Pulling Ropes and Plumbing Lines: Geometry for the Neolithic Engineer

Stephen Luecking
Bridges: Mathematical Connections in Art, Music, and Science (2004)
Pages 321–328


Drawing on his own early experiences as a surveyor the author presents an introduction to the history, principles and methods of ancient rope pulling, Le., surveying geometry, as manifested in Megalithic monuments. Concentrating on some likely field techniques dating back to Neolithic builders, this paper assesses similarities and contrasts between the focus of classic geometry on axiomatic proofs and compass and straightedge construction and the propensity of rope pulling toward canonical principles of mensuration and mechanical construction.