There’s no shortage of astounding feats achieved in the making of the Great Pyramid of Giza, and among them is the structure’s nearly perfect cardinal alignment.
Scholars have spent decades delving into what techniques the builders could have used to position the pyramid’s sides so they face almost absolute north, south, east, and west, but it turns out the means may not have been all that complex.
Engineer and archaeologist Glen Dash suggests the planners would have needed little more than a straight stick and sunny skies.
Great Pyramid of Giza
Great Pyramid of Giza
Amazing Scene for Giza Pyramids
The Great Pyamid of Giza at the Giza plato, Egypt on January 1, 2010. (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Corbis via Getty Images)
The sun sets over houses, minarets and the Great Pyramids of Giza (R) during a cold and wet day in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, Egypt, January 27, 2016. Picture taken January 27, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
THE GREAT PYRAMIDS OF GIZA - JANUARY 3, 2017: DigitalGlobe satellite imagery of the Giza Pyramid Complex on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt. Photo DigitalGlobe via Getty Images.
A group of camels and horses stand idle in front of the Great Pyramids awaiting tourists in Giza, Egypt, March 29, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
A man waits for tourists to rent his camel in front of the Great Giza pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, August 31, 2016. Picture taken August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Cairo, Egypt the Great Sphinx of Giza standing tall with the Great Pyramids of Giza in the background. This particular one is The Pyramid of Khafre, the second largest of the three great pyramids.
Cairo / Egypt
Pyramid of Khafre and old monuments at Giza plateau.
Egypt, Cairo: dromedary in front of the Great Sphinx and the Great Pyramid of Giza (also known as the Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops) on the Giza Plateau. (Photo by: Andia/UIG via Getty Images)
CAIRO, EGYPT - JUNE 28: ï¿½A horse stands in a stable near the Great Pyramids of Giza on June 28, 2012, in Cairo, Egypt. In one of his first public policy statements since election results were released, Egyptian President-elect Mohammed Morsi said reviving Egypt's troubled tourism industry will be a major priority during his first 100 days in office, as part of a major push to strengthen Egypt's ailing post-revolution economy. Morsi's campaign told local media on Thursday that Egypt's tourism industry could not achieve new growth without stability and an atmosphere that encouraged foreign tourists to visit Egypt. Tourism forms more than 10% of Egypt's economy and employs an estimated one in eight Egyptians. (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images)
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Experiments conducted in Connecticut during the fall equinox of 2016 showed that pushing a pole into the ground and tracing its shadow throughout the day reveals the requisite directions.
He writes in a paper published by ‘The Journal of Ancient Egyptian Architecture,’ “On the equinox, the surveyor will find that the tip of the shadow runs in a straight line and nearly perfectly east-west.”
Dash further notes that the slight discrepancy between the east-west axis indicated by the moving shadow tip and the true line is similar to the small alignment error exhibited in the pyramid’s placement.
He also points out that his finding is only a suggestion and comments, “The Egyptians, unfortunately, left us few clues. No engineering documents or architectural plans have been found that give technical explanations demonstrating how the ancient Egyptians aligned any of their temples or pyramids.”