Guest Articles by Will Hart
About the Author
Will Hart is a freelance journalist, book author, nature photographer and
documentary filmmaker. He has been
investigating ancient mysteries and evidence of extraterrestrial
intervention on Earth since 1969. He lives in Arizona.
All articles on this page are
© 2004-2007 by Will Hart.
Reprinted with permission.
Perspective - Settling an Old Controversy
an article by Will Hart about the vexing "how the ancients built the stone
A long-standing debate some refer to as a mystery confronts us. How were the
Great Pyramid, Tiahaunaco and other monolithic and megalithic monuments in
Egypt, Peru and elsewhere constructed, moved and lifted into place? Some people
believe that matter has been settled because several teams were able to build
and move inexact replicas or demonstrated that it is possible to move a block of
stone weighing several tons using primitive methods.
However, those simulations did not prove that the methods modern scholars
ascribe to the construction of ancient artifacts could work. In fact, it appears
that they actually proved the opposite, as we will see. At any rate, this
article will definitively show they could not have been manipulated using
How? A man may be able to lift 350 pounds off the ground, but that doesn't
mean he can lift 3,500 pounds. The problem quickly goes from difficult to
impossible as you add weight to an object that has to be moved. We could frame
it another way. If I claimed that I was the strongest man in the world and I
could lift 3,500 lbs. and Ripley's took me up on that boast. Do you think they
would include me in the record book for lifting 350 pounds? Of course not and I
would be foolish for even trying that kind of trick.
But that is exactly what the academic promoters of the "primitive
method" theory have done. Oddly enough, the public seems to have bought
into the hoax. In 1994 NOVA sponsored a team of experts that wanted to prove the
old theory, dispose of "alternative theories" and lay the debate to
rest. As NOVA writers framed it: "In 1995, the NOVA team dared to
demonstrate firsthand what has mystified historians for millennia: how to raise
an obelisk using only materials and techniques the ancient Egyptians might have
The team included an archeologist, a master stonemason and one of Egypt's
foremost specialists in moving heavy statues, Aly el Gasab. They chose to
quarry, dress and lift a 35-ton obelisk. That was a cheat right away. The
largest Egyptian obelisks weigh 400 tons.
The problem is even more complex than people generally suppose. Setting the
finished stone in place is only one part of the building process. The first step
involves cutting the stones away from the matrix rock at the quarry. Then it has
to be dressed into a transportable shape. Next it has to be transported,
sometimes great distances, from the quarry to the construction site and then
With what tools did the ancient Egyptians free the stone from the matrix
rock? According to the archeologist they used dolorite hammers. How were the
stones transported? Gasab said they would use ropes and wooden sledges. The
first problem, and it proved insurmountable, came when they soon realized the
dolorite hammers could not do the job. That "ancient method" was
The ancients executed considerable engineering feats. We gain a useful
perspective by examining a modern day moving attempt. In 1996 The University of
Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology found that it needed to renovate an Egyptian
burial tomb that was part of its collection. An article from the department's
newsletter contains the following sub-heading.
Massive moving effort
"…the treated section of the tomb chapel was disassembled, including
one block which alone weighs five tons, and moved to the Conserv-
ation Technical Associates Connecticut Lab. Due to the massive
size and weight of the chapel blocks, special handling equipment
was employed for removal from the chapel."
Why is a five-ton lid considered a "massive" size and weight with
the modern equipment the movers had? Much larger monolithic stones were
"easily" manipulated by the primitive methods used by the ancients
according to historians and archeologists. A special block and tackle system and
rollers had to be set up to lift the slab and move it out of the chapel. What
would they say if they had to move and lift the 2.5 million stones that went
into the construction of the Great Pyramid some weighing 50 tons?
Examining how several modern day monuments were built is a fascinating
juxtaposition. The Statue of Liberty is a beacon to the world. The actual
statue, less the pedestal, stands 151' high from the base to the torch and 305'
from the foundation of the pedestal to the top. It was made in Paris.
Construction began in 1875 and was completed in 1884. The statue was made of
copper. Steel was added to the structure to increase its strength.
Following its completion in France it was shipped to the U.S; broken down
into 350 pieces that were packed into 214 crates. Lady Liberty's head is
17'3" from chin to cranium. Her right arm is 42' long. Her sandal is 25
feet, a ladies size 879! It is a stunning piece of work and a profound symbol;
it is also massive.
