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

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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?

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Assigned 21 times

  • marvellh-Orv
    5/02/2014 - 04:24 p.m.

    It sound like they used slaves instead of steam engines because steam engines probably did not exist or they thought it would be better to have people word other than machines that would not probably do the work right in the first places.

    5/04/2014 - 04:48 p.m.

    Finally, a logical theory describing how the Egyptians built the pyramids. The theory that "Aliens" helped to build the pyramids is pretty ridiculous. Using water to create more friction between the sand and sled, makes sense and is a functional method for transporting the enormous blocks that built the famous Egyptian pyramids.

  • ismaela-Koc
    5/05/2014 - 01:18 a.m.

    The steam engine wasn't invented yet and slaves were plenty with a lot of power. The were strong men and were plenty for that use also salves did what there master told them.

  • andrewa-Koc
    5/05/2014 - 01:58 a.m.

    The Ancient Egyptians used slaves instead of steam engines because they did not have that technology. Were talking a couple thousand years before the steam engine. Slaves provided the labor at no cost. Without those slaves, the pyramids would've taken longer to build and quite possibly still be in the process. The pharaohs also did not want to do the work them selves or with any few volunteers.

  • im23nolife
    5/05/2014 - 10:09 a.m.

    All that time and we finally have a well explained hypothesis. This is a good and fathomable answer to how the Egyptians moved those huge blocks. I guess this explanation will give us closure and put the topic to rest.

  • IsiahBrockie-Lar
    5/05/2014 - 11:54 a.m.

    I think this theory is interesting because it might be right and the ancient Egyptians used this to build their pyramids but it still doesn't answer the question of how the pyramid's side were straight and the tip was perfect.. Also the ancient used slaves because there were no steam engines 1000 or 2000 years ago and had to use manpower to build the pyramids.

  • savannahf-5
    5/05/2014 - 04:02 p.m.

    This article is about how the Egyptians built their pyramids. For years researchers have tried to figure out how the Egyptians created their pyramids and carried the massive stones. They have recently came up with another theory, water. They think water was used and it prevented the sled from digging into the sand which would have created more friction. I think that they used water to build their pyramids. If they didn't use water, then it would have been very hard and would have taken forever to carry the huge stones.

  • 27ahiltz
    5/05/2014 - 06:30 p.m.

    It makes sense. After all they got on of the biggest rivers in the world its not like water is scarce in Egypt like it is in the Sahara Desert. Also it makes sense because if there's less friction there's less work.

  • kaylaVa
    5/06/2014 - 08:18 a.m.

    Thats really smart! This has been a mystery for quite some time and who knew the answer could be as simple as water? That is a very smart way of bulding the pyramids and I can't beleive that no one has thought about this until now.

    5/06/2014 - 10:07 a.m.

    We really will never know. No matter how much we research, test, or guess, they are all still guesses. No one alive today was alive when they were built, so there will never be enough prove to say how it was built

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