January, 2011 | Em Hotep!

Archive for January, 2011

Dassault Systèmes, with their Passion for Innovation program, is emerging as a major player in bringing cutting edge technology to the field of Egyptology.  Whether you are talking about creating immersive 3D environments to simulate tombs and monuments, fusing non-invasive surveying techniques to high-definition imagery, or simply bringing the most interesting Egyptian people, places, and things to the widest audience possible, Dassault Systèmes’ Mehdi Tayoubi is at the forefront with some new technology.

I promised I would try to get another chapter of Hemienu to Houdin out before leaving for Paris and the premier of Khufu Reborn, but in these last days it just became too impractical.  Part of what makes the series so fun and informative is my fairly unrestricted access to the man himself, Jean-Pierre Houdin.  But as he and the team from Dassault Systèmes make the final arrangements at la Géode, Jean-Pierre’s time has become an increasingly rare commodity.  Besides, in a couple of days I will be able to talk with him face-to-face without feeling like I am imposing on his schedule.

So the series will conclude when I return from the conference and coverage of “Episode 2:  Khufu Reborn” will begin in earnest.  But in the meanwhile I am offering this excellent insider’s glimpse into how Dassault Systèmes became involved with Jean-Pierre and future directions we can anticipate.  My good friend and fellow Egyptology blogger (still hate that word), Marc Chartier, proprietor of the Pyramidales website, recently had the opportunity to interview Mehdi Tayoubi,  Director of Interactive Innovation at Dassault Systèmes. 

By a special arrangement with Marc I have translated the interview from its original French and am presenting it here in its entirety for my English-language readers.  The original interview, in French, is available from Pyramidales here.

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Well, I have been hinting about it for months now, and it’s almost here:  On January 27, 2011, Episode Two of Jean-Pierre Houdin’s work with the Great Pyramid, called Khufu Reborn, will premiere at La Géode in Paris, and your Humble Scribe will be there to cover the event and try his best to get some inside scoop. 

 

Methinks I will be successful…

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labelJean-Pierre Houdin’s theory of how the Great Pyramid of Khufu was built is unique not only in that he explains how this engineering marvel was accomplished, he shows how the architecture itself gives up these secrets.  Nowhere is this more evident than in his explanation of how the Grand Gallery served as the mechanism for constructing the King’s Chamber.

The burial room of Pharaoh Khufu required that his Overseer of Royal Projects, the great architect and engineer Hemienu, transport massive beams of granite, some of which weighed in excess of 60 tons, more than 60 meters above the pyramid’s foundation.  With each successive course of blocks his workspace became more confined, the uphill drag became longer, and the placement became more precise.  Where did the energy required for this undertaking come from?

In Phase One we looked at how two thirds of the pyramid and all of its internal structures below the King’s Chamber were constructed with a ramp that reached less than one third of its height.  In Phase Two we will look at how the King’s Chamber and its related architecture were built using this same ramp, as well as some innovations in design and methodology that included scaffolding, an elevator, and a powerful tractor, all of which were integrated into the architecture itself, and all of which used tools and principles known to be in existence during Hemienu’s time.

We will devote this current article to explaining exactly what it was Hemienu was building in Phase Two.

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