How did Egyptians build the Great Pyramid?

 “The Great Pyramid has lent its name as a sort of by-word for paradoxes; and, as moths to a candle, so are theorisers attracted to it. The very fact that the subject was so generally familiar, and yet so little was accurately known about it, made it the more enticing; there were plenty of descriptions from which to choose, and yet most of them were so hazy that their support could be claimed for many varying theories.” 
— Sir Flinders Petrie, The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh

How did Egyptians build it?

There are many theories about how the pyramids were built. One of the most outrageous theories it that aliens built the pyramids. Fortunately we have proof that the Ancient Egyptians built the pyramids. Unfortunately there are many theories about how the Egyptians built the pyramids. Below we present few of the most popular ideas about how were the pyramids built.

For years, scientists and explorers have debated over the question: How did the Egyptians build the pyramids?  Now a new solution has been found by Italian researcher Elio Diomedi that may provide answers in this controversial documentary. The following video video  courtesy of UFOTV) presents extremely likely scenario of how did they do it…

The following seem to validate the ideas of Elio Diomedi:

How were the Pyramids built?

The Following articles are © Larry Orcutt
Reprinted with permission

Moving a limestone block
© Copyright Dieter Arnold, Building in Egypt, p. 278

The pyramid blocks were hewn from quarries using stone and copper tools. There are examples of each stage of block extraction at existing ancient quarries. Granite was quarried using pounding stones of dolerite, some of which have been found laying about the quarries. The blocks were transported to the pyramid site from remote quarries using barges, and from local quarries using wooden sleds. The Egyptians did not use the wheel during the Pyramid Age, an invention that would have been of limited used on softer ground under heavy loads. The sleds were dragged manually, sometimes with the help of beasts of burden, over smoothed roads. Some of the existing pathways were equipped with transverse wooden beams to lend support to the sled. A lubricant may have been poured upon the road to reduce friction. (For more information, see Moving Large Objects.)

wooden sled
Cedar sled from Lisht.
© Copyright Dieter Arnold, Building in Egypt, p. 276

How the massive blocks were raised to the height of the rising pyramid is not understood for certain. Earthen ramps were used at least in the initial stages of construction. Extant ramps have been found at the pyramids of Amenemhat I and Senwosret I at Lisht (see photos below), as well as at several other sites. Traces of disassembled ramps at pyramid sites are even more common. The ramps were made of brick or earth and rubble dressed with brick for strength. They were built up as the pyramid progressed upward, and removed as the pyramid was finished downward.

 construction ramp construction ramp
Inclined brick construction ramps with transverse
timbers at the pyramids of Amenemhat I and Senwosret I.

© Copyright Dieter Arnold, Building in Egypt, pp. 87, 88

The ramps likely took the form of an inclined plane at the beginning of work, but the configuration in later stages has long been a matter of conjecture. Some Egyptologists propose a straight, gently sloping, linear ramp, some propose a steep staircase ramp, and others propose a ramp that spiraled up the four sides of the pyramid. In most ramp scenarios, the volume of the ramp exceeds the volume of the pyramid structure itself, raising the possibility that the stones of the upper reaches were placed using levers, or perhaps a modified ramp of some sort. In the case of the Great Pyramid at Giza, the upper half of the total vertical pyramid height represents only 12.5% of the mass of the entire pyramid. The mass of the top quarter of the pyramid’s height is a mere .0386% of the whole. Thus the mass of the ramp is in inverse proportion to the mass of building material it is meant to convey. Extending a ramp to the upper reaches of a pyramid to service such a small volume of stone would appear to be inexpedient.

But whatever the configuration of the ramps, the fact remains that the Egyptians successfully completed the most massive building projects in all of history. There is nothing magical or supernatural in the means by which they achieved their goals. By all indications, they retained their knowledge of construction throughout their history, but they were limited after the Fourth Dynasty not by the lack of technology but rather by the lack of the abundant resources that were previously available. More than two thousand years later, the Romans would move huge stones, some weighing nearly 1,000 tons, using similar techniques at Baalbek.

