There is so much confusion about building pyramids I thought I would offer my opinion on how to build one. It is so easy. One would think this was a long dead question a fait accompli, a real yawner of a question. But NO, the Archaeology magazine July/August 2009, page 27-9 sticks their finger into the moribund debate with a new and very questionable solution. They admit straight away, “All of the current theories-a long, straight ramp, a ramp that corkscrewed around the outside of the pyramid, or crane-like shadoufs have serious flaws.” So this theory in Archaeology replaces that corkscrew one on the outside with a corkscrew one on the inside. The article proposes an internal ramp that wound around the inside of the pyramid and that there was a visible entrance to that corkscrew two thirds of the way up. So they got permission to climb up to a small cave-room, where they snooped around for twenty minutes. The notch is about 270 feet up the pyramid’s northeast edge and it took them fifteen minutes to climb up to it. They postulate the spiral ramp was just inside the pyramid from the ends of the room. That would be easily tested with a camera probe going through the cracks between a single layer of rocks. It is worth a few minutes of searching but it seems unlikely they will find a ramp but there probably isn’t anything there.
A much easier way to build a pyramid is to use the pyramid itself as a ramp and there is no need to build a long ramp up to the top. The volume of that ramp would be as great as the pyramid itself and it isn’t needed. For ease of mental description imagine a pyramid already built to half its final height and flat on top. There would be a ramp running up one side at a moderate slope until reaching the plane of the working area. The workers would be placing a layer of stones around the periphery, snugging them into place and then pushing stones up snug against these outer ones from the inside and repeating the process and building toward the center. The internal rooms and stair case would be being built at the same time from their locations near the center with the stones visible from the inside of the room being placed first atop earlier ones and then these new stones backed with a second layer of stones. The outside of the pyramid grows inward and the inside grows outward until they meet. These intermediate stones are not placed flat but are slightly inclined towards the center so when there is an earthquake or long term shifting, the pyramid will tend to fall together rather than fall apart. The later pyramids were more cheaply built and didn’t use this sloping technique and some were even simply rubble filled with a finished outer casing.
The biggest problems are with placing the biggest stones which are the ones covering to Kings chamber. They need to be very thick vertically in order to span the empty space around the Pharaohs coffin. Getting these stones to their location is a much more difficult problem than placing the cap stone. The room discussed in the Archaeology article didn’t seem to be large enough to accommodate rotating these huge stones. Perhaps the roofing stones were brought up the still existing internal staircase with modern day visitors use. But they were probably brought up the external ramp like the rest of the stones.
The way to bring stones up is to set a ramp into the side of the already finished pyramid. The slope of the ramp would be modest enough such that when departing from ground level one would reach the opposite side about one quarter the way up to the ultimate top. At this point the stone would not turn 90° as in some building schemes but rotated only about 5 to 10° and pulled back across the pyramids face above the previous ramp. Thus the asscent is in a zig zag fashion with a turn around platform at the end of each ramp. This turn around station would be horizontal but it need be little longer than the length of the sled the stone is on. The long King’s Chamber stones can thus be handled without dangeling them over empty space as would be necessary if they were rotated 90°. It might prove easier for the crew pulling the stone up the first ramp to keep going straight and go right on over the edge while the second ramps crew hooked onto the sled and pulled it back from the edge and on up the other way.
Imhotep worked it all out almost 5,000 years ago. I wonder how much of our modern technology will be lost to the future because we havn’t record the techniques for doing what we have done.