The mystery of the pyramids of Egypt elucidated?

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A team of scientists claim to have unraveled the mystery of the construction of the pyramids of Egypt. Obviously, aliens have nothing to do with this new theory. So let's see what it is!

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For centuries, many have wondered how the Egyptians were able to move huge blocks of stone to build the pyramids. Many theories have been put forward: elevators, ramps, sleds, etc. Absurd explanations even have followers. It is among other things here about extraterrestrials.
However, researchers at the University of Amsterdam recently discovered that moving blocks of stone across the desert is not so rocket science. “In the Physical Review Letter, they explain the technique used by the Egyptians to transport stones weighing up to two tons to the site of the pyramids. The stones were loaded on wooden sleds, then the Egyptians wet the sand in order to facilitate the passage of the workers with the cargo. With the right dose of water, the sand hardened, allowing the sleds loaded with stone to slide over it instead of sinking. "
The following activities will help uncover one of the world's greatest mysteries.


At the end of the activities, the student will be able to:
- Say what he knows about the pyramids of Egypt;
- Identify misconceptions about pyramids;
- Look for information on the usefulness of the pyramids at the time of the pharaohs;
- Observe the pyramids of Giza on Google Maps;
- Study the architecture of the pyramid of Cheops;
- Understand the recent discovery made by a team of Dutch researchers.

Suggested Activities

ACTIVITY 1: The pyramids of Egypt

First, ask students what they know about pyramids. Who built them, when, in what way and for what according to them?
Tell students that you know someone who has just visited Egypt and that you have received an email from that friend. In the message, we find the description of a pyramid. As a large group, read this message.

Click on the image to enlarge.
Download the source file in ActivInspire (.flp) format
Download the file in PDF format (.pdf)
Consult the answer sheet for the activity in PDF (.pdf)

Tell the students that your friend played a trick on you since you know very well that several elements do not represent the Egyptian reality. Individually or as a team, have students identify what is wrong with the message.
At the end of the activity, everyone can be invited to search for information on the true usefulness of the pyramids at the time of the pharaohs on the Internet or in books and encyclopedias in the library.

ACTIVITY 2: The pyramid of Kheops

Before starting the activity, ask students if they can name the largest pyramid in Egypt. It is about Cheops. This is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and it is even classified on the list of the world heritage of humanity.
Take a few minutes to show them the pyramid. You will find it on Google maps here. Also identify the other two structures that make up the Pyramids of Giza.
Then, in teams, the students will have to do research on the pyramid of Cheops in order to complete the following diagram:

Click on the image to enlarge.
Download the file in Word format (.docx)
Consult the answer key for the activity in Word format (.docx)

Finally, you can ask the students to find the actual size of the pyramid of Cheops by measuring it. By using the annotation functionality as well as the mathematical tools of a tebeware, you will be able to measure the pyramid directly on Google maps and then ask students to convert from the scale provided on Google Maps.

Click on the image to enlarge.


ACTIVITY 3: Building the pyramids

Several theories attempt to explain the construction of the pyramids. Invite students to read the following article for a new explanation:
Dutch physicists unravel the mystery of the pyramids article of May 2, 2014
Finally, ask students the following questions to check their understanding:
- What did the Egyptians use to move the stone blocks forward in the desert?
- How much is the traction force reduced by using this element?
- Does the discovery of physicists surprise Egyptologists? Why?
- What happens if too much is used?
- What is one of the greatest mysteries concerning the construction of the pyramids that has not yet been elucidated?

More about the magazine

The mystery of the construction of the pyramids of Egypt finally unraveled?
Maxisciences article of May 6, 2014
Ancient egypt
Site created by a history and geography teacher
Pyramid of Cheops
Wikipedia article
Theories on the method of construction of the Egyptian pyramids
Wikipedia article

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Designed to fill short periods or inspire larger projects, the activities offered in the SCOOP! allow the teacher to approach the subject matter in the program in addition to developing the information literacy and digital skills of the students.

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