More impressive than the mechanics of moving huge masses of building material are the logistics involved: choreographing teams of foremen, multitudes of workers, and a profusion of supplies, all within the rigid constraints of a blueprint for design and a timetable for completion. It is hard to imagine that such a feat could be possible, but the pyramids themselves provide mute testimony that it was not only possible but actually accomplished. There remains no known written record hinting at how the pyramids were built, nor have any reliefs depicting the procedure been found. Most of what Egyptologists believe to be true of the methods involved is based on tangible archaeological evidence. Some is based on theory and is open for debate. What is known for certain is that the Egyptians used simple but effective tools to quarry the stones, to move them to the pyramid site, and to place them in the desired location.

For a more detailed and technical treatment of pyramid construction techniques, see Bonnie Sampsell’s articles on the role of accretion layers in pyramid design and on how the Egyptians managed to control the shape of the pyramid while building it.

© Larry Orcutt,  Catchpenny Mysteries
Reprinted with permission

Jean-Pierre Houdin Theory

3D Unveils the Mystery of the Great Pyramid

The secret of the construction of the pyramid of Khufu in Egypt has always held people in fascination. Numerous theories have been put forward but none has yet stood up to analysis. Eight years ago, the architect Jean-Pierre Houdin had a flash of intuition and developed a revolutionary theory. Considering Khufu’ monumental undertaking as the first industrial construction project in history, he turned to Dassault Systèmes technology to test his hypotheses and feed his thought processes. So it was that he joined the ‘Passion for Innovation’ programme. Having demonstrated the validity of the theory with the aid of their scientific 3D solutions, Dassault Systèmes invite you to enjoy an extraordinary journey through time and space. Relive the Great Pyramid construction project in real-time 3D!

The Grand Gallery Counterweight

 The Bob’s Room


JP Houdin – Cheops Revealed


Jean-Pierre Houdin Theory –  Summary:

Jean-Pierre Houdin wrote an absorbing document compiling a set of 34 clues supporting his theory.
Learn more about Jean-Pierre’s in-depth study of the pyramid (View or download 7MB PDF):

For full details visit

Internal Ramp Spiral

This thermal photo reveals internal ramps and confirms Houdin’s theory.

Summary of other construction theories:

Subject Related Links:

PS Geopolymers Theory

Are the pyramids made out of concrete, an artificial re-agglomerated limestone?

Joseph Davidovits and the Geopolymer Institute crew shows that only few people is able to rapidly and easily produce several tons of pyramid stone blocks.


  1. Billy James says

    To the best of my knowledge no-one has ever fully explained how stones, weighing over two or three tonnes, could be dragged or hoisted hundreds of feet into the air and then placed in position with such incredible precision? Amusingly, I truly believe that the factual evidence of ramps and rope-pulleys have nothing to do with hoisting blocks of stone some four or five-hundred feet above ground level! My theory – based upon the known facts of what skills and manpower they had – is incredibly simple: apart from using pulleys and ramps merely to move the stones around at base level, I believe they did not hoist a single stone more than a few inches throughout the entire construction. If anyone reading this comment is interested in in how this seemingly impossible feat was achieved … please contact me.

    • kregg says

      I know how the great pyramid was made. nobody lifted or slid the huge tons. those blocks are there but they were not ever moved. the pyramid was made but built. i understand how it war done.

  2. says

    The most simple ramp system is not mentioned in this paper, one that is made with not more than 2200m3 extra stones/sand/mortar to realize and leaves no traces once it is removed. With this ramp stones can be brought up to level 131m or more than 99% of the pyramid mass. The last 14m have to be done with lifts or cranes, the first 1500m3 botom-up and the last 1000m3 top-down.

    The capstone could be placed with a specialized team of 20 men and a simple lift based on the same zigzag principle.

    The whole theory is based on (as far as I know) 12 new and 6 existing ideas. For a more detailed explanation see the above mentioned website. Kind regards, Ben J. Hendriks.

    • kregg says

      You are wrong. each stone is about 12.000 pounds. for 20 people that would be 900 pounds each. i know how it was made. they are stones. But they did not start out as stones.

