Has the riddle of how the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids finally been solved? A multi-national team of experts say yes after they unearthed an ancient ramp, which they say was used to haul giant blocks into place.
Despite centuries of research into the pyramids of Giza, there has still been no definitive explanation as to how the ancient Egyptians cut, transported, and assembled millions of limestone and granite blocks, each weighing an average of 2.3 metric tons.
“For the construction of the pyramids, there is no single theory that is 100% proven or checked; They are all theories and hypotheses,” said Hany Helal, Vice President of the Heritage Innovation Preservation institute. But many have speculated that ramps played a very important role in the construction of pyramids such as the three world-famous pyramids at Giza.
A combined team of archaeologists from the French Institute for Oriental Archaeology based in Cairo and the University of Liverpool from the UK were excavating at the Hatnub alabaster quarry, which is near Luxor.
It was here, according to Science Alert, that they found a ‘4,500-year-old ramp’ that was apparently used to move blocks of alabaster cut from the steep slopes of the quarry.
The archaeologists believe that they have discovered the Egyptian system for moving the large building blocks based on their investigations in the quarry.
This system involved the construction of a large ramp, which was lined by flights of stairs on each side where large wooden posts were fixed.
The co-director of the excavation told Live Science that the archaeologists believe that a ‘sled carried a stone block’ and was tied to the wooden posts on the stairs. By pulling on the ropes, workmen could maneuver the stone down the ramp. The system, using wooden poles, ropes, and gravity, allowed huge blocks to be taken out of the quarry.
Fox News reports that ‘this kind of system has never been discovered anywhere else”. The Anglo-French team, with the support of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, investigated the tool marks and linked them to some inscriptions found in the quarry.
The archaeologists believe that the ramp dates back to the reign of the Pharaoh Khufu (died 2566 BC) who constructed the Great Pyramid at Giza.
The main stone used in the construction of the pyramids was limestone, and according to Live Science, the ‘ramp system could contain some vital clues as to how the Egyptians moved the stone and how they were able to place huge blocks on the side of the pyramid.
This was not the only important find at the alabaster quarry. During their excavation, the experts found a large number of inscriptions marking the visits of Pharaohs to the quarry, indicating its importance in royal building projects.
The team has also uncovered four stone slabs (stele) with some inscriptions that are illegible. They also found some of the huts that once sheltered the quarry workers. There are conservation efforts being undertaken to protect the inscriptions and the structures.