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People on Nias Island in Indonesia move megaliths to a construction site, circa 1915. Digitally restored.

This is a list of ancient sites organized according to the size of the largest megalith on the site. A megalith is a large stone which has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones. In this list at least one colossal stone over ten tons has been moved to create the structure or monument. Documented in recent times, there is a list of efforts to move colossal stones that used technology that wasn't more advanced than the technology the ancient civilizations used. In most cases the ancient civilizations had little, if any, advanced technology that would help the moving of these megaliths. The most notable exception is that of the ancient Greeks and Romans who had cranes and treadwheels to help lift colossal stones. Most of these weights are based on estimates by published scholars however there have been numerous false estimates of many of these stones presented as facts. To help recognize exaggerations there is also a brief description of how to calculate the weight of colossal stones by calculating volume and density.


List of megalithic sites

  • Ramesseum Thebes Egypt Colossal statue of Ramses 1,000 tons was transported 170 miles (270 km) from Aswan to Thebes. [1][2]
  • Baalbek, Lebanon 3 trilithon stones 750 tons each, about 24 blocks 300 tons each [3]
  • Colossi of Memnon 700 tons each were transported 420 miles (680 km) from el-Gabal el-Ahmar (near modern-day Cairo) over land without using the Nile to Thebes, Egypt. [1][4][5]
  • Herod's Temple Jerusalem, Israel 550 to 600 tons for largest block [6][7]
  • Axum, Ethiopia biggest Stelae: 520 tons, 170 tons and 160 tons The stelae were moved about 2.6 miles (4.2 km). [1]
  • Obelisks biggest ones 455 tons, 2- 330 tons, 2- 227 tons, about 12 more between 90 and 200 tons These were moved several times to locations around Europe as well as one in New York. Some of them were moved in the 19th century using cranes [1][8]
  • Khafre's Pyramid temple complex in Giza, Egypt 400 ton stone at mortuary temple [9] and huge blocks some weighing over 100 tons at the Valley Temple [10]
  • Alexandria, Egypt Pompey's Pillar almost 400 tons [11][12]
  • Gomateshwara is a monolithic statue standing at 60 feet (18 m) tall over 30 feet (9 m) wide above a hill in a place called Shravanabelagola in the Hassan district of Karnataka state, India. rough estimate 400-600 tons found on top of hill and erected not moved far
  • Asuka, Nara, Japan Masuda no iwafune is a large stone structure approximately 11 meters in length, 8 meters in width, and 4.7 meters In height. Rough estimate 300-500 tons; distance moved, if any, unknown [13]
  • Broken Menhir of Er Grah Brittany, France 300 tons when intact it was moved intact 7.5 miles (12.1 km). [1]
  • Menkaure's Pyramid temple complex at Giza, Egypt largest stones in mortuary temple 220 tons [14]
  • Sahure's pyramid at Saqqara, Egypt largest stones over king's chamber about 200 tons [15]
  • Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites in Korea rough estimate of largest stone 200 tons [16]
  • Colossal statue of Tlaloc in Coatlinchan made of Basalt weighing 168 tons [17][18][19]
  • Cueva de Menga dolmen made of megaliths weighing up to 180 tons
  • The Kerloas menhir Brittany, France largest 150 tons [20]
  • Dol-de-Bretagne, France menhir almost 150 tons
  • Pyramid of Khendjer at Saqqara, Egypt 150 ton one piece quartzite burial chamber [21][22]
  • Tiwanaku,Bolivia. several ashlars 100 to 130 tons were transported 6 miles (9.7 km). [23][24]
  • Sacsayhuamán wall near Cusco, Peru largest stones over 125 tons [25][26]
  • Treasury of Atreus at Mycenae, Greece largest lintel stone 120 tons [25]
  • The Pyramid of Amenemhet III at Hawara, Egypt 110 ton one piece quartzite burial chamber [27][28][29]
  • Luxor, Egypt obelisk 227 tons largest colossal statue of Ramses well over 100 tons
  • Ollantaytambo, Peru perhaps 6 stones well over 100 tons
  • Brownshill Dolmen weighing an estimated 100 metric tons [30]
  • Baths of Caracalla Rome, Italy granite columns close to 100 tons [25]
  • Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey columns close to if not more than 100 tons
