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 Hemiunu, 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 Hemiunu’s time.

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

King's ChamberDuring Phase Two Hemiunu was entirely concerned with the construction of the King’s Chamber, and perhaps it is best to forget for the moment about the rest of the pyramid.  The Great Pyramid at that point was a massive 43 meter high platform that provided both the foundation for and the machinery involved in building a smaller pyramid, which in turn served the dual purpose of support and scaffolding for the burial chamber and its related architecture.  In Phase Two, the superstructure we will be referring to is not the Great Pyramid itself, but this mini-pyramid being constructed on its fiftieth course.

But we will also be taking a much more detailed look at the Grand Gallery and its related architecture.  If the Great Pyramid was a machine of construction during Phase Two, then the Grand Gallery and the Ascending Corridor housed its engine.  Phase One was a saga of architecture, geometry, and logistics.  Phase Two is a tale of men and machines—elevators, counterweights, ballasts, even trolley tracks.  And yes, ramps.

The megalithic beams used in the King’s Chamber and the Relieving Compartments were first pulled up the external ramp and stored on a reinforced staging area.  This was accomplished with the help of a counterweight system in the Grand Gallery.  Then a mini-pyramid was built as the King’s Chamber went up.  This structure served as both the support for the King’s Chamber architecture and the scaffolding for the project.  A freight elevator, also powered by the counterweight system, was incorporated into this mini-pyramid, all of which would disappear into the core of the Great Pyramid in Phase Three.

Like Phase One, Phase Two can be divided into three sections—the worksite formed by the fiftieth course of the pyramid and how the external ramp functioned during this phase, how the counterweight system worked, and then finally the King’s Chamber.  But in order to fully appreciate how the worksite was organized, how the mini-pyramid was constructed, and how the counterweight system worked, it is best to start with a detailed description of the King’s Chamber and its related architecture.

Hemiunu to Houdin Phase Two will thus be divided along these lines:  Part A—The King’s Chamber; Part B—The Grand Gallery and Counterweight System; and Part C—How It All Came Together.

The King’s Chamber… Or is it?

Arguments to the contrary notwithstanding, as far as we know the King’s Chamber was intended to be Pharaoh Khufu’s final resting place, which (obviously) is why it is called the King’s Chamber.  While there are those who believe that Khufu’s actual burial room lies yet undiscovered within the Great Pyramid, there is some fairly good circumstantial evidence that the King’s Chamber was intended to be the focal piece of the whole ensemble.  To begin with, it contains a sarcophagus…  generally considered a pretty reliable clue that a room might be a burial chamber.

[Anecdotal Exception:  I once knew a police detective who kept a coffin in his living room.  When I asked him why, he said because the neighbors complained about it being on his porch.  True story.]

The King’s Chamber and the sarcophagus – usually, but not always, a good sign that someone was interred (Photo by Keith Payne)

The King’s Chamber and the sarcophagus – usually, but not always, a good sign that someone was interred (Photo by Keith Payne)

But there are other reasons as well.  Structurally speaking, it is the center of the design.  This does not mean that it is literally in the physical center of the pyramid.  Instead, it means that everything below, beneath, and around the King’s Chamber was designed to support a 20×10 cubit room with a flat ceiling, exactly where it is located.  Everything else, from the materials used in its construction to its exact positioning, was geared toward achieving this goal.  Hemiunu would accomplish this using tried and true methods and innovations that expanded on these techniques.

As we will see throughout our explication of Phase Two, the Grand Gallery exists as it does and where it does in order to build the King’s Chamber.  When compared with the external ramp and the elevation of the Relieving Compartments, every detail from the length and height of the Grand Gallery to the positioning of the Great Step was determined by the dimensions of the King’s Chamber and the gabled ceiling of the structure above it.  So if there is an even more regal tomb in the pyramid—we’ll call it the Emperor’s Chamber—then where is it and how was it built?

