“We Couldn’t Build the Great Pyramid Today” – We Could Do Better

I’m nearly finished with the book by David McCullough, The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914. I don’t ever want to hear any such nonsensical statement again about how the Great Pyramid is beyond modern reach.  Ever. To not laugh when I hear it would be to suffer a fool, and that wasn’t my strong suit before I read the book.

Just one statistic will suffice for this post. It has been estimated that, if the Great Pyramid were built today it would require 3 million cubic yards of concrete. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? A drop in the bucket compared to the Panama Canal.

In just the American phase of the construction (1903-1914) a total of 238,845,587 cubic yards were excavated. In 1907, men were moving 1,000,000 cubic yards every month. Three million cubic yards pales in comparison. It would have been a vacation for the tens of thousands of men working in Panama. And the cubic yardage doesn’t even begin to describe the engineering logistics and obstacles, not to mention this was all done through waves of malaria and yellow fever.It’s truly a colossal feat of engineering.

But, Mike, you say, it’s not a fair comparison. The people building the canal had machines like steam shovels and trains. Uh … that’s my point. We *could* build the Great Pyramid today and it wouldn’t require aliens, just like it didn’t back in ancient Egypt. As impressive as the Great Pyramid is, its engineering problems are known and solvable. Sure, a couple of dim-witted scientists in a NOVA television special weren’t up to the task — which only shows they weren’t up to the task. Engineers like Jean Pierre Houdin have articulated in great (and coherent) detail how the pyramid could have been built without modern machinery. Other engineers (namely Davidovits and Barsoum) have proposed that the pyramid blocks were fabricated ancient concrete. Scholars of Egyptian engineering are well informed in Egyptian construction methods, including the pyramids.

And isn’t it odd how ancient astronaut theorists never seem to talk about the failed pyramid projects, like the pyramid of Huni (the Meidum collapsed pyramid), built during the reign of Sneferu, the father of Khufu? Maybe the aliens were on vacation for that one. And also the Bent Pyramid . . . and the Step Pyramid of Djoser, which was built in stages after altering the non-pyramid burial mastaba style. These are all examples of human engineering — the Egyptians learned how to build pyramids gradually, trying new techniques and learning from failures. Pyramid engineering evolved through various transitions. The pyramids themselves demonstrate this quite clearly. To say they needed alien help is just insulting.



94 thoughts on ““We Couldn’t Build the Great Pyramid Today” – We Could Do Better

  1. “In just the American phase of the construction (1903-1914) a total of 238,845,587 cubic yards were excavated. In 1907, men were moving 1,000,000 cubic yards every month.”

    Companies used a mixture of American and French excavators/steam shovels, and not just a couple of them but in the number of over 100 (wikipedia source). The steam shovels of the day were by no means primitive either and could shift large amounts of earth in a single day.

  2. The great pyramid was made of quarry cit 2 ton blocks made of limestone not concrete. If they used concrete and they did use concrete back then. There would not be much left of the pyramid left today after 10,000 years from nowthe panama canal would be dust. The canal needs repairs every year. No one has tried to make the pyramid today because they would have enough men and they don’t understand enough to be sure they would successfully build it to the right scale and proportions. No one can build the great pyramid today.

    • Clearly we can build the pyramids today we just won’t as it’ll cost too much. But let’s say a few billionaires wanted to then maybe it’ll happen. But with our knowledge and Morden tech it’ll be built today. Obviously!

  3. Study engineering, and then become an engineer. Then, tell us if we could build the pyramids today. Concrete wouldn’t last 10,000 years. The way the pyramids are put together have withstood three major earthquakes that leveled Egypt, yet the Pyramids were left intact. Some of the blocks were upwards of 100 tons. Yes, we could lift 100 tons today, but can we construct a pyramid using the pi/phi ratio and using the Pythagoras triangle without instrumentation and machines? Not one building is as “perfectly built” as a the pyramids of yesteryear. Yes, we can probably build the pyramids today, but I’m stunned that you say we can build them “better”.

    • that’s a lot of text to say ‘my liberal college professor said America sucks’

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