A Spurred Spiral Ramp for the Great Pyramid of Giza
Keywords:Engineering, Ergonomics, Giza, Great Pyramid, Khufu, Optimization, Ramp configuration
An easier and equally feasible configuration of spiral ramps for the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza (Brichieri-Colombi, 2015), would be for a spiral ramp extended as a spur tangential to the pyramid rather than orthogonal to it. The general arrangement, which could have been used for many other large pyramids as well, is similar to that proposed by Lehner (1985: 129-132), but without the mass of temporary works that Lehner envisaged. It avoids the need to create a trench over the body of the pyramid during construction, as proposed by Arnold (1991: 98), while respecting the constraints imposed by the available tools, workforce capabilities and design features of the pyramid. Finding the ideal configuration would not have been easy for the ancient builders, but this paper demonstrates how they could have done so with models. It also addresses the key construction issues associated with spiral ramps. An analysis of the construction effort required demonstrates that a ramp slope of 1:6 (9.5⁰) would have minimised the work involved. This finding suggests that pyramid construction hypotheses should be evaluated in terms of both feasibility and optimality to assess which are the most likely to have been adopted by ancient Egyptians.