Re: Pyramidiocy (was Re: Strange Maths)

Whittet (
1 Aug 1995 15:40:34 GMT

In article <>, says...
> (Nathaniel Tagg) wrote:
>>Kevin D. Quitt ( wrote:
>>: Moving the blocks that make up the pyramids is no big deal.
>>: Imagine a pair of wooden wheels on a short, thick axle. The
>>: axle is the carved (or partially carved) block, and the wheels
>>: are circles with a large square cut out of the middle.
>>Actually, the case is much harder than this. Those blocks wiegh
>>several tonnes each; wood axles can snap under the load. More
>>important is lifting these stones several stories up without the aid of a
>>modern crane.
>No, you've missed the point. The wood is the wheel. The axle is the
>stone. There is no need for a crane, since the blocks can easily be
>rolled up a ramp.
>> They had to invent some pretty interesting techniques to do it;
>>it wasn't simple.
>Au contraire--it's simplicity itself.

Not quite. While Vitruvius in the "Ten Books on Architecure" tells us that
the Greek Chersiphron did use the method of turning a stone into its own
axle to move heavy stone columns for the temple of Diana at Ephesus, and
was successful in enclosing the columns with 4" timbers and check pieces
at the ends with ringed pivots so the stone could be drawn by oxen and
rolled on its own axis, an attempt by Paconius to make another machine of
a different sort, although on the same principle was unsuccessful and
resulted in his financial embarassment and insolvency.

It also would not work except on a flat plane and for a relatively
short distance.

The problem of lifting 5 ton blocks up a 14:11 slope reguired the use of
a crane because a ramp long enough, high enough, and broad enough at its
base to offer adequate support for the loads would have required several
times more work to build than the pyramid itself, and then as much work
again to dismantle.

Those who think either that the problem was simple, or that the solution
was easy might observe the methods we use to build buildings today. Some
projects take as much as a quarter of a century to plan and finance.

By the time contractors arrive on the site to begin their work they have to
know that every material and method they intend to use will be adequate to
is task. They depend on a preplanned choreography of activity that makes
a stage production pale in comparison.

The Egyptians may have dragged monumental sculptures and obelisks weighing
hundreds of tons on sledges, (once they had prepared a smooth limestone
slipway on which to pull them), because this was more or less a one shot deal
and time would not have been a factor.

Once it comes to moving hundreds of thousands of such blocks, imagine a long
line of men in harness holding their blocks in place on a long ramp while one
or more of the blocks ahead of them inch incrementally forward like cars on
an expressway at rush hour. No way to stop and take a break without holding
up those in line behind you.

A better solution would have been to lift the blocks up the face of the pyramid
in stages using simple counterweighted beams on tripods. No ramp would have been
required. At most some staging.

>Kevin D Quitt