It is a mystery that has confounded scientists for thousands of years. How were Egypt's massive pyramids built? A French architect may have the answer.
The pyramids at Giza are some of the best known monuments in the world. They rise from the sands outside of Cairo, and are visited and photographed, climbed and explored by thousands of fascinated international visitors every year.
Part of that fascination -- the unknown. Construction of the pyramids is an architectural riddle as elusive and the sphinx. After eight years of study, and building on the works of other theorists, Jean-Pierre Houdin has come up with a unique and plausible theory of construction.
Jean-Pierre Houdin is a French Architect .
"The main novelty is that the pyramid was built from inside out, with an internal ramp. All the other theories with ramps have difficulties finishing the construction because the ramp is either too long or too sloping. For me the interior ramp was used until the end of construction to bring up materials. A corridor inside the pyramid reaches 1.06 kilometers or 0.9 miles at its maximum."
Houdin's use of multi-dimentional, computerized mockups of the structures and the construction process has been fundamental to developing the theory. We are looking through the pyramids here.
Houdin says a series of counterweights helped builders move the heavy granite and limestone blocks into place. Bob Brier, a senior research fellow at Long Island University, studies Egyptian antiquities.
"I think for Egyptologists, the theory is very important. We used to have two theories on how the pyramid was built. One was that there was a very big ramp in the front and another theory was that there was a ramp corkscrewing outside the pyramid. But we knew that both were wrong, both had problems. Now we have a third theory that doesn't have those problems."
The pyramids are among the largest man-made constructions in the world. Archeologists have studied them for centuries.
It is not surprising, many of them say, that an architect with 21st century technology is offering the newest key to unlocking some of their mystery.