Ancient ramp used to transport massive stone blocks by Egypt’s pyramid builders discovered

A French-British archaeological mission from the French Institute for Oriental Archaeology (IFAO) and from the University of Liverpool in England working in Hatnoub archaeological site in Minya, has uncovered how the ancient Egyptians hauled massive stone blocks from the Marmar quarry to build their edifices during the reign of Khufu.

Ancient ramp used to transport massive stone blocks by Egypt's pyramid builders discovered
Aerial view of the quarry and ramp at Hatnoub  in the Eastern Desert of Egypt
[Credit: Ministry of Antiquities]

Dr. Mostafa Waziri General Secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities explained that the discovery was made during a topographic survey and studies on all the reliefs and engravings that have been found in Hatnoub since 2012 in an attempt to understand how the ancient Egyptians transported the huge alabaster blocks from the quarry during the reign of the pyramid builders.

Ancient ramp used to transport massive stone blocks by Egypt's pyramid builders discovered
The 4,500-year-old system used to pull alabaster stones up a steep slope discovered at Hatnoub. Two staircases with
numerous postholes are located next to the ramp. An alabaster block would have been placed on a sled,
which was tied by ropes to the wooden poles [Credit: Yannis Gourdon/Ifao]

“This system is composed of a central ramp lined by two staircases with numerous pillar holes,” said Yannis Gourdon, co-director of the joint mission at Hatnub.
The Egyptians were able to pull the alabaster blocks out of the quarry on very steep slopes of 20 degrees or more by putting every block on a sled attached to the pillars holes via ropes which act as a “force multiplier”, making it easier to pull the sled up the ramp.

Ancient ramp used to transport massive stone blocks by Egypt's pyramid builders discovered
Inscriptions found at Hatnoub [Credit: Ministry of Antiquities]

“This kind of system has never been discovered anywhere else,” Gourdon said. “The study of the tool marks and the presence of two [of] Khufu’s inscriptions led us to the conclusion that this system dates back at least to Khufu’s reign, the builder of the Great Pyramid in Giza,” he added.

Source: Egyptian Ministry of Culture [November 01, 2018]



10 Ways to Celebrate Halloween with NASA

There’s a whole universe of mysteries out there to put some fun—and maybe a touch of fright—into your All Hallows Eve festivities. Here are a few:

1. Universe of Monsters

Mythical monsters of Earth have a tough time of it. Vampires don’t do sunlight. Werewolves must wait for a full Moon to howl. Now, thanks to powerful space telescopes, some careful looking and a lot of whimsy, NASA scientists have found suitable homes for the most terrifying Halloween monsters.


2. Be a Spacecraft

No costume. No problem. NASA Blueshift offers some handy tips on transforming yourself into a powerful space telescope before hitting the sidewalk to trick-or-treat.


3. Robot Pumpkins

At Halloween, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory craft dramatic creations that have as much in common with standard jack-o’-lanterns as paper airplanes do with NASA spacecraft. The unofficial pumpkin carving contest gives engineers a chance to flex their creative muscles and bond as a team. The rules are simple: no planning, carving or competing during work hours.

The results? See for yourself!

Can’t wait to see this year’s creations? Do it yourself!



4. Skull Comet

Scientists think a large space rock that zipped past Earth on Halloween in 2015 was most likely a dead comet or an asteroid that, fittingly, bore an eerie resemblance to a skull.

“The object might be a dead comet, but in the (radar) images it appears to have donned a skull costume for its Halloween flyby,” said NASA scientist Kelly Fast,

As with a lot of spooky things, the asteroid looked a lot less scary upon closer inspection.


5. Spooky Sun

Not to be outdone, the Sun—our star—has been known to put on a scary face.

In this October 2014 Solar Dynamic Observatory image, active regions on the Sun combined to look something like a jack-o-lantern’s face.

The active regions appear brighter because those are areas that emit more light and energy—markers of an intense and complex set of magnetic fields hovering in the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona. This image blends together two sets of wavelengths at 171 and 193 angstroms, typically colorized in gold and yellow, to create a particularly Halloween-like appearance.


6. Halloween on a Mission

Halloween held a special significance for NASA’s Cassini mission, which launched in October 1997. The team held its own elaborate pumpkin carving competitions for many years. The mission also shared whimsical Halloween greetingswith its home planet.

Cassini ended its extended mission at Saturn in 2017.


7. The Ghost of Cassiopeia

The brightest stars embedded in nebulae throughout our galaxy pour out a torrent of radiation that eats into vast clouds of hydrogen gas – the raw material for building new stars. This etching process sculpts a fantasy landscape where human imagination can see all kinds of shapes and figures. This nebula in the constellation of Cassiopeia has flowing veils of gas and dust that have earned it the nickname “Ghost Nebula.”


8. They’re Everywhere

Turns out the human mind—including space scientists and engineers among us—find spooky shapes in many places.

This infrared view of the Helix Nebula reminded astronomers of a zombie eyeball.


9. What Do You See?

The Oct. 26 Earth Observatory’s Puzzler feature offers a spooky shape for your consideration. What is it and what does it look like? You tell us.


10. Space Candy

The trick-or-treat tradition is still—so far—pretty much confined to Earth. But thanks to the men and women who have been living aboard the International Space Station for more than 17 years, we have a preview of what a future space-based trick-or-treater’s Halloween candy haul would look like in microgravity.


Bonus: 11. Want More?

Our education team offers a bunch more Halloween activities, including space-themed pumpkin stencils, costume tips and even some mysteries to solve like a scientist or engineer.


Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space:

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