Egyptian Pyramids
Pyramids were built using ramps that were then used for the exterior, former postman Michel claimsReuters

The long-standing mystery of how Egypt's pyramids were built has reportedly been solved by a retired French postman.

Michel Michel, an amateur Egyptologist who has spent the last 40 years examining the construction of the pyramids, has put forward a theory about the methods used that has been supported by several experts in the field.

In an interview with Ouest France, Michel said he has been fascinated with the pyramids since 1972, when he saw the Howard Hawks film Land of the Pharaohs.

Explaining why other theories about the construction are wrong, he said calculations and observations of one pyramid are often inapplicable to others, adding: "They also forgot the basic principle: to build, the Egyptians did not have modern means and had to keep it simple.

"My method is based on a system of ramps. It is adapted to the pyramids of all sizes. It is simple, intuitive, economical, robust and easily verifiable."

The ramps were arranged and sleds loaded with stones were pulled up them. The ramps were then reused to form the smooth coating of the pyramid.

"By thus acting on each side, the top-down, smooth pyramid is obtained, consistent with observations. With a simple tape measure, you can perform these calculations. "

Most theories about how the pyramids were constructed are based on the idea that huge stones were carved in quarries than dragged and lifted into position – debate comes over how the stones were moved and raised.

Michel said it took several years before his theory was taken seriously by experts in the field. However, over the last few months his theory has started to get support from several luminaries, including Egyptologists Nabil Swelim and Claude Obsomer.

His work was also noticed by Zurich Egyptologist Michael E Habicht, who highlighted the theory on the site, which published it in a Swiss journal.

"Of the 96 pages, 48 are devoted to my research. They include development of my building hypothesis, calculations of manpower and construction time, and my analysis of the transport of heavy loads on sleds," he said.

Last year Welsh engineer Peter James put forward an alternative theory as to how the pyramids were built – saying they were constructed from rubble rather than giant stone blocks.

He told the Times: "Under the current theories, to lay the two million stone blocks required the Egyptians would had to have laid a large block once every three minutes on long ramps.

"If that happened, there would still be signs that the ramps had been there, and there aren't any.

"I'm going to have a war with archaeologists. They will say: 'How would you know? You're not an archaeologist.' But if you wanted a house built would you use me or an archaeologist?

"Archaeologists have never had the engineering experience."