Assignment B: An ancient engineering mystery / Mechanics & Hydraulics
The big pyramid of Cheops was built from 2551 BC till 2528 BC. That is in a time period of 23 years. See
also lecture 3.1. There exist different hypothesis on how the pyramids were constructed. In this
assignment you will investigate one of these hypothesis where the ancient Egyptians made use of big
water pipes, along which the stones were transported using buoyancy (figure 1).
(a)  
(b)  (c) 

The sluice gates are opened one by one when the wrapped block has stopped by the gate. A block starting
in O travels upwards with gate A closed. When the block arrives at gate A, it is stopped by the closed gate.
Then the gate at O is closed and gate A is opened, with gate B closed. While the block is travelling from
gate A to gate B, gate A is closed. The block arrives at block B that is still closed. Then gate B is opened.
Etc. The time to open a gate is 10 seconds.
The blocks with carrier air bags experience friction (as indicated in figure 1c). Assume that the stone carrier
is a sphere with the dimensions indicated in figure 1c. One stone measures 0.7 m x 1.1 m x 1.3 m and
weighs 2500 kg.
Questions:
1. What is the time needed for the block to travel one column? Assume that after the door is closed
some air heaps up at each gate. Assume that opening and closing the gate takes approximately 10
seconds.
2. What is the travel time for one block all the way up to the top of the pyramid?
The Babylonians used water clocks for time keeping (figure 2a). A conical recipient (left) is filled with
water. A circular hole (diameter = 2 mm) is drilled at a depth of 30 cm.
(a)  (b)  (c) 
Figure 2. Babylonian water clock (a) and dimensions (b). A theoretical water clock with a certain recipient shape for which the change in water level is constant (c). 
3. After how much time has the level lowered with 20 cm (i.e. 10 cm above the hole)?
4. What does the shape of a recipient has to look like in order to have the level h decreasing at a constant
speed of 2 mm/s (mathematical function)?
The Greek used algebra to solve geometrical problems such as
the intersection of cones. Some related geometric problems are
given below.
5. A cone with a conical angle of 60 degrees is intersected by a
cylinder with radius 1 m. What is the crosssectional volume
bounded by the cylinder, the cone and the plane z = 5 m as
shown in figure 3 (subscribed by the red line).
6. Verify by using Matlab that the calculated value (in exercise
5) is correct. (Provide the Matlab code)

7. A parabola with equation