Corner room in the Great Pyramid

Corner room in the Great Pyramid

A cavity found in the corner of the Great Pyramid may support the theory that the 4,500-year-old monument to Pharaoh Khufu was constructed inside out, via a spiraling, inclined interior tunnel.

The inside-out theory’s key proponent, French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin, says the giant tomb was built using a ramp that spirals around the pyramid’s interior 30 to 45 feet behind the exterior surface.

Herodotus, writing around 450 B.C., theorized the use of small, wooden, cranes or levers to lift the blocks. Imagine how much wood it would require.

Previous theories have suggested that builders hoisted the stone blocks using an external ramp. Such a structure either corkscrewed around the pyramid’s outer surface or grew in a straight line with the pyramid. Remains of such ramp were never found.

Houdin’s theory suggests the Great Pyramid was built in two stages: a straight ramp was used to build the first 129 feet, and an internal ramp was used to complete construction.

First, blocks were hauled up a long, straight external ramp to build the pyramid’s bottom third, which contains most of the monument’s mass. The limestone blocks used in the outside ramp were recycled for the pyramid’s upper levels, which might explain why no trace of an original ramp has been found.

After the foundation had been finished, workers began building an inclined, internal, corkscrew tunnel, which would continue its path up and around as the pyramid rose, Houdin said. Because the tunnel is inside the pyramid, when they finished getting blocks all the way up to the top this ramp disappeared from view.

New evidence uncovered about two-thirds of the way up the Great Pyramid could support the inside-out theory. At about the 300-foot mark on the northeastern edge lies an open notch, and inside there is a small L-shaped room.

For the interior tunnel to work, it would have required open areas at the Great Pyramid’s four corners. These open corners would have given workers room to pivot the blocks so the stones could be pushed into the next tunnel.

Houdin claims the notch and room are remnants of one such opening. Inside the corner space, which was apparently walled in as the pyramid was completed, there should be two tunnel entrances at right angles to one another—each leading to a section of the internal ramp, Houdin believes.

How to build a pyramid

How to build a pyramid