Code/Switch – What if Aliens Built the Pyramids?

Hi, my name is James and welcome to Code/Switch. Today, I want to talk about the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza. Archeologists are still figuring out the methods used to build the grand structure while people on tv speculate about aliens helping with the construction. While building a Starfinder character for an upcoming game, I remembered about the existence of the Graviton-line of small arms that are basically miniature tractor beams. If the pyramids were built by aliens with access to Starfinder gear, would there be any significant reduction in build time, staff, or resources, or would the construction timeline not shift significantly?

The Great Pyramid of Giza is 455ft tall, took about 10 years to build, and is composed of over 2.3 million stone blocks weighing an average of 2.5 tons each. A large portion of the stone used in the pyramids construction was quarried from the Tura quarry, roughly 9 miles from the build site of the pyramid. The stones were moved by brute force and boat, a trip that took 4 days. Using our built time estimate and stone weight, on an average day 630 tons of stone were moved each day. It’s hard to find figures of the workforce size of the quarrying, transportation, and construction crews, but a figure of 10,000 staff is mentioned. Those are big numbers, now time to explain our alien technology.

I couldn’t find Paizo art of the Graviton Gun, so heres a replica of the Gravity Gun from the video game Half-Life made by Volpin Props, Photo by Dan Almasy

Starfinder is full of drones, powered armor, and magic, but the specific item I want to use to help solve this issue is the Graviton pistol, we’re going to use the 8th level model, the Tensor variant for our calculations. The Tensor Graviton pistol is one of only a few weapons in the game that deal no damage, instead of damage they push or pull a target towards or away from the operator. The weapons themselves show no upper limit for weight or object choice in the weapons description or in the text of the Graviton weapon property. We’re also going to assume that we have an over-supply of these weapons, and we’re able to give them to every man, women, and child with small arms profinency.

To make construction easier, I propose we position an operator with a Graviton pistol every 40 feet from the quarry to the build site, and upwards in 40 feet positions on scaffolding up the the pyramids max height of 455ft. I believe this would greatly reduce the time to bring stone to the site and that would significantly speed up construction. Let’s do some math and see what we come up with!

First, I want to explain why we space Graviton pistol operators 40 feet apart. A graviton pistol has a 20 range for moving objects relative to the position of the operator. This essentially gives each operator a 20ft radius/40ft diameter of control to push and pull blocks. A Graviton pistol doesn’t have the Unwieldy property, so it can be fired twice in a round, allowing an operator to navigate a block through their total 40ft diameter of control in 6 seconds. We’re also going to be kind, and assume an 8 hour work day, although it’s possible a sun up to sun down work day could has been used.

The 9 miles trek from the quarry to the build site would be a 47,520ft jog, and an additional 455 ft upwards to the top of the pyramid makes the total distance we have to send the blocks to as 47,965ft. The 40ft diameter of the Graviton pistols allows us to move these stones with 1,200 operators laid end to end from the quarry site to the build site. The estimate of 10,000 workers would be shattered if you could do similar work with almost 1/10th of the staff. It’s not just wrote manpower we save, we also save time.

According to the aforementioned article, it took 4 days for stone to get from the quarry to the build site. Using out Graviton pistols we can cut this time dramatically. Each 6 seconds, an operator can move a block 40ft, regardless of weight. Using the 1,200 operators, each passing a block one after another, a block would get from the quarry to the build site in about 120 minutes! Even more awesomely, if laborers worked those 8 hour days, and the quarry workers pushed out stones for 6 hours of those eight hours (to allow everyone to go come at the same time), the quarry would be able to send 3,600 2.5 ton stones each day. At this rate they’d send every stone needed to build the Great Pyramid of Giza in only 639 days!

So much more time to worship Ra, put stuff in jars, idolize cats, the important stuff.

I think our archeologists findings about build time help conclude humans built the pyramids, because if a sufficiently advanced civilization helped, it would have been much quicker. These estimates also brush over the fact that the quarry workers likely couldn’t cut rocks that quickly and that the actual erectors would need more than 6 seconds to place a block. Regardless of the practicality, I think the idea of building pyramids with tractor-beam pistols is amazing.

You can find me and the rest of the KD crew at our Discord!


James Ballod

James blossomed into geekdom like a piranha plant in the crack of a sidewalk. Watered by the muscle-brained lore of Warhammer 40,000 and nurtured in the rough bosom of World of Warcraft, tabletop RPGs came late in life to James. The rich lore and real-world influences in games like Pathfinder inspire James to explore them from every angle. When not being an annoying anime-fanboy he can be found discussing the history of various cuisines and over-analyzing real world influences in works of fiction.

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