Researchers Discover Ancient Egyptian Ramp That May Tell Us How The Great Pyramids Were Built

Published November 1, 2018

"This kind of system has never been discovered anywhere else."

Giza Pyramids

Wikimedia CommonsThe Great Pyramids at Giza

Archeologists have discovered a 4,500-year-old ramp in Egypt that might have been used to build the Great Pyramid and others.

Experts have long wondered and hypothesized how the Ancient Egyptians managed to build the Pyramids, and this latest discovery gives them a potential answer as to how the construction of one of the seven wonders of the world was made possible.

According to Live Science, the ramp system was discovered at the ancient quarry site of Hatnub in the Eastern Desert of Egypt. The system was likely used to transport the large bricks for the pyramids up a steep ramp and into place, according to the onsite archaeologists from the French Institute for Oriental Archaeology in Cairo and the University of Liverpool in England.

Yannis Gourdon, co-director of the joint mission at Hatnub, told Live Science in a statement:

“This system is composed of a central ramp flanked by two staircases with numerous post holes… Using a sled which carried a stone block and was attached with ropes to these wooden posts, ancient Egyptians were able to pull up the alabaster blocks out of the quarry on very steep slopes of 20 percent or more.”

Ramp Used To Build Pyramids

Ministry of AntiquitiesA portion of the ramp system

The bricks used to build the Great Pyramid at Giza weigh in at an average of more than 5,000 pounds each, which long left experts stumped as to how the Ancient Egyptians managed to move the blocks during construction.

But this latest discovery — the likes of which have never been seen at any other Ancient Egyptian archaeological site — finally provides more insight into how the stones were moved.

“This kind of system has never been discovered anywhere else,” Gourdon said, per Live Science. “The study of the tool marks and the presence of two [of] Khufu’s inscriptions led us to the conclusion that this system dates back at least to Khufu’s reign, the builder of the Great Pyramid in Giza.”

Great Pyramid Of Giza

Wikimedia CommonsThe Great Pyramid of Giza

The Great Pyramid is the largest of the three pyramids at Giza, measuring 481 feet tall when it was first built sometime around 2560 B.C. Researchers believe that the pyramid took about 10 to 20 years to complete.

Although experts had long hypothesized that some sort of ramp was used by the Ancient Egyptians during its construction, there had never been archaeological evidence to support this theory — until now.

Ancient Egyptian Inscription

Ministry of AntiquitiesAn Ancient Egyptian inscription discovered at the site

Archaeologists also found at least 100 inscriptions that honored pharaohs’ visits to Hatnub as well as homes made out of stone where quarry workers resided, according to Science Alert.

“The team unearthed 4 stone steles. One of the steles shows a drawing of a standing person and the other three have unclear hieratic inscriptions due to the bad state of preservation,” said archaeologist Roland Enmarch from the University of Liverpool.

Enmarch added that his team is working to preserve both the inscriptions and the residential structures for future archaeological and historical research, which may only unlock further mysteries about how the pyramids were built once and for all.


Next, check out some of the most interesting facts about Ancient Egypt that separate truth from myth. Then, read up on Ankhesenamun, the wife of King Tut — who was also his half-sister.

Bernadette Deron
Bernadette is a digital media producer, writer, and a proud native New Yorker.
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