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How To Climb A Mountain..., ...and how to *build* one!

Devilsadvocate
post Sep 6 2007, 04:25 PM
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I know- it was discussed before:
How were the Pyramids build ?
And there have been many who doubted that those people could have done this feat, without modern technology, thousands of years ago.
Well, bear with me for a bit- maybe what i have to say about it makes sense;
and considering that we have got a mountain to climb as far as dealing with the true perpetrators of the 9-11 atrocity is concerned, we may even be able to learn a thing or two from those ancient people.

The Historian Herodotus who lived during the 5th. century BCE had a chance to visit Egypt in his time, and see the Pyramids as they were then.
This is what he had to say about them:

"Now, they told me, that to the reign of Rhampsinitus there was a perfect distribution of justice, and that all Egypt was in a high state of prosperity; but that after him Cheops, coming to reign over them, plunged into every kind of wickedness. For that, having shut up the temples. he first of all forbade them to offer sacrifice, and afterwards ordered all of the Egyptians to work for himself; some, accordingly, were appointed to draw stones from the quarries in the Arabian mountain down the Nile, others he ordered to receive the stones when transported in vessels across the river, and to drag them to the mountain called the Libyan.
And they worked to the number of 100000 men at a time, each party during three months. The time during which the people were thus harassed by toil, lasted ten years on the road which they constructed, along which they drew the stones, a work, in my opinion, not much less than the Pyramid; for its length is five stades (3021 Feet, or 920 meters), and its width ten orgyae (60 Feet or 18.3 meters), and its height, were it is highest, eight orgyae (48 Feet or 14.6 meters); and it is of polished stone, with figures carved on it: on this road then ten years were expended, and in forming the subterranean apartments on the hill, on which the Pyramid stands, which he had made as a burisl vault for himself, in an island, formed by draining a canal from the Nile.
Twenty years were spent in erecting the Pyramid itself: of this, which is square, each face is eight plethra (820 Feet or 250 meters), and the height is the same; it is composed of polished stones, and jointed with the greatest exactness; none of those stones are less than thirty Feet (9 meters).
This Pyramid was build thus; in the form of steps, which some call crossae, others bomides. When they had first built it in this manner, they raised the remaining stones by machines made of short pieces of wood: having lifted them from the ground to the first range of steps, when the stone arrived there, it was put on another machine that stood ready on the first range; and from this it was drawn to the second range on another machine; for the machines were equal in number to the ranges of steps; or they removed the machine, which was only one, and portable, to each range in succession, whenever they wished to raise the stone higher; for i should relate it in both ways, as it is related.
The highest parts of it, therefore, were first finished, and afterwards they completed the parts next following; but last of all they finished the parts on the ground, and that were lowest.
On the Pyramid is shown an inscription, in Egyptian characters, how much was expended in radishes, onions and garlic, for the workmen; which the interpreter, as i well remember, reading the inscription, told me amounted to 1600 talents o0f silver. And if this be really the case, how much more was probably expended in iron tools, in bread, and in clothes for the labourers, since they occupied in building the works the time which i mentioned, and no short time besides, as i think, in cutting and drawing the stones, and in forming the subterraneous excavation.
(It is related) that Cheops reached such a degree of infamy, that being in want of money, he prostituted his own daughter in a brothel, and ordered her to extort, they did not say how much; but she exacted a certain sum of money, privately, as much as her father ordered her; and contrived to leave a monument herself, and asked every one that came to her to give her a stone towards the edifice she designed: of these sones they said the Pyramid was built that stands in the middle of the three, before the great Pyramid, each side of which is a plethron and a half in lengths."
(Taken from "The Mummy- Funeral rites and customs in ancient Egypt", E.A Wallis-Budge, 1893, re-printed 1995)

The account contains three parts- one which is absolutely true, one which is absolutely untrue, and one which is both true and untrue.
The ancient Egyptians decorated all public monuments with sometimes monumental hieroglyphic inscriptions; the Pyramids were no exception. The inscriptions mentioned by Herodot were described by travellers for centuries after;
but they most certainly had nothing to do with the kind of cost calculation mentioned above. Inscriptions like that were usually of a sacred nature.
The story of the "infamous King Cheops" is half true- it doesn't relate to Pharao Khufu, but in all certainty to Akhenaten. He was the father of Tut-Ankh-Amen, and was responsible for the Egyptian equivalent of the Chinese cultural revolution.
It wasn't a Pyramid he had built for himself, but an entire city- the city of Amarna.

