The Pyramids

We’ve covered a lot of stuff throughout the semester. But call me cliché, I still think the pyramids of giza take the cake on  being the most intriguing and impressive. It all comes down to the organization, time, and engineering to construct these massive works to such high precision. There are a couple categories that most impress me.

1. Flatness of stones. This cannot be overstressed. I’ve worked in a machine shop (precision metal and materials cutting) for a year and a half now, and it amazes me how much it takes to make something flat. For us, we use a mill that uses a spindle with a metal blade that rotates at thousands of RPM. To move, this thing requires precision ground surfaces (made by other perfect machines) so that it may cut a straight, flat surface. Did I mention these machines don’t cut stones of any sort? Stones are brittle: they’d crack under any sort of pressure, and are therefore very, very difficult to make. The Egyptians cut granite to very high precision flatness: if a straight edge is taken to the surface and a sheet of paper is slid through to detect imperfection, the paper would not go through. The paper’s thickness is 0.002″… SUPER THIN. Well, how do we cut granite these days to that precision? Grinders, High RPM skilsaws with specially engineered blades, etc. technologies NOT available to the Egyptians. How did they do it? Most recent theories support evidence of using a large, copper blade saw, some sand, and some water. With just these tools, the ancient Egyptians could cut 15 foot, 70 ton slabs of granite with surfaces that had flatnesses with a precision to 0.002″. Granted, I bet it took a long time and a lot of copper (since copper is softer than granite), but they still got the job done. Simply baffling.

2. Ability to organize the project and people for 10-20 years (Khufu). That is the definition of endurance, I don’t care who you are. Creating just Khufu required thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people to construct. A pyramid isn’t just something you and your buddies set out to do over the weekend, this thing required years of architectural designing, scheduling, logistics, workforce training, etc. For the Egyptians to even design this thing without standard measuring conventions or even apparatuses to make measurements and have these pyramids turn out the way they did? Incredible.

The construction of the pyramids is nothing short of one of the greatest, most impressive things mankind has put on this earth with its bare hands.