  • Fortress of Mycenae, Greece largest stones close to 100 tons [25]
  • Pyramid of Nyuserre Ini 12 megalithic limestone beams 10 meters long weighing 90 tons each forminmg the roof of burial chamber and antechamber [31]
  • Moai at Easter Island largest Moai 70 to 86 tons the tallest one, Paro was moved 3.75 miles (6.04 km) [32]
  • Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt largest slabs on burial chamber 80 tons The granite was tranported 580 miles (930 km) from Aswan by barge on the Nile river. [25]
  • Karnak, Egypt obelisk 328 tons largest architraves 70 tons sandstone transported from Gebel Silsila 100 miles (160 km). [33][34]
  • Ishibutai Kofun in Asuka, Nara, Japan largest stone 75 tons [35]
  • Quirigua, Guatemala largest stele 65 tons
  • Osireion Abydos, Egypt columns and lintels about 60 tons
  • Pantheon, Rome, Italy granite columns 39 feet (11.8 m) tall, five feet (1.5 m) in diameter, and 60 tons in weight were transported from Egypt by barge. [25][36]
  • Olmec heads Mexico gulf coast largest Olmec head almost 50 tons transported 37 to 62 miles (100 km). [25]
  • Ħaġar Qim is one of the Megalithic Temples of Malta, its largest stone weighs 57 tons and measures approximately 19 feet (5.8 m) long by 9 feet (2.7 m) tall by 2 feet (0.61 m) thick.[37] The Maltese temples are the oldest free standing structures on Earth.[38]
  • Ashoka Pillar's weighing up to about 50 tons were transported throughout India to mark territory ruled by Ashoka. [39]
  • Machu Picchu, Peru largest stones 20 to 50 tons
  • Göbekli Tepe, Turkey megaliths from 10 to 50 tons transported up to a 1/4 mile [40]
  • Avebury stone circle, England largest stone over 40 tons
  • Stonehenge, England largest stones over 40 tons were moved 18 miles (29 km) smaller bluestones up to 5 tons were moved 130 miles (210 km) [25]
  • Trajan's column Rome, Italy 40 ton drums, the capital block of Trajan's Column weighs 53.3 tons [41]
  • Rameses IV reopened the stone quarries of Wadi Hammamat and had stones dragged 60 miles (97 km) across land to the Nile and barged to Temples and his tomb in Thebes. Some of these weighed over 40 tons.[42]
  • Dur-Sharrukin, Iraq largest colossal Bull 40 tons [43]
  • Nineveh, Iraq largest colossal Bulls 30 tons each were transported 30 miles (48 km) from quarries at Balatai and they had to be lifted up 65 feet (20 m) once they arrived at the site [25]
  • Nimrud, Iraq largest colossal Bull 30 tons [44]
  • Maeshowe Orkney Islands, Scotland largest flagstone 30 tons [45]
  • Temple of Olympian Zeus (Athens) Greece
  • Caesarea Maritima, Israel Harbor of Caesarea largest stone 20 tons [25]
  • Persepolis, Iran
  • Teotihuacan, Mexico 22 ton water deity on top of the Pyramid of the Moon [46]
  • Aztec calendar stone at Tenochtitlan, Mexico weighs 24 tons [47]
  • Hattusas, Turkey largest stones 20 tons
  • List of Egyptian pyramids most if not all Egyptian pyramids have megaliths over 20 tons including megalithic roof slabs, plugs and burial vaults some of which weigh over 100 tons.
  • Nemrud Dagi, Turkey
  • Palenque, Mexico The largest stones weigh 12 to 15 tons. [25]
  • The Parthenon in Athens, Greece largest stones 10 tons [25]
  • Nubian pyramids sarcophagus weighing 15.5 tons may be heavier granite statues up to at least 18 feet tall. [48]
  • Copan Ruinas
  • Dolmen
  • Dolmens of Russia
  • Carnac stones
  • Khajuraho, India
  • Konark Sun Temple in India
  • Vijayanagara, India
  • Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and other Angkor temples, Cambodia five million tons of sandstone were transported 25 miles (40 km) along the river just for Angkor Wat [25][49]
  • Didyma, Turkey
  • Stone spheres of Costa Rica largest sphere weighs 16 tons
  • Plain of Jars over 400 megalithic jars weighing from 5 to 15 tons ranging from the Khorat Plateau in Thailand in the south, through Laos and to North Cachar Hills of northern India.
  • Dovbush rocks a neolithic pagan shrine and observatory in western Ukraine
  • Newgrange built in 3200 BC.
  • Callanish Stones
  • San Agustín, Huila Colombia
  • Gallardet dolmen or Pouget dolmen in Languedoc, France, consists of a 12 metre long alley within a large tumulus. The main chamber is sill covered by three large capstones, and entry is made through a superb "oven door" entrance stone.

