May 02, 2014

Solved! How Ancient Egyptians Moved Massive Pyramid Stones


It does say "may have", so will we ever know for sure? I doubt it.

The bigger question is:
How did they raise the huge blocks to such heights? Even if today's technology were ever to be used to replicate the pyramids it would still present quite a challenge.
The ancient Egyptians who built the pyramids may have been able to move massive stone blocks across the desert by wetting the sand in front of a contraption built to pull the heavy objects, according to a new study.

Physicists at the University of Amsterdam investigated the forces needed to pull weighty objects on a giant sled over desert sand, and discovered that dampening the sand in front of the primitive device reduces friction on the sled, making it easier to operate. The findings help answer one of the most enduring historical mysteries: how the Egyptians were able to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of constructing the famous pyramids.

To make their discovery, the researchers picked up on clues from the ancient Egyptians themselves. A wall painting discovered in the ancient tomb of Djehutihotep, which dates back to about 1900 B.C., depicts 172 men hauling an immense statue using ropes attached to a sledge. In the drawing, a person can be seen standing on the front of the sledge, pouring water over the sand, said study lead author Daniel Bonn, a physics professor at the University of Amsterdam. [Photos: Amazing Discoveries at Egypt's Giza Pyramids

"Egyptologists thought it was a purely ceremonial act," Bonn told Live Science. "The question was: Why did they do it?"

Bonn and his colleagues constructed miniature sleds and experimented with pulling heavy objects through trays of sand.

When the researchers dragged the sleds over dry sand, they noticed clumps would build up in front of the contraptions, requiring more force to pull them across.

Adding water to the sand, however, increased its stiffness, and the sleds were able to glide more easily across the surface. This is because droplets of water create bridges between the grains of sand, which helps them stick together, the scientists said. 

It is also the same reason why using wet sand to build a sandcastle is easier than using dry sand, Bonn said.

"If you use dry sand, it won't work as well, but if the sand is too wet, it won't work either," Bonn said. "There's an optimum stiffness."

The amount of water necessary depends on the type of sand, he added, but typically the optimal amount falls between 2 percent and 5 percent of the volume of sand.

"It turns out that wetting Egyptian desert sand can reduce the friction by quite a bit, which implies you need only half of the people to pull a sledge on wet sand, compared to dry sand," Bonn said.

The study, published April 29 in the journal Physical Review Letters, may explain how the ancient Egyptians constructed the pyramids, but the research also has modern-day applications, the scientists said. 

The findings could help researchers understand the behavior of other granular materials, such as asphalt, concrete or coal, which could lead to more efficient ways to transport these resources.

Follow Denise Chow on Twitter @denisechow. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+.

Original article on Live Science.

Related posts: 

Archaeologists Digging Up Cecile B DeMille's Movie Treasures
Tuthmosis-era Temple Found Under Egyptian House 

China's Lost Civilization: The Mystery Of Sanxingdui
Symbolic Tomb of Egyptian God Osiris Found
Some Rare and Important Archaeological Finds
Easter Island: Scientists Are Closer To Understanding What Wiped Out Its Society
Relief of Queen Nefertiti
Unique Mosaic Images Uncovered in Fifth-Century Synagogue
Philip of Macedonia, Greece’s Ancient King, Found
England’s Lost Colonists ‘Went Native’ In America
The Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain
The Antikythera Mechanism: Second Expedition Seeks More Mechanism Remains 
 Discovery Of Ancient Cave Paintings In Petra
Scientists Find ‘Superhenge’ That Could Be Five Times The Area Of Stonehenge
Rome Reborn – An Amazing Digital Model of Ancient Rome
A Day in Pompeii 
King Tut’s Egyptian Tomb May Hide Queen Nefertiti 
Gem-Filled Warrior's Tomb Discovered in Ancient Greek City
Amenhotep’s Fragmented Book Of The Dead Found 
Acra: Ancient Citadel Unearthed In Jerusalem 
Glastonbury Legends, King Arthur’s ‘Grave’, Made Up For Cash By Monks 
Is Queen Nefertiti Buried In King Tutankhaman’s Tomb? - Latest News
King Hezekiah's Seal Impression Found
Spanish Galleon San Jose Discovered Laden With Treasure Off Colombia 
Has The Lost Island Of Kane Been Found?
'Britain's Pompeii' Found at Bronze Age Settlement  
Babylonians Tracked Jupiter with Fancy Math, Tablet Reveals 
New Clues to Ancient Roman Art Discovered in Egyptian Mummy Portraits
Ancestral Puebloans Were Hit By Boom and Bust
 Bible Breakthrough Found In Israel
Nefertiti Still Missing: King Tut's Tomb Shows No Hidden Chambers