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By Dick Parry

Utilizing archaeological files and the fundamental ideas of engineering, Dick Parry presents an account of the layout heritage of the pyramids, the options and enterprise wanted and insights into why the pyramids have been designed as they have been.

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Although in common with all the pyramids, and indeed practically all other ancient Egyptian tombs, the Step Pyramid failed in its purpose of protecting forever both the pharaoh’s remains and the objects accompanying him in his afterlife, Imhotep succeeded magnificently in creating a structure both massive and stable, and one which remains substantially intact to this day. A modern civil engineer, armed with mathematics, mechanics and the laws of physics, plus millennia of building technology as guidance, might well adopt the same solution.

The Egyptians of this period also used the potter’s wheel. The wheel was known to Egyptians of the Old Kingdom, as shown by this V Dynasty scaling ladder, but was of little use in the loose desert sands and soft alluvial plains. Donkeys could go where the wheel could not and were the primary means of local portage in the Old Kingdom, as they are today. The wheel would have had very limited application in a country which, for long-distance transportation, made full use of its most valuable asset, the Nile.

5 tonnes. With the exception of larger blocks in the base layer, the biggest limestone blocks employed were casing blocks two to three times the average size, which were trimmed as the final operation in the building of the pyramid to give it a smooth exterior. These have long since been quarried by later generations of builders. 8m and length 8m, weighing over 50 tonnes. While local quarries supplied much of the limestone used in the interior of the pyramid, the better quality limestone needed for the outer casing blocks had to be brought from the Tura quarries on the other side of the Nile.

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