South of the QCOne possibility is that it could be to the south of the Queen’s Chamber, but again, where?  In order to stay on the north/south axis it would have to be lower than the southern “air shafts” (intercom channels) leading out of the King’s and Queen’s chambers, which would situate it lower than both, which is not a very stately location for an Emperor.  Royal burial chambers in the large-scale pyramids prior to Khufu (Djoser’s Step Pyramid is an exception, but a lot of changes followed Djoser) were higher than other chambers and antechambers, and Khafre would likewise follow suit.

Menkaure inner worksAt this point one might rightly observe that Pharaoh Menkaure, who came after Khafre, located his final burial chamber lower than an earlier burial room.  Both of these tombs were cut into the bedrock, which could explain the deviation.  While it is true that changes in a pyramid that is already under construction are risky, one safe place to make changes is in the bedrock.  Unlike a pyramid, which becomes smaller as it rises, making alterations difficult, changing the layout of the understructure in the bedrock was comparatively simple and safe.

The point being that when construction is progressing downward, as it would be in the bedrock, rather than upward, as it would be in the superstructure, Menkaure could feasibly have decided to make an even more impressive burial room deeper than the other chamber.  I am not arguing that this is the “exception that proves the rule,” but I am saying that once the pyramid was underway the only safe place to make a large change in plan was deeper into the ground (parallel excavation would have undermined more of the superstructure), and the promise of a better tomb may have outweighed tradition.

in the substructureNothing discovered so far suggests that a larger, more impressive burial chamber was excavated in the bedrock beneath the Great Pyramid, and there is no evidence of a larger tomb in the superstructure beneath the King’s Chamber.  There is evidence of additional plans in the Subterranean Chamber, such as the so-called well-shaft and the southern extension, but whatever their intended purpose may have been, they were abandoned, most likely when the Queen’s Chamber was completed and there was no longer a use for the chamber as a provisional tomb.

Although Menkaure’s pyramid shows that tradition is not always a hard and fast rule, it does not seem likely that Khufu would have settled for a burial chamber that was both lower and smaller than the King’s Chamber.  The man who commissioned the only surviving Wonder of the Ancient World does not strike me as a man prone to compromises.  So what about beside or above the King’s Chamber?

beside or aboveIt is not likely that an Emperor’s Chamber could exist parallel to the King’s Chamber because if it were centered along the north-south axis (as everything else is) then one or both of the southern intercom channels would pass through it.  This same problem exists for several meters higher than the floor-level of the King’s Chamber.  In fact, an Emperor’s Chamber would have to be higher than the gabled ceiling of the Relieving Compartments, otherwise the rafters would be directing the pressure from the masonry into the hollow space of the Emperor’s Chamber, leading to a collapse of both.

Building an Emperor’s Chamber above the rafters brings us back to the problems of Phase One—how do you deliver the megalithic beams that high?  Building a higher room would require another set of Relieving Compartments for a flat ceiling, or at least another set of rafters if it had a gabled ceiling.  Recall that Hemiunu went to great lengths to avoid corbelling everywhere but the Grand Gallery, and both a flat and gabled ceiling would require the transport of beams that would be too large for the internal ramp, requiring a longer and higher external ramp, a problem we already examined at length.

pyramid profile cutawayBuilding an Emperor’s Chamber—a burial room at least as impressive as the King’s Chamber, only higher—would not only have required a bigger external ramp, it would have required a second counterweight system, which means a second Grand Gallery and a second Ascending Passageway are likewise hidden somewhere in the considerably more restricted space of the top half of the Great Pyramid.  Otherwise there would be no way to raise the massive beams required for its construction.  A cursory glance at the inner workings of Khufu’s Pyramid in profile shows the impossibility of this.

So to return to the question, was the King’s Chamber intended as the final resting place for Pharaoh Khufu, or is there an even better Emperor’s Chamber that lies undiscovered, the answer seems to be the former:  the room that contains the sarcophagus was indeed the king’s burial room.  The Emperor, it would seem, has neither clothes nor a tomb.

Image-Great_Pyramid_EdgarBut in the final analysis, the question is largely academic.  If a secret room containing Khufu’s mummy is discovered tomorrow it will have no bearing on the question of how the King’s Chamber was built.  It may offer new questions and potentially a few answers, but it would not change a single aspect of what we do know about the King’s Chamber and its architecture, and what was required in its construction.  So let’s take a look at what we do know for certain—dimensions and materials.  We will start with what is inside the King’s Chamber—the sarcophagus.

The Sarcophagus of Pharaoh Khufu

09_edgarJust as the King’s Chamber is the focal point of the Great Pyramid, the sarcophagus is the focal point of the King’s Chamber.  And likewise, just as the King’s Chamber is not the physical center of the pyramid, the sarcophagus is not in the physical center of the King’s Chamber—both are precisely aligned, but with a larger scheme in mind.

The sarcophagus is oriented north to south close to the west wall of the burial room, with the eastern side of the sarcophagus situated along the north-south axis of the pyramid.  It was meticulously hollowed out from a single block of red Aswan granite.

One of the pinion holes that probably held a lid in place—tubular drills were slow, but precise (Photo by Jon Bodsworth)

One of the pinion holes in the sarcophagus’ western edge that probably held a lid in place—tubular drills were slow, but precise (Photo by Jon Bodsworth)

Spiral markings inside the box and pinion holes on the western lip indicate the use of drills.  We know that copper tubular bow-drills were used during this period, and the markings suggest drills and saws were used for precision and dolerite pounders to wear away the bulk.  Rather than teeth, the copper tools would have used an abrasive grit to cut, much like sand paper.  It would have been a long and tedious process, taking no less than 28,000 hours to complete (Brier and Houdin, pp. 199-200; Stocks, pp. 918-22).

The fitting groove for the sarcophagus lid (Photo by Andrew Currie)

The fitting groove for the sarcophagus lid (Photo by Andrew Currie)

The sarcophagus measures 2.28 meters long, .98 meters wide, and 1.05 meters in height.  The inner dimensions are 1.98 meters long, .67 meters wide, and .87 meters deep, and it weighs around 3.75 tons.  It is a simple box with no ornamentation or markings.  There is no lid, although the pinion holes and an inner groove on the upper edges suggest it was fitted for one.  Where the lid is now is anybody’s guess.  It is estimated that it would have weighed around two tons and is an unlikely object for theft, but never underestimate the determination of souvenir takers.

Thieves and vandals ancient and not so much (Photo by Keith Payne)

Thieves and vandals ancient and not so much (Photo by Keith Payne)

The southeastern corner of the sarcophagus has been broken away, which may have been done by thieves who either used the hole to reach inside and grab the treasures within, or may have provided a leverage point for prying the lid off.  But analysis of the breakage is made difficult by the fact that visitors (vandals) have chipped away at it over the years in order to have their own little piece.  For some, nothing says veneration like wanton destruction.  Perhaps the lid suffered a similar fate?

An unlikely fit—entrance to the King’s Chamber. Note the northern intercom shaft in the wall (Photo by John and Morton Edgar)

An unlikely fit—entrance to the King’s Chamber. Note the northern intercom shaft in the wall (Photo by John and Morton Edgar)

The sarcophagus is too large to fit through the entrance to the King’s Chamber, and so it would have been installed during construction.  No mummy was discovered in the sarcophagus, which adds to speculation about the purpose of the King’s Chamber (not to mention the pyramid itself) and about the existence of an undiscovered Emperor’s Chamber.

Khufu’s mummy either remains interred, was misplaced or destroyed, or lies unidentified in a museum or private collection.  Or he could be propped up in a curio show next to a stuffed two-headed calf… believe it or not, there is precedence.

The King’s Chamber

Floor to ceiling red granite—the King’s Chamber (Photo by Jon Bodsworth)

Floor to ceiling red granite—the King’s Chamber (Photo by Jon Bodsworth)

The King’s Chamber measures 20 cubits (10.47m) east to west and 10 cubits (5.23m) north to south.  It has a flat ceiling that is a little over 11 cubits (5.84m) above the floor.  As with the sarcophagus, the King’s Chamber is completely unadorned and without inscriptions.  Also like the sarcophagus, the floor, walls, and ceiling are all constructed of the red granite quarried from Aswan.

