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The Secret of the Great Pyramid: How One Man's Obsession Led to the Solution of Ancient Egypt's Greatest Mystery Paperback – October 6, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Since its construction 4,500 years ago for Pharaoh Khufu, the Great Pyramid of Giza has remained an engineering mystery. According to Egyptologist Brier (The Murder of Tutankhamen) and architect Houdin, the monument was designed by Khufu's brother Hemienu, an architectural genius, and built in two decades by 25,000 paid Egyptian construction workers. Having studied the structure minutely and using computer graphics to visualize every aspect of the pyramid and its construction, Houdin offers a radical proposal of how the huge limestone and granite blocks were raised: the pyramid was built from the inside out around a mile-long ramp corkscrewed up to the top, which remains in the pyramid's walls. The authors' prose is lucid, aided by drawings and photos, and the theories are intriguing but inconclusive until permission can be obtained from Egyptian authorities to thermally photograph the pyramid and determine its internal structure. The highly technical nature of some of the architectural and engineering material makes this book more suitable for experts in archeology and architecture than for buffs. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

A specialist on Egyptian mummies, Brier relates that he receives many a missive purporting to have solved the mystery of the Great Pyramid’s construction. In one day’s e-mail, a plausible idea caught his fancy. Unlike theories that aliens lent Egyptians a helping hand, this message dwelt on the central engineering problem concerning the type of ramp the tomb’s architect used. Brier’s communication came from coauthor Houdin, a French architect who devoted years to studying the problem. Rather than immediately bowl readers over with Houdin’s proposal, Brier cleverly entices them by alternating Houdin’s quest with the trial-and-error development of pharaonic pyramids. Photos and computer-generated graphics illustrate the authors’ explanation of designs and building processes, in the course of which they describe defects in the theories that the ramp was a mile-long straightaway or an external corkscrew. Houdin adopted an inspiration of his father’s, that the ramp was indeed a corkscrew, but one that rested inside the pyramid. His search for supporting evidence, culminating in a public presentation of his theory in 2007, fills out a book to fascinate pyramid fans. --Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (October 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061655538
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061655531
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #658,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Affectionately known as "Mr. Mummy," Dr. Bob Brier is recognized as one of the world's foremost experts on mummies and Egyptology. As Senior Research Fellow at LIU Post in Brookville, New York, he has conducted pioneering research in mummification practices and has investigated some of the world's most famous mummies, including King Tut, Vladimir Lenin, Ramses the Great, Eva Peron (Evita), Marquise Tai (Chinese noblewoman), and the Medici family of Renaissance Italy. Bob Brier's new book "EGYPTOMANIA" is now available.

www.DrBobBrier.com

Customer Reviews

I got into this book and could not put it down!
R. A. Cook
Especially fascinating is Houdin's explanation of the function of the Grand Gallery leading to Khufu's burial chamber.
J. Briley
If this subject matter is of interest to you- this is a good book.
Dvr

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Friederike Knabe VINE VOICE on October 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Anybody visiting the Great Pyramid in Giza has been in awe at the architectural genius that its construction exhibits - four and a half thousand years ago. The mystery of its structure has been occupying Egyptologists, architects and engineers for a long time. How was it possible to build the pyramid as high as it was and as precise? Could an outer ramp have been used to move the huge stone blocks into position or was there a hidden inner ramp? And what was the real purpose of some of chambers, in particular the commonly named "Great Hall"? Despite many theories, expertly summarized by Bob Brier, nobody has been able to prove any of them. Brier, a renowned Egyptologist himself, follows Jean-Pierre Houdin, an architect, on his nine-year absorbing quest to establish proof of his father's ground-breaking theory of the building's construction and the indisputable brilliance of the pyramid's architect, Hemienu.

Brier takes the reader through the history of pyramid building, interleafing it with the story of the Houdins' intricate search to find the evidence that was needed to convince the expert community of the validity of their theory. The author applies a fluid and conversational tone to the narrative making it easy for the reader to follow his information-rich and well-sourced account, without overloading us with too many technicalities and details. The reader is literally taken by the hand and walked through the building process of the Great Pyramid, one layer at a time, from the planning, design, and quarrying the stones, to the administrative challenges the search for the right locality and positioning and finally the actual construction. The illustrations further facilitate understanding and appreciation. [Friederike Knabe]
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Alan Dale Daniel on July 7, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Secret of the Great Pyramid by Bob Brier and Jean-Pierre Houdin tells the story of an engineer, Jean Pierre Houdin, and his development of theories about how the Great Pyramid was constructed. The key was determining that a super long ramp, necessary to move the huge stones up to the top of the Great Pyramid, was not practical. Also, an outside ramp curling around the pyramid would not work. The engineer Houdin spent years trying to figure out how the ancient Egyptians really did accomplish the construction. After a monumental effort Mr. Houdin thought he had figured it out. Number one, an internal ramp rather than external, and a use for the grand gallery that had never been considered. Mr. Houdin thought the grand galley had been used to drop counterweights to help lift the largest stones, at least the largest stones, up a single ramp that was used only on the lower parts of the pyramid. The ramp could be much shorter in the initial stages. Then as the pyramid rose higher they switched to an internal ramp.

The book does not cover all the aspects of the grand gallery counterweight idea. How did the Egyptians get the counterweights back up? What is the advantage of the counterweights if you have to pull them back up again after dropping them? If they drop the weights the length of the grand gallery and pull a stone up an external ramp that same length then what is the gain? The weights have to be pulled back up a 50 degree slope in the grand gallery while the big stone is moving up a much smaller slope on the outside ramp. Why not just pull the stone up the outside ramp?
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. Briley on August 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
As an amateur Egyptologist I highly recommend this volume. It is easy ready, as Bob Brier is not only a knowledgeable Egyptologist and excellent teacher but a writer who with an easy, almost conversational style. Jean-pierre Houdin, co-writer and the architect/engineer whose tenacity and great ability to "problem solve" all the data, past and current, provides at the very least the most probable explanation as to the construction of the Great Pyramid of Khufu. Other explanations for the construction of the pyramid are legion, from the reasonable supposition that ramps were used and lengthened as the pyramid rose (but would end up requiring ramps miles long), all the way to the ridiculous (space aliens, again.) Brier first gives the history of the pyramids (function, theories of construction, interesting anecdotes) and then leads us step by step down the path to understanding the logic behind Houdin's reasoning, using modern technology, of the use of "inner" ramps to move blocks as the pyramid got higher. The reader will love the explanation of "cornering". Photos, excellent diagrams, and pictures are presented in an orderly fashion that explains this "theory" (no longer a theory to this writer). Especially fascinating is Houdin's explanation of the function of the Grand Gallery leading to Khufu's burial chamber. Those interested in this subject are in for a treat.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kurt A. Johnson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 20, 2014
Format: Hardcover
On June 16, 2003, Egyptologist Bob Brier received an e-mail from French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin. It seems that Monsieur Houdin had a new theory on how the Great Pyramid at Giza was built. That in and of itself was nothing new, Egyptologists are always being presented with new theories. But, this theory was different, and the more Professor Brier looked at it, the more convinced he got!

This book is the story of Mr. Houdin’s discovery of his theory of the building of the Great Pyramid, interwoven with the story of how Hemienu (architect of the Great Pyramid) might have built it. It is a very interesting read, and I must say that the authors make an excellent case for Mr. Houdin’s theory. Also, the book is written in a very accessible manner, which makes it entertaining at the same time that it informs.

I must say that I really liked this book, and though I am not entirely sold on the new theory, I am very glad that I read this book. I look forward to watching the news in the future and seeing what progress the authors make!
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