Hemienu to Houdin Part One: How Do You Prefer Your Ramp, Straight or With a Twist?

There is no shortage of theories about how the Great Pyramid of Pharaoh Khufu was constructed, but so far they have all failed in various respects.  From ramps that are as large and difficult to construct as the pyramid itself, to ramps that by their nature would make its construction even more difficult, we can’t even really explain how the blocks were moved into place. 

But a French architect by the name of Jean-Pierre Houdin may be changing that.  He has put forth the first comprehensive explanation of how the Great Pyramid was built that stands the tests of physics and common sense, and his work continues to gain support from prominent architects, engineers, and Egyptologists.  

Jean-Pierre has kindly agreed to work with Em Hotep! to put his theory into terms that are accessible to those of us who may not be professional architects or engineers, but who may be amateur and professional Egyptologists of varying degrees.  In Part One we take a close look at the evolution of ramp theories, how they work and fail to work, and what was involved with building the only remaining Wonder of the Ancient World. 

 

Hemienu—the architect and builder of the Great Pyramid of Khufu  (Photo by Einsamer Schütze)

Hemienu—the architect and builder of the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Photo by Einsamer Schütze)

 In the Introduction to Hemienu to Houdin:  Building a Great Pyramid we met the primary characters of our story.  Hemienu, who was vizier and Master of Works for Pharaoh Khufu, and who designed, planned, and built the Great PyramidHenri Houdin, a French engineer who became enthralled with Khufu’s Pyramid and took up the task of reverse engineering its construction.  And the protagonist of our tale, Jean-Pierre Houdin, Henri’s architect son and heir to the Great Work of figuring out how Hemienu accomplished one of the greatest architectural and engineering feats of human history. 

We traced out a short biography of these three master builders and examined how the times they lived in, the circumstances of history, and even their family lives drove them toward their respective quests.  We were also introduced to some of the shortcomings of the many theories that have been offered by others regarding how the Great Pyramid was constructed, and touched on insights that set this father and son team on the trail of Hemienu’s secrets.    

I also proposed an outline and timetable for how I wanted to approach this project, namely, that this series of articles would be posted over the course of several weeks, and that Part One would get into the specifics of Jean-Pierre’s internal ramp, and Part Two would look at how he proposes the interior architecture of Khufu’s Pyramid was planned and carried out.  Now, more than a month later, it is obvious that the timetable is out the window, and for that I apologize. 

But after much correspondence with M. Houdin, I have decided that this subject deserves more than just a rush-through.  There are numerous short introductions available online and in print that can give you the basics of Jean-Pierre’s work, and for the full treatment you really must read his and Bob Brier’s book, The Secret of the Great Pyramid, which has just become available in paperback.  As for Em Hotep!, my goal is to provide news and reference articles about Egyptology for “the Curious Layperson and the Budding Scholar,” and that means being both comprehensive and comprehendible.  

So Part One:  How Do You Prefer Your Ramp? is going to be a detailed look at the primary theories that have preceded Jean-Pierre and exactly why they simply cannot work.  This will lay a good foundation for Part Two, which will deal with Jean-Pierre’s innovations on the various ramp theories, and as you will soon see, foundations are very important with this topic! 

The entrance to Khufu’s Pyramid, with the Thieves’ Entrance in the lower right corner.  The people entering the Thieves’ Entrance give an indication of the size of the blocks involved.  Note the large blocks and beams of the Main Entrance—there are larger blocks deeper within and much higher up.  (Photo by Keith Payne)

The entrance to Khufu’s Pyramid, with the Thieves’ Entrance in the lower right corner. The people entering the Thieves’ Entrance give an indication of the size of the blocks involved. Note the large blocks and beams of the Main Entrance—there are larger blocks deeper within and much higher up. (Photo by Keith Payne)

The first section of this article will deal with the straight ramp theories, which really serve as a sort of negative benchmark against which all others are measured.  This may sound a bit harsh, but an understanding of what these theories attempt to accomplish and why they fail is vital to following their evolution and how each theory moves us closer to the answer.  In order to make 100% certain I got this rather important aspect of our discussion right, the first section takes the form of a dialogue with Jean-Pierre. 

The next section will take a look at external spiraling ramp theories.  These theories suggest that the Great Pyramid was constructed by use of a ramp that corkscrews up the outside surface.  They resolve a number of the problems that make the straight ramp theories impossible, but leave several major issues unresolved, and come with their own set of issues. 

The third section will take a closer look at Henri Houdin’s eureka moment—Hemienu constructed the Great Pyramid by building from the inside out, and he accomplished this by using internal ramps.  Henri’s epiphany resolved nearly all of the remaining problems with the previous theories, but as his son realized, a couple of snags remained.  

