May 14, 2012

Egyptian Pyramid Construction Part 1

Egyptian Pyramid Construction
Existing records throw little light upon the lives, habits and customs of the pharaohs of the Old Kingdom. And virtually nothing is know about the method of construction of the pyramids and lesser subsidiary buildings within each pyramid complex of that period.

Ancient Egyptian Pyramids
Egyptologists can only make educated guesses about the construction methods employed by the pyramid builders. Close scrutiny of each building and of the available tools, combined with assumptions of practicability and present expert knowledge of masonry have led archaeologists to develop theories about pyramid, and general, building construction. Unfortunately, these theories are now accepted as fact, even though there is no irrefutable proof that any of the massive structures built in the Old Kingdom, or before, were actually erected in the manner that the Egyptologists claim they were.

Most of the pyramids were built on the west bank of the Nile, on high ground so that the complex would not be flooded when the Nile rose, and yet close enough so that the workers could have access to the river, on which were shipped the building stones from the quarries. Presently, the inundations of the Nile bring the pyramids at Dahshur about a mile from the river’s bank, while the Giza pyramids are only one-quarter mile away, and the pyramid at Meidum is only three city blocks from the river’s edge.

Another seemingly apparent reason for the choice of the west bank as the construction site is that the underlying rock foundation of the chosen site had to be solid, with no faults, or else the entire complex would have collapsed, perhaps even while under construction. The Egyptians must have been the world’s best geologists, far superior to those of today, since they were able to determine that the west bank of the Nile was the correct site for the pyramid complex. The amount of technical expertise required to determine that the huge area had a solid rock foundation is immense, and requires fantastically extensive knowledge in the many fields associated with proper geological surveying.

It is reasoned by the Egyptologists that the ancient Egyptians constructed the pyramid complex on the west bank of the Nile because they wanted to be as close as possible to the setting sun. Since the setting of the sun symbolized death, this reasoning strikes us as a bit farfetched if they had positioned the pyramids for symbolic significance, it would have made more sense for them to build them on the east bank (symbolizing birth) so that their pharaohs would be closer to rebirth and so that they themselves could [ be close to the birth or rebirth of their gods.

We can only conclude that the Egyptians chose the pyramid sites not for symbolic reasons but for practical ones.

Having determined the construction site, the builders then had to clear hundreds if not thousands of acres of sand and stone from the surface covering the solid rock foundation. The foundation itself then had to be levelled and smoothed. The levelling was so exact that the Great Pyramid is out of level by less than half an inch. Over the course of 765 feet, one-half inch deviation is, by any reckoning, negligible. One-half inch equals 1 /24 feet, or approximately 0.05 feet. This means an error of only 0.05/750 or 0.007 percent. Such a slight deviation from accuracy rivals inaccuracies existing in most edifices constructed today.

It is believed that the site was cleared by the manual labor of upwards of hundreds of thousands of people, and the levelling was accomplished by cutting trenches into the natural rock foundation, filling these trenches with water and damming them up. The foundation was then honed down until it was level with the water. The trenches were then undammed and filled in with solid stone.

The next stage was to survey the area in order to insure that the base would be perfectly square, or rectangular, and that each side would be in line with each cardinal point. To align the building along either the north-south axis or the east-west axis would actually require the surveyors to locate only one side; the remaining three sides would then automatically be positioned correctly. Several aspects of this alignment must be assumed, because there is no surviving evidence of instruments used for this purpose. In fact, it appears that even the compass was unknown at that time.


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