So- imagine you travel 2500 years back in time.
What you would be looking at is this:
There is a small artificial basin about 900 meters from the Pyramid, with a boat landing and an opening leading to the Nile.
Directly adjoining this basin is a small temple. The back of this temple leads onto a stone road, with a causeway erected above it. The walls of this causeway are about 14 meters high, with a stone roof. The causeway leads up to a second small temple at the foot of the actual Pyramid, but this temple adjoins a 14 meter high plinth, on which the actual superstructure of the Pyramid is erected.
The walls of those two temples, the causeway and the plinth are all decorated with figures and hieroglyphic inscriptions.
The outside of the Pyramid itself is made of white limestone- again decorated with monumental inscriptions; at the very top is a capstone or "Pyramidion" made of guilded bronze.
The causeway and the two temples have largely dissappeared; their remains can still be seen, though. The edges of the plinth have dissappeared as well, as has the very top part of the pyramid. It was used for several centuries as a quarry, during the middle ages.

In order to understand how it was built, one must first understand the role the River Nile played in ancient Egypt.
The Egyptians had only *three* seasons per year-
Yakhet, the season of the inundation, from June to September;
Peret, the season of planting and growing, from October to February;
Shemu, the season of harvest, from March to May.

During the inundation, the Nile would flood the entire Nile-delta and the land adjoining its banks; the flood-waters deposited fertile mud on the fields and thus ensured the fertility of the farmland. This lasted until the Aswan-dam was built.

During this period, the Egyptian farmers obviously had little to do; they were drafted in to work on all kinds of public projects during those four months of the year. This would include work on the irrigation-canals (the Egyptians fought the desert like the devil fights holy water), roads, temples and tombs- including the Pyramids.

So- how was it done?
When the Pyramids were still under construction, initially a structure like the step-Pyramid in Saqqara was emerging, consisting of several stages placed on top of one another. Each stage was smaller than the preceeding one.



But while the stages of the step-Pyramid were still constructed, a long stairway running the entire length of each of the four sides of each step was spared out; these "stairs" were later filled in, when the last touches were added- they were, and still are, part of the actual structure of the building, and not a separate construction..
Each of those stages would have been about 14 meters high; this corresponds perfectly to an Egyptian measure of 28 Cubits (1 Cubit is 52.5 cm; 28 Cubits would be 14.7 meters: Almost exactly the measure given by Herodot for the height of the Causeway. The measure would have been symbolic for the length of Osiris' life: He was murdered aged 28).
The "steps" of one of those stairways would have been quite long and wide, and exactly one Cubit high: 52.5 cm.
The Pyramid consists of about two and a half million blocks of stone today; back then, it was probably about three million. The vast majority of those stones weigh about 2 and a half tons; a number of key-stones come at about fifteen tons, with a few super-heavies at eighty tons. The latter would have been dealt in the same way as the others, but using special equipment.
The stones arrived by boat at the small basin at the end of the causeway; there would have been a series of small landings or piers there for the purpose of construction-work. All of these except the main one were later removed.
Were the first small temple was eventually built, there was a staging-area or dump. (The quarries would have operated all year round, at a leasurely pace; the stones would have been transported up to the building-site throughout the year as well, necessitating a staging-area like that.
Once the inundation started, the workers would arrive at the work-camps around the building-site. The stones were loaded onto wooden sleds: Either one single 15-tonner, or six 2,5 ton stones. The sled itself would weigh about a ton, constructed of heavy hardwood-planks, with cross-ties whose ends were trapped between the parts which made up each skid. The ends actually protruded through the skids.