This granite is much heavier and sturdier than the nummulitic limestone that comprises the bulk of the pyramid, and served both visual and structural purposes.  The floor and walls are made of around 120 granite blocks of various sizes, and the ceiling is made of nine granite beams.


The ceiling is significant in a couple of ways.  For one, it is located at one third the vertical height of the Great Pyramid, which may have been for both structural and symbolic reasons.  Second, and more importantly, it is flat.  This is unusual in that other pyramid burial chambers are either corbelled or, in the case of the Queen’s Chamber, have a gabled ceiling.

Corbelling in Snefru’s burial chamber in the Red Pyramid (Photo by Hajor)

Corbelling in Snefru’s burial chamber in the Red Pyramid (Photo by Hajor)

Corbelling is a roof-building strategy that involves inching each layer of blocks slightly inward until the walls come to a peak.  Long blocks of limestone are too weak to span wide spaces, so corbelling bridged these gaps a little at a time, with most of the block sandwiched between the layers above and below and only a small part extended into unsupported space.

Corbelled structures are sometimes called “false arches” because, unlike an arch, the blocks are not supported by leaning in on one another.  The structure relies on the downward pressure of the superstructure from which it protrudes.  The main burial chamber of the Red Pyramid is a classic example of corbelled walls.

Kheops-chambre-roiaCorbelling also distributes the weight above the chamber over a wider space.  In a flat ceiling all of the weight bears straight down over the entire surface.  This means that even using a more sturdy material than limestone would not be enough to construct Khufu’s flat ceiling, there had to be a way to distribute the pressure outward and away from the ceiling, which is where the Relieving Compartments come in.

red granite

The Relieving Compartments

Beneath the rafters (Photo by Adam Rutherford)

Beneath the rafters (Photo by Adam Rutherford)

The Relieving Compartments are five short chambers stacked one on top of the other between the King’s Chamber ceiling and the top gable.  Like the King’s Chamber itself, the ceilings of the Relieving Compartments were made of the megalithic beams of granite supported by limestone blocks. The granite ceiling beams, each weighing between 27 and 63 tons, are arranged side by side at each level, north to south, and the limestone supports are arranged east to west between the ceilings.  The granite beams are finished on the bottoms (the compartment ceilings) but left rough on the top (the floors).

ceilings diagramIn all, there are five granite ceilings:  the King’s Chamber located at the 48.8 meter level; the first Relieving Compartment ceiling at 51.9 meters; the second Relieving Compartment ceiling at 54.6 meters; the third Relieving Compartment ceiling at 57.5 meters; the fourth Relieving Compartment ceiling at 60 meters.  Above this are the 22 limestone rafters that form the gabled roof.  Total materials for the Relieving Compartments:  43 granite beams weighing 27-63 tons each, 22 limestone rafters weighing 28-45 tons each, and the limestone supports between the ceiling layers.

khufu and red pyramidThe gabled ceiling of the Relieving Compartments provides further clues to Hemiunu’s planning and foresight.  Before the Great Pyramid, the Red Pyramid of Snefru represented the crowning accomplishment in pyramid technology.  Hemiunu knew that the ceiling of Snefru’s corbelled burial chamber successfully supported 83 meters of masonry above it.  We know by comparing other examples that the distance between the floor of the King’s Chamber and the gabled roof is about the same as it would have been if it had been corbelled, and the gabled roof, like the Red Pyramid, supports about 83 meters of masonry.  Again, methods tried and true.

