So... how does one haul concrete to the top of the pyramid?
Actually, the answer has turned out to be rather simple. Several years ago, a massive wall was discovered on the Giza plateau, and when the Egyptian department of antiquities excavated it, they found that it surrounded a cantonment for workers. Archaeological studies of this city for workers has turned the entire story of how the pyramids were built completely on its head, and makes Gunga Dim's story of poured concrete really very silly.
DNA studies of bone fragments from the worker's tombs have shown that many of the worker's were related. It is now thought that entire families of men, women and children came to the site to help build the pyramids. They have found inscriptions which show the workers at the activities of their daily lives, and with hieroglyphic inscriptions, and they show them tending livestock, baking bread and making beer. These people lived very well, and the size of the city shows that it could have housed about 20,000 workers and their families--far fewer than it had previously been thought necessary to build the pyramid at Giza.
The archaeologists of Egypt's department of antiquities began looking at their collections with new eyes, and one thing one of them noticed were the miniature tools which had been catalogued, stored in back room and forgotten. They now think that these were toys manufactured for the children of the workers. One of the "toys" is a cradle-like affair which no one could explain. But when a retired engineer in England looked at the cradle, one of things he noticed was that the outer "rocker arms" described a quarter circle--four of them arranged around a square would produce a circle. Eventually the nickel dropped for him, and he realized that these could be used to turn a block of stone into a wheel.
He got together with a team from Japan, whose masters paid for the project, and they went to Egypt to test his theory. First, they constructed sleds, and tested pulling square concrete slabs up slopes on sleds. They found that they could not haul a sledge up a slope greater than one in ten, and that it took more than 50 men to haul a two and one half ton block 15 yards on that slope between 20 and 30 minutes. The time necessary to haul stones to the top of the structure with such a shallow slope would have been enormous, and it would have required huge teams of thousands of workers hauling the stones up the slope in relays.
But they then constructed the cradles to full scale, using the scale of the other miniature tools they had as a guide for the scale. They were able to take eight of these cradles, arrange them around a squared concrete slab to turn it into a wheel. Then the team members were able to haul a two and one half ton concrete slab up a slope of one in four (much steeper) over a distance of 15 yards in under one minute.
When Herodotus was doing the research for his book on the Persian Wars, he visited the middle east to interview people, and that included a visit to Egypt, where he was told that the pyramids had been built by vast armies of slaves. He estimated it would have taken 100,000 slaves or more to have built the Giza pyramid in 20 years. Modern archaeologists until quite recently have simply accepted the tale of Herodotus. Don't get me wrong--i don't blame Herodotus. He was always careful to point out that these were the things he was told. It is hardly his fault that no one in more than 2000 years has bothered to review the story to find out if it were plausible. Additionally, the Giza pyramid was 2000 years old when he visited it--the people who told him the story of the slave armies building the pyramid were simply talking sh*t--they didn't know what they were talking about.
This theory of the construction of the pyramids has not, of course, been proven. But then, neither has the story of the vast armies of slaves building the pyramids. Like any good scientific theory, this one explains all the data which is currently in the possession of the archaeologists working at Giza. The discovery of the worker's city, with its tombs, inscriptions and artifacts was made by in 1990, under the supervision of Zahi Hawass, the Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, working with Mark Lehner, a visiting professor of Egyptian archaeology at the University of Chicago, and Director of Ancient Egypt Research Associates.
I'm sorry, but i couldn't come up with the name of the English engineer who discovered the use of the cradles for moving the stone blocks. If i can come up with it, i'll post it here.
If that engineer is correct, it makes the poured concrete theory pretty damned ridiculous.