for National Geographic News
The little-known cavity may support the theory that the 4,500-year-old monument to Pharaoh Khufu was constructed inside out, via a spiraling, inclined interior tunnel—an idea that contradicts the prevailing wisdom that the monuments were built using an external ramp.
The inside-out theory's key proponent, French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin, says for centuries Egyptologists have ignored evidence staring them in the face.
"The paradigm was wrong," Houdin said. "The idea that the pyramids were built from the outside was just wrong. How can you resolve a problem when the first element you introduce in your thinking is wrong?"
(Related: "Great Pyramid Built Inside Out, French Architect Says" [April 2, 2007].)
Even the most widely held Great Pyramid construction theories have flaws, Egyptologist Bob Brier said.
For example, a single, straight external ramp would have been impractical, said Brier, of Long Island University in New York.
To deliver blocks to the 481-foot (147-meter) peak at a reasonable grade, the ramp would have had to have been a mile (1.6 kilometers) long and made of stone. And over the decades of the pyramid's construction, workers would have had to continually increase the ramp's height and length as the pyramid rose.
Video Clip From Unlocking the Great Pyramid Documentary
"That's like building two pyramids. And we've never found the remains of such a ramp," Brier said.
Another theory suggests a stone ramp wound around the outside of the Great Pyramid. But an outside ramp would have obscured the pyramid's surface—making it impossible for surveyors to use the corners and edges for necessary calculations during constructions, Brier said.
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