  3. Hany Halim says

    Egypt’s supreme council of culture, department of author’s rights,

    Patent number 946 in Cairo 28/7/2002 at 16:00:10 afternoon Receipt no 145

    Herodotus, the Greek historian of the fifth century BC, regarded as the father of history wrote the earliest description in existence of the pyramids. When Heroduotus visited the period in 440 B.C., it was as old to him and his period is to us. He wrote that each of the pyramids four faces were still covered with highly polished limestone (casing stone).

    Casing Stones
    THE BROKEN VASE THEORY See also the newest theory
    IT has always puzzled me to see the amazing joints between the stones of the
    pyramids, especially those used for the outer cladding. Close inspection reveals
    that you cannot insert a pin or a sharp razor blade in between the stones and I
    believe that they were probably meant to be water-tight in order to prevent water
    Leakage into the building. They adhere perfectly to each other with no cement at
    all.The question that nagged me was how the Ancient Egyptians managed to do that with such great precision?
    I decided to try and discover their secret, with the strong conviction that it was a task that must fall to one of their descendants.
    I imagined myself to be the engineer who was given the task as the project manager. How would I do it and where to start?
    I started by deciding the location of the construction site and the quarries; the cutting technique; the number of stones required; how many workers needed; the building technique that would be employed; how to move the stones and how to lift them up, etc.

    The time allowed for the project was not more than 25 years (according to our knowledge about the average rule time of Khufu and Khafra (the builder of the great pyramid and his son respectively).
    Watch this Video
    Number of needed blocks by calculations:
    The great pyramid height =148 m.
    The base is a square = 237 m each side.
    Number of layers (steps) are =202
    Average layer height = 148m/202 layers = 0,7236 m
    Average length and width of each block =
    237 m/202 meter = 1.173 m
    Average block dimensions according to calculations
    Width = length =1.17 m, height =.7236 m
    The base requires
    1st layer 202*202 = 40804 stones
    2nd layer 201*201 = 40401
    3rd 200*200 = 40000
    … =
    Until: Layer 201 3*3 = 9
    The last layer = 1 stone
    Total = 2,758820 stones
    Let us say 2.75 million blocks
    If they worked 10 hours a day
    This means:
    25 years * 365 = 9125 days *10 hours = 91250 hours * 60 minutes = 5475000minutes
    2,75000 / 5475000 = 0.50 stones/minute i.e.
    One stone every 2 minutes in case of continuous work 10 hours a day for 25years.
    A very high work speed and no delay or stop of the stone flow is permitted. How can this allow for the amazing precision of the joints between the stones?
    Were stones cut and smoothened to fit each other?
    -If we try to make any two stones fit perfectly to each other (as we can notice in the cladding stones) it would take a pretty long time and the bigger the stones are the more difficult and longer it would take, it is actually impossible to reach the accuracy and perfection we can employed on the Great Pyramid, besides, we have to keep in mind that this fitting procedure would stop the work completely until the accuracy of fit is obtained between two adjacent stones before fitting could begin on the next stone – this could never work and achieve the required work speed.
    Was there any cement or filling materials put in the joints?
    – the answer is a definite NO.
    Did ancient Egyptians have special machines to do that?
    Did other people or creatures come from space and make this?
    Of course NO, it’s only fiction.
    Did they mould the stones on site?
    Another definite NO is the answer, if you only care for a minute to look closely at any pyramid, you’ll see that its stones are not uniformly shaped, they are not cubes, rectangles, cuboids or any regular fixed shape. On the contrary every stone is different and is unique in shape and size.
    Therefore, they must have had a very simple and efficient way of doing it, it is only that no none before has tried to think in simple terms in order to find a solution for this mystery. I discovered that a simple method of working really is the solution to this complicated problem.
    How were the stones cut from the quarry?
    It is generally accepted that they made small rectangular holes where wooden pieces were inserted, then soaked in water. When the wood expands due to the moisture, it exerts pressure and cracks the stone causing irregular planes according to the stratus of the stone.
    The Broken Vase theory
    Let’s notice what happens if we break a vase into pieces then try to fix it by putting the pieces back and gluing them.
    If we do a good job, it will be difficult to tell where the cracks of the joints are, we’ll probably see a hair-line crack where we can’t insert a pin or a sharp razor blade.
    Isn’t this exactly the same case as the cladding stones used in covering the pyramids?
    If we follow the same technique to build the pyramids
    We would Break the quarry into pieces, move it to the construction site and put the pieces back exactly as they were in the quarry.
    This method required the stones to be marked or numbered at the quarry in such a way that enabled putting them back together in the correct order at the construction site. The stones were arranged exactly as they were cut from the quarry but flipped (turned upside down) to hide the cutting marks under the stones.
    I would ask you to consider then, is this only a clever guess, a theory, or a proven fact??!!
    * Quarry Men Writings
    * Logic , common sense and Work order
    * Knowledge of Ancient Egyptians
    * Is it feasible and practical
    * Inherited tradition
    * Stratus and Geology
    Quarry Men Writings:
    It is a fact that quarry men used to write on the blocks
    We know that the Great Pyramid belongs to Khufu because of the writings (in red colour) of the group of workers who named themselves as the Strongmen of Khufu).
    A French Egyptologist found more than1500 stones used in building the pyramid of PEPI the first in Sakkara having quarry writings on them, he translated it and found that most of them are names of workgroups, numbers & marks, …etc.
    What were these writings for?
    · Fun at leisure time (I don’t think they had that)
    · Memorial writing (Stones were to be eventually hidden inside the building)
    Functional role, or constructional reasons
    Of course, we will have to come to the conclusion that
    They Had a functional role or constructional reasons

