How were the pyramids built? Maybe with water In this drawing, a giant statue is pulled on a sled (Wikimedia Commons/AP photo)
How were the pyramids built? Maybe with water
Lexile

For centuries, it's been a mystery as to how the ancient Egyptians moved the huge stone blocks needed to build the pyramids. Did they use sleds, ramps, wheels, logs? There's even a theory that aliens were involved.

Now researchers say they've found a much simpler technique to make the job easier: just add water.

How the builders transported stones weighing several tons from quarries all over the country has been an enduring mystery, according to the History Channel, AOL and The Washington Post.

If the researchers are right, the answer has been staring Egyptologists in the face for centuries. Check out the drawing of an Egyptian sled, above. What's that guy pouring?

It could just be plain old water. One of the most popular theories on how the Egyptians transported the stones is that they were hauled on sleds. Pulling a sled through sand is hard work. But it becomes much easier if the sand is wet.

Researchers carried out their own experiment and found if the sand is just wet enough, the sled can be pulled with half as much effort.

The study says that's because water gets between grains of sand and forms what they call "liquid bridges." They "act like glue, keeping the grains in place. This is great for sand castle building, and also, it turns out, for sand transportation," according to American Physical Society.

Basically, the water prevents the sled from digging into the sand and creating more friction.

Critical thinking challenge: Why did the ancient Egyptians use slaves instead of steam engines to move the blocks to build the pyramids?

Filed Under:  
Assigned 120 times


COMMENTS (124)
  • JohnH322
    5/02/2014 - 09:35 a.m.

    They used Hebrew slaves instead of steam engines because THE STEAM ENGINES WERE NOT INVENTED UNTIL 1712 A.D! Whoever wrote the "critical thinking challenge" needs an IQ check. Also they used slaves because they were free labor.

    • MatthewL-Aus
      5/05/2014 - 10:00 a.m.

      Yea the steam engine was built at 1712 A.D but if the Egyptians tried to work harder on their mental state they could of made a steam engine.

  • alexh_227
    5/02/2014 - 09:37 a.m.

    The ancient Egyptian ways STILL remain a question to some people. I personally think they used sand and water. So basically, like a big sand castle!

  • MarvinR-Sym
    5/02/2014 - 10:33 a.m.

    All I wonder is how did the people put the bricks together how did they put the pyramids that high. why did they have a lot of slaves.

  • noahf-Cla
    5/02/2014 - 12:09 p.m.

    I think that this makes tons of sense. If water is wet, it is great for sand castles, so it must be great for transportation. Only one problem with the theory. Where did they get the water?

  • u3Helen
    5/02/2014 - 12:16 p.m.

    See? The Egyptians have the right idea. They used water to move the really heavy objects. The critical thinking challenge does not require that much thinking. Honestly! Try to think of some better questions so I can think about it please. Thank you.

  • NorbertoH
    5/02/2014 - 01:21 p.m.

    That is a good theory that you could do that with the sand but the weight of the rock and with the sand the size of a mountain that would be hard to move that up the sand the size of a mountain.

  • Dylan22355335644
    5/02/2014 - 01:51 p.m.

    This is cool how smart the Egyptians were to build this. They must have put a lot of thinking into building the pyramids. How they figue out using water to transport stuff is really cool.

  • Eddina
    5/02/2014 - 02:02 p.m.

    To answer that question obove... I think the reason why the Egyptians didn't use any machines to build the peroxide is because it wound not be build right if they did.but I don't see how the water made it easier because the blocks were still hevey and it weighed to much for man kind to carry by self.

  • demetrisbaezbrown
    5/02/2014 - 02:04 p.m.

    I wonder how they did all that with such little help.how many people did it? how many people died trying to build ? i guess the world will never know.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT