The Challenge of the Pyramids
The Great Pyramid still seems unexplainable to people today. Many theories have been advanced
to account for the actual construction process. Erich von Daniken has suggested that the earth was visited
by astronauts from outer space that birthed the human race as it is known today before leaving for the stars
with a promise to return at a later, unspecified date. Primitive people remembered them as “gods” who
possessed exceptional knowledge and skills that were left with the ancients here on earth. These abilities
accounted for the breathtaking achievements of many early societies from Mexico, South America to
More recently, Joseph Davidovits proposed the idea that an advanced knowledge of chemistry,
using little technology, would have allowed the Egyptians to cast large blocks of stone from moulds on the
building site. This would have eliminated the apparent difficulty of transporting huge blocks over long
distances. Is there any substance to either of these radical views or it the more traditional, heave-ho
explanation a better solution to the problem?
Alternative 1 Questions: Chariots of the Gods
1. What is the picture of ancient Egypt described by Egyptologist, according to
2. What problem does con Daniken see with the use of wooden rollers in the construction of
the pyramids? What problems does he argue with the realities of Egyptian agriculture?
3. How do you respond to Daniken’s mentioning the series of coincidences about the Great
Pyramid? What do you think?
4. What is the traditional explanation of how the Great Pyramid was built? What objection
does von-Daniken have about this explanation?
Alternative 2 Questions: Building the Great Pyramid
1. In what ways does Wilson agree with von Daniken about the number and construction of
the blocks used to build the Pyramid of Cheops?
2. In what way does Wilson differ with the claim that all blocks of the pyramid were fitted
3. Where did the Egyptians acquire the limestone and granite to build the pyramid?
4. Explain how Wilson counters von Daniken’s argument that wood was not available for
wooden rollers in constructing the pyramid.
5. Why does Wilson claim that the Great Pyramid was constructed in much less than 664
6. Why does Wilson support the ‘heave-ho’ method? Is this explanation convincing?
Justify your answer.
Alternative 3 Questions: Pouring a Pyramid?
1. What problems exist with the traditional explanation of how the Great Pyramid was
2. How does Davidovits believe the construction of the Great Pyramid was accomplished?
3. Does Davidovits produce enough evidence to prove that the stone in the pyramid was
4. If Davidovits is correct, what problems does the ability to pour rock into moulds solve
when examining the process of construction for the Great Pyramid?
5. If there is more evidence to support the heave-ho method of pyramid building as outlined
by Wilson or more evidence to support the new ideas advanced by Davidovits? Explain
Argumentative Paper Rubric: The Challenge of the Pyramids
Criteria Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
(50-59) (60-69) (70-79) (80-100)
Structure- - simple opening - thesis stated but - thesis is stated but - thesis is
Introduction statement unclear somewhat unclear precisely stated
- states - limited - main points - main points - main points
thesis/main idea identification of unclear introduced with clearly
- introduces main main points moderate clarity introduced
Structure- - abrupt ending; - thesis - thesis summarized - thesis clearly
Conclusion limited summarized but but somewhat summarized
- summarizes summarizing of unclear unclear - main points
thesis/main idea main points - main point - main points clearly
- summarizes summarized but summarized but summarized
main points unclear unclear
Supporting - arguments are - arguments are - arguments are - arguments are
Reasons or unrelated unclear and not usually clear and quite clear and
Arguments logically related logically related to logically related
- arguments are to the main idea the main idea to the main idea
related to the
Evidence and - limited support of - some points - most points have - each point has
Examples points, evidence have been been supported with been supported
- relevant mostly irrelevant supported, some relevant evidence with relevant
supporting - limited or evidence not - sufficient use of evidence
evidence- unrelated facts relevant facts - substantial facts
sufficient quantity used - insufficient or used
of facts used missing some
Mechanics of - grammar and - grammar and - grammar and - correct
Writing spelling used with spelling used spelling used with grammar and
- correct grammar limited accuracy with some considerable spelling used
and spelling used and effectiveness accuracy and accuracy and with accuracy
- use of correct - citation method effectiveness effectiveness and effectiveness
citation method not followed or - citation method - minor errors in almost all of the
absent used but with citation method time
significant errors - precise use of
Criteria: one page typed, doubled spaced, 12 font, Times New Roman font
Assignment Question: In what ways are the arguments put forward by von Daniken to
explain the construction of the Great Pyramid more or less convincing than the views
expressed by Wilson and Davidovits?