    Logic, common sense and Work order
    The simple principle first cut – first moved and then built must have been applied and if it was followed accurately we will end up having the stones built in the same order as they were cut with no effort needed to make them fit accurately to each other.

    Did Ancient Egyptians know these techniques?
    Yes, we could find assembly marks on some of the wooden pieces of KHUFU’S Boat found in 1954 next to the great pyramid and that helped in reconstructing it.
    Tutankhamen’s shrines in the Egyptian Museum carry assembly writings that help when putting the pieces together.

    Does this technique really work?
    Sure it does
    It is the same technique used in cutting the temple of ABU-SIMBEL and reconstructing the blocks 60 meters higher than their original location.
    Every piece was given a number and carefully moved and put back exactly where it belonged.

    The same was followed in moving the temple of Philae from its original island to another island – the project taking 4 years to complete.

    The visitor to these two temples can never notice they were even moved from their original places and find it difficult to believe this.
    Inherited tradition:
    I wanted to ask the modern stone cutters and builders about the eligibility of this theory. So I paid a visit to a quarry and asked to meet the stone cutters. I was invited to a cup of tea and asked to wait for half an hour for them because they were building a wall nearby.

    I thought the man whom I had met misunderstood who I wanted to meet, so I told him, “sorry, I want to meet the stone cutters not the builders”.
    He answered, clarifying my misunderstanding, “Sir, in our career the stone cutters are stone builders at the same time. So every stone-cutter is a builder and every builder is a cutter, this is how it is now and how it has always been from generation to generation.”
    I was delighted to hear this and know that it strongly supported my theory.
    I eventually met them and suggested my theory and asked if they could work like this or would there be any difficulty carrying it out.
    It was one of the best moments in my life when I saw their eyes and mouths open wide with happiness to tell me “God enlighten you, it must be this is how our grandfathers built it, it’s a wonderful idea”
    We cannot reach that old precision now because we get ready cut stones that we have to build with and we have to fill the joint with cement to make them hold each other and fit.
    I knew then that I was on the proper track and that
    Our grandfathers did cut the stones, move them to the construction site and built them again and –
    * They marked the stones with necessary marks for assembly;
    * They wrote the names of the work groups responsible for each stone to assign the responsibility and to help the reconstruction.
    * The work team did the cutting and building to give no chance for workers to blame each other for any mistakes – they had the same group cut, move and build a whole length or side or area to limit the responsibility and guarantee quality.
    * Stones were flipped at the construction site to hide the cutting holes (a good observer can see that in some places where the sides of stones are visible).
    Stratus and Geology
    Only a month ago I had guided an American geologist who showed great interest in my theory and he started observing and drawing my attention to the stratus that continues from a stone to the one next to it, but what was easier to notice was the same erosion pattern going horizontally from one stone to the other. He told me that this proves that the stones were originally next to each other in the quarry; he even showed interest in carrying out his own scientific research about it.

