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Engineering the Pyramids by Dick Parry

Engineering the Pyramids by Dick Parry

Author:Dick Parry
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9780752495132
Publisher: The History Press


EIGHT

Levers, Rockers and Cranes

Methods which have been proposed in the literature for raising the stones to build the pyramids may be broadly divided into two categories: those that require ramps, and those that do not. The former category includes the proposed use of levers, rockers and various forms of primitive crane.

While much use would certainly have been made of levers in the quarrying, transport and pyramid construction operations, it is unlikely that they were involved in the major operation of raising the stones, although a number of writers have proposed their use for just this purpose. In fact, their involvement is likely to have been confined to prising blocks free from the parent rock in the quarry, preparing and/or loading blocks for transportation to the construction site, manoeuvring blocks during transportation and their final positioning once they had been transported to within a few centimetres of their ultimate destination on the working platform.

Although complicated access arrangements have been suggested for raising the stones by levers, such as cantilevered courses and stairways, the only practicable approach would have been to utilise the outer steps formed by the coursed method of construction adopted for the North Dahshur Pyramid and all later stone pyramids, including the Great Pyramid. The narrowness of the steps presents a problem in any attempt to promote this as a possible method of raising the stones; as shown by Petrie, the course thicknesses in the Great Pyramid are not constant, generally ranging from about 1.5m at the base to 0.5m approaching the top, but fluctuating through the height of the structure rather than showing a progressive decrease. The average step height is about 0.75m. As the pyramid slope angle is 52° the step widths range from about 1.2m to 0.4m, with an average width of about 0.6m. Assuming each course was completed before starting the next one, it follows that these are the widths on which the men wielding the levers would have had to stand. It is possible to lift a block by alternative levering from each end, or by levering from one end only inserting a progressively higher central support. Lifting a 2.5 tonne block would have required at least two men standing side by side at one or both ends, but it would have been impossible for two men to stand side by side on steps with such small widths. The widths of the blocks being lifted would often have been greater than the step widths, making the operation additionally hazardous, particularly under a broiling hot desert sun or in howling wind, with the slightest slip meaning almost certain death or slippage of the stone, allowing it to tumble out of control down the face of the pyramid.



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