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Gordon Pipes

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by Gordon Pipes

All Contents on this page are Copyright 2004 by Gordon Pipes
All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with Permission


A pyramid can be constructed without the use of ramps, heavy stones can be moved without dragging them along and with 75% less manpower than is presently thought necessary. This article will show how. It has been compiled as a result of actual experiments conducted in my back yard with a 4 ton block of concrete made expressly for this purpose and hopefully will lead to properly conducted experiments that will prove this theory beyond doubt.

  • How to elevate a 50ton stone to the upper levels of a pyramid without the use of ramps, ropes or extensive manpower.

  • How the ancient Britons could have transported the sarsen stones to Stonehenge without dragging them along.

  • How to erect a 40ton stone without the use of ramps, ropes or 'A' frames and with less than 25 men.

  • How to place the lintel stones on the uprights at Stonehenge with less than a dozen men.





The picture shows a 40 ton stone being hauled down a slope of 1:20, note the apparent strain on the leg muscles of the men on the ropes, remember this is downhill. How long do you think the human frame can maintain this kind of effort?

Archaeologists would have us believe men can haul such loads uphill and down-dale all day long. If you believe them, try this little experiment. Take the car and park it on a gentle slope, release the handbrake and gravity will propel the car downhill. Now stop the car and see how far you can push it back up the slope before your leg muscles cry stop. Do not try this experiment unless you are fully fit.

Quote by Prof I E S Edwards, British Museum.
"Only one method of lifting heavy weights was open to the Egyptians, namely by means of ramps composed of brick and earth which sloped upwards from the level of the ground to whatever height was desired".
This statement by Prof Edwards is just an opinion, not a fact.

Quote by Prof John Baines, Oxford university.
"As the pyramid grew in height the length of the ramp and the width of its base were increased in order to maintain a constant gradient ( about 1 in 10 ) and to prevent the ramp from collapsing. Several ramps approaching the pyramid from different sides were probably used".
Again an opinion, not a fact.



In this case I believe the "Experts" are 100% wrong, in fact I know the experts are wrong. A pyramid can be constructed without the use of ramps, heavy stones can be moved without dragging them along and with 75% less manpower than is presently thought necessary.

The Great Pyramid contains over 2 million cubic metres of stone.

A ramp with a gradient of 1 in 10 capable of reaching the top of this pyramid would need to be 4800ft long and would contain 8 million cubic meters of building material.

If the builders of the Great Pyramid had used a ramp to construct the pyramid, what did they do with the 8 million cubic meters of ramp when it was finished?

To answer this question Egyptologists have come up with a novel solution. Instead of constructing a mile long ramp up which to haul the stones, build a ramp that wrapped itself around the pyramid. Much less material would then be required, solving the problem of subsequent disposal. BRILLIANT!!! Eh, not quite.

The Great Pyramid was constructed using dressed stone blocks each weighting from 2 to 12 tons on the outer skin, in-filled with random stone and rubble. A number of chambers and passages were created inside the pyramid as it was being built, the most amazing of which is the main burial chamber which was constructed in the upper levels of the pyramid, This chamber was then sealed with more than 40 massive slabs of granite each weighing as much as 50 tons.

If a ramp which wrapped around the pyramid was used to move these massive slabs of granite, how did the builders negotiate the corners of the ramp? This operation would be difficult with even the smallest of the stones used in the building of the pyramid (2 tons), extremely difficult with larger stones ( up to 12 tons ) but would have been totally impossible with a stone weighting 50 tons. To haul such a stone up a ramp of 1 in 10 would require a team of at least 400 men pulling on ropes strung out far in front of the stone, when the leading members of this team rounded the first corner they would be unable to assist further, bringing the whole operation to a halt. Without a system of pulleys ( and pulleys at this time had not been invented ) this idea simply will not work.



For more than 20 years I have been looking for an answer to the problems posed above. When the answer came it was all so simple. Instead of trying to find a way of dragging heavy stones 20 miles or more ( in the case of Stonehenge ) find a way to move the stones just a few feet, but in a way that takes so little effort it can be repeated time and again.

I knew that levers could be employed to lift extremely heavy objects with almost no effort at all. Suddenly I could see how to move the object at the same time equally effortlessly. ( In theory anyway, but would it work in practice)

A visit to see my friend ( a local builders merchant ) confirmed the theory. The two of us were able to move a pallet full of concrete curbstones quite easily.

