Archaeological Findings

How was the Great Pyramid of Giza constructed?
Answered by Science Channel
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  1. The Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt was finished more than 4,500 years ago. Still, it's the only one of the Seven Wonders of the World that still remains today [source: Brier]. That's one well constructed pyramid. Who deserves the credit? Historians know that the brother of the pharaoh oversaw the project. That pharaoh was Khufu, who ruled Egypt from about 2547 - 2524 B.C. His brother Hemienu has the pyramid built to house Khufu's future tomb, but he had to have help.

    The Giza pyramid was the largest of the Great Pyramids. Archaeologists believe that 2.3 million limestone blocks, around 5,500 pounds (2,495 kilograms) each, were put in place by from 20,000 to 100,000 laborers (not slaves) working to get tax money after finishing the work of the harvest. Even with that many people, however, some ingenuity was required in the absence of today's motors and mechanics. The blocks -- set without mortar -- were fitted so tightly that there was no room even for a knife blade.

    Debating just how the laborers moved and set the pyramid's blocks has kept archaeologists and historians busy for hundreds -- even thousands -- of years. The Greek historian Herodotus lived in Egypt in about 450 B.C. He mentioned machines used to raise the blocks; subsequent theories have included use of levers, wood sleds and ropes made of papyrus to pull the blocks along ramps to their locations. Each theory has had its drawbacks. For example, an external ramp would have to have been a mile long to reach the pyramid's height at a reasonable grade [source: Connor].

    In 2007, French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin proposed a theory that involved use of an internal spiral ramp system [source: Connor]. Using 3-D software, Houdin reconstructed how he believed Hemienu and his laborers may have accomplished this feat. He believes the pyramid was built in stages, the first using an external ramp, and the second an internal ramp. There is some evidence to support Houdin's theory -- a microgravity test performed in 1986 showed there was a structure inside the pyramid that is less dense than the rest of Great Pyramid. This less-dense structure has a spiral shape [source: Brier].

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