New theory on Egyptian pyramids

20th May 2013

The Pyramids in Egypt may have suffered irreparable damage due to thermal movement, a structural engineer has said.

Since 2011 Peter James has been looking at what could have caused the Egyptians to abandon the iconic structures. Specifically tasked with securing the 4,700 year-old Djoser pyramid, which was damaged by an earthquake in 1992, James has also been examining the structure of a number of other pyramids.

Speaking to Structure magazine, James said his new line of thought came from examining the Bent pyramid, near Cairo, which was built in about 2600 BC. Considered to be one of the earliest pyramids, James noticed that while the structure's extremities had suffered extensive damage over the years, there was no movement in the foundations. It led him to believe that the thermal movement, where the limestone blocks expand and contract as the temperature changes, may have been behind the damage.

He said: "A popular theory is that the missing cladding was removed by thieves. At the lowest levels that could be the answer, but the same condition occurs at higher levels and in an apparently random manner, with no signs of indentations from temporary scaffolding or of any symmetrical cutting of the blocks to aid removal.

"The damage here appears to be caused by a giant whose hand has swept across the face of the pyramid with enormous energy, sucking out the facing and leaving the ragged empty sockets."

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