A sledge glides far more easily over firm desert sand simply because the sand does not pile up in front of the sledge as it does in the case of dry sand. A person standing on the front of the sledge wets the sand.Source: Al-Ahram Weekly, 5-11 August 2004, issue 702.They determined both the required pulling force and the stiffness of the sand as a function of the quantity of water in the sand.
Besides revealing something about the ancient Egyptians, the results are also interesting for modern-day applications. The research results could therefore be useful for examining how to optimise the transport and processing of granular material, which at present accounts for about ten percent of the worldwide energy consumption.
We still do not fully understand the behaviour of granular material like sand. The research was supervised by FOM group leader professor Daniel Bonn and is part of the FOM programme 'Fundamental aspects of friction'.
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Credit: Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM) Wall painting The Egyptians were probably aware of this handy trick.
A wall painting in the tomb of Djehutihotep clearly shows a person standing on the front of the pulled sledge and pouring water over the sand just in front of it.
The Egyptians therefore placed the heavy objects on a sledge that workers pulled over the sand.
Research from the University of Amsterdam has now revealed that the Egyptians probably made the desert sand in front of the sledge wet.
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