 

The External Straight Ramp:  A Dialogue with Jean-Pierre Houdin

Egyptologist Ludwig Borchardt

Egyptologist Ludwig Borchardt

The straight ramp theory was first worked out by Ludwig Borchardt and completed by Jean-Philippe Lauer.  The basic idea was that a straight ramp constructed of mudbrick and filler would be used to haul the blocks into place.  As each level of the pyramid is completed, work on the pyramid stops so the ramp can be built up to the next level.  The base had to be fairly wide, about 50 meters, so that its top surface would still be both wide enough and stable enough as it rises.  Keep in mind that as the pyramid grows narrower, so must the ramp. 

hthb03 - Straight_on_ramps1a 

As the ramp reaches the 35 meter level, where construction on the King’s Chamber begins, Lauer believed his and Borchardt’s ramp would be short enough and shallow enough in terms of its slope to enable men to pull the large blocks, some of them weighing in excess of 60 tons, up to the construction site of the King’s Chamber where machines using sacks of sand for counterweights and smaller ramps cut into the core masonry to maneuver the huge blocks and stone beams into place. 

For the top of the pyramid, Lauer’s ramp would increase in gradient as the width decreased.  He believed that blocks weighing a ton could still be moved to a height of 112 meters on a 14 degree incline, and that the last stretch could be as steep as 18 degrees to reach the final 146 meters.  Lauer postulates that to compensate for the very steep gradients smaller blocks would be used to complete the pyramid. 

Egyptologist Jean-Philippe Lauer

Egyptologist Jean-Philippe Lauer

A couple of problems present themselves right away with the Borchardt-Lauer ramp.  First, contrary to Lauer’s assumption, the blocks do not grow progressively smaller higher up the pyramid.  The thickness of layers continues to alternate pretty much from the bottom to the top, and blocks weighing as much as 2.5 tons are used at least as high as 90 meters.  

Then there is the pyramidion.  The pyramidion was the capstone of the pyramid, a sort of small solid pyramid itself.  Constructed of limestone and covered in electrum, the pyramidion would have weighed at the very least 5.5 tons, and possibly as much as fifteen tons!  Plus, although the top layers of stone are now missing, as is the pyramidion itself, they would have been especially thick to support the pyramidion.  Several layers of smaller blocks would have been crushed over time.  It is simply implausible that a 5.5-15 ton pyramidion, plus its supporting masonry, could have been moved up an 18 percent incline. 

  

Jean-Pierre:   In fact human strength falls very quickly above 10% grade.  You must keep an optimum ratio of force-to-grade: 7-8% grade is the highest figure to consider. 

So forget the gradually increasing incline.  To build the pyramid using a straight ramp you have to maintain a 7-8% grade from bottom to top.  In The Secret of the Great Pyramid, Jean-Pierre Houdin and Bob Brier talk about the straight ramp being a mile long.  But in order for the ramp to reach the top of the pyramid, about 146 meters, while maintaining a 7-8% grade, it seems the ramp would have to be even longer. 

Jean-Pierre:  Discussions of a straight external ramp always talk about reaching the summit.  That is wrong.  No ramp can go above the 130-135 meter level—the ramp would be wider than the pyramid.  So to reach a level of 130-135 meters at a 7% grade, a frontal ramp has to be 1,860 meters long, about 1.15 miles.  To build the same ramp with an 8% grade it would be 1,625 meters long, about one mile, which is why I always talk about a mile long ramp. 

This means that, in order to maintain a manageable 8% slope, the straight external ramp has to be about a mile long, and comes about eleven meters (about 36 feet) short of the estimated apex of the pyramid.  So, where could Hemienu have built such a ramp?  

The terrain has a lot to say about that.  The Great Pyramid was built on a bluff, and there is a steep drop to the north, so no ramp there.  To the east and west there are cemeteries contemporary with the pyramid, so no ramps there either.  That leaves the south, which is far from ideal for such a construction.  

Jean Pierre:  Absolutely.  A single frontal ramp has to be perpendicular to the south face of the pyramid which puts it cutting through the quarry before filling the wadi on the other side!  The topography speaks for itself. 

So the ramp would not only overshoot the quarry, it would have to account for the rise and fall of the terrain, which would mean filling in the wadi, a sort of canyon made by a dry river bed, which would add even more material and labor to the ramp project.  Keep in mind that the further you have to build the ramp downward to account for the dip created by the wadi the wider the base has to be in that section. 

