For a long time, people wondered why the ancient Egyptians built their legendary pyramids in the wasteland of the desert. A team of researchers has now found an answer to this question.

The legendary Pyramids of Giza, these ancient masterpieces of architecture, have stood in the Egyptian desert for thousands of years, a symbol of human ingenuity and an expression of the power of the pharaohs. Their location – away from the Nile and surrounded by sand – has long puzzled archaeologists and historians. How was it possible to transport the gigantic stone blocks into this inhospitable landscape?

Now a team of researchers led by Eman Ghoneim from the University of North Carolina in Wilmington appears to have achieved a breakthrough, as “Welt” reports. In the renowned specialist magazine “Communications Earth

Until now, the question was why this particular location in the desert was chosen for the construction of the largest pyramid field in Egypt, as the study authors note. A branch of the Nile, 64 kilometers long and between 200 and 700 meters wide, significantly larger than previously known river branches near the pyramids, could provide the answer. This branch, which probably existed until the time of the 13th Dynasty around 3,600 years ago, silted up over the centuries and finally disappeared under sand and earth.

Thanks to modern satellite radar technology and geophysical data, Ghoneim and her team managed to reconstruct the location of the former tributary. This river, which researchers named “Ahramat,” after the Arabic word for pyramid, may hold the key to the construction of the 31 pyramids located along its banks. The scientific work shows that the structures were strategically placed on the banks of the Nile branch, which made the transport of the stones and access to the sites much easier.

The study points to the existence of dams that led from the pyramids to the presumed banks of the Nile branch. Such a dam not only served as a ceremonial walkway to the pyramid site, but was probably also part of the transport system and, in addition to religious significance, also had a logistical function as a port facility. At the end of these dams there was often a temple, which was probably the arrival point for visitors coming from the river and also served as a port.

The discovery also sheds light on the relationship between the location of the pyramids and the volume of water in the Nile. It turns out that the locations that were further away from the flood plain were usually at higher elevations. Particularly during the 4th Dynasty, when the Nile carried significantly more water than it does today, the pyramids were built on particularly high ground, far away from the flood plain at the time. Climatic changes that led to desertification ultimately caused the Ahramat arm to silt up and the Nile tributaries to shift eastward.