Return to the Giza Power Plant - Part 1
Dutifully, I bought the tickets and arrived at Aswan the next day. After learning some of the Egyptian customs, I got the impression that this was not the first time that my Egyptologist friend had made that trip to the travel agent. The quarry marks I saw there did not satisfy me that the methods described were the only means by which the pyramid builders quarried their rock. There is a large round hole drilled into the bedrock hillside, that measures approximately 12 inches in diameter and 3 feet deep that is located in the channel, which runs the length of the estimated 3,000 ton obelisk,. The hole was drilled at an angle with the top intruding into the channel space. The ancients may have used drills to remove material from the perimeter of the obelisk, knocked out the webs between the holes, and then removed the cusps.
The Aswan quarries were educational, though after returning to Cairo the following day and while strolling around the Giza Plateau later in the week, I started to question the quarry marks at Aswan even more. South of the second pyramid I found an abundance of quarry marks of similar nature. The granite casing stones that had sheathed the second pyramid were stripped off and lying around the base in various stages of destruction. Some of the stones were still in place, though sections had been split away from them, and there I found the same quarry marks that I had seen earlier in the week at Aswan. This was puzzling to me. Disregarding the impossibility of Egyptologists' theories on the ancient pyramid builders' quarrying methods, are they really valid even from a non-technical, logical viewpoint? If these quarry marks distinctively identify the people who created the pyramids, why would they engage in such a tremendous amount of extremely difficult work only to destroy their work after having completed it? It seems to me that the quarry marks found at Aswan and on the Giza Plateau were from a later period of time, and they were created by people who were interested only in obtaining granite without caring about the source from where it came.
Archaeology is largely the study of history's toolmakers, and archaeologists understand a society's level of advancement with tools and artifacts. The hammer was probably the first tool ever invented, and hammers have forged some elegant and beautiful artifacts. Ever since man first learned that he could effect profound changes in his environment by applying force with a reasonable degree of accuracy, the development of tools has been a continuous and fascinating aspect of human endeavor. The Great Pyramid leads a long list of artifacts that have been misunderstood and misinterpreted by archaeologists, who have promoted theories and methods that are based on a collection of tools that they struggle with to replicate the most simple aspects of the work.
'Quarryman of the Pyramid age would have accused Greek historian Strabo of understatement as they hacked at the stubborn granite of Aswan. Their axes and chisels were made of copper hardened by hammering.'
~ Dr. IES Edwards-Egyptologist
For the most part, primitive tools that are discovered are considered contemporaneous with the artifacts of the same period. Yet during this period in Egyptian history, artifacts were produced in prolific number with no tools surviving to explain their creation. The ancient Egyptians created artifacts that cannot be explained in simple terms. These tools do not fully represent the 'state of the art' that is evident in the artifacts. There are some intriguing objects that survived after this civilization, and in spite of its most visible and impressive monuments, we have only a sketchy understanding of the full scope of its technology. The tools displayed by Egyptologists as instruments for the creation of many of these incredible artifacts are physically incapable of reproducing them. After standing in awe before these engineering marvels, and then being shown a paltry collection of copper implements in the tool case at the Cairo Museum, one comes away bemused and frustrated.
British Egyptologist, Sir. William Flinders Petrie, recognized that these tools were insufficient. He explored this anomaly thoroughly in 'Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh,' and expressed amazement about the methods the ancient Egyptians used to cut hard igneous rocks. He credited them with methods that '......we are only now coming to understand.' So why do modern mainstream Egyptologists insist that this work was accomplished with a few primitive copper instruments?
I'm not an Egyptologist, I'm a technologist. I do not have much interest in who died when, whom they may have taken with them and where they went to. No lack of respect is intended for the mountain of work and the millions of hours of study conducted on this subject by intelligent scholars (professional and amateur), but my interest, thus my focus, is elsewhere. When I look at an artifact to investigate how it was manufactured, I am not concerned about its history or chronology. Having spent most of my career working with the machinery that actually creates modern artifacts, such as jet-engine components, I am able to analyze and determine how an artifact was created. I have also had training and experience in some non-conventional manufacturing methods, such as laser processing and electrical discharge machining. Having said that, I should state that contrary to some popular speculations, I have not seen evidence of laser for cutting on the Egyptian rocks. Still, there is evidence for other non-conventional machining methods, as well as more sophisticated, conventional type sawing, lathe and milling practices. Undoubtedly, some of the artifacts that Petrie was studying were produced using lathes. There is also evidence of clearly defined lathe tool marks on some 'sarcophagi' lids. The Cairo Museum contains enough evidence that will prove that the ancient Egyptians used highly sophisticated manufacturing methods once its properly analyzed. For generations the focus has centered on the nature of the cutting tools used by the ancient Egyptians. While in Egypt in February 1995, I discovered evidence that raises the question, 'What guided the cutting tool?'
