Tech UPTechnologyA study reveals how the pyramids of Giza were...

A study reveals how the pyramids of Giza were built

Built to honor deceased pharaohs and lead them to the afterlife, where they would become kings of the dead, the pyramids of Giza, Cheops, Khafre and Menkaure were erected some 4,500 years ago and still stand today. How, in those times, and without modern technology, was it possible to build such stone colossi? Experts have not been able to agree on how the Egyptians managed to transport the stones from a quarry and place them in their place. Now, a new study seems to have found the method thanks to which they were able to move the immense stones with which they built these funerary monuments.

The study, which has been published in PNAS , suggests that the Egyptians used an ancient branch of the Nile to transport everything needed to build the pyramids. They built a system of canals and basins that formed a harbor at the foot of the Giza Plateau. Since the river flooded annually, they could navigate the canals and transport the heavy merchandise.

For a time it was thought that the Egyptians built the pyramids by dredging the Nile to form canals and ports, taking advantage of the annual floods that would act as a hydraulic lift to transport the building materials.

The port complex that archaeologists hypothesize served the pyramids of Cheops, Khafre and Mycerinus is currently more than 7 kilometers west of the current Nile. The coves must have been deep enough to keep loaded barges afloat of stones.

During some works carried out in the surroundings of present-day Giza , rock evidence has been obtained that shows that an arm of the Nile passed through there and that it reached the base of the pyramids. However, it is not clear how the Egyptians got the water there. Around the time the pyramids were built, northern Egypt experienced some extreme weather changes, including flash floods that devastated the Lost City of the Pyramids, Heit el-Ghurab, which was home to seasonal workers.

In this study, the researchers turned to fossilized pollen grains to paint a more detailed picture of the river system as it flowed millennia ago. Pollen grains can be preserved in ancient sediments and, in other studies, have been used to reconstruct past climates and vegetated landscapes that are very different today.

Extracting pollen grains from five cores drilled in the current Giza floodplain to the east of the pyramid complex, the team identified a large number of grass-like flowering plants that line the banks of the Nile River and marshy plants that grow in lacustrine environments. According to the researchers, this would be a sign that there was a permanent body of water that crossed the Giza alluvial plain and swelled thousands of years ago. This, they say, reveals the presence of a permanent body of water that crossed the Giza floodplain and swelled thousands of years ago.

Next, the researchers reconstructed the rise and fall of water levels in the Khufu branch of the Nile over 8,000 years of Egyptian history. “Our 8,000-year-old reconstruction of the levels of Khufu’s arm improves our understanding of river landscapes at the time of the construction of the Giza pyramid complex,” the team write. “Khufu’s branch stood at a high level of water… during the reigns of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, facilitating the transport of building materials to the Giza pyramid complex.”

After the reign of Tutankhamun (from 1349 BC to 1338 BC) the Khufu arm dropped to its lowest documented values in the last 8,000 years, towards the end of the dynastic period. This decline correlates with chemical markers on the teeth and bones of Egyptian mummies, which also suggest an arid environment, along with other historical records. However, as an archaeological study, the date ranges (of the reigns of the pharaohs and environmental changes) could vary, so we must be cautious with the results obtained.

Researchers believe that the pyramids of Dahsur , located further south of Giza, were also built with the help of river channels.

 

Referencia: Sheisha, H., Kaniewski, D. et al. Nile waterscapes facilitated the construction of the Giza pyramids during the 3rd millennium BCE. 2022. PNAS. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2202530119

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