Some Alternate Theories
of Pyramid Construction

There are many who feel that the theories of "mainstream" Egyptologists on how the pyramids were built are in error, or perhaps even deceptive. This is usually based on the supposition that it would have been impossible for the ancient Egyptians to have built the pyramids themselves with the primitive means that are generally ascribed to them. Based on this premise, rather than on archaeological or historical evidence, interesting theories on how the pyramids were built have been proposed. Unfortunately, all of these theories are based on assumption and speculation, and have little or no tangible support. Even so, many of these theories have found some degree of popular support.

Workmen pouring blocks.
cement mixers
© Copyright Davidovits & Morris, The Pyramids: An Enigma
, p. 72. Some details of the relief have been omitted and
altered by the authors to better suit their theory.

Perhaps the most prosaic of these theories was described in detail in The Pyramids: An Enigma Solved by Dr. Joseph Davidovits and Margie Morris (Dorset Press, 1988; see also Pyramid Illusions: A Journey to the Truth by Moustafa Gadalla, 1997). Davidovits provides a brief summation:

I will demonstrate that the pyramid blocks are actually exceptionally high-quality limestone concrete -- synthetic stone -- cast directly in place. The blocks consist of about ninety to ninety-five percent limestone rubble and five to ten percent cement. They are imitations of natural limestone, made in the age-old tradition of alchemical stonemaking. No stone cutting or heavy hauling or hoisting was ever required for pyramid construction. [p. 68]

The blocks were not quarried but rather made of a geopolymeric cement. Limestone blocks did not have to be cut, finished, or even moved at all. Instead, buckets of slurry were simply toted up the pyramid by men who poured it into a wooden mold. Davidovits writes:

One of the characteristics of geopolymeric concrete is that there is no appreciable shrinkage, and blocks do not fuse when cast directly against each other. Although it would have been impossible to achieve the close fit (as close as 0.002 inch) of the 115,000 casing stones originally on the Great Pyramid with primitive tools, such joints are easily achieved when casting geopolymeric concrete. Once cast, within hours or even less, depending on the formula (minutes using today's formula), a block hardened. The mold was removed for reuse while a block was still relatively soft. [p. 75]

The theory is very nice and well-described. Unfortunately, it totally ignores a huge body of evidence. Davidovits works hard to explain away the existing quarries, the abundance of tools found during the Third and Fourth Dynasties, and the decrease in pyramid quality after the Fourth Dynasty. He ultimately declares that "This issue, however, is a matter of hard science, which must be confirmed or disputed by qualified scientists. It is not ultimately for Egyptologists, who are specialized historians, to approve or reject." (p. 239) He adds that he finds no support for his thesis among other geologists for two reasons. One, his sampling of pyramid limestone was very small. He used a single specimen of questionable provenance: Jean-Phillipe Lauer told him that it came from the Great Pyramid at Giza. Two, some of Davidovits' information is "highly confidential" thus preventing him from sharing certain of his technical details with others. (These reasons are related on p. 239.) The geological evidence against the geopolymeric concrete theory are too complex for this forum; for details see a series of articles by R.L. Folk and D.H. Campbell, J.A. Harrell and B.E. Penrod, and Margie Morris in Journal of Geological Education, vols. 40 (1992), 41 (1993), and 42 (1994).

There are a few obvious questions that Davidovits and his theory cannot answer. If wooden molds were used and reused, why are the dimensions of the pyramid blocks so varied? Wouldn't they be expected to be of somewhat uniform shape? Where is the evidence of the molds? None have ever been found or depicted on reliefs (save the small molds used for mud brick). The core stones of the pyramids are sloppily and roughly finished, many with well-defined tool marks, as they were meant to be hidden by the casing stones and never seen. They are loosely packed, often with rubble in between them. These stones were obviously not "cast." Why not? Why did the Egyptians bother to quarry and hoist these stones to the height of the pyramid if they could have instead been cast? Wouldn't ramps have had to have been built anyway for these stones? The theory just does not conform to known details.

Ron Wyatt's "machine"
used to raise pyramid blocks.

pyramid-building machine
Photo © copyright Ron Wyatt, Wyatt Archaeological Research

In about 450 BC, the historian Herodotus wrote of the Great Pyramid:

This is how the pyramid was made: like a set of stairs, which some call battlements and some altar steps. When they had first made this base, they then lifted the remaining stones with levers [lit. machines] made of short timbers, lifting them from the ground to the first tier of steps, and, as soon as the stone was raised upon this, it was placed on another lever, which stood on the first tier, and from there it was dragged up to the second tier and on to another lever. As many as there were the tiers, so many were the levers; or it may have been that they transferred the same lever, if they were easily handleable, to each tier in turn, once they had got the stone out of it. I have offered these two different stories of how they did it, for both ways were told me. [History, 2.125]

The theory that levers were used to lift pyramid stones is perhaps the most tenable of the alternate theories on how the pyramids were built (see Martin Isler, "On Pyramid Building," JARCE 22:129-142, 1985, and "On Pyramid Building II," JARCE 24:95-112, 1987; also Peter Hodges, How the Pyramids Were Built, Element Books, 1989). That the Egyptians used levers would be very difficult to refute. Large stone blocks had recesses, or sometimes projecting bosses (that were later removed) built into them to facilitate the use of levers. Even with the use of construction ramps, blocks would have had to have been levered on and off the sleds. But as a means of raising large numbers of blocks vertically up tiers of stone in as short a time as possible, levers do not appear to be as practical as ramps. Personally, I believe that ramps were used to perhaps ½ or so of the pyramid's total vertical height, after which levers may have been of more use for the smaller volume of material.