These loaded sleds were pulled by drag-teams of about 800 people, moving ahead of the sled in four columns. The sled itself would have been running on greased wooden rails. Each one of the workers pulling it would have to move twenty kilograms in weight: 15000 kg for the stones plus 1000 kg for the sled makes 16000 kilograms; divided by 800 workers leaves 20 kg per worker. They were not killing themselves doing that. The sleds would then move through the tunnel formed by the walls and roof of the causeway, so that the workers were out of the heat of the sun.
The temple at the other end of the tunnel did not yet exist; in fact, there would have been a gap between the causeway and the plinth of the Pyramid, allowing for the arriving sleds to be distributed to one of the four stairways: Again, the idea would have been to keep the workers out of direct sunlight whenever possible.
Once the sled arrives at the bottom of the "stairs" leading to the top of the first stage, it's positioned in front of the "step", and the drag-team leaves to return to the staging-area, were they pick up the next load.
The sled is now picked up by a lifting-team consisting of about eighty people- seventy-two lifters, a foreman and a few auxiliaries.
A wooden plank is positioned either side of the skids; the lifters are divided into sixteen groups, eight to each side. These groups are positioned alongside the protuding ends of the cross-ties of the sled; one group consisting of two lifters facing forward, the other two in the opposite direction.
After inserting wooden levers (the simplest kind of machine there is) underneath the cross-ties, and resting on top of the plank alongside the skid, the foreman raises his arm to signal that his team is ready.
At the top of the stairway stands a priest who supervises the operation.
When he can see that all 28 foremen have their arms raised, he gives a signal, and the lifters push down: The result is that the sled is raised by one third of an Egyptian Cubit- by about 18-20 cm. The auxiliaries now insert a wooden plank underneath each skid, and the sled is lowered unto those planks.
A second plank is now placed on top of the first one either side of the skids, and the levers are inserted again: The sled comes up by another 18 cm, and is lowered unto a second plank underneath the skids. After repeating this operation a third time, the sled is level with the step above; the lifters now use their levers to move it flush against the next step.
I calculated that each one of these lifters would have to push down on the lever with about 25 kg; again, they were not killing themselves doing that.
Working in this way means that there is a constant wave of sleds moving up the side of that Pyramid; the sleds would have been moved into position by special darag-teams alongside an unloading-ramp and moved to the location were they belonged.
3 million stones, at six stones per sled means 500000 sled-loads; in 30 years, that's about 16700 loads per year.
Working for four months per year means about 4200 loads per months.
An Egyptian months was divided into three weeks with 9 work-days and a rest-day; this means 1400 loads per week, or about 156 loads per day.
The Egyptians worked about four hours in the morning and another four in the evening; in between was a long siesta, to avoid the heat of the sun.
This means about 20 loads per hour.
If just two of the stairways were in use at any given time, ten loads per hour would leave six minutes for each sled. Plenty of time.
Once the first stage was complete, the second was erected on top of it, and the procedure would continue.
The great Pyramid of Gizah probably had nine stages like that; the lowest one (the plinth) would have required the largest part of the stones- i think, almost one third.
When all nine stages were complete, the top was constructed. The stairway on that level was filled in (as was the angle between that step and the next lowest) and the outer casing-stones (the ones described as "not under thirty foot" by Herodot) were added. Then the next stage was finished, from the top down.
28 lifting teams per stairway, with about 80 people each, would require 2240 workers for one stairway; for two, 4480 were needed. Multiply by nine stages-
40320 workers; to this add the drag-teams (800 per team; quite a few would be needed), the teams returning the empty sleds over the roof of the causeway, the crews of the transport-boats (papyrus-boats; they would also have required a number of people replacing worn-out boats each year), the stone-masons in the quarries as well as caterers, water-carriers, architects, overseers, priests, scribes and surveyors, and you will end up with the 100000 mentioned by Herodot.

I wish i could claim that i came up with this myself; but a group of students beat me to it by a couple of years.
There is one more aspect which maybe quite important- not the least considering what we are involved in here.