List of efforts to move and install stones

For additional details of most experiments see related pages.

  • In 1997 Julian Richards teamed up with Mark Witby and Roger Hopkins to conduct several experiments to replicate the construction at Stonehenge for NOVA's "Secrets of Lost Empires" mini series. They initially failed to tow a 40 ton megalith with 130 men but after adding additional men towing as well as some men using levers to prod the megalith forward they succeeded in inching it forward a small distance.[50]
  • Josh Bernstein and Julian Richards organized an effort to pull a 2 ton stone on wooden tracks with a group of about 16 men. Approximately 8 men pulled each ton. [51]
  • Thor Heyerdahl organized an effort to pull a 10 ton Moai on a sledge with a group of 180 men. Approximately 18 men pulled each ton. [52][53][54]
  • Mark Lehner and NOVA organized an experiment to tow stones and to build a pyramid 9 meters wide by 9 meters deep by 6 meters high. They were able to tow a 2 ton block on a sledge across wood tracks with 12 to 20 men. Approximately 6 to 10 men pulled each ton. The pyramid was 54 cubic meters total estimated weight 135 tons. It was built out of 186 stones. The average weight of each stone was almost 1,500 lb (680 kg). (.75 tons) They found that 4 or 5 men could use levers to flip stones less than a ton and roll them to transport them. 44 men took 22 days to complete the pyramid including the carving of the stones. They used iron to carve the stones that wasn't available to the ancient Egyptians. Egyptians had to use copper. They also used a modern front end loader to accelerate the work on the lower courses. They were unable to use the front end loader to install the capstone since it was too high and had to use levers to raise it to 20 feet (6.1 m). [55]
  • Henri Chevrier organized an effort to pull a 6 ton block on a sledge with a group of 6 men. Approximately 1 man pulled each ton. [56] other reports claim that Chevier's experiment required 3 men to pull each ton. [57]
  • Marinos Carburis, lieutenant-colonel in the Russian Army, organized the move of an enormous boulder called the Thunder Stone (Russian, Камень-Гром) from the Gulf of Finland in 1768 to Saint Petersburg, Russia for the purpose of using it as a pedestal for the Bronze Horseman statue. Based on the density of granite, the mass of the Thunder Stone has been estimated to be around 1500 tonnes. This was done by rolling it on bronze ball bearings on a track. It took an estimated 400 men 9 months to move it. [58]
  • Giovanni Battista Belzoni organized an effort to pull a 7.5 ton fragment of a statue of Ramses on rollers with a group of 130 men in 1815. This statue was towed to the river and loaded on a barge where it was sent to London. Progress increased with practice as they went along. Approximately 17 or 18 men pulled each ton. [59]
  • Henry Layard organized an effort to transport 2 10 ton colossal Statues of a winged Lion and a winged Bull with a group of 300 men in 1847. He loaded them on a wheeled cart and towed them from Nimrud to the river and loaded on a barge where it was sent to London. Approximately 30 men pulled each ton. [60 ]
  • Paul Emile Botta and Victor Place attempted to move 2 additional 30 ton colossi to Paris from Khorsabad in 1853. In order to facilitate their shipment to Paris they were sawed in pieces and they still ran into problems. One of them fell into the Tigris river never to be retrieved. The other made it to Paris. [60 ]
  • In a 2001 exercise in experimental archaeology, an attempt was made to transport a large stone along a land and sea route from Wales to Stonehenge. Volunteers pulled it for some miles (with great difficulty) on a wooden sledge over land, using modern roads and low-friction netting to assist sliding, but once transferred to a replica prehistoric boat, the stone sank in Milford Haven, before it even reached the rough seas of the Bristol Channel. [61]
  • Charles Love experimented with a 10-ton replica of a Moai on Easter Island. His first experiment found rocking the statue to walk it was too unstable over more than a few hundred yards. He then found that placing the statue upright on two sled runners atop log rollers, 25 men were able to move the statue 150 feet (46 m) in two minutes. Approximately 2.5 men pulled each ton. [62]
  • Roger Hopkins and Mark Lehner teamed up with a NOVA crew to conduct a Obelisk erecting experiment, they successfully erected a 25 ton obelisk in late summer of 1999. They also managed to tow it a short distance. [63][64][65]
  • Roger Hopkins and Vince Lee both theorized about how the megalithic stones were moved at Baalbek, these theories involved either towing them or flipping them. [66]
  • Vince Lee participated in experiments to test his theories about how the walls of Sacsayhuamán were built. [66]

