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Pulling Strings To Build Pyramids Reading Answers: IELTS Reading Practice Test

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Updated on Jul 02, 2024, 11:57

The IELTS Reading section is designed to assess your reading skills, including your ability to understand detailed information, infer meaning, and recognise the writer's opinions, attitudes, and purpose. You will have 60 minutes to read three different passages and answer 40 questions. These passages are taken from books, journals, magazines, and newspapers, ensuring a broad range of topics and styles.

 

The passage "Pulling Strings To Build Pyramids" explores the innovative theories and historical evidence surrounding the construction of the ancient Egyptian pyramids. This passage delves into the methods used by the Egyptians, particularly focusing on the hypothesis that they utilised intricate pulley systems and ropes to move the massive stone blocks.

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1. Pulling Strings To Build Pyramids Reading Passage

You should spend approximately 20 minutes answering Questions 1 - 13 based on the Reading Passage below. This approach can help manage time effectively during a reading comprehension activity or exam. 

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2. Pulling Strings To Build Pyramids Reading Question & Answers

Discover exciting and informative IELTS reading answers about Pulling Strings To Build Pyramids

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1.

Pulling Strings To Build Pyramids Reading Passage

General Information

  • Read Instructions: Understand each question before answering.
  • Manage Time: Spend about 20 minutes per passage.
  • Skim and Scan: Quickly get the main idea and find specific information.
  • Highlight Key Info: Underline essential words or phrases.
  • Answer All Questions: Attempt every question; no penalty for wrong answers.
  • Stay Focused: Avoid distractions and keep your attention on the task.
  • Check Spelling: Ensure correct spelling and grammar.
  • Transfer Answers Clearly: Write answers neatly on the answer sheet.
  • Don’t Dwell: Move on if stuck and return later.
  • Review: If time allows, review your answers.

 

 

 

 

 Pulling Strings To Build Pyramids Reading Passage


 

 

Paragraph 1

No one knows exactly how the pyramids were built. Marcus Chown reckons the answer could be 'hanging in the air'.

 

Paragraph 2

The pyramids of Egypt were built more than three thousand years ago, and no one knows how. The conventional picture is that tens of thousands of slaves dragged stones on sledges. But there is no evidence to back this up. Now, a Californian software consultant called Maureen Clemmons has suggested that kites might have been involved. While perusing a book on the monuments of Egypt, she noticed a hieroglyph that showed a row of men standing in odd postures. They were holding what looked like ropes that led, via some kind of mechanical system, to a giant bird in the sky. She wondered if perhaps the bird was actually a giant kite and the men were using it to lift a heavy object.

 

Paragraph 3

Intrigued, Clemmons contacted Morteza Gharib, an aeronautics professor at the California Institute of Technology. He was fascinated by the idea. 'Coming from Iran, I have a keen interest in Middle Eastern science,' he says. He, too, was puzzled by the picture that had sparked Clemmons's interest. The object in the sky apparently had wings far too short and wide for a bird. The possibility certainly existed that it was a kite,' he says. And since he needed a summer project for his student Emilio Graff, investigating the possibility of using kites as heavy lifters seemed like a good idea.

 

Paragraph 4

Gharib and Graff set themselves the task of raising a 4.5-metre stone column from horizontal to vertical, using no source of energy except the wind. Their initial calculations and scale-model wind-tunnel experiments convinced them they wouldn't need a strong wind to lift the 33.5-tonne column. Even a modest force, if sustained over a long time, would do. The key was to use a pulley system that would magnify the applied force. So they rigged up a tent-shaped scaffold directly above the tip of the horizontal column, with pulleys suspended from the scaffold's apex. The idea was that as one end of the column rose, the base would roll across the ground on a trolley.

 

Paragraph 5

Earlier this year, the team put Clemmons's unlikely theory to the test using a 40-square-metre rectangular nylon sail. The kite lifted the column clean off the ground. 'We were absolutely stunned,' Gharib says. The instant the sail opened into the wind, a huge force was generated, and the column was raised to the vertical in a mere 40 seconds.'

 

Paragraph 6

The wind was blowing at a gentle 16 to 20 kilometres an hour, little more than half what they thought would be needed. 'What they had failed to reckon with was what happened when the kite was opened. There was a huge initial force - five times larger than the steady state force,' Gharib says. This jerk meant that kites could lift huge weights, Gharib realised. Even a 300-ton column could have been lifted to the vertical with 40 or so men and four or five sails. So Clemmons was right: the pyramid builders could have used kites to lift massive stones into place. 'Whether they actually did is another matter,' Gharib says. 'There are no pictures showing the construction of the pyramids, so there is no way to tell what really happened. The evidence for using kites to move large stones is no better or worse than the evidence for the brute force method,' Gharib says.

