Long before the days of trucks and cranes, the ancient Egyptians were building pyramids out of giant bricks stacked hundreds of feet high. Even getting the stones to the construction site would have been an ordeal in Bronze Age. According to a new study published by researchers at the University of Amsterdam, workers may have placed the rocks on a sledge (a platform of sorts) and then wet the sand underneath, making it twice as stiff. The firm ground made it a heck of a lot easier to pull the rock along, reducing the amount of workers needed to get each stone to its destination. You can witness the difference a little water makes simply by walking on a beach below the high tide line, versus dry patches further up.
The study, which was published this week in Physical Review Letters, tells us not only about how our predecessors got along, but how it could help us as well. The transport of granular materials like sand, coal and concrete currently account for 10 percent of the world's energy consumption. If we can come up with a more efficient way to move those things around, we could potentially save a ton of energy (and cash) in the process.
Image credit: Lansbricae (Luis Leclere) via Getty Image