In the middle of the desert in Egypt, the statue of Amenhotep III is estimated to weigh approximately 700 metric tonnes and was moved over 700 km. The pieces that were carved from the mountain that made the sphinx weigh approximately 200 metric tonnes. These were later neatly stacked into a temple in front of the sphinx.

Here is a video of some guys moving a 200 metric tonne ship, just for reference :)

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    Hmm, Egyptians had battle chariots. They knew what wheel is. Dec 30, 2011 at 15:12
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    Welcome to Skeptics! While I accept it is a notable claim that the Egyptians moved large stones long distances, you make a number of positive claims in this question, that are not referenced: (e.g. weight of the statue, the distance travelled by the statue's stones, the source of the Sphinx, that the Egyptians are believed not to have invented the wheel, etc. Please cite a notable source from which these claims come from, so we may assess them.
    – Oddthinking
    Dec 30, 2011 at 15:43
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    Possible dupe: skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/377/…
    – Sklivvz
    Dec 30, 2011 at 16:35
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    I'm sorry but... what is the question here?
    – nico
    Dec 30, 2011 at 22:49
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    @Kristoffer: That's slightly complicated. Normally: In a question, you should cite someone else's claim, that you may or may not be true for us to investigate. We look for "notability" by which we mean many people believe it, not just two guys in a pub came up with it. Wikipedia is fine. In answers (and sometimes in questions), the author makes claims that they personally accept as true. In those cases, we eschew Wikipedia for (more) primary sources. If you are just defining an uncontroversial term (e.g. Amenhotep III), Wikipedia is useful.
    – Oddthinking
    Dec 30, 2011 at 23:25

2 Answers 2


I'm going to copy my answer from the linked question here, and highlight the relevant part in bold for you. With this link being the most pertinent.

ScienceDaily has a nice article on this, as well as many related articles. In the cited article, they state:

But the process of building pyramids, while complicated, was not as colossal an undertaking as many of us believe, Redford says. Estimates suggest that between 20,000 and 30,000 laborers were needed to build the Great Pyramid at Giza in less than 23 years. By comparison, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris took almost 200 years to complete.

I think what gets people so confused is they mistake old cultures for being unintelligent. Humans have had the same level of intelligence for nearly 200,000 years, just not the full benefit of technology. (Citation: Hominid Brain Evolution Testing Climatic, Ecological, and Social Competition Models, Drew H. Bailey & David C. Geary, Hum Nat (2009) 20:67-79, DOI 10.1007/s12110-008-9054-0)

Furthermore, in the article, it states "laborers". A common misconception is that slaves built the pyramids, which is not the case. Archaeological evidence shows the builders were skilled and paid for their efforts. From the same article:

the image most people have of slaves being forced to build the pyramids against their will is incorrect.

An additional collection of articles can be found at this Discover Magazine Blog post by Andrew Moseman. It starts out saying:

Forget the myths about massive numbers of slaves or Jews building the great pyramids, Egypt‘s chief archaeologist argues this week. He says Egyptian researchers have found the tombs of more pyramid builders, and in those tombs more evidence that free men erected these monumental tributes to the ancient pharaohs.

And continues with numerous links to even more articles.

As to the assertion that it was impossible to do many of the things that the builders of the pyramids did, that is a common misconception people seem to have. Most people don't consider ancient humans to have been as intelligent as we are, when in fact they possessed the exact same intellect as we do today, just not the technology. And since we rely so much on advanced technology, many people make an argument of incredulity because we just don't do things the old fashioned way. Some people have started to collect reconstructions of those methods on the web.

The same argument regarding the mathematical precision could be made. Also, in ancient times, without our calendars and clocks, astronomical observations played a much more important role than today (i.e. when to plant, when to expect rains, etc.). Again, ancient humans were not stupid.

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    Very nice answer. To add another impressive example: ancient Romans were able to build acqueducts such as the one connecting Uzès and Nîmes in Southern France, that was 50km (31mi) long with only 17m (56ft) of height difference at the two ends.
    – nico
    Jan 2, 2012 at 14:55

Egyptians at the time were known to use the six simple machines, known to humankind since almost the dawn of time:


A lot of resources about the technology of ancient Egyptians, how they built their monuments and so on, are also here:


  • Many thanks for collecting all these references together!
    – David H
    Jul 18, 2013 at 17:10
  • "Wheel and axle" link is broken.
    – jscs
    Feb 5, 2015 at 23:56

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