9 Engineering Feats Pulled Off by the Ancient Egyptians That Would Be Nearly Impossible for Modern Engineers to Duplicate Today


According to the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, engineering occurs when the “knowledge of the mathematical and natural sciences gained by study, experience, and practice is applied with judgment to develop ways to utilize economically the materials and forces of nature for the benefit of mankind.” The ancient Egyptians, no doubt, utilized this ideal to create realities that would be nearly impossible to duplicate in this day and age.

In his book, The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh, W.M. Flinders Petrie writes that the land of the pyramids is where one “may [see] the very beginning of architecture, the most enormous piles of building ever raised, the most accurate constructions known, the finest masonry, and the employment of the most ingenious tools.”

Here are nine of the many engineering feats pulled off by our African ancestors in ancient Egypt.


via public.media.smithsonianmag.com
via public.media.smithsonianmag.com

The Great Pyramid of Giza

The Egyptian pyramids, their most famous creations, were masterpieces built with such precision that our current technology cannot replicate it. According to Dr. Charles Johnson, a professor and expert on the history of the African diaspora, pyramids were not originally built to serve as tombs; they were built to preserve scientific knowledge for future use and understanding. The Great Pyramid of Giza is the most accurately aligned structure in existence and faces true north with only 3/60th of a degree of error. The position of the North Pole moves over time and the pyramid was exactly aligned to true north at one time.

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At 481 feet, archeologists say the Great Pyramid was the tallest structure in the world for about 3,800 years.  According to LiveScience.com, engineers estimate the structure is composed of around 2,300,000 stone blocks, and the highly skilled workers would have had to set one of the 2.5- to 15-ton blocks every two and a half minutes to finish Khufu’s pyramid in the 30 years it took to build it. The mortar used is stronger than stone and is still holding up today. It has been analyzed, and its chemical composition is known but can’t be reproduced.


Egyptian Math

The Egyptian System of Measurement

To this day, many have attempted to decipher and explain the Egyptian system of measurement. Yet, the best explanations that they can derive are only mere theories. The precise and accurate execution that characterized Ancient Egyptian construction and architecture was brought about without the use of modern, “advanced” technology. They built edifices that the modern world could never reproduce without the use of electronic devices. In fact, Petrie declared the following when describing the process of taking measurements: In taking lineal measurements, pairs of rods butting together, and laid down alternately, were always used instead of making marks at each length. Plumb-lines were also continually used to transfer dimensions from inaccessible parts, such as the length of a chamber at its top; and for taking offsets to vertical faces, both in chambers and on the coffer. Thus, dimensions are referred to true vertical planes by plumb-lines, and also to true horizontal planes by sighting with a theodolite.

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