The book title, "Reconstruction of the Egyptian pyramids" is in itself an indication of the author's approach to the problems involved in pyramid construction. Past knowledge of how something was built or made is often no longer available; to all intents and purposes it is lost. One of the ways to discover how our forbears did things is to set about trying to reconstruct them. (Reconstruction is a useful procedure for gaining deeper insight into many other areas too.)
In the case of pyramid construction, the primary question is how the stone blocks were raised. To find this out, we have to first become acquainted with the technical possibilities open to the people of the time and region, and then figure out which of these are most suitable for solving the problem. It is often advantageous to know which possibilities were not available. One example of this is the wheel. In the light of present-day knowledge, we can take for granted that the wheel did not yet exist at that time, so tools or machines for harnessing wind and water power could not have existed either.
What we do know is that at the time the Cheops Pyramid was constructed, about 4,500 years ago, sledges and ropes were available as aids for transporting loads. The number of men (and perhaps women too?) required for pulling would vary according to the load and conditions of friction between the sledge runners and the ground beneath them.
The relief depicted above, in which a man can be seen pouring lubricant under the sledge runners, shows that the builders of the period were aware of the problem of friction. Another technical aid we definitely know existed is the grooved stone that was found at the site of the Cheops Pyramid. The drill hole indicates that the stone was attached to a support installation by means of a round peg. These stones - guiding one to three ropes - would have made it possible to deflect the pulling forces, which was convenient for changing direction or where little space was available.
Since they had no artificially created source of power, the builders had no option but to rely on man's ingenuity and inexhaustible spirit of invention.
In summary, the prerequisites available for embarking upon the work of reconstruction were as follows:
- sledges as the means of transport for the stone blocks
- ropes for transferring pulling power
- grooved stones to guide and deflect the ropes
- the muscle power of men, perhaps assisted by animals
- the human spirit of invention
The decisive idea was the harnessing of gravity. The idea of carrying an accumulation of human muscle power upwards in the form of weights, then saving it there (rather like a car battery), must have come in a flash of inspiration. Once this idea had gained a foothold, the technical and manual means of putting it into practice had to be found.
Presumably the most obvious solution was to tie two sledges together with a rope, leaving one loaded with a stone block at the foot of the pyramid while weights were collected in a ballast container at the opposite end at the higher level. The ballast would then move downwards, pulling the stone block at the other end upwards. To achieve this, sliding tracks would be required, i.e. the steps in the pyramid flank would have to be converted into a smooth sloping surface.
It may even have been that the shape of the pyramid was influenced by this construction method, as it is ideal for sliding tracks.
Numerous problems would have had to be tackled before the first stone block reached the top. Some of the solutions would have had to be abandoned, after the process of trial and error revealed the need for alternatives. The book describes how everything could have functioned and interconnected in such a way that continuous operation on the building site was possible. Over ninety drawings, along with force and strength calculations, demonstrate the feasibility of this construction method. A video of a functional model shows the lifts in operation.