Ancient engineering: how egyptians built the Giza Pyramids

The Giza pyramids were built along an ancient, now-buried Nile artery, which facilitated the transportation of stones, a study published in Communications Earth & Environment

The Pyramids of Giza stand as some of the most iconic monuments in the world. Yet, how did the ancient Egyptians manage to construct these colossal structures in such a harsh environment? A recent discovery has unveiled a secret beneath the desert sands: an ancient Nile artery that could reshape our understanding of their construction.

Ancient egyptian engineering

The Giza pyramid complex was erected over nearly 1,000 years, with some structures dating back more than 4,500 years. Located between the ancient cities of Giza and Lisht, this area now lies on the edge of Egypt’s Western Desert. The region’s hostile environment has long puzzled archaeologists, who have wondered how Egyptian laborers moved the 2.5-ton blocks that make up the pyramids.

In 2014, researchers from the University of Amsterdam suggested that the workers employed sophisticated engineering techniques. They based their hypothesis on a wall painting in the tomb of Djehutihotep, built around 1900 B.C., which depicts laborers transporting stones. The researchers speculated that wetting the sand reduced friction, making it easier to move the blocks.

According to the painting, each block required the effort of 172 men—a monumental task considering the nearest quarry was less than a mile from the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The role of water

A study published in Communications Earth & Environment proposes that the Egyptians utilized water to lighten their load. The study’s lead author, Eman Ghoneim, an Egyptian-American geomorphologist from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, examined satellite images of the Western Desert and conducted geological surveys. Ghoneim discovered a watercourse that once flowed through the pyramid complex, now buried and isolated.

Ghoneim and her co-authors hypothesize that this watercourse, which they suggest naming “Ahramat” after the Egyptian word for pyramids, was buried under the sands during a severe drought around 4,200 years ago. It appears that the Egyptian laborers dug roads connecting the Ahramat to various construction sites, reducing the distance they had to transport the stones by human force.

Source: Nature

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