“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happier News for Northanger!

Since North has been unhappy about my suicide thread, I interrupt it here to link to happier news! The inside out theory of pyramid building! This is happy news to those of us with the Wiccan view that most things are backwards in this world. The old view is that the pyramids were built from the outside in, with frames and an external ramp, which is a complete, as you say, bordel de merde. Main non, say the brave band that has seen in this magnificent structure the obvious signs of an inside out job – a ramp spiraling out from the center, that would make the moving of two million 2.5-ton blocks such a snap of the fingers that voila, and you have time to make the nice biftek for dinner with the little woman. Who is always talking your ear off about this new thing, bronze, that the neighbors in the hut across the street have. Bronze bronze bronze. Good for earrings. Who gives a Hittites pet, as they say? Can’t a man get a little peace after moving two million 2.5 ton blocks?

And, best of all, my friends, my friends, the architect who has figured out the Egyptians little secret is none other than man named Jean-Pierre Houdin. Houdin! The very name is like a bell.

I hope this makes North happy.

9 comments:

northanger said...

no. now i'm thinking you're making fun of me & i'm despondent :( and i'm feeling even worse after another conversation about how talking about negative things doesn't make someone negative.

so. sorry. i'm a conversational failure today.

northanger said...

continue. suicide is painless.

roger said...

What, and no linky? It's the black capsule scene.

But aren't you psyched about the pyramid? The secret! I feel like almost all the mysteries are now revealed, save for who, exactly, has the Maltese Falcon.

northanger said...

oh, maybe the ruby slippers are on the Maltese Falcon. always wondered where they got off to.

{sigh} i will go read the pyramid link. are we talking about pyramids now? we can talk suicide. i'm feeling more cheery.

northanger said...

pyramidal eversions: Outside In (Smale's paradox)

okay, a spiral is like an infinite ring.

northanger said...

hey, this is #286.

P.M.Lawrence said...

No, no, no. This is all wrong. By chance, I know how large blocks were moved in classical times; it was with something called a "stone wheel", which is not a wheel made out of stone but a wheel constructed around the stone (typically of re-usable wooden pieces). It is far more practical than organising a system of rollers, and has less rolling resistance because of the larger diameter; it would have made Stonehenge (say) a mere matter of a few day's work for the men of each settlement en route (varying the routes, of course).

What has this to do with pyramid building? It is readily adaptable to raising the blocks along the faces of the pyramid, or better still along steep ramps built onto the edges, just by using levers for that part - and Herodotus records local tradition that the blocks were raised with levers. Egyptologists dismiss the tradition because tests have shown that it is impractical to lift blocks a stage at a time that way - but levering to roll them up steep slopes? And the Egyptians had the Scarab to inspire them. Indeed, a papyrus wrapper ball would probably have been easier to make than suitable wooden pieces, given the availability of materials, and it could easily have a circumferential groove to seat it on a pyramid edge. The Egyptologists are probably correct in thinking that the blocks were brought from the quarries by water, though; they have found traces of access canals leading to the work areas (these could only have been used during the floods, but that was precisely when peasant labour wasn't needed on the farms).

roger said...

Mr. Lawrence, I'm sorta convinced. But I don't see the jump between saying that the stone wheel was the instrument of choice for the pyramid builders and saying that the pyramids had to be built from the outside in. Surely it could have operated if a spiral ramp had been used? And surely one of the evidences one would like to account for is the lack of evidence for the way the pyramid was built, which the inside out story does try to explain.

P.M.Lawrence said...

To be sure, one could have used the stone wheel with interior passages. But then we have the following:-

- There is no need for turning chambers.

- Levering stone wheels up pyramid faces or edges wouldn't leave traces either.

- The layers weren't horizontal in later pyramids, but sloped slightly inward for structural stability; interior passages would have compromised the structural soundness unnecessarily (some passages did have to be provided, of course).

- Why back fill interior passages anyway? Back filling wouldn't restore structural soundness as the material wouldn't lock with the previous structure.

For what it's worth, the methods used in 18th and 19th century canal building were straightforward and didn't leave traces. Essentially, the canal sides had duckboard ramps laid down, and navvies with laden barrows steered them up the ramps while being hauled by teams of horses on the flat (the ropes passed over pulleys at the top). We don't believe the Egyptians had pulleys etc., but it would have been straightforward to haul blocks up with peasants providing a counterweight going down (the peasants would have had to climb back up each time).

Anyway, the point is that, while we don't know just which tricks were used, we don't need elaborate ones; simple, workable ones were available, given the manpower (which they had, during the agricultural off season).