I was sufficiently encouraged to contemplate a more ambitious experiment. Lack of available space, money and helpers put a limit on my ambitions however. In the end I decided that an experiment with a stone of 4 tons would be both meaningful and within my scope. I worked out the dimensions of a concrete block that would weight 4 tons, built a mould and filled it with concrete.

The experiment was set up as below.

With the stone in this configuration moving the stone along the track is easy and simple.

  • STEP1. press down on the ends of the levers. (The stone will rise clear of the support logs).
  • STEP 2. While holding the levers down move the ends of the levers forwards. (The stone will move back along the track).
  • STEP 3. Release the levers. (The stone will settle in a new position on the track).
  • STEP 4. Reposition the levers, this can be done simply by raising the end of the lever above head height until it is clear of the fulcrum log and walking back to a new starting position. The stone will now be in a new position on the track (about 2 feet along) and the lever will have automatically repositioned ready for the next lift. This operation can be repeated time and again all day long without causing undue tiredness in the lever operators. With practice it should be possible to move the stone up to 1 mile per day.

Below is a series of obvious questions you might like to ask about this experiment.

Question & Answers

Q: What were the levers made of and what size?
A: Freshly felled young larch tree trunks 20ft long and 6in in diameter at the base.

Q: Could the method be used on bigger stone, such as the sarsen stones at Stonehenge weighting up to 40tons?.
Q: Yes. I estimate that as few as 24 levers of this size arranged 12 on each side, with two men on each lever would be more than sufficient to lift and move a stone of 40tons.

Q: Would there be a problem synchronizing that many levers?
A: No. a simple whistle or drum would be enough. Such a system worked well on the Roman slave galleys. In practise the weight of the stone helps.

Q: How does the weight of the stone help synchronization?
A: Until all the lever operators are working in unison the stone simply will not move.

Q: Is the position of the fulcrum log important?
A: Vitally. The nearer the fulcrum log to the stone, the easier it is to lift. However this results in less distance gained with each lift. More research needs to be done to find the optimum position.

Q: What is wrong with the old idea of moving the stones on timber rollers?
A: This idea has been tested by archaeologists and abandoned for a variety of reasons.

Below is an extract from a paper presented to the British Academy entitled Science and Stonehenge by archaeologist Julian Richards and engineer Mark Whitby.

"The orthodox method using rollers to move the stone was considered but rejected. Subsequent experiments in moving the 10 tonne lintel proved that it is a practical system, but has limitations. The direction of the stone is difficult to control on all but the most level ground and the method involves high risk as rollers have to be placed ahead of the moving object. As the load goes up, the system becomes prone to binding as the weight of the whole load will at times bear on only one or two of the rollers due to the unevenness either in the rollers or in the ground surface. The latter can be overcome by running the rollers on a flat, possibly timber track, and the former by selecting rollers of a uniform diameter. However, directional control remains an issue, as any roller placed out of true to the track will cause the load to veer off."

Overcoming all the problems with this method is more difficult than is suggested in this extract. To find rollers of a uniform diameter would have been almost impossible for pre-historic man. I presume tree trunks would have been used for the rollers, tree trunks naturally taper in their length, and are therefore useless as rollers as a tapering roller will roll in circles. Hand crafting such a roller to a uniform diameter with stone tools would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible. Hand crafting sufficient of these rollers to exactly the same diameter? I offer no comment.

Q: OK. What about greased slipways?
A: This idea works well downhill, although the slipway must be smooth and level. On level ground it is much more difficult and on anything but the slightest of uphill gradients almost impossible.

Using a greased slipway as a method for transporting stones has one great drawback. While the idea makes good sense when travelling downhill (gravity will do most of the work), uphill, gravity becomes the enemy. With the friction between stone and ground reduced, the force of gravity on anything but the most gentle of gradients will send the stone back downhill. In the case of the Great Pyramid, with a stone of 50 tons on a slope of 1 in 10 this force will become irresistible when the pulling team begin to tire (as they surely must). When the team are unable to resist this pressure any longer, gravity will take over and the stone will begin, slowly at first, but with increasing speed and momentum, its journey back down the ramp.

Q: Will your method work uphill?
A: Yes

Having satisfied myself that the method worked on level ground, the next question was, will it work uphill. This was the big question, (I accept that heavy stones could have been hauled downhill, however I was skeptical how far Neolithic man could have hauled stones of the size that make up Stonehenge over level ground before exhaustion set in. Furthermore I was convinced that hauling such stones uphill would prove impossible, human leg muscles are not up to the task.) As I had no way of moving the stone to a suitable hill, I decided to jack up the track to an angle of 1:8.

