How Did The Ancient Egyptians Move Heavy Blocks Of Stone? The Detail Of A Painting Suggests It.

How did the ancient Egyptians lift and transport these huge blocks used for the construction of pyramids? This is a question that has intrigued for millennia because it is difficult to understand how they were able to build the famous pyramids; researchers have always sought a convincing explanation. The detail of a mural seems to reveal some clues and, precisely on the basis of these, extensive studies have been carried out.


image credit: Ricardo Liberato Wikipedia

Ancient Egyptians were said to have been able to move huge blocks of stone across the desert by wetting the sand that lay in front of a device built to pull heavy objects. Physicists at the University of Amsterdam looked at very ancient clues from the Egyptians, and one, in particular, seems to answer the famous question. In the ancient tomb of Jehutyhotep, dating from around 1900 BC, there is a wall painting of 172 men dragging a very large statueusing a system of ropes attached to a sled. So far nothing new, but if you look closely you can see in the drawing a person standing at the front of the sled pouring water on the sand. The researchers, therefore, continued their research and found that wetting the sand in front of the device reduces friction and makes it easier to transport the blocks.


image credit: sir john gardner wilkinson wikipedia

Pouring water was initially thought to be a ceremonial act, but Egyptologists did not stop at a first impression and built miniature sleds to better understand the mechanism depicted. So they experimented with dragging heavy objects on the sand. The dry sand required a lot of effort, as masses formed in front of the sleds. On the other hand, with the wet sand, the sleds could slide on the surface much more easily. Scientists have given an explanation: water creates bridges between grains of sand, which helps them stick to each other. So wetting the sand can reduce the friction and physical effort required to get the job done.


image credit: Leonardo Ramos Unsplash

The transport of heavy blocks on the sand required a perfect balance: too wet sand, like too dry sand, making transport difficult and tiring. The amount of water needed depends, and depending, on the type of sand, but in general, the ideal amount is between 2% and 5% of the volume of sand. The results that emerge from these analyzes and experiments allow us to answer one of the oldest mysteries in history. The method for carrying out the construction of the pyramids existed, and the Egyptians had found it.

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