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Great Pyramid of Giza. Image by Nina-no, Creative Commons licence

How was the Great Pyramid Built? These ‘Notches’ Where Its Faces Meet May Be Evidence for an Internal Ramp

In last week’s story about the ‘hidden cavities’ discovered within the Great Pyramid, I quickly mentioned how some of the scans were targeted at *already known* ‘notches’ (and one ‘cavity’) in the pyramid, simply to confirm that their detectors were finding hollow sections. It’s worth digging into (no pun intended) these notches a little further though, as they are central to one fairly new theory of how the massive monument was built.

n the May-June 2007 issue of Archaeology, Egyptologist Bob Brier and French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin presented “a radical new theory: that blocks of stone were raised to the very top of the pyramid on an internal ramp.” An important part of this theory was that larger corner spaces would have to be constructed for turning the 90 degree corner with a large block – and the existing ‘notches’ on the Great Pyramid are right where these rooms would likely be:

The internal ramp theory suggests that for the bottom third of the pyramid, the blocks were hauled up a short, straight external ramp. At the same time, a second ramp was built inside the pyramid on which blocks for the top two-thirds would be hauled. This ramp, beginning at the bottom, was put into use after the lower third was completed and the external ramp had served its purpose. Men hauling heavy blocks of stones up a narrow ramp can’t easily turn a 90-degree corner, so Houdin suggests that the ramp had openings at each corner where a simple wooden hoist could turn the blocks. The notch two-thirds up the northeast corner could mark such a turning point, and it is precisely at a point where Houdin predicted there should be one.

Upon climbing the pyramid to examine this notch more closely, Brier discovered a small cavity hidden behind the inside wall of the notch – this was one of the ‘calibration’ targets used by the new muography scan.

But it is a scan done during the 1980s which offers serious support for the ‘internal ramp’ theory. A French team performed a microgravimetric survey that recorded variations in the density of the pyramid, and an image based on the readings gathered suggests a hollow tunnel corkscrews its way around the inside of the pyramid’s walls, ascending toward the top.

More support for the internal ramp theory comes from a temple just a few miles away, constructed just 100 years after the Great Pyramid: the sun temple of Ni-Userre at Abu Gurob. The ruins of this temple appear to show an internal ramp similar to the one suggested by Houdin and Brier, and close proximity in time and location of its construction with Khufu’s pyramid shows that it was a technique that would likely be used.

If you’d like to learn more about the theory put forward by Houdin and Brier, I recommend the documentary below which follows them on their journey of discovery:

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