Academics from the University of Liverpool in Cairo have discovered what could potentially be the remains of a 4,500 year old ramp system, dating to the reign of Khufu (builder of the Great Pyramid at Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the World).
"Along the sides of the ancient ramp are two staircases lined with postholes, to which ropes were likely tied thousands of years ago to drag the huge stone blocks. Such a design would have alleviated some of the burden for the workers who had to pull these huge loads," Egyptologist, Dr. Roland Enmarch, said.
The discovery suggests that ancient Egyptians actually required less time to build the pyramids than first thought. They may have been able to drag blocks from both sides instead of pulling them behind them.
Yannis Gourdon, from the French Institute for Oriental Archaeology in Cairo, said:
"This system is composed of a central ramp flanked by two staircases with numerous post holes. Using a sled which carried a stone block and was attached with ropes to these wooden posts, ancient Egyptians were able to pull up the alabaster blocks out of the quarry on very steep slopes of 20 percent or more."
The ancient ramp was discovered at the site of Hatnub by researchers from the University's Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology (ACE) and the French Institute for Oriental Archaeology in Cairo.
Hatnub quarries were the "most prestigious source for Egyptian alabaster, the milky white banded stone which was much beloved of Egyptian civilization," explained Dr. Enmarch.