The Straight Ramp—Ninth Wonder of the Ancient World?  Not only would it have been as large a project as the pyramid itself, where did it go?  (Courtesy of Jean-Pierre Houdin and Dassault Systèmes)

The Straight Ramp—Ninth Wonder of the Ancient World? Not only would it have been as large a project as the pyramid itself, where did it go? (Courtesy of Jean-Pierre Houdin and Dassault Systèmes)

Everywhere you look in the Great Pyramid you see signs not only of Hemienu’s architectural genius, but of the economy of his methods.  Nothing is wasted in terms of time or materials.  A ramp that requires the workers to drag the blocks in the opposite direction of the pyramid before mounting the ramp just doesn’t seem to make sense. 

The volume of material and man-hours required in making such a ramp raise their own set of questions.  Building a mile-long ramp that reaches 135 meters on its high end would require a huge amount of material and labor even if it was built on a flat surface, which it wasn’t.  And where did all the millions of tons of stone go?  

When you account for the terrain you are talking about a project similar in scope to the pyramid itself, just to build the ramp.  Even allowing for filler material, a significant portion of such a ramp would have to be solid masonry.  Remember, some of the blocks it would have to support weighed more than sixty tons.  Think about it.  If the ramp was, say, two-thirds the mass of the pyramid, then where would you dispose of two-thirds of the Great Pyramid, without a trace? 

Another nagging problem with all external ramp theories, from Lauer onward, is the notion of stopping work on the pyramid while constructing the next layer of the ramp.  Hemienu built the Great Pyramid in about 21-23 years.  This task simply could not be accomplished in the time frame if practically all work on the pyramid had to stop every time the ramp had to be raised another level.  

   

Jean-Pierre:  Nor was it.  Up to now, “rampists” have always talked about a ramp being raised and lengthened as the pyramid rises, which means that you have to stop the construction to enlarge the ramp. My theory, which you will see does include an external ramp along with an internal ramp, is the first to describe an external ramp that is being built as the pyramid rises. 

 The ramp was built at its maximum length, about a quarter of a mile, but with two parts, or lanes, built horizontally, layer by layer, following a 7-8% slope.  While one lane is used to pull the blocks, the other is raised by 2 layers to be ready for the next step.  The ramp is always rising with the pyramid and so there is no need for work on the pyramid to stop. 

Lastly, with regard to the “rampists” theories, there is the issue of logistics.  The higher you go, the less workspace you have on both the ramp and the top surface of the pyramid.  And the logistics involved with moving the 60 ton blocks to the top of the King’s Chamber and maneuvering them into place.. 

Jean Pierre:  On a 7% grade ramp, 600 men are needed to pull a 60 ton block.  Can you imagine 600 guys?  With six hauling lines, that gives a 100 meter-long line for each..  It is impossible to coordinate such numbers.  And at the 60+ meters level you have only 50 meters of work space left on the north side to work around the King’s Chamber. 

A single straight mile-long ramp just seems to create more problems than it solves.  Not only would it have required as much work and material as the pyramid itself, there is no evidence for such a huge ramp.  Where did it go?  And how was the pyramid completed in time if work had to stop in order to build up the ramp at each level.  Jean-Pierre’s two-lane ramp works fine up to the level of the King’s Chamber, but what about twice that height, about 135 meters?  The ramp would be far too narrow at that height. 

Perhaps a straight ramp may have worked on other pyramids, but Hemienu wasn’t building just any pyramid.  He knew he was facing multiple challenges that would require complex answers, all of which had to be worked out before hand. 

 

The External Spiraling Ramp:  The Corkscrew Solution

For several very good reasons the long, straight ramp theory doesn’t seem to work.  One can imagine that Hemienu might have figured this out pretty quickly.  A fast survey of the landscape, lining up the only feasible approach for the ramp to the pyramid’s south face, calculating the amount of material it would take to keep the grade constant even as the ramp spans the wadi, the ratio of the width of the base to the width of the top, the length of the ramp—It would have been obvious from the outset to Hemienu that the long single ramp wouldn’t work. 

It was probably an early lunch for Hemienu and his crew after a morning walk around the building site, checking surveying points, taking mental notes.  As the architect and his crew sat around the table sipping karkade and brainstorming while the servants cleared the tableware, someone might have proposed what seemed to be the perfect solution. 

“Think about a length of papyrus,” he might have said.  “Stretched out it would cover this entire table, and spill over each end.  But if you roll it up, it can fit into your robe.  What if we fold the ramp to fit into the usable terrain and onto the surface of the pyramid itself?” 

Hemienu would have pondered this idea.  With his chin resting in his palm, he probably considered the advantages.  What problems would a spiraling ramp address? 

