Research suggests that a tributary of the Nile River was once very close to Giza and may have been used to build the pyramids.
Researchers have found evidence that the Khufu tributary of the Nile River was once very close to Giza and may have been used to transport stones used in the famous pyramids.
In their paper, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers describe their study of fossilized pollen grains found in sediments around Giza and what it shows them about the history of the Khufu branch of the river.
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In their study, the researchers obtained core sediment samples collected over many years from several sites in and around Giza, and then closely examined the fossilized pollen grains trapped within them for thousands of years.
By analyzing the results from previous studies, which included examining the rock layers surrounding the pyramids, they discovered that they were able to reconstruct the history of the Khufu tributary of the river as it flowed through the region over the past 8,000 years.
Then, by looking at the timeline and flow of the tributary, they found that by the time the three great pyramids (Menkaure, Khafre and Khufu) were built (around 4,000 years ago), its level was high enough to reach almost all the way from the Nile to Giza, 7 kilometers away.
The researchers note that the pollen grain fossils they found came mostly from flowering grasses, such as those along the Nile River today. They also found evidence of a few marsh plants that typically grow on the edges of lakes. This suggests that the Khufu tributary remained at high levels in the area long enough for nature to recognize it as permanent.
The researchers also found that shortly after King Tutankhamun’s reign, levels of this tributary began to decline, leading to a much drier environment. Other bone and dental work from mummies of the time also showed that the area became drier.
The researchers suggest that other researchers using the same techniques could learn more about how changing river flow affected other ancient civilizations.
Article: Hader Sheisha et al. (2022). Nile waterscapes facilitated the construction of the Giza pyramids during the 3rd millennium BCE. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.