles.

  • The net effect was to cause the block to slide up the ramp.

  • While it is important to note that this evidence comes

  • from a quarry that was not used in the construction

  • of the pyramids, it's still likely

  • that the same methods and technologies were used.

  • Quarrying the blocks was extremely difficult

  • and lifting them out of the quarries, even more so.

  • But those challenges were nothing

  • compared to what came next, transporting the quarry

  • blocks across miles of desert to the construction site at Giza.

  • The task was daunting, but they figured out

  • a way to make it easy by using toboggans.

  • Yes, evidence shows that the ancient Egyptians

  • used rudimentary sledges to move the massive stones

  • across the sands.

  • These sledges were simple, flat surfaces with upturned edges

  • that could glide right over the dunes.

  • Well, almost.

  • The extreme weight of the block's

  • complicated the process by causing the sledges to dig

  • into the sand.

  • But once again, the ancients had a simple, but effective

  • solution to the problem, water.

  • Living in the desert, the Egyptians

  • had long known that wet sand was firmer and therefore,

  • able to carry a heavier load than dry sand.

  • That being the case, the workers likely

  • used water right out of the Nile River

  • to wet the path ahead of them.

  • This theory is based on a wall painting found in a tomb that

  • shows the process in action.

  • Previous scholars interpreted the water

  • pouring as ceremonial, but later researchers

  • suspected it might have had a more practical purpose.

  • The method, which was eventually tested by researchers

  • from the University of Amsterdam,

  • was found to be very effective.

  • The ability to drag granite blocks through the desert sands

  • was necessary, but labor intensive.

  • In order to help ease certain stretches of the journey,

  • the Egyptians probably installed fixed tracks in some areas.

  • Archaeologists have found evidence of these tracks

  • in several locations.

  • Like everything else the builders did, the method

  • was simple, but effective.

  • Round logs were laid down and used as rails for the granite

  • blocks to slide along.

  • Areas that required moving uphill

  • were likely traversed with help from the same rope

  • and pulley systems used in the quarries.

  • These sites have also yielded traces of oils and animal

  • fats, which scholars suspect were used as lubricants.

  • While heavier stones needed to be moved over land,

  • lighter blocks that were 15 tons or less

  • were often floated to their destination.

  • The papyrus diary of an Egyptian official involved

  • in the process refers to a series

  • of canals connected to the Nile that were used

  • for precisely this purpose.

  • The diary records that wooden boats latched together

  • with ropes would be used to ferry

  • the blocks from their quarry in Tura to the plateau at Giza.

  • While the designs of the canals were sophisticated enough

  • to include artificial ports for loading and unloading,

  • they only functioned during the summer

  • when the Nile was flooded.

  • Despite all of this information, there's

  • still so much we don't know about the construction

  • of the pyramids.

  • One of those things is the design

  • of the ramps that were used to pull granite

  • blocks from quarries and elevate the blocks into place once they

  • reached their final destination.

  • Scientists have suggested numerous possibilities

  • for the design of these ramps from the incredibly simple

  • to the surprisingly complex.

  • Each of those suggestions have pros and cons,

  • but in the absence of additional evidence turning up,

  • there is no current basis on which to determine once

  • and for all, which might be right.

  • Some of the best evidence we have about the ramp

  • construction comes to us very recently via modern technology.

  • A high tech scanning process known as muography

  • was used on the Great Pyramid of Giza.

  • The scan detected a mysterious deep gap in the pyramid

  • that some theorize is the remnant of a construction ramp

  • that was used to build the pyramid from the inside out.

  • Because the area is virtually inaccessible,

  • archaeologists have not yet been able to examine

  • it more closely.

  • Questions still remain about how some of these lighter stones

  • might have been moved when the Nile wasn't flooded

  • or for the construction of pyramids not located

  • near water.

  • Joseph West of Indiana State University has a guess.

  • West theorizes that if the Egyptians attached three rods

  • to each side of the blocks, 12 in total,

  • it would transform the block into a dodecagon that could

  • easily be rolled up the ramps.

  • He tested his theory with an experiment,

  • which showed that the method not only worked, but significantly

  • reduced the effort needed to move the large blocks around.

  • How significantly?

  • Enough so that a single person could push the block

  • a considerable distance.

  • However, while the concepts involved

  • were known to the Egyptians and their knowledge of physics

  • made it plausible they could have figured it out,

  • there is no direct evidence they used this method.

  • Going back to the days of the Bible in Herodotus,

  • it is believed that the pyramids were

  • built on the backs of hundreds of thousands of slave laborers.

  • Modern archaeologists, however, aren't so sure.

  • Evidence gathered from the tomb to the workers

  • suggest a fairly different scenario.

  • First, there were far fewer workers

  • than were previously believed.

  • Rather than number in the hundreds of thousands,

  • scholars now believe the number was closer to 10,000 or so.

  • Moreover, those workers were clearly

  • of a higher social status than that associated with slaves.

  • Combined with the evidence of the technology and ingenuity

  • used in the transportation of the materials and construction

  • itself, Egyptologists now believe the workers

  • who built the pyramids were highly

  • skilled creative artisans.

  • Are you impressed by the construction of the pyramids?

  • Let us guess, you still think aliens?

  • Oh, boy.

  • Let us know in the comments below.

  • And while you're at it, check out some of these other videos

  • from our Weird History.

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How the Egyptians Built the Pyramids

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    joey joey posted on 2021/05/21
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