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Archaeologist are claiming they have solved one of the great mysteries of ancient Egypt: how the massive blocks used to build the Great Pyramid were moved to the site. The revelations are made in a Daily Mail article about a new TV documentary, “Egypt’s Great Pyramid: The New Evidence”, that aired over the weekend.

One element of the solution comes in the form of an ancient papyrus found in the Egyptian seaport of Wadi Al-Jarf, which describes how boats played a central role in the construction of the famous monument, using a system of man-made canals that led almost right up to the pyramid. While this papyrus has been known about for a while, the article also quotes leading Egyptologist Mark Lehner as saying the physical remains of those canals have now been discovered.

The detailed archaeological material shows that thousands of skilled workers transported 170,000 tons of limestone along the Nile in wooden boats held together by ropes, through a specially constructed system of canals to an inland port just yards from the base of the pyramid.

Written by Merer, an overseer in charge of a team of 40 elite workmen, it is the only first-hand account of the construction of the Great Pyramid, and describes in detail how limestone casing stones were shipped downstream from Tura to Giza.

In his diary, Merer also describes how his crew were involved in the transformation of the landscape, opening giant dykes to divert water from the Nile and channel it to the pyramid through man-made canals.
Although it has long been known that the granite from the pyramid’s internal chambers was quarried in Aswan, 533 miles south of Giza, and the limestone casing stones came from Tura, eight miles away, archaeologists disagreed over how they were transported.

Now archaeologist Mark Lehner, a leading expert in the field, has uncovered evidence of a lost waterway beneath the dusty Giza plateau. ‘We’ve outlined the central canal basin which we think was the primary delivery area to the foot of the Giza Plateau,’ he said.

I’m always a bit dubious about new discoveries that are announced in order to hype a TV show, but Mark Lehner’s involvement should at least suggest that the discovery has some authenticity. Anybody see the documentary over the weekend? Feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments.