Archaeologists Discover 4,500-Year-Old Ramp Which May Have Been The Key To Building Egypt’s Great Pyramid

With two inscriptions from Khufu found on the ancient ramp system at the site of Hatnub, it is very likely that the 4,500-year-old ramp was used to help build the Great Pyramid.

Archaeologists discover 4,500-year-old ramp that may have been used to construct Egypt's Great Pyramid.
Sean Gallup / Getty Images

With two inscriptions from Khufu found on the ancient ramp system at the site of Hatnub, it is very likely that the 4,500-year-old ramp was used to help build the Great Pyramid.

The construction of Egypt’s Great Pyramid has been a longstanding mystery as there has been great debate over thousands of years as to just how it was built, but that mystery may finally be solved as archaeologists believe they may have discovered the 4,500-year-old ramp that was used to boost the enormous stone blocks up and onto the pyramid.

As Live Science reports, the remains of the ancient ramp structure were found at Hatnub, which is located in Egypt’s Eastern Desert and which was once the site of a quarry. Archaeologists working at both the French Institute for Oriental Archaeology and the University of Liverpool believe that the ramp may have originally been built so that the massive alabaster stones used for the Great Pyramid could have been more easily transported and put into place.

Yannis Gourdon, who is the co-director of the joint mission at Hatnub, described the 4,500-year-old ramp in Egypt as having once been surrounded by two staircases and discussed how a sled holding alabaster stones may have been used in conjunction with the ramp to more easily transport the stones to the Great Pyramid.

“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.”

Because of the ropes holding the sled, archaeologists suggest that these would have behaved as a “force multiplier,” which would have made the sled’s journey up the ramp a much less cumbersome process than it would have been otherwise.

Gourdon noted that archaeologists have so far not discovered a ramp anywhere else that is similar to the one found at Hatnub and that, further, because inscriptions dating back to the reign of Khufu were discovered on the ramp system, the odds are good that it may have been used to help construct Egypt’s Great Pyramid.

“This kind of system has never been discovered anywhere else. 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. As this system dates back at least to Khufu’s reign, that means that during the time of Khufu, ancient Egyptians knew how to move huge blocks of stone using very steep slopes. Therefore, they could have used it for the construction of his pyramid.”

Since archaeologists all agree that a ramp system was used to help build Egypt’s Great Pyramid, it is hoped that the exciting discovery of the 4,500-year-old ramp at Hatnub will yield more information about exactly how the process would have worked.