 

Advantages 

Several advantages of a spiraling ramp are immediately apparent.  Terrain is no longer an issue, as the terrain would be the pyramid itself.  Using the surface of the pyramid to support the ramp would mean a constant 7-8% grade could be easily maintained and the supporting surface would be a constant—no wadi to span and no 50-meter wide base to support a ramp 135 meters high.  As it winds up the pyramid, the ramp itself would maintain a fairly regular height, except at the top, where it would actually grow shorter.  This would also reduce the amount of material and man-hours required to build the ramp. 

Hemienu’s assistant would have been pleased with his epiphany.  The problem of the ramp, which was turning into as large a project as the pyramid itself, had been solved.  Perhaps Vizier Hemienu, Master of Works for Pharaoh Khufu, would honor him with a memorial stela praising his genius?  But his exaltation would have been short lived.   

“What about the blocks for the King’s Chamber?” the Master Architect would have asked.  “How do we navigate those, or any of the other blocks, for that matter, around the corners of your folded papyrus?” 

   

The Spiraling Collapse of the Corkscrew Theory  

Hemienu would have seen right away that for all its advantages, and there were admittedly several, there were also some flaws with the spiraling ramp, and they were deal breakers.  The most obvious, and perhaps most vexing, would be how to handle the corners.  The most common blocks used in the building of the pyramid weighed 1.5 to 2.5 tons and were moved on a type of sled.  Wheels would not work because they would have sunk in the sand, and besides, there is no evidence of the wheel in use in Egypt this early.  So turning the sled 90 degrees to face the next course of the ramp at the corners was an issue—simply spinning it on its rails would have destroyed the sleds. 

There is also the issue of time.  Keep in mind that every time you stop the production line to reorient a sled at the corner, the entire chain below you has to stop as well.  Hemienu is believed to have completed the pyramid in about 21-23 years, which means that a block was being put into place during every minute of construction.  How were the workers moving the sleds around in less than one minute on the tight corners of the corkscrew ramp?   

Even if the problem of orienting the standard blocks at the corners of an external winding ramp was solved, there was still the problem of the huge blocks used to construct the King’ Chamber.  The largest of these slabs weighed in excess of 60 tons and were over eight meters (a little over 26 feet) in length.  

If you can picture trying to maneuver such a block around a corner, even if there was someplace where the workmen could stand while pushing/pulling (which there would not be), at around 45 degrees into the turn the full weight of these blocks would be balanced entirely on the corner of the ramp.  Given that the corner of the ramp, obviously, would be built on the corner of the pyramid, we are talking about a tiny segment of the ramp pressed between a wedge below (the edge of the pyramid) and 60 tons of weight from above!  This isn’t a model for supporting a weight, it’s a model for splitting something in half! 

Another issue Hemienu would have realized was that you just wouldn’t be able to build a winding ramp against the surface of the pyramid that would be stable enough.  Again, ignoring the problem of the 60 ton blocks, if you were to build a ramp wide enough and sturdy enough to move the average block up the pyramid, then the external ramp would obscure the corners of the pyramid, and that is another big problem. 

The Narrow External Spiral Ramp—while the sight lines remain visible in this model, there is simply no way to secure such a ramp to the surface of the pyramid with any stability.  (Courtesy of Jean-Pierre Houdin and Dassault Systèmes)

The Narrow External Spiral Ramp—while the sight lines remain visible in this model, there is simply no way to secure such a ramp to the surface of the pyramid with any stability. (Courtesy of Jean-Pierre Houdin and Dassault Systèmes)

In order to ensure that the four corners of the pyramid were rising at the same constant angle, Hemienu would have needed to take regular measurements.  If the slope of one side of the pyramid was off by as much as a fraction of a degree, then the shape of the entire pyramid would be off and the four edges would not meet at a single point at the top.   In order to make these exact measurements the corners and edges of the pyramid had to be visible, and a sturdy ramp corkscrewing around the pyramid would make this impossible.  

The Wide External Spiral Ramp—this is how a stable external ramp would have appeared, but there is no way to survey the sides of the pyramid and control its shape during construction.  (Courtesy of Jean-Pierre Houdin and Dassault Systèmes)

The Wide External Spiral Ramp—this is how a stable external ramp would have appeared, but there is no way to survey the sides of the pyramid and control its shape during construction. (Courtesy of Jean-Pierre Houdin and Dassault Systèmes)

It seems that for every problem the external corkscrew ramp solves, another is uncovered.  You can’t build a ramp that allows the corners to be surveyed that will also be stable enough to bear the load of the blocks.  Such a ramp would entail trying to build a pyramid consisting of four perfectly equal triangles, with exactly the same slope on each side, without being able to survey the slopes and angles as construction proceeds.   If you build a ramp narrow enough to allow the measurements to be made, then it will be too unstable for the 1.5 to 2.5 ton blocks.  Keep in mind that at any given time there will be multiple blocks on each stretch of the ramp. 

