8th Experimental Archaeology Conference abstract – Blakely and Blakely

Demonstration of a Full Scale Egyptian Pulley

Stephen Blakely & Gregory Blakely O’Fallon, MO 63366, United States Egyptologists believe the Old Kingdom Egyptians, builders of the Great Pyramid, understood the pulley but could not fabricate a robust one because they, being in the Early Bronze Age, lacked the requisite metal for a high strength pulley axle. But it is contended that the Egyptians likely fabricated a rudimentary, robust pulley of limestone, granite, or copper — a polished cylinder which rotates in an open cradle with a polished, mating surface (involving only compressive loading) – – the “Egyptian Pulley.” The portion of the cylinder contacting the rope is grooved and roughened to prevent rope slippage and to maintain rope cross-sectional integrity. Except for this circumferential groove around the cylinder, lubrication, for example, flax oil, is utilized on the mating surfaces. The Egyptian Pulley would have allowed the rope pullers to be positioned on the top, horizontal surface of the Great Pyramid during construction. The small size and weight of the Pulley means multiple Pulleys could have been utilized to meet the stone lifting rate required for construction of the Great Pyramid – and readily disassembled for rapid repositioning. An Egyptian Pulley was used in a recent, instrumented demonstration in lifting a 5,000 pound weight, demonstrating the plausibility of its use for the construction of the Great Pyramid. The full scale Egyptian Pulley (described in the abstract) is currently on display in the Egyptian Gallery of the Spurlock Museum, Urbana, Illinois, USA. ME470 Final Report University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Senior Mechanical Engineering Project, sponsored by Stephen Blakely, “Simple Pulley in Great Pyramid Construction”, reported in the DAILY EGYPTIAN, April 23, 2013, volume 98, issue 130, page one. Poster Session, “Reinventing the Egyptian Pulley”, Stephen W. Blakely, 4th US REARC Conference on Experimental Archaeology, 18-20 October, 2013.


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