Two antennae between which a solitron
field (or "vortex") levitated pyramid stones.

solitron field
© Copyright Hardy & Killick, Pyramid Energy, p. 165.

According to the authors of Pyramid Energy: The Philosophy of God, the Science of Man (Delta-K, 1987), the above pictured "Caduceus Coil" was used to levitate the stone blocks that were used to build the pyramids. Pathways were built, flanked by rows of sphinxes, along which a solitron field spiraled, powered by coil generators. Priests used tuned coils (misidentified by Egyptologists as djed pillars), one passive (on the left, above) and one active (on the right, above). The active coil was grounded to a "Sacred Spot" and tapped into the planetary energy grid. The reason present-day scientists cannot duplicate this simple feat is because "they have not studied the power source called the world grid." Hardy & Killick further explain:

The ancient people used the grid to achieve levitation and worldwide communication. This is why pyramids are found all over the world. The Cheops pyramid in Egypt is a coil generator and was built to tap into the grid. The main control panel for this grid was the Ark of the Covenant. [p. 169]

This theory may sound silly but an amazing number of people propose similar explanations. Andrew Collins, author of Gods of Eden: Egypt's lost legacy and the genesis of civilisation (Headline, 1998), cites a 10th-century Arab historian who recorded a folk tale about the origin of the Great Pyramid. According to the story, the builders struck the stone blocks with a special rod, causing them to levitate and float through the air for the distance of "one bowshot." Collins insists that "the ancient Egyptians were able to set up some kind of sustained sound vibration that enabled the building blocks to defy gravity." He adds, "Although simply a legend, there are traditions from all around the world that speak of the movement of stone blocks and the construction of walls and buildings by sonic levitation."

Of course, there is no archaeological or historical evidence that any of this activity occurred at all. Such fancies are based on folk tales and undisciplined speculation.

Map of Atlantis.
© Copyright Richard Ellis, Imagining Atlantis, p. 50.

If ancient Egyptians couldn't have built the pyramids, why not attribute the feat to some advanced, but vanished, race? When Plato wrote Timaeus and Critias in the fourth century BC, he made used of a literary device called allegory and invented an island nation to illustrate his thesis of social ideals. He called this island "Atlantis." Unfortunately, time has sanctified Plato's fiction in some people's minds, and many read it as Gospel Truth. Had Jonathan Swift been his contemporary, expeditions would be launched searching for Brobdingnag, Luggnagg, and Glubbdubdrib.

Whether or not Plato's idea was inspired by a real event (such as the volcanic catastrophe at Thera) is quite beside the point. Atlantis never existed until it sprang forth from Plato's fertile imagination. This is based on the material remains found in the area in which Atlantis was supposed to have existed. One would expect an advanced civilization to have left quite a noticeable mark, particularly in trade goods. Not a single shard of "Atlantean" pottery has ever been found. There are no ruins of an Atlantean outpost, there is no mention of Atlantis in the historical record, there remains no hint of an Atlantean language. There is no evidence at all of such a civilization until Plato wrote of it. Yet for reasons unknown, there are those who would have had the fictitious inhabitants of a fictitious continent sail to Africa to build towering pyramidal structures of stone that had no contemporary counterpart anywhere else in the world, only to mysteriously abandon them and leave them for a primitive race of indigenous savages to drool in wonder over.

The face on Mars
(Viking 1 Orbiter).

© Photo copyright NASA

If ancient Egyptians couldn't have built the pyramids, and if there was no vanished, technologically superior human race that could, then why not attribute the feat to Martians or some other interplanetary extraterrestrial beings? There has been a continuing abundance of books that have put forth this very theory: The Morning of the Magicians by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier (Stein and Day, 1964), Chariots of the Gods? by Erich von Däniken (GP Putnam's Sons, 1970), The Stairway to Heaven by Zecharia Sitchin (St. Martin's Press, 1980), Mars Mystery: The Secret Connection Between Earth and the Red Planet by Graham Hancock (Three Rivers Press, 1999), and Gods of the New Millennium: Scientific Proof of Flesh & Blood Gods by Alan F. Alford (Hodder & Stoughton, 1999).

Again, these theories are not based on any scientific evidence or on the known archaeological record, but rather on fantasy firmly grounded on false supposition. Many of the above authors agree with von Däniken when he wrote, "If we meekly accept the neat package of knowledge that the Egyptologists serve up to us, ancient Egypt appears suddenly and without transition with a fantastic ready-made civilization." (Chariots of the Gods?, p. 74.) Obviously, Mr. von Däniken has never studied the prehistory of Egypt, of which much has been written. "There are many problems connected with the technology of the pyramid builders and no genuine solutions," von Däniken added (p. 75), referring to what could only have been the inferior knowledge of the natives of Africa. "With what power, with what 'machines,' with what technical resources was the rocky terrain leveled off at all?" he cried in wonder at the Giza Plateau, awed at the thought of a level surface (p. 77-78). Then, as a coup de grâce to conventional Egyptology, von Däniken proclaimed that "Today, in the twentieth century, no architect could build a copy of the pyramid of Cheops, even if the technical resources of every continent were at his disposal." (p. 78) An absurd comment, of course, but he can smugly rest assured that it can never be put to the test, and he likely hopes that in consequence we will be naive enough to accept his words as axiomatic. Unfortunately for von Däniken and others, most of us are still capable of critical thought.

The face on Mars
(Mars Global Surveyor).

© Photo copyright NASA

Catchpenny Mysteries © copyright 2000 by Larry Orcutt.