Suppose that Khufu, pharaoh of Egypt and builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza, was introduced to the idea of an amusement park.
More specifically, suppose that he was visited by a time traveler and was invited to go on vacation with said traveler to the 21st century. On this vacation to a modern amusement park, he became so enthralled with roller coasters that, on returning to his time (which is at the point before construction on the Great Pyramid has begun, but after the foundation has been created), he decides to pour all his resources into building a roller coaster instead of a giant tomb. After all, roller coasters are fun, and it may well become a Wonder of the World for generations to enjoy, making his legacy unique compared to all other pharaohs. And besides, he can still build a nice portal to the afterlife in the form of a smaller, more economical pyramid, later.
And so, the prime question:
What is the biggest, most complex, most enjoyable ride that Khufu can construct within 20 years, using the same Egyptian-level technology and manpower that would have otherwise been used for building the Great Pyramid? Assume the structure is located on the Great Pyramid's foundation. Provide dimensions, and give explanations for technical elements such as loops or vertical drops, etc.
- What is the most practical way of powering the roller coaster? Are there solutions besides slave powered ascent ramps?
- What is the maximum passenger service rate? (Number of individuals per train, number of concurrent trains running at a time, etc.)
- How safe is it? (Fatalities/Injuries per coaster run)
- How long can it remain functional? (Provided 60 years of active service to the end of the Old Kingdom in ~2490 BC, then total neglect there after. Can the structure and cars/trains be restarted with minimal repairs up to a certain point in time? We want this to be a Wonder of the Ancient World, is this possible?)
- How would history be affected? Specifically, would the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions have happened earlier and elsewhere had the Egyptians been exposed to the physics of movement via roller coaster mastery?
Some supplement material:
The Great Pyramid took between 10 and 20 years to build with between 15000 and 40000 workers. It weights 5.9 million tonnes, and its dimensions are accurate to tens of millimeters in terms of alignment and average deviation from flat.
January 2017 Updates:
Here is a slight addition to improve on the original prompt:
Khufu knows full well that the marvelous steel wheel, rails and bearings he got to see and experience on his trip are not a viable technology for his time. What he really wants to do is to try to replicate the experience as nearly as he can, namely:
- Fantastic, fast traversal of some kind of track which is open to the public (for a fee). This may devolve to it being a glorified bobsled track, but the closer to the modern experience, the better.
- Has tiered lines like modern amusement parks: The Standard Line is for commoners and tourists who have paid the park entrance fee. The Fast Line, for those who pay more or submit to a schedule. The Royal Line, reserved for the Pharaoh and his friends only.
- Designed to operate for centuries. As specified above, it will fall into a period of disuse for a time about 60 years after its completion, but say around 1000 BC, the park is started back up again. How well does it weather over ~1500 years of neglect? The Wonders of the Ancient World were sites that ancient tourists visited with good reason, and this site needs to be included in that same list in this alternate timeline.