The third relieving chamber, called “Nelson’s Chamber,” has the clearest hieroglyphic inscriptions (Photo by Adam Rutherford)

The third relieving compartment, called “Nelson’s Chamber,” has the clearest hieroglyphic inscriptions (Photo by Adam Rutherford)

The relieving Compartments are the only place within the Great Pyramid where any sort of markings or inscriptions have been found, and even these appear to have been quarry markings or “graffiti” left by the pyramid builders.  Two of these markings are cartouches of Pharaoh Khufu, the only actual written evidence that the Great Pyramid was build for him.  Some of the markings continue along surfaces now covered by other blocks, evidence that these inscriptions occurred before construction was complete.

Sketches of the hieroglyphic graffiti found in the Relieving Compartments

Sketches of the hieroglyphic graffiti found in the Relieving Compartments

This completes our description of the King’s Chamber, its only contents, and the Relieving Compartments above it.  In Phase 2, Part B:  The Grand Gallery and Counterweight System, we will look at Jean-Pierre Houdin’s theory of how the Grand Gallery once housed a counterweight system that helped power the huge sleds that brought the megalithic beams up to the 43 meter-high worksite, and the lift that delivered them to their final locations in the architecture.

Related Articles

Works Cited

  • Brier, Bob, and Jean-Pierre Houdin. The Secret of the Great Pyramid: How One Man’s Obsession Led to the Solution of Ancient Egypt’s Greatest Mystery. New York: HarperCollins, 2008. Print.
  • Stocks, Denys A. “Stone Sarcophagus Manufacture in Ancient Egypt.” Antiquity 73.282 (1999): 918-22. Print.

Copyright by Keith Payne, 2011.  All rights reserved.

Graphic images “King’s Chamber” and “Khufu staging area” are copyrighted by Jean-Pierre Houdin/Dassault Systemes, and are used with their permission, all rights reserved.  Graphics “south of QC”, “in the substructure”, “beside or above”, “pyramid profile cutaway”, “ceilings diagram”, “khufu and red pyramid”, are copyrighted by Jean-Pierre Houdin, and are used with his permission, all rights reserved.  Photos “Khufu King’s Chamber 01” and “Khufu sarcophagus 01” are copyrighted by Keith Payne, 1997-2011, all rights reserved.  Photos “great_pyramid_37” and “great_pyramid_34” are by Jon Bodsworth, who has released them to the public domain.  Photos and images “Image-Great_Pyramid_Edgar.jpg”, “09_edgar.jpg”, and “08_edgar.jpg” by John and Morton Edgar are in the public domain.  Photo “Inside Cheops III” by Andrew Currie is used in accordance with the Creative Commons 2.0 license.  Photo “Egypt_Dashur_RedPyramid_02” by Hajor, and image “Kheops-chambre-roi.jpg” by Franck Monnier are used in accordance with the Creative Commons 2.5 license.  Photos “Campbell’s Chamber” and “Nelson’s Chamber” by Adam Rutherford are in the public domain.  Photos and images “art – relieving chambers”, “art – north south axis”, “Menkaure inner works”, “Piazzi-plate_14.jpg”, and “relieving compartments graffiti” are in the public domain.

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This entry was posted on Monday, January 3rd, 2011 at 10:23 pm and is filed under 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.

16 comments so far


Hello Shemsu Sesen

The beauty of the pyramid is certainly in the details and without a doubt the construction of this pyramid is still worthy to be called one of ,if not the greatest wonder of the world.


January 4th, 2011 at 10:45 pm

good stuff keith, dont leave us in suspense for too long for the next instalment, daveh

January 9th, 2011 at 7:51 am

Hi Dave! 🙂

I promise! In fact, I am busy with “Phase Two, Part B”. Jean-Pierre will be premiering “Episode 2” in Paris at the end of the month, and I hope to be present for that historic moment. But the devil is in the details (financing!), so we will see. But I promise to get as far with my synopsis of “Episode 1” as humanly possible in the interim.

As always, thank you so much for your participation and encouragement!


January 9th, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Hey Tim! Thanks for dropping in!

Building the pyramid must have been as much a work of art as the end result itself. Simplicity, when done right, can be rather complex in its planning! And conversely, doing complicated things with simple tools requires genius. Hemienu was brilliant.

