eli5: How was the Great Pyramid build so quickly?


The Great Pyramid has an estimates 2.3 million 6 ton blocks and was built over a period of 27 years. Just doing the math shows they would have had to place one block every 6 minute.

2,300,000 / 27 = 85,185 blocks a year
85,185 / 365 = 233 blocks a day
233 / 24 = 9.7 blocks an hour, round that to 10.

So 10 blocks an hour or 1 block every 6 minutes for 27 years. Not counting time off for nights and whatnot.

I know they used a lot of people, somewhere in the tens of thousands, but this seems fast. Am I missing something?

In: 0

Tens of thousands of slaves, using ingenius building tactics for the time such as using ramps, rolling blocks on the corner rather than on their flat side, etc.

It was just the sheer amount of manpower they had, really. They probably would have groups of people with bricks lined up, getting many done a day.

PBS did a study on this estimating that 20,000 – 30,000 people worked on the Great Pryamid. They were able to manage 186 blocks in 21 days with a team of 12 people.

[PBS Experiment](https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/pyramid/explore/builders.html#:~:text=NOVA%3A%20Herodotus%2C%20the%20Greek%20historian,figure%20more%20like%2020%2C000%20workers.)

Using that 233 blocks per day estimate and a workforce of 20,000 then a team of 85 people would only have to handle 1 block per day for completion within 27 yrs.

Dedication. An entire empire threw itself into these constructions. Not just the guys setting blocks, but all the artisanal work too.

Tombs for their God Kings, cultural imperative

You’re not really missing anything, it’s an astounding feat for people working with primative tool even though they’re working sandstone. (Several tools they used are still around, I’ve a plumbline somewhere, as well as a string coated in ground-glass (flexible saw))

Someone recently [did the math](https://spectrum.ieee.org/how-many-people-did-it-take-to-build-the-great-pyramid) and although it sounds like a lot of work would be required, their calculations showed about 900 men would be enough to place the blocks, plus a few thousand more to do the quarrying, finishing, etc., coming to a total of about 7000 people.

Archaeologists estimate only about 20,000 people lived on site during construction. And that would have included people who supported the settlement, not only construction workers.

Egypt had a million people living in it. Almost all farmers. The growing season was strictly determined by the flooding of the Nile.

Between growing seasons, farmers had to perform work for the country. Usually this was working on irrigation canals and dykes. But they could also be made to work on building temples, pyramids, etc.

So Egypt had access to vast numbers of workers for unskilled physical labor like moving stone blocks.

Egypt is one of the most fertile lands on Earth. They are able to grow huge amounts of grain to feed an enormous population thanks to the fertilizing silt that gets washed down the Nile. The issue with this much food is that while the farmers work the fields for a few months a year there is not much for them to do the rest of the year. In other parts of the world you would have had to do a lot more work to grow the same amount of food. So Egypt had a huge labor force without anything to do for most of the year. We think that the entire country got together in this off-season and built monuments like the pyramid. Each worker may only have been able to place one or two blocks a year.

Planning and organisation, they had thousands of people delivering the blocks to order and more people to fit them where they were needed and others to feed clothe and generally look after the workers.