When we look at the total weight of the copper and steel that went into the
statue it really puts an edge on the 'ancient construction' problem: 200,000
pounds, or 100 tons, of copper were used then add 250,000 pounds, 150 tons, of
steel. That is a combined weight of 250-tons. Two and half million stones went
into the Great Pyramid and the estimated weight is 6 million tons! The largest
stone blocks in the pyramid weigh about 70 tons. However, there are numerous 40,
100, 200 and a few 400-ton blocks of precisely cut stones in Peru that had to be
hauled a considerable distance and then fit into place at various sites.
The Statue of Liberty was assembled in New York using cranes. What did the
Maya use to raise Setele E the Quiroga site, which is 35' high and weighs
65-tons? They did not have the benefit of block and tackle let alone cranes and
as far as we know they didn't have cables or high strength rope.
After throwing in the towel on the first basic challenge, the NOVA team
brought in bulldozers and other modern equipment to quarry and move the 35-ton
obelisk. This is a rather stunning fact. The team was comprised of top
professionals who had the benefit of 5,000 years of engineering history to draw
upon. What did the ancient Egyptians have?
Mount Rushmore yields a different kind of perspective. This amazing monument
sits where it was sculpted out of solid rock in the mountains of South Dakota.
It is a massive work of art and a wonderful testimony to key figures in American
history. The epic sculpture features 60-foot high faces, 500 feet off the
ground. How and why was it made?
In 1923 state historian Doane Robinson wanted to memorialize the history of
the West by carving some giant statues in the Black Hills. Backers thought it
was a great idea that also might attract tourists to the state. A sculptor by
the name of Gutzon Borghum was brought in to do the work. In an era when many
artists scorned traditional patriotism, Borghum made his name through
celebration of things American. He had already achieved a degree of fame by
remodeling the torch for the Statue of Liberty.
A crucial change was made when Borghum entered the picture. The master
sculptor refused to work on anything that was not of national importance. The
committee agreed to his selection of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and
A huge amount of rock had to be removed as the sculptor and his assistants
worked. Dynamite was used to remove 90 percent of the unneeded rock, about
450,000 tons of it. It took 14 years from start to finish. The actual carving
used up about half of that time. The rest was spent on blasting. He had a crew
of 400 skilled men under his supervision working with high-powered drills. Most
of the men were experienced hard- rock miners. They were accustomed to strenuous
work, harsh conditions and long hours.
Could all the slaves in Egypt really lift and drag millions of tons of stones
with rope and wooden sleds? According to the Nova team's experiment, they could
not have used the dolorite hammers to quarry the stone that historians claimed
were the only tools they had at the time. The Nova team did not even try to move
the obelisk. Once the bulldozer had quarried it the piece was hauled to the site
by truck. The second cheat; strike two.
The Washington Monument is an elegant testimony to America's first president.
It is reminiscent of Egyptian and Roman obelisks. The monument is 555' high, the
tallest freestanding stone structure in the world. The cap at the top weighs 300
tons and the weight of the entire structure is 90,859 tons. But the monument is
not a single solid piece of stone, it is hollow inside and was built in stages.
The Lincoln Memorial statue is 19' high and weighs 175 tons. It is a fitting
testimony to the man who had the misfortune to be president during the civil
war. The statue is large and imposing. The weight of it is similar to mid-sized
statuary and obelisks in Egypt and there are many comparable artifacts in Peru.
These are examples of modern large-scale stone work and large monuments. But
nearly all have been constructed using modern equipment and machinery. This in
no way detracts from the artistry, craftsmanship or the spirit embodied in them.
Who wouldn't utilize state-of-art tools to accomplish such Herculean tasks? The
NOVA team sure did. They reluctantly admitted their failures but they pressed on
to at least try to prove they could lift it using the one primitive method they
That brings us back to the main issue. How did the ancient builders cut,
dress and move 20 to 200-ton blocks of stone? We've all seen a diesel
tractor-trailer with a load of 10 new full-size American automobiles driving
down the freeway headed for the new car lot. The combined weight of the vehicles
is about 15 tons. If you are getting the idea that the magnitude of the problem
is severe, you're right!
