June 7, 2012

Egyptian Pyramid Construction Part 3

One of these Egyptologists, Olaf Tellefsen, claims that the Egyptians did not use a ramp and sledge to construct the Pyramid, and that it required only about 3,000 construction workers to raise the Pyramid. Engineer Tellefsen bases his argument on his observation of three men moving large stones to the edge of the river Nile. The men were using a primitive piece of engineering equipment a long weight arm. The weight arm was about 18 feet long and was pivoted at the 3 foot point by a fulcrum about 6 feet high. The longer arm had a platform attached to it, upon which rocks were placed at counterweight. Rocks would then be piled on to the platform until they would begin to lift the estimated 2 ton stone. Then the men had no difficulty in swinging and applying their own force to the arm until the block of stone was in proper position over rollers. The counterweight of rocks was then removed until the stone block settled onto the rollers and the remaining rocks were then dumped. Two of the men then began to push the block of stone with wooden levers while the third shifted the rollers. Tellefsen concluded that he had witnessed an engineering feat which the three men had inherited from the past. From this he envisioned an entire pyramid complex built using the lever arm principle in the same way as those three men had. He further envisioned adaptation of the lever arm principle that would have moved stone blocks laterally as well as vertically. Tellefsen does not discuss the quarrying, dressing or transportation of the blocks of stone, nor does he mention the length of time his conception of the Pyramid construction would have taken the Egyptians. He simply attempts to explain from a fresh point of view, the possible engineering process employed in building the Pyramid and claims that Herodotus’ description of how the Egyptians built the pyramid actually applies only to the final casing stones and not to the entire structure.

Ancient Egyptian Pyramids
Kent Weeks and I. E. S. Edwards, two noted Egyptologists, take strong exception to Olaf Tellefsen’s theory and cling to the ramp and sledge explanation.

According to Weeks, there is considerable evidence favoring the use of ramps and sledges to build pyramids. He bases this contention on the tomb paintings of the Eighteenth Dynasty depicting a ramp used in the erection of columns in a temple courtyard, and the discovery of the remains of ramps at several dig sites, including Giza. These ramps, found near pyramids, had a slope of about 15 degrees, which Weeks claims is “an eminently manageable angle up which to pull blocks.” He also cites an Old Kingdom record stating that 3,000 men were required to haul a sarcophagus lid from the quarry to the Nile. It is estimated that there was a population of approximately 1.5 to 2 million during the Old Kingdom period. Weeks suggests that the claims of Herodotus that over 400,000 people were involved in building the Pyramid were somewhat exaggerated since this would mean that about one- third of the existing population was employed in pyramid building. Instead, Weeks believes that an estimated figure of 100,000 men is more realistic.

The most conservative of the three, I. E. S. Edwards, clings to the theories propounded by earlier Egyptologists. He states that since these theories are based on actual archaeological finds, it is pointless to dispute them unless or until new archaeological evidence is uncovered which would compel revision of traditional thinking on the subject.

Edwards also states that there is no evidence as to the exact size of the population at the time of the building of the Great Pyramid and there is not even enough information available to afford speculation in this area. He also claims that to refer to the writings of Herodotus is not relevant because it “is not equal to citing contemporary evidence.”

It seems to us that we must, at least in part, agree with Olaf Tellefsen’s suggestion that Egyptologists cling over-tenaciously to the ramp and sledge theory. The arguments which they offer in evidence are certainly debatable and do not warrant the acceptance they have received acceptance to the point where many people actually believe that is an indisputable fact that the ramp method was used by the Egyptians in building the pyramids. Actually, there is no solid evidence to support anything the Egyptologists have said or written about the pyramids of any dynasty, or about the pharaohs and their civilizations.

We have now come to believe that all of the writings on Egyptian history are nothing more than theory and are not based on any evidence contemporary to the period under consideration. In other words, pictures of pyramid building or statue transportation on the walls of Eighteenth Dynasty tombs are not contemporary to the Fourth Dynasty any more than stainless steel statues of twentieth century buildings would be considered contemporary to the twelfth century. That ramps were discovered near pyramids does not prove that the ramps were used to build all the pyramids on the site if some of the pyramids were built in the Fourth Dynasty and others in the Eighteenth, it is possible that the ramps were used only in the construction of the later dynasty pyramids. Another possibility is that the ramps were actually used in the dismantling of the outer casing stones, which were then used in another construction.

It is very important to remember that many archaeological sites contain relics of several thousands of years. Especially in the light of the discovery that Carbon 14 dating is not too reliable, it seems rather irresponsible to unequivocally attribute a particular artifact to a particular age or dynasty. It cannot be too strongly stressed that there is absolutely no evidence contemporary to the building of the Great Pyramids which proves that the ramp and sledge method was employed by its builders. The artifacts of later ages can only be accepted as contemporary to those ages and one can do no more than speculate as to whether or not they were also employed in earlier times.

It is interesting to note that while archaeologists are apparently relatively content to ascribe the building practices of the Eighteenth Dynasty to those of the first five dynasties, these same authorities point out that the pyramids of the later pharaohs are obviously inferior, in terms of craftsmanship and technical expertise, to the pyramids of the Old Kingdom. Oddly enough, these Egyptologists see no inconsistency in their attribution of identical building techniques to structures which differ widely in the quality of their construction.

Egyptian Pyramid Construction:


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