    My theory was published years ago in Egyptian newspapers and magazines and I gave many lectures in the Egyptian Cultural Centre and Tourism Training Centre and some cultural saloons of Dr Mohsen Lotfy & Dr Waseem el Sisy.
    I had no opposition of any kind and now you can find guides explaining my theory as a known fact.
    I’m publishing it now on the internet for the whole world to know and I’m happy to receive your feedback or comments.

  4. Hany Halim says

    Pyramids were built from the Center out[edit]
    a New Theory, a logical way of pyramid building and Construction,This must be how Ancient Egyptians Built, from the center out with no built ramp, no Mastabas, but Multi layer pyramids The supreme council of culture, department of author’s rights,

    Patent number 1000000410 in Cairo 10/3/2007 at 12:29:10 afternoon
    Author: Engineer and Tourist Guide MR. LABIB HANY HALIM YOUSEF
    Receipt no 0367021 HOW PYRAMIDS WERE BUILT See also The Broken Vase Theory Summery Building started at the center by building a core or mastaba (a square building of one layer of stones) then completed the pyramid shape making a small pyramid in the center, then surrounded it from the four sides by a layer (5-10 m thick) made a new bigger pyramid, work continued increasing the base size and the height until the decision was made to stop or the king died . Working this way made always a pyramid ready to receive the king if he died any time (this agrees with ancient Egyptians believes and agrees also with their genius simplicity and we can see the evidence in the pyramids they left) Ancient Egyptians in the old kingdom well knew wheels and may have used it in building pyramids and moving heavy stones. Ancient Egyptians in the old kingdom well knew pulleys and used it in raising their boats’ sails and may have used it in lifting stones to higher levels.

    How pyramids were built?
    It is generally accepted, and commonly thought and written on books, references and on the internet; that building the pyramids in Egypt started by deciding the pyramid dimensions , corner stones were put first ,then the first course was built, followed by the second ,third ….. Etc, to the end, and the cap stone comes on th Based on this imagination many theories were introduced suggesting building ramps either from one direction, four directions or helical ramps that rose around the pyramid , in spite of the fact that building and removing these ramps would have taken longer time and more effort than building the pyramid itself. The important question here that no body before asked is Did the king or project manager know exactly the required dimensions of the pyramid he is building? This is actually contradicting to facts, logic and ancient Egyptian religion. Contradicting to logic because for sure the kings would be ambitious if you ask them they would order the biggest pyramid, but on the other side who guarantee to be there to finish it. This is why I have big doubt they ever knew or ordered a specific dimensions of their pyramids. IN CONTRADICTION WITH Ancient Egyptian religion .Because there must be always a ready tomb (pyramid) to receive the king’s mummy at any time. So it was not accepted to find only the first few courses of a big pyramid that would take ages to finish as a pyramid (a work that can not be guaranteed to be done after the king’s death. Contradicting to fact because they left no truncated pyramids, the pyramids left by the Ancient Egyptians are all finished pyramids, having the pyramid shape either in a good condition or crumbling.

