MARIO PINCHERLE'S RESEARCH
THE METHOD OF SHORT-CUBIC-WOODS.
Excerpts from: "LA GRANDE PIRAMIDE" by Mario Pincherle, Ed. Filelfo 1979
Chapter 2, pages 112 – 125
Note of the Translator.
Mario Pincherle and his team since the beginning were interested in solving the problem of lifting the enourmous granite monoliths found within the Great Pyramid. During their first visit inside the Great Pyramid they immediately took notice of evident structural details of the costruction worth deeper investigation.
The pyramid had a landing pier right on the Nile and the problem consisted in lifting the enormous blocks up from this pier first at the level of the hill on which the pyramid rises and then at the level of the King’s Chamber up on the pyramid itself. The real difficulty was indeed this last one.
We went back to read very carefully all that had been written about the costruction of the Pyramid of Khufu since ancient times.
The first one was Erodotus, the greek hystorian, who personally visited Egypt and the pyramids in 500 a. C. and who then wrote in his histories (book II, paragr. 125) these words:
"They built this pyramid by means of a ramp, that some used to call ‘krossa’ and some others ‘bomida’; after they had initially executed this construction they lifted the remaining stones with an apparatus made with short cubic woods, lifting them from the ground up to the first ledge of the slope. Everytime the block was raised to that first ledge, it was moved onto a second machine and from there lifted to the second ledge: for as many ledges there were as many machines; or rather one single machine easy to move about was readied onto the next ledge up the slope, once the block had been elevated; we describe both procedures as they were recounted to us."
Erodotus was simply reporting what he heard; yet being a reliable chronicler he could not have invented the system made of "short cubic woods".
Let’s try to solve this problem starting from the hypothesis that the facts reported by Erodotus are true. Let’s try to discover how such an enourmous problem could have been solved by some short cubic woods.
Was there something within the pyramid that we have indeed seen when visiting it inside that we could somehow compare with the description given by Erodotus? We surely did, since the ramp described by Erodotus could have been identified with the ramp of the Grand Gallery. A huge sledge that supported one by one the enourmous blocks could have slided up over the two long smooth rims, as if on two large rails, that flank the Great Gallery in its lenght.
So we kept on asking ourselvers: what huge force could have lifted these enourmous blocks up the slope of the Great Gallery?
In order to solve this mystery we avoided making the problem of the construction of the pyramid an ancient problem, covered by the remote past and buried in time. We actually made a point to ideally identify ourselves with the ancient architect. So we kept asking ourselves: "What could have been the thoughts of that man? Were perhaps these his thoughts: "Where will I find such an enourmous force that may be able to lift high up there these enourmous blocks wrested from the mountain and brought all the way here by the sacred waters of the Nile? It will be useless to employ the slaves: I would be needing such a great number of them that they may not stand all together on top of the construction. So, what should I do? The great strenght of Egypt are the waters of the Nile and the rays of the Sun. May water and sun lift these huge blocks?"
Lost in these thoughts perhaps, the ancient architect (and us with him) was studying a practical system to realize what his imagination had glimpsed at. The problem for us, having read Erodotus, was much easier in that his mention of ‘short cubic woods’ was indeed greatly helpfull.
Therefore we were visualizing the immense granite block moving slowly up and up inside toward the heart of the pyramid, lifted by the energy of the sun, by the force of the water and… those strange short cubic woods.
How could it all have happened?
Moved by this vision we imagined a practical test: to submit a piece of wood to the action of water and then of the sun. The wood gets wet, and then it dries, this is obvious. But then something else happens, and this something else is so delicate and imperceptible as soft breathing. The ancient architect may have said, almost poetically: " The wood breathes under the influence of the sacred water of the Nile when it evaporates under the warm and gentle stroke of the sun".
And how does the wood breathes? Taking precise measurements we could realize that the cubic wood, made of wooden fibres, expands when these fibers, by capillary, absorb water, and then it contracts under the action of the sun; the imbibed water evaporates and the wood dries.
This expansion, this growth of the wood, takes place in a particular way: our small cubic wood remained of the same length in the direction of the wooden fibres while its dimension changed in the direction perpendicular to the fibres.
This variation in the dimension of the cubic wood is of a very small order: about 25 millimeters (for fir wood) over a length of 1 meter. How then could we employ such a minimal expansion to push the granite block to a heigth of several tens of meter?
