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  • 1 May 2014, 13:07

Pyramids' Biggest Mystery Finally 'Solved'

It's the question that has baffled historians for centuries - how did the ancient Egyptians move the 2.5-tonne stones used to create their iconic pyramids across the desert sands?

Now, researchers at the University of Amsterdam in The Netherlands have come up with a theory - they simply wet the sand then slid the stones over it on large sleds with upturned edges.

The damp sand stopped a ridge of sand from building up, the researchers said, and made it easier for the thousands of slaves used to carry out the transportation.

There are 138 pyramids across Egypt, which were built as long ago as 2,630BC. The most famous Egyptian pyramids are found at Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo.

A statement from the university said: "The physicists placed a laboratory version of the Egyptian sledge in a tray of sand.

"Experiments revealed that the required pulling force decreased proportional to the stiffness of the sand.

"A sledge glides far more easily over firm desert sand simply because the sand does not pile up in front of the sledge as it does in the case of dry sand."

The study has been published in Physical Review Letters.

The paper's synopsis read: "Everyone who has been to the beach will know that dry sand doesn't make good sandcastles - the grains slump into a puddle when the bucket is lifted.

"Adding water can solve this problem: the grains stick and the castle holds its shape.

"This is great for sandcastle building, and also, it turns out, for sand transportation."

The researchers pointed out that the amount of water added to the stand was crucial, as too much or too little would not have the desired effect.

It is not explained where construction teams would have obtained enough water for the task.

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