The external corkscrew ramp could not work, not for the standard blocks, and certainly not for the huge blocks required for building the King’s Chamber, or for that matter, the Queen’s Chamber.  Of course, other models have been offered—multiple ramps, zigzagging ramps, and some ramps that seem to have leapt from an M. C. Escher drawing.  But down through the ages the long single ramp and the external spiral ramp have stood the test of time. 

And failed the tests of physics and engineering. 

 

The Internal Spiraling Ramp:  Now We’re Getting Somewhere!

As we learned in the Introduction, the question of how the Great Pyramid was built caught the attention of an engineer named Henri Houdin back in 1999 after he viewed a television program called The Mystery of the Pyramid.  Henri was one of the many French youth who inherited a post-WWII France, with all of the reconstruction that went with it.  Soon after receiving his Ph. D. from École des Arts et Metiers, 24-year-old Henri found himself in charge of rebuilding the Conflans Bridge outside of Paris (Brier and Houdin, pp. 2, 38).  The year was 1947, and a long and impressive career lay before young Henri. 

In 1999, Henri was retired, but far from tired.  He needed something to occupy his mind, which was as sharp and hungry for activity as ever.  He approached the problem of Khufu’s Pyramid the same way he approached any other engineering problem he had ever taken on—How do I build this?   

The advantages of the spiraling ramp still held true.  A workable ramp that would maintain a 7-8% grade would have to be around a mile long, and the only way to do that with the terrain where Hemienu built the Great Pyramid was by wrapping the ramp around the pyramid itself.  Multiple straight ramps would not work because the only side where a straight ramp could be built was on the southern side, and the terrain there only allowed for one ramp to approach the pyramid. 

Making use of the artificial terrain of the pyramid itself would have the benefit of a regular surface free of obstacles, if there was only some way to construct a sturdy enough ramp that would also leave the site lines visible for surveying.  So how would the engineer Henri Houdin build this? 

Henri’s epiphany came as he pondered how he would deliver the building materials to the worksites.  In this sense, the worksites are different from the construction site.  The construction site was the entire project, but the construction site was made up of many worksites that were all over the structure, and many of which were in constant movement as the pyramid rose.  Henri’s epiphany was that if he were to build the pyramid using the tools available at the time he would build it from the inside out, and the ramp would likewise be located on the inside

An internal ramp would retain all of the benefits of the corkscrew ramp while solving many of the problems.  The pyramid would not only be the building surface, it would be the ramp itself.  The sight lines would remain visible because the ramp would be concealed within the pyramid.  This meant that there would be no need to trade off between visibility and stability, which became doubly moot because the ramp would be as sturdy as the pyramid itself. 

This solution also was in keeping with the economy Hemienu expressed throughout the rest of the pyramid.  There was no wasted material—the material would already be in place.  No wasted man-hours because virtually every block put in place for the ramp would have been required in the construction of the pyramid anyway.  And there would be no need to explain why there are no ruins of the ramp, or how its materials were disposed of.  The ramp is still there, within the core of the pyramid. 

hthb12 - henri one ramp 

Henri Houdin’s first drawing of this ramp looks even more like a corkscrew than the external corkscrew model did.  The external spiral ramp models follow the contour of the pyramid and are square in shape, with right-angle turns at the corners.  Henri’s first model was a curving spiral that started on the eastern corner of the southern face and curled its way up at an 8% grade.  

 

  

Henri revised his model to include four separate ramps, one entering on each face of the pyramid.  Each of these ramps would reach a different level of the pyramid, but also allowed for multiple ramps to be in use at different levels.  For instance, at the lowest levels, where most of the work took place and most of the material had to be transported, there would be four ramps in use at the same time.  As each ramp reached its maximum height, and thus usability, the pyramid also became smaller requiring less material and labor. 

The idea of building the pyramid from the inside out by using four spiraling internal ramps answered more problems than any model proposed so far.  Perhaps most importantly Henri had put the train on the right track by moving the works inside.  Building the pyramid layer by layer by use of an external ramp alone might make good sense to a layperson, but an engineer knows that the inner structures within the core of the pyramid would not only have to come first, but would dictate how the rest of the pyramid would have to be constructed.  

Henri had shared his ideas with his architect son, Jean-Pierre, who had taken up the task with a relish of his own.  But Jean-Pierre Houdin brought the skills of a seasoned architect to the table, and he saw problems even the engineer had missed.  Obviously the ramp would have to be inside the pyramid, that much had been settled.  But the circular spiral simply couldn’t work. 

