Composite photos, Joe and I in the King's Chamber, Great Pyramid, Egypt, 2 of the great pyramid from the outside, and Joe on a horse with the pyramid behind him.
I took these pix in 1993. Joe and me in the King’s Chamber, Great Pyramid of Giza from 2 different angles, Spinx, and Joe on a horse, when we rode south of the pyramids for a broader view.
A Bosco Rasche invitational partyi where we proved my pyramid building idea worked, showing the construction and people pulling on it.
Pyramid Building during a “Bosco Rasche” feed, a backyard party at the house. Better photos are at the end of this page.

The Technique

Bosco Rasche Invitationals
Proving in Experiment


Joe Ware was a world class aerospace engineer; please don’t blame my mistakes on him. This is my “work.” Mistakes are mine, not his. I wanted to do it. Curiosity. He merely showed me basic trigonometry and encouraged me to try. (I did, and it fried my brain; I couldn’t work the TV remote for a week.)

I developed a way that may have helped build pyramids in Egypt.

I’m certainly no engineer, and I never spent enough time developing the idea—so here’s everyone’s great chance to kid me for some terrible FUBAR. No doubt I’ll mess some of this up:  2+2=3? I never studied math. Maybe someone who is actually aware of at least the basics of engineering and pyramid building will take a look at this some day and run with it. The only engineering I’ve ever had was by osmosis, whatever soaked into me from Joe through the pillow.

Nonetheless, it’s been fun, so I thought I’d share.


Back in about 2001, Joe and I were watching a TV documentary about pyramid building—reference Khufu’s Great pyramid in Giza—and it occurred to me that the ramp idea for getting stones up was only part of it. Ramps make sense for the lower levels or megaliths, but carried to the top, they can become larger than the pyramid, itself. And working them up the slope seemed too difficult.

Mock up photos in composite of my plan to build a pyramid.
2001. Initial mock-up of cardboard, then plywood test of concept. The dog is one of the great loves of my life, “Counselor Troi,” AKA “Troi,” after Deanna Troi on Star Trek, an English Springer Spaniel.

I’d done some rigging on sailboats, such as our former Catalina 30, so it occurred to me to use a block and tackle system to get the stones up the top half of an unfinished pyramid for Khufu. But I didn’t think the Egyptians had block and tackle, so I envisioned rough ropes being pulled over a fixed block (pulley), say a granite stone shaped like a pulley with grooves in it that were concave in line with and to hold the rope and convex to change the angle of pull. People could lash onto a stone on one side of the pyramid, drape it over pivot points at the top, and walk away with the rope in hand on the other side of the base of the pyramid.

Excited, I made a rough draft of my idea and sent it to Willeke Wendrich, Ph.D., UCLA, who wrote me back and asked me to look at Page 211 of Dr. Mark Lehner’s book The Complete Pyramids (hardback, 1997). There, Dr. Lehner had shown what I’d conceived, found them at Giza, recognizing it as a proto-pulley, calling it the “Mystery Tool.”

A copy of a page from Mark Lehner's "The Complete Pyramids" book, showing "mystery tool" that I'd conceived.

Let me insert a bit on Bosco Rasche, Joe’s favorite old instructor at Virginia Tech, which Joe and they then called “V.P.I.”

The Technique

Please don’t get wigged out at my lack of engineering capability, math, etc. I was never trained in those.

side plan view of pyramid building with my proto-pullies.

Screen shot 2017-05-26 at 7.53.38 AM.pngScreen shot 2017-05-26 at 7.53.04 AM.png

This would be at the top of the slide, top of pyramid-in-construction, how the blocks would be at the end of a pull.
These figures were from my 2001 plywood test mock-up on the patio (seen above), getting an advance view of what might work best.

I sent a copy of my finished work to Drs. Willeke Wendrich, Mark Lehner, and Zahi Hawass, and I spoke with Dr. Hawass on the phone while he was at Marina Del Rey, I believe it was, but I think they were doing other things. I talked with Zahi Hawass on the phone about it while he was visiting Marina Del Rey, I think it was. He said to send him a copy, which I did, though I never heard back from him. Willeke Wendrich went on to other things, I believe, as pyramid building is not her area. Mark Lehner never got back to me; this technique was not what he promoted. Nothing ever came of my idea that I know of.

Doing it this way gives the pullers on the other side of the pyramid have a mechanical advantage, not unlike using a sailboat’s block and tackle system.

