Researchers drilled five cores into the Giza floodplain in May 2019 to try and reconstruct the history of the Nile. It was discovered that a vanished arm of Nile helped ancient Egyptians transport pyramid materials.
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According to a new study, there was once a high-water arm of the Nile River that helped workers transport supplies to the Giza pyramids’ construction site when the ancient Egyptians were building them some 4,500 years ago. This arm has now disappeared.
The finding adds to other archaeological and historical evidence suggesting that the Nile formerly had an additional arm flowing near the pyramids. But now it is evident that “the former waterscapes and higher river levels” gave the builders of the Giza Pyramid a leg up by analyzing ancient pollen samples taken from earthen cores, a group of researchers wrote in a paper published on August 29 in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study explains how the pyramids, which served as the pharaohs Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure’s royal tombs, reached their gigantic heights. The team wrote in their paper that the Khufu branch of the Nile, which is now extinct, “remained at a high-water level during the reigns of Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure, facilitating the transportation of construction materials to the Giza Pyramid Complex,” was largely responsible for the pyramids’ towering height.
For decades, researchers have known that the long-gone Khufu branch stretched up to the Giza plateau in ancient times, but the new project intended to determine exactly how the water levels have altered over the last 8,000 years.
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The researchers drilled five cores into the Giza floodplain in May 2019 to try and reconstruct the history of the Nile. To ascertain how pollen levels had fluctuated over time, the researchers assessed the amount of pollen present in various areas of the cores. According to the study’s authors, seasons with more water should have more pollen than seasons with less water.
The pollen research found that when the ancient Egyptians erected the Giza pyramids, there was enough water that the Khufu branch would have flowed close to the Giza pyramids. “It was a natural canal in the time of the fourth dynasty [when the pyramids were built],” Hader Sheisha, a physical geographer at France’s Aix-Marseille University, told the media.
Sheisha mentioned how crucial the water level was for building pyramids. “It would be very difficult if not impossible to build the pyramids without the Khufu branch and without it having a good level, which provides enough accommodation space for the boats carrying such heavy blocks of stone,” she said. Although the exact timing of the branch’s extinction is unknown, research indicates that by 2,400 years ago, the branch’s water level was quite low.
The scientists emphasized in their study that the discoveries were consistent with other archeological discoveries that showed the existence of a harbor near to the pyramids as well as old papyri documents that described workmen transporting limestone to Giza by boat.
“The paper is an exciting contribution to our understanding of the dialogue between humans and their environment in Egypt within the context of changing climate,” Judith Bunbury, a geo-archaeologist at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom praised the research.
This complements research done by a man named Kunkel from Youngstown, OH. Kunkel’s book claims the internal space of the Great Pyramid was used as a hydraulic RAM to lift the huge blocks.