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Ancient Egypt
Simple Machines (engineering)

How are simple machines used in Ancient Egypt?


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September 01, 2011 8:24PM


Many of the workers were involved with stonework. Without the use of jackhammers or drills, these talented specialists separated stone blocks from the earth with amazing patience. Since stone can hold under intense forces, the stones were broken by pushing them apart. Stoneworkers would, with iron or copper chisels, hammer out a chunk of rock and insert a wooden wedge in the crack. When the wood was wetted, it would expand and, if the wood was properly placed, it would break off a desirable chunk of stone.

Transport and the Inclined Plane

The Egyptians were no strangers to the transport of stone, and no doubt they found out quickly that barges were far more efficient than dragging them with human power. The quarries had a causeway, leading to the loading harbours on the Nile. The barges and their precious stone cargo were boated down the Nile River to another harbour close to the current pyramid project.

After their journey down the Nile, the stone blocks were offloaded from their barges onto a ramp built right up to the dock. This ramp, with a slope as little as 1 in 3,000 led all the way up to the pyramid. The ramp was made mostly of mud bricks .The construction of the Great Pyramids' ramp took ten years - one-third of the time it took to complete the entire project. As the pyramid grew, so did the necessity for a higher ramp, and dirt or bricks could simply be piled on top of the existing one to reach the new height of the pyramid.

Humans were the basic source of labour for these efforts. Stones would be moved onto sleds to make this long journey to the pyramid. As few as 70 or as many as 1400 men are necessary to pull a rock forward. Mosaics have shown liquid being poured on or under the rudders, because not only was friction a problem, but also the wooden rudders were catching on fireu8u! These liquids could have been oil or grease to act as a friction stopper, or milk or water to act as a flame stopper. Regardless, we know that Egyptians understood the fundamental concept of friction and sought to lower the sled's friction.

The Egyptians used animals eg. oxen to pull the stone blocks.