 

Paragraph 7

Indeed, the experiments have left many specialists unconvinced. "The evidence for kite lifting is non-existent,' says Willeke Wendrich, an associate professor of Egyptology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

 

Paragraph 8

Others feel there is more of a case for the theory. Harnessing the wind would not have been a problem for accomplished sailors like the Egyptians. And they are known to have used wooden pulleys, which could have been made strong enough to bear the weight of massive blocks of stone. In addition, there is some physical evidence that the ancient Egyptians were interested in flight. A wooden artefact found on the step pyramid at Saqqara looks uncannily like a modern glider. Although it dates from several hundred years after the building of the pyramids, its sophistication suggests that the Egyptians might have been developing ideas of flight for a long time. And other ancient civilisations certainly knew about kites; as early as 1250 BC, the Chinese were using them to deliver messages and dump flaming debris on their foes.

 

Paragraph 9

The experiments might even have practical uses nowadays. There are plenty of places around the globe where people have no access to heavy machinery, but they do know how to deal with wind, sailing, and basic mechanical principles. Gharib has already been contacted by a civil engineer in Nicaragua, who wants to put up buildings with adobe roofs supported by concrete arches on a site that heavy equipment can't reach. His idea is to build the arches horizontally and then lift them into place using kites. 'We've given him some design hints,' says Gharib. 'We're just waiting for him to report back.' So whether they were actually used to build the pyramids or not, it seems that kites may make sensible construction tools in the 21st century AD.

2.

Pulling Strings To Build Pyramids Reading Question & Answers

Discover exciting and informative IELTS reading answers about Pulling Strings To Build Pyramids

Questions and Answers 1-7
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the Reading Passage?
In boxes 1-7 on your answer sheet write,

  • TRUE if the statement agrees with the information
  • FALSE if the statement contradicts the information
  • NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this

 

 

1. It is generally believed that large numbers of people were needed to build the pyramids.

2. Clemmons found a strange hieroglyph on the wall of an Egyptian monument. 

3. Gharib had previously done experiments on bird flight.

4. Gharib and Graff tested their theory before applying it.

5. The success of the actual experiment was due to the high speed of the wind.

6. They found that, as the kite flew higher, the wind force got stronger.

7. The team decided that it was possible to use kites to raise very heavy stones.


 

Pulling Strings To Build Pyramids Reading Answers with Explanations (1-7)

 

Type of question: True/False/Not Given

 

In this question type, you are required to determine whether the statements provided agree with, contradict, or are not mentioned in the reading passage. 

 

How to best answer: 
 

  • Understand what information is being presented and what is being asked.
  • Find relevant information in the reading passage that relates to the statement.
  • Determine if the statement agrees with, contradicts, or is not mentioned in the passage.
  • If the information is not explicitly provided in the passage, select 'Not Given' rather than making assumptions.
  • Base your answers solely on the information presented in the passage, avoiding personal opinions or outside knowledge.

 

 

1. True

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph 2: "The conventional picture is that tens of thousands of slaves dragged stones on sledges."

 

Explanation

This sentence describes the widely accepted belief that a large number of people, specifically tens of thousands of slaves, were necessary to move the stones used in pyramid construction.


 

2. False

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph 2: "While perusing a book on the monuments of Egypt, she noticed a hieroglyph that showed a row of men standing in odd postures."

 

Explanation

The hieroglyph was discovered by Clemmons in a book about Egyptian monuments, indicating that she did not find it directly on an actual monument wall.

 

 

3. Not Given

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph: N.A.
 

Explanation

The passage does not provide any information regarding whether Gharib had previously conducted experiments related to bird flight.


 

4. True

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph 4: "Gharib and Graff set themselves the task of raising a 4.5-metre stone column from horizontal to vertical, using no source of energy except the wind."
 

Explanation

This shows that Gharib and Graff actively tested their hypothesis by setting up an experiment to lift a stone column using wind power, confirming that they validated the theory through practical testing.


 

5. False

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph 6: "What they had failed to reckon with was what happened when the kite was opened. There was a huge initial force - five times larger than the steady state force,' Gharib says."
 

Explanation

The success of their experiment was attributed to the unexpectedly large initial force generated by the kite opening rather than the wind speed itself.


 

6. Not Given

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph 7: N.A.
 