Bosco Rasche Invitationals

At the house, Joe and I would periodically have a “Bosco Rasche Invitational,” a large backyard party with some kind of engineering gimmick.

For one, our dog, Troi, sent out the invitations without my knowledge, saying we’d use a rocket to put a beer mug in orbit—and with Joe as her daddy, who knew?—so I had to make it look good.

Composite view showing my dog, Troi, and Counselor Troi from Star Trek, for whom she is named.
Counselor Troi, English Springer Spaniel, on our dinghy, Avalon, Catalina Island; Joe teaching Troi how to fly; Commander Riker and Counselor Deanna Troi on Star Trek: TNG. Our girl was named after Counselor Troi based on an earlier inside joke between us where he got a get well card (hip replacement) “from her,” four hundred years in the future.

I built a “rocket” in our “Skunk Works” (garage) and told guests we’d send it up in honor of Bosco Rasche. And it did have a beer mug on it, but during the party, when I lit it off, all that happened (because I put a servo in its gear) was that it fell over and smoked. Ah! What a letdown. So we had to party more. 🙂

At another, I built an ornithopter in our Skunk Works, and we had a Bosco Rasche party on that. It looked like Fred Flintstone built it, maneuvered under its own power due to a compressor motor, flapped its wings mightily. I’d get on it, goggles, rev it up…the thing shaking its hemp rope loose, and I’d yell to the crowd, “You want me to lift the nose gear off the ground?” They’d yell, “Yes!” So I’d take my hand off the throttle and work a 2×4 lever brake that pried the nose gear up about an inch.

This is a picture of the ornithopter I built, flaps its wings like a bird, of rough construction as if Fred Flintstone built it.
That is not me on it, for this picture. I took the photo. But that is Joe 2nd from left in the hat.

I used the ornithopter as a gag at Camarillo Airport for a couple of years afterward, drove it around the airport during the air show.

Joe used to tell me stories about Bosco Rasche, seeming to me to be a genius, cantankerous, crusty old codger whom Joe respected and loved to joust with. Joe would tell me Bosco would have some sophomore draw a cogwheel and then tell them sternly, “There is no such THING as a cogwheel!”

Rasche Hall, Virginia Tech, named after Bosco Rasche.
A photo of Bosco Rasche.
Bosco Rasche, professor, Virginia Tech.

So for my Egyptian pyramid building idea, it was a real Bosco Rasche Invitational, though it was more serious. It was a real experiment to prove something. Bosco would have probably chewed me up and spit me out, Joe would have smiled in joy, and I would have laughed and offered Bosco another Diet Coke: “What ‘re you talking about?” I’d tease. “It’s real! Look at it!”

Proving in Experiment

In about 2010, I built an apparatus in the back yard at the same angle as the Great Pyramid in Egypt, used a wooden slide up the “side,” as I envisioned could have been done, greased the whole slide and the hemp rope with lard, thinking they probably had lard back then. The pulley at the top was also greased and fixed so it could not rotate, imitating a proto-pulley that was found by the pyramid.

The BRI is always a feed, so I set up to make burgers for 50, and let ‘er rip.

Put several people on a rope on the other side of the pyramid, they’d only pull a few pounds each and with a mechanical advantage during the early part of the pull. Guests and neighbors quickly found that putting the 2×4 at the end of the rope on their hips made it effortless. It’s in the book.

20 foot structure with the slope of the Great Pyramid, protopulley at the top, with people pulling a stone up.
2010. In experiment, to pull the stone up, pullers settled into using a 2×4 on the end of the line and rested it on their hips, walked forward.
Same, with people letting the stone back down.
2010. Here, they’re lowering the stone for the next group of 4 to pull up.
Bosco Rasche Invitational party with pyramid engineering project in the background.
Joe had Parkinson’s at the time, about 92 years old. He is pictured foreground, wearing his red Ware Lab hat, watching the festivities.
Our back yard with the structure in it.
The back yard in preparation for the Bosco Rasche Invitational Egyptian Pyramid Building party, maybe 2010.

Building a pyramid incorporating this technique would be fast.

It would take more time to get the stones TO a pyramid site than it would to get them UP onto it—which would only take a few seconds each—and you could use several of these apparatuses along the width of the half-finished pyramid, so you’d have people standing around waiting for more stones to arrive.

(Sounds like a Bosco Rasche Invitational back then, too. ) 🙂