Sunday, April 01, 2007

Ancient riddle of the Great Pyramid's construction is turned inside out
A French architect believes he has finally solved one of the most puzzling construction problems in history by working out how the ancient Egyptians built such a massive structure without the benefit of iron tools, pulleys or wheels.

In Paris tomorrow, Jean-Pierre Houdin will unveil the fruits of eight years' work by describing at a conference how the pyramid of the pharaoh Khufu was built from the inside out. He will propose that the Egyptians carried the building blocks up an internal ramp that formed a spiral tunnel within the structure's outer wall. These tunnels, he believes, must still exist today.

With the help of sophisticated computer software developed by the French company Dassault Systemes, M. Houdin has been able to reconstruct a three-dimensional simulation of how the great limestone and granite blocks of the pyramid were put together stone by stone.

This has been getting an awful lot of coverage in the news and I waited to post it until I looked at it some more. In some respects, it's not much different from any other theory that has been put forward over the years. The one new angle involves some empirical evidence that forms the basis of his idea:
The crucial piece of evidence in support of an internal network of spiral tunnels comes from a microgravity test carried out in 1986, he said. French scientists found a peculiar anomaly - a less-dense structure in the form of a spiral within the pyramid.

This doesn't seem paticularly bizarre, as many have posited the whole winding ramp theory, and it makes some logical sense that they wouldn't bother filling in construction elements that wouldn't be seen. The trouble with this, and every idea that has come up before, is showing it archaeologically in a way that both supports one's own theory and refutes others directly. Statements of the 'if and only if' variety. Could haves are a dime a dozen.