Explanation

The passage does not mention any observations or conclusions about the wind force increasing as the kite ascended.


 

7. True

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph 6: "This jerk meant that kites could lift huge weights, Gharib realised. Even a 300-ton column could have been lifted to the vertical with 40 or so men and four or five sails."
 

Explanation

This statement reveals that the team concluded kites could be used to lift extremely heavy stones, providing a theoretical basis for their use in pyramid construction.

Questions and Answers 8-13
  • Complete the summary below.
  • Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.

 

 

Additional evidence for the theory of kite-lifting

 

The Egyptians had 8) ________, which could lift large pieces of 9) ________, and they knew how to use the energy of the wind from their skill as 10) ________. The discovery of one pyramid of an object which resembled a 11) ________ suggests they may have experimented with 12) ________. In addition, over two thousand years ago, kites were used in China as weapons, as well as for sending 13) ________ .

 

Pulling Strings To Build Pyramids Reading Answers with Explanations (8-13)

 

Type of question: Summary completion

 

Under this task, you will be given a summary with incomplete sentences. However, you will not be given any list of words/phrases to choose the missing information. You must refer to the main passage to fill in the missing information. 

 

How to answer: 

 

  • Read the summary to understand what information it’s missing
  • Identify keywords and locate them in the main passage to find missing words 
  • Review the context of the words you’ve chosen to match the summary
  • Finalise your answers


 

8. (wooden) pulleys

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph 8: "And they are known to have used wooden pulleys, which could have been made strong enough to bear the weight of massive blocks of stone."

 

Explanation

This line explicitly states that Egyptians used wooden pulleys capable of lifting massive stones, providing concrete evidence for the potential use of such technology in lifting large objects, thus supporting the theory of kite-lifting.


 

9. stone

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph 8: "And they are known to have used wooden pulleys, which could have been made strong enough to bear the weight of massive blocks of stone."
 

Explanation

The same line indicates the Egyptians' wooden pulleys were specifically designed to lift heavy stone blocks, underscoring the feasibility of using such mechanisms in pyramid construction.


 

10. (accomplished) sailors

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph 8: "Harnessing the wind would not have been a problem for accomplished sailors like the Egyptians."
 

Explanation

This line highlights the Egyptians' expertise as sailors, suggesting their ability to harness wind power efficiently, which could have been applied to kite-lifting heavy stones for pyramid construction.


 

11. (modern) glider

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph 8: "A wooden artefact found on the step pyramid at Saqqara looks uncannily like a modern glider."
 

Explanation

The discovery of a wooden artefact resembling a modern glider suggests that the Egyptians might have been exploring principles of flight, lending credibility to the idea that they could have used kites in construction.


 

12. flight

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph 8: "Although it dates from several hundred years after the building of the pyramids, its sophistication suggests that the Egyptians might have been developing ideas of flight for a long time."

 

Explanation

This line indicates that the advanced nature of the artefact suggests a long-term Egyptian interest in flight, implying that they could have used similar technology, such as kites, for lifting stones during pyramid construction.


 

13. messages

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph 8: "And other ancient civilisations certainly knew about kites; as early as 1250 BC, the Chinese were using them to deliver messages and dump flaming debris on their foes."
 

Explanation

This line confirms that ancient civilisations, including the Chinese, used kites for practical purposes like delivering messages, illustrating the historical precedence and feasibility of using kites for lifting heavy objects.

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FAQs

Q. What are some good resources for improving my reading skills in general?

Ans. Utilise platforms like Project Gutenberg and Medium for diverse reading materials. When you visit local libraries, you can receive tailored book recommendations. By using apps like Kindle or Goodreads, you can simplify access to books and audiobooks. Also, websites like Khan Academy or Newsela offer exercises corresponding to your reading level, which can aid in improving your comprehension skills.

Q. What are some common misconceptions about the IELTS Reading test?

Ans. When preparing for the IELTS reading test, it's important to remember that there are several misconceptions that you should be aware of. These include the belief that you need to understand every single word, read the entire passage, and assume that the questions are straightforward. It's also not necessary to answer the questions sequentially or have prior topic knowledge. Being aware of these misconceptions will help you approach the test with confidence and accuracy.

Q. How can I stay calm and focused during the IELTS Reading test?

Ans. To do your best on the IELTS reading test, stay calm and focused by using mindfulness, managing your time, staying hydrated, using relaxation techniques, reading questions carefully, and maintaining a positive mindset. These strategies will help you perform at your best during the test.