Introduction to Project Managing the Great Pyramid
Author Craig B. Smith opens his book with an Introduction, sub-titled Quest for Answers. In this opening, he describes his visit to the site of The Great Pyramid at Giza as follows:
"As I make my way up the hill, the sun is now directly overhead and in the brilliance of this light the pyramid seizes my imagination, a structural colossus vastly more extraordinary than I had imagined staggering is the word for it." As an engineer and constructor, I have long been fascinated with how ancient civilizations constructed building, towns, and roads with limited tools and technology but with incredible skill. How they moved massive blocks of stone, erected immense structures without mortar, finished joints so fine that their crevices would not allow the intrusion of even a razor blade."
"But no monument has captivated the world more than the Great Pyramid. The most celebrated and enduring vestige of the remarkable civilization that emerged during the golden age of the pharaohs, it is a structure without equal. Roughly two-thirds the size of the Hoover Dam, it rises 146.6 meters on a base covering 5.3 hectares, and incorporates 2.6 million cubic meters of material (an estimated 2.3 million blocks of limestone and granite. And for more than 4,300 years it has stood as the tallest structure on earth until the Washington Monument eclipsed it at 169 meters in 1885."
As any topographical photo will show, there is more than one pyramid to explore, but not all are accessible. For example, as Craig enters Menkaure's pyramid, he muses:
"I am struck by the fervid dedication that would have enabled a people to perform this backbreaking, mind-numbing labor that would have prompted them to dig deep into the bedrock of this plateau with only crude tools at their disposal. These were people who had no pulleys, no wheels, no iron tools, no compasses just chisels, saws, and drills made of copper, wood and stone. And yet they flawlessly designed, sited, and erected structures of precise geometric configuration and complex construction on an astonishing scale."
Craig goes on to explain how, in a flash of insight, he would explore the construction of the Great Pyramid by analyzing this tremendous work by applying the present-day process of "work breakdown structure". As he says:
"Once this has been done, the resources needed to perform the project materials and labor can be determined accurately and the schedule to complete the work can be established. I can construct such a framework for the construction of the Great Pyramid by identifying and analyzing each of the steps it took to build the pyramid. [That is] from selecting and preparing the site to placing the last white casing stones on the Pyramid face."
But that's not all. Aside from working through his work breakdown structure, Craig also examines issues associated with establishing and managing a very sizable workforce to carry out the work.
This book contains a massive amount of detail, so in a relatively short review such as this, it is impossible to do justice to the insights described. Especially since, in tackling the progressive stages of the work in the work breakdown structure, author Craig Smith also tackles each of the major project management specialty skills such as quality, time, cost, risk and so on.
In the following sections, we have picked a few extracts here and there by way of illustration. We hope this will inspire the reader to obtain a copy and give the book a much more detailed study.
5. How the Great Pyramid Was Built, p16.
6. Ibid, p17.
7. Ibid, p19.
8. Ibid, p23.
9. See Chapter 8, p202.