Calculating the weight of megaliths

In the cases of the smaller megaliths it may be possible to weigh them. However in most cases the megaliths were too large or they may have been part of an ancient structure so this method could not be used. If you know the volume of a stone and the density you can calculate the weight by multiplying them. The density of most stones is between two and three tons per cubic meter. The average weight of granite is about 2.75 metric tons per cubic meter, limestone 2.3 metric tons per cubic meter, sandstone or marble 2.5 tons per metric cubic meter [67] [68][69][70][71]. Some softer stones may be lighter than 2 tons per cubic meter like volcanic tuff or basalt which weighs about 1.9 tons per cubic meter.[72][73] Since the density of most of these stones fluctuates it is necessary to know the source for the stone and volume to obtain accurate measurements. In some cases these measurements are close enough to recognize obviously flawed estimates though for example in Fingerprints of the Gods page 58-60 Graham Hancock mentions a monolith around 12 feet (3.7 m) long by 5 feet (1.5 m) wide by 5 feet (1.5 m) thick that could not have "weighed less than 200 tons". This monolith would be about 8.1 cubic meters. A more accurate estimate would be less than 23 metric tons based on these measurements. This is just one of many exaggerated examples that have been provided by some published sources. [74][75]


Rock Density

The discussion above is accurate as far as it goes, which is only to the first significant figure (viz, "20 tonnes" or "30 tonnes", but not "100 tonnes"). To go any further one needs to be relatively sophisticated about surveying the megalith (including realistic and explicit assessment of the shapes of inaccessible portions of the megalith), then about calculating the volume (and volumetric errors, which vary crudely as the cube of linear uncertainties). Finally and crucially the rock density needs to be measured with appropriate precision. Identifying the rock type is not going to be sufficient as this table (from [2]) illustrates why :

Densities of common rocks
Material Density (gm/cm^3)
Sediments 1.7-2.3
Sandstone 2.0-2.6
Shale 2.0-2.7
Limestone 2.5-2.8
Granite 2.5-2.8
Basalts 2.7-3.1
Metamorphic Rocks 2.6-3.0

Simply identifying the megalith as being "sandstone" would allow a reasonable +/- 15% uncertainty in the weight estimate. In practice, one would measure the density of the megalith itself, and preferably document any variation in density within the megalith as they are made of natural materials, which have not been engineered for homogeneous parameters. Non-destructive methods of density measurements are available (e.g. electron back-scatter); alternatively the site may contain already-separated fragments of the megalith which can be used for laboratory measurements or on-site techniques. At the crudest, a weighing device and a bucket can give you two significant figures for a density value.

