Early River Valley Civilizations & Pyramids

The first civilizations established in the places where have sufficient climate and soil conditions. These places were; the Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrater rivers, Nile river in Egypt, Indus river in India. Because of these civilizations were the first ones which have agricultural acitivities, the existence of alluvial soils and the rich water resources attracted them. Today, these efficient conditions have a big role in people to decide where to settle. While reading the book, World Architecture: A Cross-Cultural History by Richard Ingersoll, and making research at the same time, I came across a map which shows these civiliziations’ locations. Well, while we are dealing with History of Architecture nowadays, I made a research on an interesting topic: Pyramids from the ancient Egypt civilization.

How Were The Pyramids Constructed?

There is no any documented or recorded source from ancient times about how the pyramids was built exactly. The way of construction of pyramids is an intriguing point when you learn that the each stone blocks weigh approximately 200 tons and estimated 2 million of these used to build a pyramid. There is no exact explanation of how mere man effort could build such an incredible structure. Everything written below is about the Great Pyramid of Giza.

There are many theories about how pyramids in Egypt was constructed. It has been said that machines used to raise the blocks, or the pyramids constructed by using ramps, even there is ‘aliens made them’ theories.

“Modern scholars have favored these two original theories (machines or ramps), but deep in their hearts, they know that neither one is correct. A radical new one, however, may provide the solution. If correct, it would demonstrate a level of planning by Egyptian architects and engineers far greater than anything ever imagined before.” by Bob Brier.

Because, that would indicate such a great architectural work.


The photo above represents the theory of Houdin. Photo Reference

According to my search, the most rational theories are the ones about ramps. One of them is, external ramp theory. It suggests that there are ramps at the each side of the pyramid so that the stone blocks can be carried easily and the ramp can raise, as the pyramid grow. However, the slope of the ramp should be around 7 or 8 percent (maximum) so that the man is able to drag the blocks up. If the slope increased, the ramp would have to be too much long to reach the top of the pyramid. Such a huge ramp would be a giant mass like the pyramid itself. In order to construct that ramp there would be needed so much human labor and time. Besides, there is no evidence of such a kind of ramp.  Eventually, this external ramp theory did not work. Other one is, a French architect named Jean-Pierre Houdin ‘s theory. Actually, this theory begins as suggested in the external ramp theory. Houdin comes up with the theory of the bottom third of the pyramid was constructed by using a ramp but the difference began after the base (the lower third of the pyramid) was complated. He suggests that the existent ramp was too short to reach to the top of the pyramid so that the ramp was dismantled and a second ramp built inside walls of the pyramid. When the contruction of pyramid finished, the ramp was sealed within the pyramid walls and now still exist inside the pyramid.

Other theories of how pyramids were built using ramps of sand:


World Architecture: A Cross-Cultural History by Richar Ingersoll, Spira Kostof

Bob Brier’s article: How to Build a Pyramid.



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