January 9th, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Hello Shemsu,

Could you please enlighten me on what is the stone object between the sarcophagus and the North wall in the first picture by Keith Payne? It’s no longer there in a latter picture by Jon Bodsworth.

Also one of the diagrams indicate a well of some sort in that place, which is not visible in any of the cited pictures.

Thank you

January 18th, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Thanks for your job Keith.

A question : you say (I could say : everyone says) “… Khufu’s flat ceiling, there had to be a way to distribute the pressure outward and away from the ceiling, which is where the Relieving Compartments come in…”

And I always have a problem with these words “Relieveing Compartments”.

My problem is that If I think to relief the pressure that push on a ceiling, do I put several hundred tons more of direct pressure above to resolve the problem ? My opinion is that these tons will not, at least, realease any pressure.

So, the question is : are, in your text, the words “Relieveing Compartments” just an easy way to let us understand what you’re are describing (as “Queen chamber” or “air shafts”) – or is there a real “relieving” function, and if so, is this function demonstrated – for example with Dassault system engineery ? (a demonstration that the chamber walls would crack without the structure above ?)

I speak, of course, only of the “relieving chambers”, as, for me, only the roof /\ of the king chamber seems to be a reliefing structure here.


January 19th, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Hi Rico,

First, thanks for contributing. I can give you the short answer for now. The block is generally thought to be the floor stone that used to be where the “well” is now.

I passed your question on to some experts, and all I can say for now is that I will have more to say about this later! I know that is no answer, but I will have more opportunity to get a better answer when I am at the “Khufu Reborn” conference next week, so hold tight! I will have a much better answer for you then!


January 21st, 2011 at 11:59 am

Hi Philippe,

As always, thank you for dropping in! The timing of your question is fortuitous! There is a video clip in my recent article about the “Khufu Reborn” conference next week, although it does not directly answer your question. And I have also kept some reservations over whether the relieving compartments actually relieve the pressure. So when I am at the conference you can bet I will take advantage of the time there to ask for a more detailed explanation.

This is just my preliminary thoughts without having actually talked to Jean-Pierre or the folks at Dassault Systemes about it yet. If you look at the simulation in the video clip the beams of the relieving compartments seem to be absorbing the downward and outward pressure, so they were not just absorbing the downward weight, they were also absorbing the “pushing away” effect of the /\ gables. This, I think, in part explains why they cracked where they did—mostly on the ends—and why the settling of one of the walls by an inch contributed to this breakage.

So the pressure the ceiling beams were alleviating was not straight downward, it was at the five-o’clock and seven-o’clock positions. Nearly all of this is diverted into the surrounding core, but the stacking of the compartments allows the structure to have some give, sort of like how modern skyscrapers are designed to sway somewhat. I also can’t help but think of the “crumple zones” built into modern cars to keep the engine block from being pushed into the cab in a collision! Perhaps the cracks in the beams are not failures, but just the relieving compartments doing exactly what Hemienu intended them to do?

Like I said, the above is my speculation, and I am neither an architect nor an engineer, but very soon I will have some “face time” with architects and engineers who are studying this very question, so stay tuned! I am taking you question straight to the top!


January 21st, 2011 at 12:27 pm

About the “Relieveing Compartments” and their supposed “relieving functionality”.
I haven’t seen the latest 3D show at La Géode on january 27 2001 – but reading what JPH sayq on an the interview published today february 2 by marc chartier on is web site – – theses “chambers” above the King’s chamber was to put the top roof /\ pressure above the two hidden funerals chambers.
I would says that it seems to be a huge amount of tons, just with the aim to put a roof some few meters higher – and if it is the answer, does it mean that the “relieving” function should be an idea to abandon.

Plus : if these tons are needed to resist of the pressure of the pyramide itself… how do the others structures resist without such a protection. So, if it’s normal to say “Relieveing Compartments” – like we may say “queen chamber” – the quotes should be kept and another name should be used. imho 🙂

February 2nd, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Hi, Keith. Thanks for everything you’ve posted so far……very interesting, and I am patiently waiting for Part B. Do you still plan to continue?

Best regards,


March 28th, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Hi Bob,

Thank you so much for your kind comments! Yes, I do plan to continue. I had originally planned to finish Hemienu to Houdin without getting into the “Episode Two” material, but I have managed to get so far behind that I will probably incorporate the new material as well. Fortunately much of the Episode Two material pertains to Phases Two and Three, so I will be able to show the progress of Jean-Pierre’s work as I go.

Of course, there is also much that will have to be amended or corrected in Phase One, namely, the function of Khafre’s Royal Causeway, before it became such. The new material makes the case that the causeway was originally the first leg of the external ramp, which was really two ramps. The first leg eventually became the foundation for Khafre’s Causeway.

But more on all of that soon enough. Thanks for your patience!

April 18th, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Hi Philou,

Marc Chartier has written a piece specifically on the relieving chambers (click HERE to check it out) which may answer some of your questions. It is in French, of course, but other members of the Em Hotep family can look for an English version here in the coming weeks.

More to come!

April 18th, 2011 at 3:46 pm

I am not an expert, so I have some questions:

1) In the great pyramid, could the “King’s Chamber” be just another part of the mechanism for building the pyramid?

2) Photo’s that I have seen on other websites show that the broken corner of the sarcophagus is not rough or jagged, but worn smooth. Could this stone box have been used in the construction of the pyramid?

3) If Hemienu knew that the tombs of earlier kings had all been robbed, despite all of the devices used, could he have come up with the answer? Construct a tomb with no entrance. Here is how he might have achieved it: The pyramid is constructed up to the roof level of the antechambers that Jean-Pierre has proposed. The antechambers are the “pits”in the floor of that level. Construction then stops until the king has died. The mummy and all the treasures are lowered into the “pits”, and construction begins again. The “pits” are covered over by the top two thirds of the pyramid. The only way that a tomb robber can get into the antechambers, is to remove the top two thirds of the pyramid!

(4) All of the chambers in the pyramid, the underground one, The “Queens” chamber, and the “Kings ” chamber, may have been available for use if the king had died too soon, but ultimately, he was buried in the tomb that could not be robbed.

January 7th, 2013 at 9:33 pm
Raphael Wedekind

I find it interesting that it seems near impossible to get an exact count of the # of blocks used in the King’s Chamber.

Would you have any idea of how to obtain an exact reckoning?

piazzi smyth claimed 100 … but he was wrong that I can show easily … but a confirmation from a modern scholar would be nice?

can you help me out?


October 17th, 2013 at 1:10 pm
Scott McVeigh

Just curious how things are going. I randomly found this entire website yesterday. I was always wondering what happened with the king and queen air chambers. I read about the Djedi project. Then I became enthralled with the incredibly long article(s) on how Jean-Pierre Houdin thought the pyramids may have been built. I would love to read more. It has been quite a long time since a new article has been posted. Any word on when the next article will appear?

December 27th, 2013 at 10:47 am
Leonard Carter


I have been reading up on this topic for some time, and love Houdin’s theories. One thing I’m not clear on related to the vaulted roof of the King’s Chamber – the orientation.

It seems to me that the builders could have positioned the vaulted roof turned 90 degrees and that would have transferred the stress away from the King’s Chamber, while at the same time, the stress would be along a different axis than the Grand Gallery and the theorized funerary chambers.

Doing this would have made it unnecessary to place five sets of granite rafters, greatly simplifying the entire operation. They would only need to place the flat ceiling with the vault above.

I am not a structural engineer, so maybe there is a simple explanation unknown to me why the vaulted beams where aligned as they were. The entrance to the pyramid has vaulted beams in this orientation, so I assume that there is no problem in doing so.

Thanks for reading, looking forward to some ideas!

January 9th, 2015 at 11:54 am

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  1. PaleoBabble » Pyramid Building: Hemienu to Houdin Thread Continues    Jan 05 2011 / 5pm:

    […] The Em Hotep blog has just posted another installment of its pyramid building series here. […]

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