The 1.5 to 2.5 ton blocks had to be pulled by teams of men, and this cannot be done from around a curve.  The men would have to be standing in a straight line in order to effectively pull the lines connected to the sleds, and the constant curve would place uneven pressure on the sleds that would lead to a rapid breakdown. 

Henri’s model also left the problem of the large 60+ ton blocks unresolved.  Even ignoring the weight, the length of these blocks would preclude them from fitting into the circular internal ramps.  Jean-Pierre knew that he was back to a square spiraling ramp, which brought him back to the question of how to navigate the right angles.  There was really only one answer—the sleds would have to be lifted and turned 90 degrees at each corner.  Easier said than done. 

And what about the masonry of the King’s Chamber?  No internal ramp could manage that.  Henri had set the train on the right track, but now it was up to Jean-Pierre to move it forward.  A straight ramp, perhaps one that was an internal/external combination, could reach the King’s Chamber worksite with a 7-8% grade, and would still be short enough to fit into the terrain.  But would it be long enough to accommodate enough men to pull the 60+ ton blocks?  Probably not.  And even if the blocks could be hauled to the worksite, how would they be maneuvered into place? 

Jean-Pierre Houdin signs copies of his first book about The Great Pyramid for Magdy El-Ghandour, Director for the foreign missions at the Supreme Council of Atiquities and Taha Abdallah, Dean of Shorouk University.  (Photo courtesy of Jean-Pierre Houdin)

Jean-Pierre Houdin signs copies of his first book about The Great Pyramid for Magdy El-Ghandour, Director for the foreign missions at the Supreme Council of Antiquities and Taha Abdallah, Dean of Shorouk University. (Photo courtesy of Jean-Pierre Houdin)

Jean-Pierre knew that the solution had to involve both an internal and an external ramp, and both straight and spiraling ramps, but how?  How were the blocks turned at the corners?  How were the giant slabs of the King’s Chamber pulled up the straight ramp and fitted into place with such precision?  

In Hemienu to Houdin:  Part Two we will get into the details of Jean-Pierre Houdin’s theory starting with his own ramp theory, and how it answers all of the above questions, and more. 

shemsutag 

Photograph ”Statue-of-Hemiun.jpg” by Einsamer Schütze is provided courtesy of Wikimedia Commons  and are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License. In short: you are free to share and make derivative works of those files under the conditions that you appropriately attribute them, and that you distribute them only under a license identical to this one. Official license.

Copyright by Keith Payne, 2009.  All rights reserved. 

  

 

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This entry was posted on Friday, October 16th, 2009 at 9:08 am and is filed under Modern Egypt, Old Kingdom, Pyramids, The Giza Plateau. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

23 comments so far

F. Sawko
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 1 

Excellent!

October 17th, 2009 at 9:13 am
daveh
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 2 

This is absolutely fascinating, i cant wait for the next instalment regards (sorry about the small text god knows what’s gone wrong with my pc this time)

October 17th, 2009 at 11:37 am
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 3 

Hey Dave!

Your text shows up fine here, so it sounds like a local display problem. Then again, sometimes when I am formatting something in WordPress what I get in edit mode comes across differently when I publish it, so it might be on this end!

October 17th, 2009 at 12:29 pm
Richard
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 4 

Breathtaking! I just can’t wait for episode 2

October 17th, 2009 at 5:06 pm
mark smith
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 5 

Great information about a fascinating theory which appears to be well-founded. Thank you!

October 17th, 2009 at 5:13 pm
Lisa Troup
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 6 

I am so happy to see Mr Houdin finally getting the recognition he deserves!And to see him catagorized with the man/God who built the structure itself ,had to be an accolade with out measure!All the suffering is paying off..Tre’ Bien…..Now I need to get he and Dr. Brier’s book @ Amazon.com!What till you all read THAT!

October 17th, 2009 at 10:28 pm
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 7 

There has been an intention for Dr Bob Brier to take infra red images of the pyramid in order to try to find evidence for the internal ramp. Has this been done?

October 18th, 2009 at 6:52 am
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 8 

What do you think on having your work translated to another language? Yours was an excellent job and I think people who can’t read English deserve to read it too. Please, just let me know whether you agree with this or not. No need to say all due copyright and credit would be given to you and to no one else. For your information I live in Brazil and we speak Portuguese here.

October 18th, 2009 at 8:03 pm
Steve Burns
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 9 

Congratulations, Jean-Pierre. This is a compelling site about your groundbreaking
work.