Unbelievably it was no more difficult to move the stone up the ramp than it had been to move it on level ground, with one exception, after step one "pull down the levers" step two "push the levers forward" had to be initiated immediately, otherwise gravity took over and caused both the levers and the stone to slide down the ramp. This problem was overcome by having a "brakeman" behind the stone using a short lever as a brake, as long as the "brakeman" prevented the stone from gaining any initial momentum, (and this was not difficult) moving the stone to the top of the ramp was as easy as on level ground.

The method was now beginning to show massive advantages over orthodox theories, stones could now be moved up fairly steep hills, (I am confident that hills much steeper than 1 in 8 could be negotiated this way) without greatly increasing the workforce. Thus such stones could be transported in a direct line from there place of origin. Only a crude log track-way was needed, a small workforce (less than one man per ton of stone even uphill). Great economy of effort means the team can work all day. The advantages are such that I believe this idea deserves serious consideration by academics.


Erecting the stones

Flushed with success from my experiments I began to wonder if the same small workforce could also erect the stones, using the same crude implements, wooden levers and rough logs.

After much head scratching I eventually began to see how it might be possible. I dug a hole and positioned the stone horizontally across it. The idea was to raise the horizontal stone into the air (levers were again used for this task) supporting it as it rose on two stacks of rough logs. As I had no logs available I used timber pallets instead. When the stone had reached what I estimated as the right height I placed a collapsible 'A' frame (made from two rough logs joined together at one end with a wooden dowel, a length of rope between the legs of the 'A' frame held the legs in place) under one end of the stone so that the stone was now resting on the 'A' frame at one end and the tower of pallets at the other. I now removed the tower of pallets that had become redundant.

Now all I had to do was cut the rope holding the legs of the 'A' frame and the 'A' frame would collapse allowing the stone to fall into the hole, as it did so the forward motion created by this action would propel the stone perfectly upright. That was the theory anyway. To accomplish this safely I built a small fire under the rope, light it and retired to a safe distance. As I had no way of retrieving the stone once it was planted this experiment had to be 100% successful first time. Unfortunately, I had overlooked one thing, as the stone arced down and into the hole the stack of pallets moved back, it was only a matter of inches but it robbed the stone of much of its forward momentum. The stone was bang on target but only stood at about 80 degrees.

I could not repeat the experiment, as I had no way of retrieving the stone. However I was fairly satisfied, the stone was in the hole and I was confident that if I ever got the chance to repeat the experiment with a bigger stone, next time I would get it right. All that was needed to stop the support tower moving was a buttress of wooden props. this would ensure the stone finished perfectly upright.

Although this experiment was conducted on a stone of only 4 tons, I am confident that this method will work just as well on a stone even as big as the biggest at Stonehenge, 40 tons.

The advantages of this method are:

  1. Great savings in manpower.  A 40 ton stone could be erected by a team of less than 25 men.
  2. Great savings in time.  The whole operation could be completed in one day.
  3. No preparations required.  The orthodox method requires the construction of a massive earth ramp (read the segment below).

* * *

Another extract from the paper entitled "Science and Stonehenge".

Raising the uprights.

"This part of the experiment involved raising one of the 40 tonne uprights to vertical in a stone-hole (prepared by machine excavation) the profile of which was based on that of stone 56 excavated by Gowland. the assumption was made that the stone was inserted from the ramped side of the hole.

Most published diagrams and illustrations of raising the stones to vertical show various systems whereby the stone is levered up from its top end, or hauled up using ropes on a timber 'A' frame (see for example Atkinson 1956, 128; English Heritage 1995; 26-70) Both systems would require a lifting force of at least 20 tonnes, some 3.5 times greater than the maximum 6 tonne force generated by the team of 130 volunteers. Whilst the 'A' frame could give some considerable mechanical advantage and levers could be used to generate lifting force, both systems lack the necessary control that would ensure that the stone could be inserted into the hole without sliding forward on tilting and jamming against its front face. Precise positioning of the stone would be of critical importance as its recovery from a partially inserted position would have been extremely difficult. A system was required which allowed the stone to rotate to an angle of 70 degrees from horizontal, to clear the front face of the stone-hole and finally drop the remaining short distance into the bottom of the hole.

