Great Pyramid built from inside out, says architect

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It was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and the only one of them to remain standing today.

Yet the story of how the Great Pyramid of Giza was actually built has remained a mystery for more than four millennia -- until, perhaps, now.

A French architect believes he has finally solved one of the most puzzling construction problems in history by working out how the ancient Egyptians built such a massive structure without the benefit of iron tools, pulleys or wheels.

In Paris tomorrow, Jean-Pierre Houdin will unveil the fruits of eight years' work by describing at a conference how the pyramid of the pharaoh Khufu was built from the inside out. He will propose that the Egyptians carried the building blocks up an internal ramp that formed a spiral tunnel within the structure's outer wall. These tunnels, he believes, must still exist today.

With the help of sophisticated computer software developed by the French company Dassault Systemes, M. Houdin has been able to reconstruct a three-dimensional simulation of how the great limestone and granite blocks of the pyramid were put together stone by stone.

The simulation shows the logic behind building such a pyramid from the inside out. M. Houdin even believes he has solved the mystery of the king's chamber -- why it had five granite ceilings instead of one, and how these great granite blocks were lifted to such a height.

The first recorded attempt to explain how the Pyramid of Khufu was built came from Herodotus, the Greek historian.

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