The 'eccentric man' who moves big rocks
An Ottawa man claims to have solved one of the world's great mysteries. How to build a pyramid. Sarah Kennedy reports.
Sarah Kennedy  
The Ottawa Citizen

Saturday, July 26, 2003
CREDIT: Bruno Schlumberger, The Ottawa Citizen
Nick Raina figured out how the Egyptians built the Great Pyramid 10 years ago, and he's since demonstrated his theory at fairs and schools.

Ottawa's Nick Raina may have solved one of the world's greatest mysteries. Brushing aside hundreds of years worth of theories by historians and archeologists, the 69-year-old man claims he can build a Great Pyramid just like the one constructed by the Egyptians, in approximately 2450 BC, using simple hand tools and minimal force.

Mr. Raina is not an engineer or a scientist. He describes himself simply as "an eccentric old man that moves big rocks."

He will give a full-scale demonstration in Perth today at the Stewart Park Festival.

Whereas it has traditionally been assumed that the Egyptians built ramps and laboriously dragged more than two million limestone slabs, each weighing approximately 2.3 tonnes, to the top of the Great Pyramid, Mr. Raina said the real answer to the mystery can

be found in a bizarre-looking wooden contraption that sits on his driveway.

"Modern man's concept of how ancient man moved rock is balderdash," he said, standing outside his Onondaga Crescent house in Nepean, surrounded by logs, rocks and rope. "I've reduced moving rocks to the pyramid to a mom-and-pop operation."

In order to move large rocks intelligently, he said, you have to use the weight of the rock. Friction must be eliminated and momentum, once it starts, has to be maintained.

Mr. Raina believes that the rectangular rocks were moved from the quarry to the site of the pyramid by fastening wooden planks to the four sides of the slabs (almost like the bottom of a rocking chair) and then pulling it along with a rope so it rolls.

He uses the wooden casing filled with concrete on his driveway to demonstrate.

"I've had a seven-year-old girl pull 535 pounds herself," he said.

Once the rocks have been placed at the site, Mr. Raina thinks the Egyptians devised a process of teeter-tottering and shimmying -- all based on using the weight of the rock to build the elaborate architecture.

"The system of moving rocks by rotation is not a new theory," said Mr. Raina. "It was an inherent trait that has been lost over time."

In fact, Mr. Raina believes the ancient Egyptians tried to preserve the theory in cartography of scarab beetles, a sacred bug in ancient Egypt that Mr. Raina believes gave them the idea of using rotation to move rocks.

The beetles would roll large balls of dung to a safe place so they could lay their eggs in it.

Although he is a member of the Inventors Association in Ottawa, Mr. Raina has no scientific background or training. He has worked most of his life as a window consultant.

But moving rocks has always been his passion. Mr. Raina was raised on a farm near Kemptville, an experience he describes as the "school of hard knocks with plentiful rocks."

"It takes a very ordinary farm boy to discover very early in his life that it is much simpler to relocate a large rock by rotation than by dragging," he said.

Fifteen years ago he started to really think about how to simplify the process without the use of modern technology.

He claims to have solved the mystery 10 years ago, although he is constantly revising it.

Mr. Raina has never been to Egypt nor have any scientists travelled to his humble home for a demonstration. He has shown off his theory at various fairs, high schools and the Ottawa Exhibition. He has also been featured on CBC's As It Happens.

Mr. Raina said over the years he has received many calls from Egyptologists interested in learning more about his theory.

"They hate me because I have skewered ancient Egypt on them," he said with a chuckle.