The views expressed in this article are strictly those of Max Wideman.
The contents of the book under review are the copyright* property of the author.
Published here April 2021.

*  Unfortunately we were unable to contact either the author or the book's publisher. However, the copyright statement on p4 does permit extracting quotations for purposes of reviewing this book.

Introduction | Book Structure | Introduction to Project Managing the Great Pyramid
Quest for Answers | Summary


There is no doubt that the logistics involved in preparing the site for the construction of the pyramids must have been extensive and challenging to say the least. Roads connecting the construction site with the quarry and the harbor had to be surveyed, staked out, and graded. Stone was gathered to surface the roads where the existing ground was soft sand.

At higher elevations, the road was traversed by bedrock limestone. Where heavy traffic was expected, the Egyptians cut paving stones and placed them on the roadway. To level out some road routes evidently required the excavation, transport, and then placement of an estimated 20,000 cubic meters of rock and soil.

Then there was the question of temporary housing at first and then later its expansion into a permanent worker's village to house the core group of supervisors, stonemasons, artisans, and skilled tradesmen responsible for the construction program. Author Craig Smith describes these in considerable detail based on archaeological research done at similar sites elsewhere.

Figure 5: Conceptual site construction layout nearing pyramid completion
Figure 5: Conceptual site construction layout nearing pyramid completion[18]

Craig suggests that if we were now able to visit Giza back in 2547 BC, we would see the construction site swarming with thousands of workers, so many in fact that they would populate a small city. They would be a confident and proud people with good reason — they were engaged in an unprecedented construction project, and were executing it masterfully. In fact, with their own hands, they were building a structural colossus. It was a colossus challenge that would endure for millennia, as one of humankind's most brilliant achievements. Hemiunu's orchestration of the work was superb.[19]

In subsequent chapters, Craig goes on to discuss the concept of the Great Pyramid's design, including the presence of internal chambers and access tunnels, the use of the available materials, and how the large lintel beams were moved and placed. He also postulates the size and organization of the workforce by digging down to details such as how much dirt can an individual worker carry in one of those wicker baskets.

Based on his assessments, Craig then prepared a critical path schedule for the construction of the pyramid by subdividing the work into eighty activities, divided into fifteen major categories. As a point of interest, he used Primavera Project lanner (usually referred to as "P3") to perform his analysis.[20]

Craig concludes with these observations:[21]

"Although we are uncertain of just how the Egyptians built the Great Pyramid, it continues to stand today, awesome testimony to the skill and sheer determination of the ancient race who built it. We must also stand in awe of their program management techniques. They must have had highly developed administrative and planning expertise.

That's because the complexity and logistical requirements of the pyramid project are so great that it would not be possible for a single individual, or even an uncoordinated group of individuals, to carry out such an undertaking. The fact that the Egyptians could plan, organize, and execute an undertaking so complex, with the marshaling of so much labor[22] points to their remarkable skills in managing the work.

Their program management was an accomplishment no less impressive than the legacy of stonemasonry that they left behind."

With this in mind, it is worth noting that in Appendix 4 of the book, Craig Smith includes a complete Primer on Program Management — another good reason for buying the book.

R. Max Wideman
Fellow, PMI

Quest for Answers  Quest for Answers

18. Ibid, Plate 18 opposite page 97.
19. Ibid, p150.
20. Ibid, p226. Samples of the schedule printout are included in the book.
21. Ibid, p233.
22. Indeed, the labor force engaged a significant fraction of their population at the time!
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