July, 2008

Blocks in Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops)

Average block acc. to Petrie. For free use

Total number of blocks

The short and safe answer is: nobody knows. The problem is that only tiny fraction of the
pyramid can be examined and the rest lays inaccessable in its vast interior. A substansial
part of the pyramid could have been filled up with stone debris, gravel, sand, and clay. This
is seen in preceding pyramids. But as the pyramid of Khufu has been stabile for more than
four mellenia, it's hard to imagine that other materials than blocks can contribute in a greater
extend to the volume. I'ts far more possible that the base never was fully leveled, and then
raw and untouched rock can contribute with a considerable part of the volume. Maybe as
much as 30 % and a considerable reduction in a still staggering amount of work.

Petrie estimated that the pyramid contains "about 2.300.000" blocks with the average dimen-
sions 50" x 50" x 28" or 1.27 m x 1.27 m x 0.711 m. Then the volume of each block is put to
the round figure 70.000 cubic inches or 1.147 cubic meter. See end of Ch. 22, note 6.

The height - 0.711 m - of the average block is too high, as 146.71 m / 0.711 m will give the
Pyramid 206(.3) courses. And certainly too few. With 218 completed courses, the average
height for a block is 67,3 cm. A common height of a table is about 75 cm.

Maximum volume of the pyramid is 2.6 million cubic meters and if the volume of each
average block is put to 1.147 cubic meter, then the pyramid at most can contains 2.26
million blocks. And round off the 2.3 million, approximated by Petrie, and most often

Weight of the average block

Hard to estimate. Densities, specific for the materials actually used for the Pyramid, seems
to be found nowhere. And states that density for limestones can vary much,
from less than 1 760 kilograms per cubic meter to more than 2 560.

Some guidence from (kg/):
"Basalt, solid 3011". Used for pavestones. From Fayum.
"Granite, solid 2691". Used for walls, cielings and more. From Aswan.
"Limestone, solid 2611". For facade, from Thura. For core and more, from Giza Plateau.

As probably 98% of the mass of the manmade part of the Pyramid consists of limestone, it
must be fair to consider the avarage block as a block of limestone.

Some guidence from Petrie who used the density 2.21. Calculation, if imperial tons:
[2.5 tons x 1.016] / 1.147 = 2.21.

Then the density for limestones, actually used, could be anything between - let's say - 2.0
and 2.7. If Petrie's figures are accepted - 1.147 cubic meter and density 2.21 - the weight of
the average block is 2 530 kilograms. And a block of 1 cubic meter has the weight 2 210

In contradiction to Petrie, it's common to state that the average block has the volume 1
and the weight 2 tons or 2.500 kg. Then, density is put to 2.50.

The weight af an average block of 2 210 kg is equal to the weight of about 30 persons
(75 kg each) or 2 medium-sized cars.

Beams over the King's Chamber

The cieling consists of 9 granite blocks, formed like beams. The average beam is app. 2.1 m high,
1.4 m wide and 9.1 m in lenght. Volume is about 26.8 cubic meters, and the weight is 72 tons,
when density is 2.7. For all 9 beams about 650 tons.

Blocks per minute

The pyramid represents an almost inhuman amount of work, often visualized by calculating
how frequent a block has to be put down. The calculation rest on a number of assumptions:

How many hours were available?

10 hours in 365 days in 20 years are 10 × 365 × 20 = 73 000 hours.

Then 2.3 million blocks were placed in 73 000 hours.

Every hour were placed 2.3 million blocks / 73 000 hours = 31.5 blocks.

Or 1 block every 2 minutes.