October 19th, 2009 at 10:40 am
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 10 

Jose,

It would be an honor to have my writings translated for another audience, especially as this will bring more attention to Jean-Pierre and his work! At the bottom of the first column of the sidebar is the link to contact me via email, so drop me a note letting me know how I can help and we will work out the details there!

October 19th, 2009 at 10:10 pm
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 11 

Hey Keith! Regarding translating, I am willing to donate my time to translate English to French :) My sister knows Italian, so maybe I can inquire about this to her (that is, should you decide to go this route…those nasty online translators don’t do a sufficient job).

October 22nd, 2009 at 2:26 pm
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 12 

Hey Jenny!

This is a really amazing response I am getting, and yes, I would love to see this series translated into French and Italian! I will contact you via email so we can work out the details!

And thanks again to all our readers, particularly those who have taken time to comment and provide input.

As for our growing team of translators, I am speechless, which requires no translation!

October 24th, 2009 at 7:13 am
Sarthak Anil Phatak, India
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 13 

Hey this is really great. I had gone through the presentation of Jean-Pierre Houdin’s work.
And a thought came in my mind that somebody should write on this. Which would defenitely pull many readers/ researchers/ and designers to read the theory interestingly and mainly understand the concept.

I thank you for posting on this theory in several series. As these articles are short ( in parts), it would be easy for many people to read it when they have free time. Also it would help all to put their views immediately on different topics posted in each series, and would minimize the problem of the reader and writer to navigate on the subject of the comment.

Thank you and keep posting, waiting for the next parts of this series.

November 19th, 2009 at 1:12 am
Alan
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 14 

Could the sleds have been built so that they wouldn’t need to be turned when they reached a corner, just raised (with levers and such) and what ever they rode on (poles perhaps) be removed and repositioned.

Also, it occurs to me that counter weights might have added pulling power if they were attached to the front of the sled and hung over the face of the pyramid. I don’t really know if the ropes of the time would do the job, but clearly there was something; or else humans couldn’t have pulled the stones in the first place.

January 13th, 2011 at 10:46 am
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 15 

Hi Alan,

The short answer is: Yes!! and Yes!!

You are spot on with your thinking. I will be getting into the details of how the sleds were turned at the corners when I get into Phase Three, which deals with the completion of the pyramid after the building of the King’s Chamber and the internal ramp. But in a nutshell (according to Jean-Pierre Houdin’s theory), the internal ramp moves up the pyramid in straight sections just a couple of meters inside the layer of facing stones. The corners are open niches where exactly the kind of machine you describe lifted the sleds and truned them to face the next stretch of ramp. I will get into the full details of this when I get to the next Phase.

Regarding the counterweight, that is exactly what I am writing about at this very moment (or will be when I finish responding to your very astute observations!). Again, in a nutshell, the counterwight you describe was (again, according to Jean-Pierre) housed in the Grand Gallery. There is evidence, both circumstantial and forensic, to support his theory, which I will detail in the current article.

Please keep reading the series! I think you will find much to enjoy and provoke thought. Also, Jean-Pierre will be revealing the huge update he has been doing to his theory over the last few years on January 27, 2011, in Paris, and I have just confirmed that I will be there to cover it in person!

2011 will be the year of Khufu and the Great Pyramid. But again, to both of your propositions, yes, and YES!

Thank you so much for reading and contributing.
–Keith

January 13th, 2011 at 11:10 am
Tha_Pig
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 16 

There is no need to make the sled turn around the corner. How about just rolling the block into another sled, which was already positioned to be dragged across the next tunnel/ramp?

January 7th, 2012 at 2:56 pm
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 17 

Mr… um.. Pig, :-)

I can’t think of a reason why that would not work, but the turning mechanism in Jean-Pierre’s theory would be quicker. The sleds would only have to be lifted just enough to clear the floor, a few inches, spun 90 degrees, and then off to the next section.

Transferring the blocks from sled to sled would take a bit more time, be more labor intensive, and would increase the chances of damage to the blocks and injury to the workers, all of which would “stop the train” so to speak.

But I like the way your critical faculties work! Please keep contributing!

–Keith

January 7th, 2012 at 7:24 pm
Jeffrey Caldwell
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 18 

I’m relatively new to Houdin’s theories and it facinates me. In the doumentary the talk about putting an endescope in the notch room to easily proof their are ramps behind it. What about scans? Have the internal ramps been verrified at this point? Should be pretty easy to find no?

