Some Problems with Houdin's Interior Ramp Theory


Jean-Pierre Houdin has developed a new theory regarding the manner in which the ancient Egyptians constructed the great pyramid of Khufu. It involves the construction of an interior ramp which spirals up inside the pyramid. Details can be found in his book Khufu, the Secrets Behind the Building of the Great Pyramid. The interior ramp theory is touted in the National Geographic DVD video "Unlocking the Great Pyramid" in which Mr. Houdin and professor Bob Brier explore the great pyramid and look for evidence of an internal tunnel spiraling up inside the pyramid. They found none.

The Houdin theory does not explain how the ramps were covered. The illustrations in his book Khufu,the Secrets Behind the Building of the Great Pyramid clearly show the interior ramps being overlaid with a corbelled ceiling. However, there is no explanation of how this could be done. Are the stone blocks carried up the stepwise internal ramp and then somehow placed to form a ceiling at the end of the tunnel? The illustrations in his book show a massive stone structure above the tunnel. How did it get there?

Mr. Houdin's theory requires that the finished facing stones be placed at each level as work progreses upward. The complex angles involved and the zig zag configuration of the interior ramp makes this an extremely complex, difficult, and time consuming task.

Pages 64 through 70 of his book illustrate a parallel wooden ramp perched on the sloping finished side of the pyramid with no explanation of how or when it was placed, or how it could be prevented from simply sliding off. Presumeabaly this wooden structure was used to place the rest of the stones surrounding the tunnel. However there is no reasonable explanation regarding how this could be done.

To counter the problem of making a right angled turn at each corner of the interior tunnel. Mr. Houdin assumes that the corners were left open and a human powered crane was necessary to negotiate the corner. Based on a variety of not always consistent information available on the internet and photos of the pyramids, it appears that the stone blocks were uniform and weighed approximately 5.4 tons each. A resolution of forces indicates that the force on the pivot point would have to be twice that, or 10.8 tons. A wooden structure would have to be extremely massive to support that weight. Where could it be placed so as not to be in the way? If the distance from the lever pivot point to the end lifting the load is 3 feet, the distance from the pivot point to the end pulled downward by the team would have to be 54 feet, assuming that the maximum pull by the team is 600 pounds. Where would the team stand when they are sticking out 54 feet in mid air from the corner? These massive wooden cranes and parallel wooden ramps clinging to the sloping sides of the pyramid are simply mothing more that figments of Mr. Houdin's imagination.

It is not necessary for the blocks to make a right angled turn at each corner. As explained in my web page, the blocks are moved in from all four sides at the same time. Each new row starts at the last block left extended from the previous adjacent row, as shown in this diagram.

Also the Houdin theory posits an extremely long interior ramp with the difficulty of making a right angle turn 24 times before reaching the top. In addition, his theory assumes that a masonry ramp was constructed leading up to the 141 foot level prior to the start of the internal ramp construction. For a 7% slope described in his web page, a masonry ramp 670 yards long would have to be constructed and dismanteled just to place some larger stones over the King's chamber. Needless to say, the ramp would have to be enlarged as each new course level was completed.

In addition all this, the Houdin internal ramp theory would require a continuous supply of burninig torches over the entire length of the ramp tunnel in order for the workmen to see what they were doing. They would be subjected to carbon monoxide poisoning over a period of many decades. This is a different situation from the formation and decoration of the burial chambers because much of that work was done before the chamber wwas roofed over.

My movable ramp theory avoids all these problems with a straightforward, reasonable, and practical explanation. However, it has been completely rejected or ignored by Wikipedia, National Geographic, Smithsonian, and a long list of university professors, including Bob Brier. I welcome any comments or criticism. My e-mail address is, and you don't need a password!