Ancient engineers may have built pyramids using hidden landscape- here’s how

The team discovered an abundance of marsh plants that grow along lake edges and grass-like blooming plants. Such fauna border the banks of the Nile River, and were extracted using five cores dug on the modern Giza floodplain, east of the pyramid complex.

According to the researchers, this method reveals the presence of a permanent waterbody that cut through the Giza floodplain and swelled thousands of years ago.

Then, the rise and fall of water were traced

“Our 8,000-year reconstruction of Khufu-branch levels improves understanding of fluvial landscapes at the time of the construction of the Giza Pyramid Complex,” Sheisha and colleagues said.

“The Khufu branch remained at a high-water level… during the reigns of Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure, facilitating the transportation of construction materials to the Giza pyramid complex.”

So, could the Dahshur pyramids have been built in the same way?

We don’t know for sure. However, researchers speculate that the pyramids at Dahshur may have been built using a similar mechanism. That is, a hydraulic elevator system was constructed in the Nile River.

Study abstract

The pyramids of Giza originally overlooked a now defunct arm of the Nile. This fluvial channel, the Khufu branch, enabled navigation to the Pyramid Harbor complex but its precise environmental history is unclear. To fill this knowledge gap, we use pollen-derived vegetation patterns to reconstruct 8,000 y of fluvial variations on the Giza floodplain. After a high-stand level concomitant with the African Humid Period, our results show that Giza’s waterscapes responded to gradual insolation-driven aridification of East Africa, with the lowest Nile levels recorded at the end of the Dynastic Period. The Khufu branch remained at a high-water level (∼40% of its Holocene maximum) during the reigns of Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure, facilitating the transportation of construction materials to the Giza Pyramid Complex.

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