It’s long plagued Egyptologists and mechanical engineers and created many sleepless nights for Geek Slop – how did the Egyptians move those massive 2 ½ ton stones that were used to create their magnificent pyramids? Scientists from the University of Amsterdam believe they have figured it out – and the answer has been right in front of our faces all along.
Some scientists think Egyptians laid down huge logs and rolled the massive stones across the logs. But those scientists have never stood in the middle of the Egyptian desert, stared at the endless sea of sand, and notice that, hey, there are no trees here!
Other scientists have theorized that ancient Egyptians hauled their heavy cargo using some kind of sled. But the problem with this method is that a sled, even with upturned edges, digs into the sand, building up a sand berm that must be cleared away after traveling only a few feet. But guess what? Wet sand doesn’t do this.
The Amsterdam scientists believe the ancient Egyptians used water to wet the sand in front of the sled to prevent the sand from “berming”. The water cuts the force required to drag the sled by forming what are known as capillary bridges – little, tiny drops of water that bind the grains of sand together through capillary action.
The scientists built a little mini desert in the lab and tested their theory. Sure enough, the wet sand cut the force required to drag the sled *in half*.
Then the scientist wondered why no ancient Egyptian drawings had been discovered showing the wily Egyptians wetting the sand while dragging their huge stones around the desert. They dug through a few drawings and viola – there it was. The drawing below, which depicts Egyptian slaves towing a huge stone statue, clearly shows a man riding on the front of the sled and pouring water on the sand below.
The mystery has been solved and now the scientists can move on to more important research (like how to win at Rock-Paper-Scissors).
By the way, if you always pictured the pyramids as three huge, lone objects out in the middle of a vast desert, we’ve got news for you – your perspective is off. Most pictures are taken from the “city side” of the pyramids and show the vast desert beyond the pyramids making it appear as if the pyramids are sitting out in the middle of the desert. In reality however, the pyramids are located on the outskirts of the city of Cairo.
Below are some interesting pictures of the Sphinx and Great Pyramids taken from different perspectives. Click the picture for a bigger view.
In-Article Image CreditsDesert road next to the Great Pyramid of Giza via Wikimedia Commons with usage type - Creative Commons License
Sphinx and the Great Pyramid of Giza via Wikimedia Commons with usage type - Creative Commons License
Great Pyramid of Giza via Wikimedia Commons with usage type - Creative Commons License. 2010
Great Pyramid of Giza seen from city via Wikimedia Commons by Ad Meskens with usage type - Creative Commons License. August 17, 2011
The Pyramid of Cheops and the Pyramid of Chepren via Wikimedia Commons with usage type - Creative Commons License. September 16, 2014
Great Pyramid of Giza as seen from the air via Wikimedia Commons with usage type - Public Domain. US Department of State - May 18, 2016
Great Pyramid of Giza lit up at night via Wikimedia Commons by Jerzy Strzelecki with usage type - GNU Free
Great Pyramids of Giza via Wikimedia Commons by Jerzy Strzelecki with usage type - GNU Free
Great Pyramid of Giza seen from the city of Giza via Wikimedia Commons with usage type - Creative Commons License. July 21, 2008
Great Pyramid of Giza as seen from the city via Wikimedia Commons with usage type - Creative Commons License
Ruins near the Great Pyramid of Giza via Wikimedia Commons by Les Anderson with usage type - Creative Commons License. February 13, 2017
Featured Image Creditvia with usage type -