We are not saying it is impossible to move the 1 and 2-ton stones using the
primitive methods ascribed to the builders of the Great Pyramid. We are saying
that it is impossible to move a 200-ton stone using those methods!
If you have ever done any landscaping that involved moving boulders around
you know what is involved. It takes a 300 horsepower diesel engine and hydraulic
lifter to pick up a 7- ton granite slab. That is a cut and dry fact. The Great
Pyramid consists largely of stones weighing 1 to 2 tons, however, there are
20-ton, 40-ton and 60-ton blocks and the largest block at Giza hoisted up
several hundred feet. They could not have been moved by the methods that
scientists claim they were moved. The NOVA team was just attempting a single
rather smallish obelisk that was not going to be lifted upwards as the elevated
tiers of the pyramid demanded of those building blocks.
We are back to the principle outlined at the beginning of the article.
Because you can lift up and carry 10 sleeping children weighing 30 lbs each from
the van to the house, one at a time, doesn't mean you can lift up one 300 lb man
and carry him up a flight of stairs.
The ancients did not have jackhammers, dynamite, loaders, tractor-trailers,
cranes, hoists, pulleys, dray animals or block and tackle devices. This is the
kind of equipment it would take to handle megalithic stones. Part of the
difficulty in grasping the engineering problem involved seems to stem from the
fact that we don't build with monolithic stones in the modern era. If we
routinely saw the kind of equipment that is needed to manage a 50-ton stone the
average person might have a better appreciation of the underlying dynamics of
this long-standing debate.
When the problem is broken down and compared to every day experiences and how
we handle these kinds of challenges in the present, reality and pragmatism start
to sink in. The typical boxcar on a train weighs about 25 tons and can handle a
payload of around 60 tons. A 48' tandem tractor-trailer has a load capacity of
approximately 20 tons.
To be more cogent to the problem at hand we need to examine the latest
Caterpillar equipment used in quarry operations. The 973C track loader has a 229
horsepower engine. It has an operating weight of almost 30 tons, a big machine.
The bucket is rated at a maximum capacity of 4 yards, which is a little over 4
tons. That means one bucket can pick up 4 tons of rock and dump it into a
waiting dump truck.
The 771D off-highway Caterpillar dump truck weighs about 90 tons. It runs on
a 518 horsepower diesel engine, a very large dump truck. The payload capacity is
45 tons. It would take the loader 10 trips to fill up the dump truck presumably
with rocks and gravel. But the loader cannot lift a single 40-ton megalith. You
need a crane for that.
There are a number of cranes on the market that are rated to the 100 and even
300-ton capacity. They could handle the 40 to 300-ton blocks. However, it takes
a specially made crane to lift anything above that tonnage. NASA had to make a
custom crane with a lifting capacity of 430 tons to lift the shuttle during
attachment to the fuel tanks. There is a New York engineering company that also
has a specialty crane with a lift capacity of 500 tons that is used to lift
other cranes to the top of high-rise construction sites. These are custom pieces
of equipment used for specialized operations.
But as huge as the dump truck described above is - it so big that it cannot
travel on the highway - we would also need an even bigger truck. Out of luck
again. The biggest earthmovers used in large-scale open pit mining operations
max out at about the 350-ton carrying capacity. It is preposterous to think that
a group of men could do what it takes out largest pieces of machinery to
The NOVA team tried valiantly to lift the obelisk in place but that too
failed. Strike three!
They took a hiatus and came back three years later. This time at the plate
they decided to skip the first two steps and concentrate on the visual pay off,
lifting it into place in the second attempt. They succeeded in doing it the
second time, but what did the two efforts prove? They actually demonstrated that
the pyramid could not have been built using the "primitive theory"
methods. The Egyptian who owns the rock quarry was asked what he thought about
it. He replied that he did not think, "Any attempt below 100 tons proved
anything." He is absolutely correct and his point says it all.
The bottom line is that we can barely move a 300-ton megalithic block of
granite today; they surely did not do so with primitive means in the distant
past. You may as well believe they used teleportation or some other magical
means because that is as practical a
solution as the old dolorite hammers, wooden sledges and ropes concept. So how
build the monuments? No one knows. If any scientist or engineer still desires to
debate this issue, the author would be happy to oblige in any public forum. I
would be even happier to arrange a test of proposed methods.
© 2002 by Will Hart
Email: [email protected]