We know that the egyptians used the growth of wetted wedges positioned inside holes, to crack the stone: traces of this technique are clearly visible in the granite quarries of Assuan. The granite lids of the great tombs at the Serapeo, in Saqqara, ( ) were removed exactly by this system.
The ancient architect proved to have a prodigious intuition by reasoning ‘infinitesimally’ and therefore adding up very very small quantities, exactly like a mathematician or a doctor in physics in our age. He might have reasoned this way:"If one short cubic wood lengthens only this little much, by the same token the force of one single slave is very limited. But forces do add up and an army of slaves produces a very great strenght. Lining up many pieces of wood their motion will add up in a single unique motion that I will use it to lift my great granite blocks".
We may now clearly imagine what did our ancient architect do: he cut a large number of ‘short cubic woods’, cutting off tree-trunks in the shape of cubes, with one side of about one meter in length. Most probably the wood had been imported from Phoenicia where the huge and famous trees that went by the name of the ‘cedars of Lebanon’ grew strong and thick, or from the country of Sind, rich in sandal wood. Lining up some fifty of these cubical woods, placed with their fibers across the line of intended motion for the reason illustrated above, he ordered his men to quickly wet them: surely he could look at that long line stretching up more than one meter.
He needed now a proof of real power: he had to verify that indeed the line of wooden cubes would be able to move the sledge with the immense granite block placed on it. Probably a long line of wooden cubes made out of sawed tree trunks (the ‘short cubic woods’ of Erodotus) was arranged on the slope corresponding to the Grand Gallery and to the Ascending Passage (the ‘gun’). The cube that was most high up was directly touching the lower part of the sledge. The wooden cube most down below was pressing against the granite ‘plugs’ in the breech of the gun.
The sledge had an horizontal loading floor and it was placed on the two large rims. Special plates, made of bronze perhaps, well greased, placed in the small ditches and in the niches functioned as rails and guard-rails, to prevent the sledge from heeling or hitting the lateral walls (see picture: Sledge.jpg).
In the inferior part of the Grand Gallery there was a passage to take the drenched cubes out to the open air that the sun may quickly dry them up. In correspondance of this passage the floor of the gallery could be taken apart. There was, in other words, a very handy removable bridge. We can still witness on the walls of the gallery the marks left by the larger monoliths and the scratches made by the sides of the sledge where the greased plates were positioned.
We could actually imagine the ancient builders flooding the wooden cubes placed in the gun with the waters of the Nile and looking at the long line of filed woods elongating, swelling and pushing the huge sledge with the terribly heavy load. The monolith would then rise for a good measure up toward the vault of the sarcophagus.
There was not even the need of propping the sledge during the substitution of drenched woods with dry ones: the slope angle of the ramp had been studied and chosen in such a way that the sledge would remain stable and fixed upon each new position it reached by its tremendous attrition preventing dangerous downfalls. A more in depth study of the granite plugs in the breech of the gun, still in a good state of preservation, immediately made us realize that one of them was fixed and the other two moving ones. These moving plugs functioned indeed like pistons. Between the pistons and the fixed plug there may have been the presence of a fibrous and elastic subtance that thousands of years have evaporated: indeed there is an empty space left between the pistons and the fixed plug that reveal the function of these pistons. What were they used for?
Extraction of the numerous, heavy, drenched and swelled cubic woods, out of the gun, following each flooding, was perhaps an almost impossible task, more so if done by bare hands (even with the help of ropes and windlasses). They needed a mechanism to solve this issue, that is the purpose of the pistons. The fix granite plug and the two pistons they all have rounded corners: at any rate the two pistons had a rim rapped around them to seal the walls of the gun while the fix granite plug in the corners where it is blunt could open four channels through which the water flowed along the descending passage forcing its way into the gun. The wedged granite plug remained fixed in the breech of the gun while the two granite moving pistons lifted to allow later for the removal of the drenched cubic woods out of the gun. Their extraction was also made possible by the removable bridge which could be taken apart opening the entrance to a gallery through which the wet woods were then taken out to the open air.
While the huge sledge, pressed down by the huge monolith load, remained absolutely still up on the slope, the drenched woods were extracted and dry woods were brought in to be filed for the next flood and the next short movement upwards of the immense weight. This procedure was repeated until the monolith reached the landing at the top. We have to realize that the granite monoliths found at the top are more than 68 meters up from the base level of the pyramid; it is as if inside the pyramid which is made of relatively small limestone blocks, an all together different construction was raised and which was made of enourmous granite monoliths.