Building the great Pyramid of Gizah was a major feat- not just in terms of engineering and organisation, but also because it was a long-term project spanning 30 years.
But at the time it was done, Egypt would have had a population of just around a quarter of a million, and some of those were either too young or too old to do this kind of work. Some people needed to deal with the irrigation-canals and various other infra-structur projects; and they could hardly leave their towns and villages completely unguarded.
So, those 100000 workers- by neccessity- *must* have consisted of 50000 men and 50000 women. And several generations were involved in this project.
They would have been able to tell their grand-children
"Look- this is what we build: A mountain!"
It tied an entire nation together into *one*, because it involved an entire nation at one time or another. Someone working on it this year may do something else next year, and return to working on it the year after.
This was the biggest community-project in human history:
A monument to what can be achieved if people work together.
And that was it's true purpose...

Or- as one of my infernal Egyptian texts has it:

"The image within judges man's flesh-
while weeping keeps awake because of this:
it's desire!
Misery seizes the weak- smiting the limits which man sets:
He who comes this burning flame to touch-
by coming the (self-)image to touch-
builds a *mountain* :
that which to see from..."

This post has been edited by Devilsadvocate: Sep 8 2007, 09:54 PM
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lunk
post Sep 12 2007, 01:10 PM
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Very plausible theory.
But, some of the stones are so
perfectly fit together that it is thought
that they may have been poured, like concrete.
This could be fit into this explanation, too.
From my personal experience, at building
pyramids; if you add on to a small one,
it gets bigger.

lunk

PS. By myself, I can build a 12 cubit per corner-edge-length
pyramid (about 12.5 feet to the peak) in about 8 hours.
(but not out of limestone).
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Devilsadvocate
post Sep 12 2007, 06:58 PM
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They had plenty of man-power (Their society was actually based on the geometrical principal of a pyramid- meaning a very broad base carrying a "superstructure" made up of a priesthood, warriors aso, whose "weight" was distributed over the base in such a way that the individual only carried a small part of the weight. The people in the sled-teams, as i said, might be pulling a sled weighing 16 tons; but the individual only pulls about 25 or so Kilograms).
The other thing is that i have a very strong feeling that this entire "communal-labour-system" also included a quite sophisticated training-system, the basic form of which began within the quarries with the stone-masons.
These guys used pummel-hammers (i.e., no chisels); but they could work with that simple tool very precisely. There would have been quite a number of them on standby on top of each stage to deal with any inaccuracies very quickly; but the stones were already quite accurate by the time they left the quarry.
People in antiquity were extremely good craftsmen; the device of Antekythera is a very good example for that. It contains highly complex gears (including differential gears) which could not be made any better using a computer-controlled machine. Yet the gearwheels were made entirely by hand.
You can still find craftsmen like that around the Middle East and Asia Minor; regrettably, quite a few of them make a living making copies of Kalashnikov-rifles these days...
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lunk
post Sep 12 2007, 10:45 PM
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What was their purpose?
Were they just fancy,
sharp edged burial mounds?
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Devilsadvocate
post Sep 12 2007, 11:44 PM
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QUOTE (lunk @ Sep 12 2007, 09:45 PM)
What was their purpose?
Were they just fancy,
sharp edged burial mounds?