    I wondered a lot, why nobody tried to think in a simple way that suites better with Ancient Egyptian simple life, and believe.
    Why wouldn’t they start building from the center? Building a small pyramid Then increase its base size by building another layer all around the core, , increase its height to have a bigger pyramid shape , gradually making it bigger and bigger until either the king orders stopping the size increase and finishing it , or he died suddenly. A pyramid is always ready for the king to be buried in. Based on this simple thought I started looking for evidence to support this completely new theory: Surprisingly I found the following evidence

    1)Zoser stepped pyramid in Sakkara ( the oldest pyramid)was built this way, any one can notice that it started as one Mastaba using small size stone, then the base dimensions was increased (using bigger stone size)and two more steps were added, finally you can notice the third increase of base dimensions and the added three more steps.(
    2) There is a pyramid in ZAWIET EL ERIAN south of Giza called the MULTI LAYER PYRAMID it dates back to the third dynasty, this was studied by a Harvard university Cooperating with Boston Fine Art Museum in 1910, they published there work in the Museum Annuals, was discussed later in “Riezner” book about the development of Egyptian tomb in 1938.

    It is clearly mentioned that it has a square core (11 m the side) added to it 14 side layers 3.6 m wide. (Was built from the center out)
    3)El KAWLA PYRAMID in front of El KAP City near Aswan .(was built from the center out) a Square Core and 3 side layers the first one is 12 courses of height 4.3 m the second 10 courses , the third one collapsed. 4) MAYDOOM PYRAMID about 50 km south of Giza made of a square core and 8 side layers around it. . (Was built from the center out) 5) SAHURA PYRAMID in ABU SIR (5th Dynasty) a core and 6 side layers getting smaller towards the outside. (Was built from the center out). 6)All the pyramids we know about have different dimensions and different quality of building and this may reflect many things like the kings rule time, the centralized management power, the natural disasters, and the population , so in my opinion , there was no way they decided beforehand what dimensions their pyramid would be. 7)It is noticed that the location of of pyramid’s entrances differ from a pyramid to another, and in some cases it is still outside the building (like khefren’s pyramid) which means that they never planned its location but it was to be where it was when the work stopped. 8) Practically and from the constructional engineering point of view it is much easier to leave spaces for rooms and corridors while building from inside out, and it is more flexible allowing changes of design and addition of extra rooms.

    The second surprise for the whole world is to announce that Ancient Egyptians Knew and Used WHEELS, and pulleys as early as the old kingdom (2800 BC) WHEELS where found depicted on one of the walls of a noble man of the 5 Th dynasty called “kha-em-heseit” in Sakkara it is clearly showing a huge ladder standing up right on 4 wheels with two persons holding long bars (Handspike) in such a way to prevent it moving or sliding, the ladder is so big that it could carry five men to work on scaling the wall at the same time. 2) PULLEYS the concept of pulleys was well known to them in the old kingdom time as they showed pulleys made of ropes (a rope passes through a ring made of rope) used for raising boat sails. Can be observed in Merirouka tomb in Sakkara and where else a boat with sail was depicted.

    Another good evidence is what can be seen inside the king’s burial chamber in the north pyramid of Senefrue in Dahshur (the red pyramid) , there you can see a tree trunk fixed horizontally across the room with very clear marks of ropes that used it like a pulley.

    CONCLUSION: 1) Work started by choosing the building site, and digging the underground burial chamber and the corridors leading to it up to the ground level. 2) The core mastaba was built first in a square shape the side length varies from 10 to 20 meters. 3) Stones were lifted up to the second course using movable wooden ramps made of cedar wood; they could use wheels and pulleys as well. 4) They finish building a small pyramid in the center (without the cap stone). 5) A layer was added around this small pyramid of thickness ranging from 4 to 10 meters and they work on finishing the bigger pyramid. 6) They continue in the same way until they meet the corridor leading to the burial chamber where they start leaving space for the corridor extension. 7) At any moment they could leave a space for a new room and leave space for the corridors leading to it in case of sudden change of plans. 8)work continue until they either receive orders to stop enlarging the pyramid or the king died, then they move on to casing the pyramid with white lime stone reaching the amazing precision in the joints between the blocks to prevent water leakage inside the pyramid ( see the broken Vase theory). 8) They placed the CAP STONE on the top 9)they cut the casing stones to the required angle , using wooden scaffolds tied with ropes they could reach any heights the needed, also they used fine ropes to adjust and level their cutting and smoothing then polishing .


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