Scientists, explorers and even practitioners of the occult have debated for years over the question, “How did the Egyptians build the pyramids?” Not all the ancient Egyptians’ construction methods are crystal clear, but archaeologists and scientists have clarified some of them through studies, archaeological digs and science.
How The Pyramids Were Built
The pyramids as we know them today took hundreds of years for Egyptians to master. The first pyramids were rectangular structures called “mastabas.”1 These early pyramid precursors date back more than 5,000 years. Major advancements in pyramid development were made during the reign of Pharaoh Djoser starting in 2630 B.C. The construction of his mastaba initially began according to tradition, but the design changed mid-construction to a six-layered step pyramid, complete with underground tunnels and chambers.
Pyramid construction design reached its apex during Pharaoh Khufu’s reign. Khufu’s father, Snefru, experienced a series of flaws in the construction of his pyramids, leading to slanted pyramids that leaned toward one side. However, Snefru’s architects learned from their mistakes and honed their technique to create perfectly angled pyramids. Khufu’s architects adopted their predecessors’ techniques, and built the largest pyramid in the world – the great pyramid of Giza. To build their pyramids, Egyptians harvested granite from large quarries and fashioned them into stone blocks. They were extracted using pounding stones of dolerite, many of which were discovered lying around ancient quarry sites. Unearthed papyri from the reign of Khufu revealed that a high-ranking official, called a vizier, was assigned by the pharaoh to plan and oversee pyramid construction. Khufu’s vizier was his half-brother Ankhhaf, although scholars believe another vizier named Hemiunu led pyramid construction itself. Viziers were also in charge of planning the placement of surrounding tombs, temples, boat pits and cemeteries.
The most puzzling aspect of pyramid construction is how the Egyptians moved these massive stones into place, especially as the height of the pyramids grew taller with every layer. Research has proven that Egyptians used large sledges to transport the heavy stones up earthen ramps in the initial stages of construction. However, the ramp’s designs remain unknown, as little evidence exists of their construction.
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