We could not bring ourselves to believe that indeed such a complex problem that has induced serious headaches to egyptologists as well as to scientists of diverse disciplines could be resolved and implemented with such a simple method. We had to devise a real life simulation to verify what we thought we had discovered. We built a smaller scale model ( 1 : 25 ) of the elevation mechanism as we had envisioned it and described in these pages. We employed small fir cubic woods and a large polished stone.
Studying the vertical section of the pyramid we learned that the length of the ramp was in total about 100 meters: to that measurement in the real world we built a ramp of 4 meters in our model. In the pyramid this ramp could have been flooded for a stretch of 50 meters by the Nile and for a stretch of 50 meters it remained dry above the waters. In our model these stretches were 2 meters long each. The ramp underwater could receive about 50 cubic woods: the same number of cubic woods could be placed in the inferior part of the model ramp because each cubic wood had a side of 4 centimeter while the cubic woods in the pyramid must have had the side of one meter.
We placed our small sledge onto our model and on it a stone block of about 40 centimeters: our stone corresponded to the 8 meters long granite monolith.
What was the outcome? Drenching the 50 cubic woods on the lower part of the ramp resulted in a slow movement of the stone of about 5 centimeters. We knew then that in reality that motion must have been about 125 centimeters ( = 5 x 25 ). This advance was certainly enough to insert a new cubic wood between the sledge and the last cubic wood at the top at each recurring procedure.
Erodotus on chapter 124 in Book II of his Histories tells us that: "…one hundred thousand men on a three months rotation worked for over 10 years to build the ramp (…) and to dig in the rock on which the pyramid stands, underground channels….".
In chapter 127 Erodotus, in speaking about the second pyramid, Kafre’s, tells us that: " …it has no underground rooms and no channel extends from the Nile to reach the pyramid, like the channel which flows through an underground conduit under the pyramid of Khufu…".
In chapter 97 Erodotus recounts that during the floodings of the Nile you could travel by ship from Neucrati to Menfi skirting the pyramid. Moreover Erodotus tells us that the waters of the Nile flowing through a channel went around the pyramid.
What was the use of these two channels, one on the surface and the other underground? We must look again at the longitudinal cross-section of the Great Pyramid and observe how the underground gallery sinks to about 30 meters under the base of the pyramid and at its center. We may imagine from Erodotus that this channel flows into the Nile and it could have been used most probably to quickly dump the water that was used to wet the short cubic woods on the lower ramp. The water from the other channel, flowing in the open air on the small hill on which the pyramid was raised, may have been used for flooding the cubic woods.
Following Herodotus’ story, the channels, which were necessary for setting the machine in motion, were built before the pyramid.
This machine was indeed a proper ‘hygroscopical/solar engine’. The short cubic woods were part of a huge piston that moved very slowly but with enormous power.
The ramp was built after the channels. The system of ramp and channels constituted the remarkable machine that was going to lift the great monoliths almost automatically: it was a simple matter of maneuvering valves and cataracts to regulate influx and ejection of water in order to flood those 50 inferior cubic woods in the line. They even devised and positioned a spillway channel to prevent overflowing that may have wetted higher cubic woods above the lower fiftieth, to avoid an overdisplacement of the sledge and time consuming difficulties in adding a new cubic wood at the top of the line. It is possible once everything started to work smoothly and with the sun in its fullest season, that they could advance some 5 or 6 meters a day,
We may therefore conclude that:
The immense granite monoliths hidden inside the Pyramid of Khufu, have been lifted in accordance with what was written by Erodotus, by means of a hygroscopical-solar device functioning with "short cubic woods".
This device is made out of a ramp, which we can still witness inside the pyramid, and a sledge. (A granite sledge of form and dimensions in accordance with our hypothesis has been found in 1974 by the egyptian archeologist Hasan Slim not far from the pyramid of Khufu.)
We have therefore unearthed a very ancient technical solution which has been hidden for over 5000 years in the womb of the pyramid, rethinking ancient thoughts with the help of Erodotus.
But the womb of the pyramid hides another mystery: those immense monoliths, what were they for? In other words: what is the pyramid of Khufu really hiding?
(see picture: CrossSection and the Zed)
By Mario Pincherle
Translated by Roy Baranes July 2000