Answer to Question #177541 in Civil and Environmental Engineering for Davy Franckly MONGOUMA

Question #177541

QUESTION 1 People have been designing things for a long time. Examples of great designs from antiquity are Pyramids in Egypt, Mayan Cities and Temples, Great Wall of China. No records survive from these projects. However, the structures show no sign of environmental degradation and attracts people of all walk of life. Against the above pretext:

a i) Select a case

ii) Describe unexpected insight into the selected case.

iii) Distinguish between past and present designs in the light of economic efficiency.

Expert's answer

Unexpected insight into The great pyramids

One of the biggest mysteries about the Egyptian pyramids is the construction techniques used to erect them. The incredible feat of the Egyptians is all the more impressive when taking into consideration that over 2 million limestone and granite blocks were used to build the Great Pyramid of Giza. The Great Pyramid of Giza points very precisely to the north. The base of a pyramid was always a perfect square.

Distinction between past and present designs in the light of economic efficiency

In the past, there was a permanent group of skilled craftsmen and builders who were supplemented by seasonal crews of approximately 2,000 conscripted peasants. These crews were divided into gangs of 200 men, with each group further divided into teams of 20. Experiments indicate that these groups of 20 men could haul the 2.5 ton blocks from quarry to pyramid in about 20 minutes, their path eased by a lubricated surface of wet silt. An estimated 340 stones could be moved daily from quarry to construction site, particularly when one considers that many of the blocks (such as those in the upper courses) were considerably smaller.

In the present, threats to the site continue: air pollution from waste incineration contributes to the degradation of the stones, and the massive illegal quarrying of sand on the neighboring plateau has created holes large enough to be seen on Google Earth. Egypt’s 2011 uprisings and their chaotic political and economic aftermath also negatively impacted tourism, one of the country’s most important industries, and the number of visitors is only now beginning to rise once more. As massive as they are, the pyramids at Giza are not immutable. With the rapid growth of Cairo, they will need sufficient attention and protection if they are to remain intact as key touchstones of ancient history.

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