October 1st, 2012 at 1:13 pm
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 19 

Hi Jeffrey,

Thank you for reading and thank you for your question :-)

At this point work on the Great Pyramid is suspended, largely due to the political situation in Egypt, but even before that Zahi Hawass was resistant to allowing Jean-Pierre Houdin to test his theories. I am not privy to why his work has been suspended under the new regime–I can tell you with 100% certainty that JPH has done everything he possibly can to get a concession to continue work, of THAT much I AM privy! ;-)

But even something as simple as using an endoscope to look behind the blocks in “Bob’s Room” (ie: the niche explored by Bob Brier, to which you refer) requires official approval on all levels. Bob had to work hard just to get permission to climb up the pyramid and explore the niche the first time. Now it appears there is something there. What next?

Doing the scans are another matter completely, and the reluctance to allow M. Houdin proceed baffles me. The work would be 100% non-invasive, as it would not even require physical contact with the pyramid to do an external scan, and the folks at Laval University have already done this work at other heritage sites within Canada, with wonderful results. They are ready to roll, so what next?

So to answer your question, JPH has not been allowed to further test his theory, even though his team has been ready to go for some time now. If I had to guess, and this is JUST A GUESS… I would say that Hawass and his successors suspect, or by this time may even know, that Jean-Pierre is right, and the question is where do we go from here? What next? Hawass has told me personally that JPH’s theory had been proven false and that the proof had already been published. That was a plain and simple lie. Strong words, I know, but I call them as I see them, and the man lied to my face. So I can see why Dr. Hawass would not want JPH’s theory tested—it would have caught him up in a mistruth… What next?

As for why the current administration is dragging their feet, I can’t say. They would relish in having Dr. Hawass further discredited, so it is not to protect him. It would seem that the Djedi Project is also on hold, so it does not seem to be entirely personal against Jean-Pierre. Work elsewhere in Egypt has continued, including on the Giza Plateau, so it is not a matter of broad policy. So I have to return to my original hypothesis: it has to do with “what next?” The Great Pyramid is up there with Nefertiti’s bust and Tutankhamun’s mask as symbols of ancient Egypt, and we have seen how hard the Egyptians have tried to get Nefertiti’s bust back, and I would not expect to see Tut’s mask going on tour again anytime soon, as Zahi’s merchandising of that icon is still a matter of insider ribbing. My guess is that people in high places do not want to credit an “outsider” such as Jean-Pierre with one of the greatest discoveries in archaeology, let alone Egyptology. If they do, what next?

I would be the first one to say that my opinion might sound a little paranoid, and ironic given my occasional rants against conspiracy theories within Egyptology. Where conspiracies are concerned, my Golden Rule is believe nothing, but don’t rule anything out too quickly. I don’t think enough people would benefit from hiding evidence that little grey men built the pyramid to sustain a conspiracy all this time. But I can think very easily of people who would benefit from not letting a French architect receive credit for solving one of Egyptology’s most perplexing questions—how was the Great Pyramid built. Fortunately, I can also say with certainty that the tide is slowly turning in Jean-Pierre’s favor as people, including traditional archaeologists, sign on to his theory.

So while I do not think it is entirely for personal reasons that Jean-Pierre’s work has been halted, I DO think that the people making the decisions are considering their personal losses or gains from having the internal ramp theory confirmed. I can also say with certainty that Jean-Pierre Houdin will be releasing more evidence in the near future, as his work with modeling the large pyramids of the Memphite Necropolis continues. This is no longer about one man’s ideas, it is about the human desire to understand the world we have inherited. As trivial as the pyramids may be to some people, to others they are evidence of what we can do when we cooperate. As “Ted Talks” says, that is an idea worth sharing.

That is next.

–K

October 1st, 2012 at 2:09 pm
Jeffrey Caldwell
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Baffling indeed! Just find out the facts and move on from there. Plenty of discovery left, even more no? I’m naiv enough to think that verifiable knowledge shouldn’t hurt anyone (I know). Seems like a very sound theory. See it more and more. Someone just did a documentary debunking Ancient Astonaut Hoo Ha and featured this. http://ancientaliensdebunked.com/references-and-transcripts/the-pyramids/

Anyway, great site, and info.

October 7th, 2012 at 9:28 pm
Susan Leogrande Alt
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 21 

I recently visited home – New Martinsville, West Virginia. We have a “mound”, built by Native Americans, a few miles away in Moundsville (I know – originality in names!). This links to other mounds in the area. It is discovered that these mounds were also built from the inside out. Seems good theories provide universal engineering!

April 3rd, 2013 at 7:38 am
mason
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 22 

How do you address the 40 dead joints in the stone from the corner notches and how were the Montrose and tendon corner stones installed on the final stone to seal the corner notch?Leaving just one monetise/tendon out would would defeat the entire purpose

October 16th, 2013 at 11:12 am
mason
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Not Montrose, meant mortise. Auto-correct got me.

October 16th, 2013 at 11:14 am

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