Re: Pyramidiocy (was Re: Strange Maths)

Whittet (
27 Jul 1995 05:39:48 GMT

In article <3v6u7d$>, says...
>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. With
>: such a device, a single person could move the block several miles
>: in a single day (on a hrad, flat road). By wrapping ropes around
>: the block, attached to points on the wheels, you can drag the whole
>: thing on sand, uphill, etc. Make the wheels fat for soft ground
>: and narrower for hard ground.
>: Mystery solved. Now go home.

A method very similar to this was described by Vituvius for transporting
some huge stone columns from a quarry to the temple where they were to be

In the first case the contractor using four inch timbers joined two of
them each as long as the shaft, with two crosspieces set between them,
dovetailing all together and then leaded iron gudgeons shaped like
dovetails into the ends of the shafts as dowels are leaded and in the
woodwork he fixed rings to contain the pivots and fastened wooden cheeks
to the ends.

The pivots being enclosed in the rings turned freely so when yokes of oxen
began to draw the 4 inch frame, they made the shaft revolve constantly.

His son made wheels about 12 feet in diameter and attached them to the
architraves of a column which became the axle.

In another case the contractor made wheels about 15 feet in diameter
and in those wheels he encased the ends of a stone which again became
its own axle but this time he used crosspieces between the wheels
wrapped a rope around it and managed to move a block 12 feet x 8 feet
x 6 feet, which at 150 lbs a cubic foot would have weighed 86,400 lbs.
> 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.
> I saw a PBS show a couple of years ago where they attempted to
>build a small (10' high) pyramid with similar technology. They managed
>to do it. Firstly, you use a clay and timber ramp system. The ramp has
>railroad ties along it, crosways, and the 'brick' is on a wooden sled.
>With a little water applied to the wood and clay, there is little
>friction and you can haul them up the ramp with a dozen people or so.
>Also, you can lever up a brick (one side lifted by lever, shove in a
>wedge, lift the other side, shove it a wedge, etc) to lift it vertically.

This was the program where after this little demonstration of the
archaeologists idea, the mason used a backhoe to get the rest of the
blocks in place.
> They had to invent some pretty interesting techniques to do it;
>it wasn't simple.

To lift a heavy stone you use several counterweighted cranes which lift
one end at a time, dividing the load in two, and then place cribbing and
do the other end. There is an interesting example given by Budge of a
Pharoah who to ensure the gentle lifting of an important obelisk had his
son tied to the top while it was lifted.
>--- Nathaniel
>Nathaniel Tagg