Hmm- that's a bit more difficult; i got a theory, but that's all it is: a theory.
Originally there were *two* kingdoms, with a similar language and culture:
Upper and lower Egypt.
One was ruled by the "Shemsu Heru"- the followers of Horus;
the other by the "Shemsu Set", or "the followers of Set".
That much is known.
There was a ceremony- called "Sema Tawy", the "Union of the Lands".
It's symbolised by a Hieroglyph made up of the sign for "Union", to which the symbolic plants of the two lands are tied- the Lilly and the Lotus.
That symbol is represented on pretty much every Throne-seat ever used by any Pharao.
I believe that this ceremony was a symbolic union between light and darkness.
Horus represents the principal of light and the positive; Set represents darkness and the destructive element within nature.
The Egyptians were masters of creating a compromise whenever possible; they managed to tie principles together which seem like complete contradictions- like the concepts of "science" (Astronomy, mathematics, physics aso.), and "religion":
The rational and the irrational.
They simply realised that anything else will lead to an extreme imbalance.
So, they also tied the principles of light and darkness together: To them, everything was "One"; nothing was ever separate.
That meant in practise that, whenever one of those two kings died, his successor was required to perform that symbolic ceremony with his counterpart from the other kingdom. It worked for literally thousands of years (according to the Turins papyrus, the order and organisation of the Temples was passed down to the High priests by means of a goatskin-scroll dating to the time of the Shemsu Heru;
It says that the Shemsu Heru ruled for a total of 13420 years before the first historical Pharao, Heru-Nub-Aha Amen. It also mentions kings who ruled *before* the Shemsu Heru, for a total of 23200 years.)
King Amen can be placed anywhere between 3000 and 8000 BC.
So- they got a history which may have reached back something like Fourty-odd thousand years... And that's no BS. Their records don't deal with people living 700 or 800 years, but are quite accurate (regrettably, there are only fragments left).
This King Heru-Nub-Aha Amen (means something like "Golden Horus who wages battle, The hidden one") seems to have made a gigantic mistake.
Instead of following the teachings of his ancestors by carrying out that Sema-Tawy ceremony, he "united" the two lands by means of a war:
That war was the first organised war of conquest in human history, as far as i can see. Before that, there were cattle-raids, little intrusions, tribal warfare aso.
This was different. They wiped the Shemsu Set almost completely out.
It left a footprint in history- in a way, we are still reeling from the after-effects of that war. It's like a nuclear explosion- it causes a chainreaction, and it has got a halflife-factor...
I have the strange feeling that the Egyptian High priests were trying for the rest of the history of ancient Egypt to restore some kind of balance:
Pharaonic Egypt may have been filled with wonders, but it was the sign of a defeat-
the beginning of the end, really.
Their original culture may well have been a stoneage-culture; but they were great thinkers even then all the same.
They actually began building huge structures requiring stone-masonry literally *from one moment to the next*. The experts have no viable explanation for this; but i think they quite and simply had the theoretical foundation for projects like the Tomb of king Zoser, which are basically the first known attempt in history at stone-masonry, and which were not only *huge*, but flawless- before they ever learned to wield a hammer.
They simply began to construct monuments like that, and later the pyramids, because *they literally needed to tie their divided nation back together*.
That's not just occupational therapy, but literally applied psychology.
It meant that literally *everyone* was involved in constructing these structures- for several generations; it gave people a purpose, and believe me- the Egyptians are not just proud of the fact that their ancestors build these things so long ago; they were proud of them back then too. They literally build mountains...
I think that this may be the main reason; they may also have been used as astronomical observatories while they were being build, as well as having a religious function- and ultimately, that of a tomb.
Incidently, the Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) was never *used* as a tomb.
There is still an awful lot which is not known yet; maybe that'll change in time.
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lunk
post Sep 14 2007, 02:55 AM
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So, instead of having a destructive enemy
to hold society together, you have a
constructive mega project, that takes
generations to accomplish.

Sounds like a better plan than we
have going on right now.

lunk
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Devilsadvocate
post Sep 17 2007, 12:55 PM
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Yes- but regrettably it was that war which neccessitated it.
The war is actually described in the Egyptian legends, in the form of the story of Horus and Set. According to the Pyramid-texts (which are incidentally the oldest coherent religious texts in the world), the two were not supposed to fight each other at all.
Pharao Heru-Nub-Aha Amen seems to have had a bad name; according to the historian Plutarch, another Pharao who was at war with a Lybian chief about 700 BC found that his supplies did not arrive in time; Plutarch doesn't explain exactly what happened, but without the supplies he probably got a walloping from that Lybian chief. After his return, he had a memorial-stone set up in a chief temple on which he cursed the name of King Amen for leading the Egyptians away from a simple life. The inscription on that stone was, according to Plutarch, endorsed by the Priesthood...
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