The approach that was adopted recognised that for the stone to rotate successfully into the hole, it would require a hard 'pivot point' on which to rotate. An alternative means of generating the force required to rotate the stone was also sought. The most suitable pivot point that could be envisaged was one of stone and initial thoughts were that the upright could be notched in order to hook over the pivot stone as it rotated. The present appearance of the upright sarsens at Stonehenge does not support this concept which was eventually modified to one where the front of a wooden sledge, to which the upright was tightly lashed, provided the 'notch'. The pivot 'stone', triangular in section and reminiscent of some of the wedge-shaped stones in the sarsen circle, was made of reinforced concrete and was set immediately adjacent to the stone-hole, the line of the sloping face of which extended up through the sloping side of the pivot stone (70 degrees from horizontal). A ramp of crushed stone (representing a chalk ramp) laid to a slope of 1 in 20 was constructed behind the pivot stone, and timber rails, identical to those employed in the moving experiment, were laid on its surface.

Trial models suggested that the pivot was best set 1500 mm above the ground level, so that the stone, bearing in mind it was heavier at its 'bottom' end due to its shape, was not in danger of overbalancing either forward when near the horizontal or backwards once tipped to an angle of 70 degrees. The stone was placed on a sledge on the ramp with its centre of gravity positioned to the rear of the pivot point. In order to provide force to assist with the rotation of the stone, timber rails were placed along its length and on these was placed a small wooden sledge to which were lashed six, 1 tonne concrete blocks. The principle of this method was that the near horizontal stone could be pivoted using the weight of the 'tilting stones' as they reached the tip of the stone overhanging the hole. The stone was lashed to the sledge in such a position that theoretically, on completion of its rotation through 70 degrees, the leading edge of the sledge would engage with the lip of the pivot stone. The stone would be held momentarily in this position before breaking free of its lashings and dropping into the base of the hole"

See drawing below.

When the stone had settled in the hole it was hauled upright as in the photo below by means of ropes attached to a massive 'A' frame.

I have several reservations about accepting this as the method used by the builders of Stonehenge. Firstly, the amount of preparation required, hundreds of hours wasted building a ramp with a hard pivot point, more hours wasted making thousands of yards of rope by hand.

Secondly, the use of an 'A' frame as gearing to reduce the amount of manpower required, it is one thing to suggest that Neolithic man probably knew how to use a simple lever, (something he could have discovered by accident thousands of years before) but something else entirely to presume that he had a grasp of the engineering principals involved in using an 'A' frame as gearing.

Thirdly, the amount of manpower required, even using an 'A' frame at least 130 individuals, without the use of an 'A' frame around 400. The population of Britain at this time was small and spread thinly from Cornwall in the south, to the Orkneys off the northern coast of Scotland.

* * *

Raising The Lintel Stones

I was happy that with a limited workforce heavy stones could be transported to and erected on site at Stonehenge without undue effort and using only materials that were readily available at the time Stonehenge was built. Only one question remained. Could the lintel stones be put in place just as easily?

Raising the lintel stones is a comparatively easy task. Use the same method as used when elevating the upright stones prior to erection. A crib of logs is progressively inserted under the stone as it is being raised by the levers. When the levers have reached a height that causes difficulty for the operators, provide the operators with a platform on which to work that rises as the stone rises.

This method has been tried and tested by archaeologists with some success, below is an extract from a paper presented to the British Academy by archaeologist Julian Richards.

Crib method.

"The timber 'crib', essentially a platform of alternating horizontally laid timbers, has often been suggested as the method by which the lintels were raised. Some illustrations show a plank decking on which workers use levers to raise alternate ends of the lintel, which are then supported before the process continues. This method was tested using a platform of railway sleepers and demonstrated that the lintel could be raised quite satisfactorily. Each end of the stone could be raised by the depth of a railway sleeper (approximately 150 mm). The process of levering was shown to be quite easy and swift, with considerably more time being taken to raise the remainder of the platform up to the corresponding level. Once the platform had reached a height above which a direct down-ward pull could not be applied to the ends of the levers, then the levers could only be operated by means of ropes. Operated in this way the levers were prone to slipping."

Had the archaeologists concerned with this experiment thought to provide the lever operators with a working platform as in the sketch above this problem would not have arisen. The stone could then have been raised to whatever height was required easily and swiftly.


Below is another extract from the paper presented to the British Academy entitled "Science and Stonehenge".

Ramp method.

"The method devised for raising the lintel (see below) is essentially a variation on the ramp method suggested by a number of previous authors (e.g. Stone 1924a) and tested at a considerable scale by Pavel (Pavel 1992). A 30 degree scaffolding ramp was constructed, intended to represent one built of timber and earth, but with due regard to health and safety.