Other Lists

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "The Seventy Wonders of the Ancient World" edited by Chris Scarre 1999
  2. ^
  3. ^ Alouf, Michael M., 1944: History of Baalbek. American Press. p. 129
  4. ^
  5. ^ Time Life Lost Civilizations series: Ramses II: Magnificence on the Nile (1993)
  6. ^ The History Channel cited the 16.5 depth 567 ton estimate in "Lost Worlds of King Herod"
  7. ^ Dan Bahat: Touching the Stones of our Heritage, Israeli ministry of Religious Affairs, 2002
  8. ^
  9. ^ Siliotti, Alberto, Zahi Hawass, 1997 "Guide to the Pyramids of Egypt" p.62
  10. ^ Siliotti, Alberto, Zahi Hawass, 1997 "Guide to the Pyramids of Egypt" p.63-9
  11. ^
  12. ^ The Pyramids and Sphinx by Desmond Stewert and editors of the Newsweek Book Division 1971 p. 80-81
  13. ^
  14. ^ Edwards, Dr. I.E.S.: The Pyramids of Egypt 1986/1947 p. 147-163
  15. ^ source: Edwards, Dr. I.E.S.: The Pyramids of Egypt 1986/1947 p. 175-6, 180-1, 275
  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^ Time Life Lost Civilizations series:Aztecs: Reign of Blood and Splendor (1992) p.45-47
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Edwards, Dr. I.E.S.: The Pyramids of Egypt 1986/1947 p. 246-9
  22. ^
  23. ^ Browman, D. L., 1981, New light on Andean Tiwanaku. New Scientist. vol. 69, no. 4, pp. 408-419.
  24. ^ Coe, Michael, Dean Snow, and Elizabeth Benson, 1986 "Atlas of Ancient America" p. 190
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Seventy Wonders of the Ancient World" edited by Chris Scarre 1999
  26. ^ Readers Digest: "Mysteries of the Ancient Americas" The New World Before Columbus 1986 p. 220-1
  27. ^ Edwards, Dr. I.E.S.: The Pyramids of Egypt 1986/1947 p. 237-240
  28. ^
  29. ^ Siliotti, Alberto, Zahi Hawass, 1997 "Guide to the Pyramids of Egypt"
  30. ^ Weir, A (1980). Early Ireland. A Field Guide. Belfast: Blackstaff Press. pp. p101.  
  31. ^ Lehner, Mark The Complete Pyramids, London: Thames and Hudson (1997)p. 148-9 ISBN 0-500-05084-8
  32. ^
  33. ^ Walker, Charles, 1980 "Wonders of the Ancient World" p24-7
  34. ^ Time Life Lost Civilizations series: Ramses II: Magnificence on the Nile (1993) p. 53-54
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^ Lynne Lancaster,“Building Trajan's Column,” American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 103, No. 3. (Jul., 1999) p.426
  42. ^ Time Life Lost Civilizations series: Ramses II: Magnificence on the Nile (1993)p. 133
  43. ^ Time Life Lost Civilizations series: Mesopotamia: The Mighty Kings p118-119
  44. ^ Time Life Lost Civilizations series: Mesopotamia: The Mighty Kings. (1995) p. 112-121
  45. ^ Lost Worlds: The Pagans (of Britain) History Channel series with contributions from historian Prof. Ronald Hutton, Archeologists Erika Guttmann and Martin Carruthers
  46. ^ Walker, Charles, 1980 "Wonders of the Ancient World" p. 150-3
  47. ^ Aztecs: Reign of Blood and Splendor. Virginia:Time Life, 1992.
  48. ^ Lehner, Mark The Complete Pyramids, London: Thames and Hudson (1997)p.196-7 ISBN 0-500-05084-8.
  49. ^ Time Life Lost Civilizations series: Southeast Asia: A Past Regained (1995)
  50. ^
  51. ^ Josh Bernstein: Digging for the Truth p. 133-5 book based on History Chennel series
  52. ^
  53. ^ Heyerdahl, Thor Aku-Aku; The 1958 Expedition to Easter Island.
  54. ^ Heyerdahl, Thor. Easter Island - A Mystery Solved. 1988. ISBN 951-30-8952-5
  55. ^ Lehner, Mark The Complete Pyramids, London: Thames and Hudson (1997)p.202-225 ISBN 0-500-05084-8.
  56. ^ Edwards, Dr. I.E.S.: The Pyramids of Egypt 1986/1947 p. 273-4
  57. ^ Lehner, Mark The Complete Pyramids, London: Thames and Hudson (1997)p.224 ISBN 0-500-05084-8.
  58. ^ "(French) Transport du piédestal de la statue de Pierre le Grand La Nature magazine, second semester 1882.. Retrieved April 22, 2007.
  59. ^ Time Life Lost Civilizations series: Ramses II: Magnificence on the Nile (1993) p. 47-48
  60. ^ a b Time Life Lost Civilizations series: Time Life Lost Civilizations series: Mesopotamia: The Mighty Kings.(1995) p. 112-121
  61. ^ Theories about Stonehenge
  62. ^ John Flenley and Paul G. Bahn (2003). The Enigmas of Easter Island: Island on the Edge, p 150. ISBN 0192803409
  63. ^
  64. ^
  65. ^ Time Life Lost Civilizations series: Ramses II: Magnificence on the Nile (1993)p. 56-57
  66. ^ a b History Channel "Mega Movers: Ancient Mystery Moves"
  67. ^ Kumagai, Naoichi; Sadao Sasajima, Hidebumi Ito (15 February 1978). "Long-term Creep of Rocks: Results with Large Specimens Obtained in about 20 Years and Those with Small Specimens in about 3 Years". Journal of the Society of Materials Science (Japan) (Japan Energy Society) 27 (293): 157–161. Retrieved 2008-06-16.  
  68. ^
  69. ^
  70. ^
  71. ^
  72. ^
  73. ^
  74. ^
  75. ^


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