A slipway of three parallel wooden rails was built on the ramp up which the lintel was to be hauled, lashed to a sideways running sledge. At the point at which the angled ramp joined the horizontal decking around the top of the uprights, the final section of the rails projected the 30 degree ramp angle. The rails here were designed to break as the stone reached this point, allowing it to slide the final horizontal distance of 1.5 m into a position just in front of the two uprights. The level of this was such that it was set to clear the top of the tenons on the upright stones, by running off the slipway onto two greased blocks set on top of the stones.

It was calculated that the force required to haul the 10 tonne lintel up the greased slope of 30 degrees was approximately 6 tonnes, with a team of 90 people the lintel on its sledge was hauled up the ramp using the 'A' frame lever, at each stage the sledge was tied back and the lever reset. Once teething problems with both lashing and with the sledge binding on the rails had been overcome, the lintel was raised in about 3 hours. However in pulling up the ramp, the lintel had drifted out of line with the tenons and was 100 mm out of position. Over 4 hours was then spent coaxing the stone over that final short distance using levers."

Reading this last sentence I can only presume that modern man has forgotten how to use levers correctly. By using levers correctly, with the necessary fulcrums an adjustment of 100 mm should take no more than a minute. It is not therefore surprising that modern archaeologists cling to the notion that the only way Stonehenge and the pyramids could have been achieved is by means of ramps.

The ancient Egyptians could also have used this method to build the pyramids.

Why build a massive ramp to haul heavy stones up a pyramid, when the pyramid itself is nothing but a giant staircase up which it is easy to move a stone with levers? Elevate the stone to the level of the first step, then use the pivoting action to move the stone onto the step. Again provide the lever operators with a simple working platform that rises at the same rate as the stone. As the stone progresses up the pyramid the support logs at the lower level can be reused as they become redundant.

Using this method to build pyramids offers many advantages, great saving in manpower, less than ten men to transport and to elevate a stone of 10 tons.

Great savings in construction time, by eliminating the need to construct ramps, the volume of which would necessarily have had to be around three times the volume of the pyramid itself, this time could be devoted to pyramid construction.

With only a comparatively small team needed to transport and elevate each stone many more stones could be moved at the same time by any given workforce, each stone could be delivered to the exact point of the pyramid were it is needed and many stones at once could be elevated from all four sides.

To anyone who remains unconvinced by my arguments I conclude with one last fact. Two thousand years before the building of Stonehenge or the pyramids, stone-age man was transporting a large stone several kilometres across northern France. Known as Le Grand Menhir Brise this stone, now broken into four pieces, lies on the coast near the town of Carnac. Compared to anything used in the construction of either Stonehenge or the pyramids this stone is truly colossal. According to archaeologists it once stood erect and was as tall as a four storey building, it is estimated to weigh as much as 350 tons!!! An army of thousands, hauling on ropes, could not have moved this stone, not by so much as one inch! Yet it was moved several kilometres by our ancestors. How? There can be only one answer to this question, levers.

It is my ambition to repeat the experiments described on this web site on a more meaningful scale, using a stone of perhaps 10 or even 40 or 50 tons. As an ordinary working man, a carpenter, I lack the resources to further this ambition. If you think you may be able to help in this respect, or would just like to comment on the experiments so far, I would be pleased to hear from you.



Copyright 2004 by Gordon Pipes
All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with Permission


About the Author

Gordon Pipes is a carpenter. He is presently working on a book about his experiments and attempts to convince the establishment of the validity of these theories. 
Many thousands of construction workers, farmers, third world villagers, etc could tell the academics how to move heavy stones with levers, but few are interested in pre-history so they have not applied their knowledge to the problems of the pyramids, Stonehenge etc.

Gordon Pipes web site:

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In construction, concrete is a composite building material made from the combination of aggregate and cement binder.

The most common form of concrete consists of Portland cement, mineral aggregates (generally gravel and sand) and water. Contrary to common belief, concrete does not solidify from drying after mixing and placement. Instead, the cement hydrates, gluing the other components together and eventually creating a stone-like material. When used in the generic sense, this is the material referred to by the term concrete. Concrete is used to make pavements, building structures, foundations, motorways/roads, overpasses, parking structures, brick/block walls and bases for gates, fences and poles. Concrete is used more than any other man-made material on the planet, with water being the only substance on Earth we utilize more. An old name for concrete is liquid stone.

Source: Wikipedia

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