A variety of people have speculated that to erect a building as perfect as the Great Pyramid, the builders must have possessed supernatural powers. Some even speculate that the builders used lasers to cut the masonry and then levitated the stones into place in the pyramid. While I cannot speak authoritatively regarding the builders' powers of levitation, whether the implementation of those powers was through the use of the mind or through the use of technology, I can say with reasonable confidence that no lasers were used in cutting the materials which went into building the Great Pyramid. Although the laser is a wonderful tool with many uses, its function as a cutting tool is limited to economically viable applications, such as cutting small holes in thin pieces of metal and refractory material. As a general purpose cutting tool, it cannot compete with the machining methods that were available before its inception.
The methods used to cut the masonry for the Great Pyramid can be deduced from the marks they left behind on the stone. The bulk of the Great Pyramid was constructed with limestone blocks weighing an average of 2 1/2 tons each. While there are some interesting points to be made concerning the limestone that encased the pyramid, and they will be addressed later, these stones do not offer the same information about the methods that were used to produce them as the thousands of tons of granite. At the expense of considerable time and effort by the original creators, the granite artifacts found in the Great Pyramid and at other sites in Egypt offer the clues we are looking for.
Before we investigate the granite that was included in the Giza pyramids, there are several artifacts that indicate machinery power being used by the pyramid builders. These artifacts, scrutinized by William Flinders Petrie, are all fragments of extremely hard igneous rock. These pieces of granite and diorite exhibit marks that are the same as those resulting from cutting hard igneous rock with modern machinery. It is surprising that Petrie's studies of these fragments have not attracted greater attention, for there is unmistakable evidence of machine tooling methods. It will probably surprise many people to know that evidence proving that the ancient Egyptians used tools such as straight saws, circular saws, and even lathes has been recognized for over a century. The lathe is the father of all machine tools in existence, and Petrie submits evidence showing that not only were lathes used by the ancient Egyptians, but they performed tasks which would, by today's standards, be considered impossible without highly developed specialized techniques, such as cutting concave and convex sperical radii without splintering the material.
While digging through the ruins of ancient civilizations, would archeologists instantly recognize the work of machine tools by the kind of marks made on the material or the configuration of the piece at which they were looking? Fortunately, one archeologist had the perception and knowledge to recognize such marks, and, although at the time Petrie's findings were published the machining industry was in its infancy, the growth in the industry since then warrants a new look at his findings. Read more about Petrie's findings in 'The Giza Power Plant: Technologies of Ancient Egypt' and at The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh Online
One can gather by reading Petrie's work that he involved himself in some extensive research regarding the tools that were employed in cutting hard stone. Even so, there is a persisting belief among some Egyptologists that the granite used in the Great Pyramid was cut using copper chisels.
Having worked with copper on numerous occasions, and having hardened it in the manner suggested above, this statement struck me as being entirely ridiculous. You can certainly work-harden copper by striking it repeatedly or even by bending it. However, after a specific hardness has been reached, the copper will begin to split and break apart. This is why, when working with copper to any great extent, it has to be periodically annealed, or softened, if you want to keep it in one piece. Even after hardening in such a way, the copper will not be able to cut granite. The hardest copper alloy in existence today is beryllium copper. There is no evidence to suggest that the ancient Egyptians possessed this alloy, but even if they did, this alloy is not hard enough to cut granite. Copper has predominantly been described as the only metal available at the time the Great Pyramid was built. Consequently, it would follow that all work must have sprung from the able use of this basic metallic element. We may be entirely wrong, however, even in the basic assumption that copper was the only metal available to the ancient Egyptians. For another little known fact about the pyramid builders is that they were iron makers as well. Hidden chambers and Metal plate CARBON-14 DATING THE GIZA PYRAMIDS? The Small Relics Found Inside The Pyramids - DE49
In proposing more primitive methods of manufacture, it has been demonstrated that copper charged with quartz sand can also be used to wear away the granite. Also, small balls made of dolorite, a stone that is harder than granite, have been found in the granite quarries which have led Egyptologists to suggest that granite artifacts were created by bashing the material.
Unforbidden Geology explores the more simple approach to working granite.
While there may be some who are satisfied with believing that these simplistic methods were adequate in creating the artifacts I have seen and measured, I am not. This is because they do not explain the full scope of the work.
Without going back in time and interviewing the craftsmen who worked on the pyramids, we will probably never know for sure what materials their tools were made of. Any debate of the subject would be futile, for until the proof is at hand, no satisfactory conclusion can be reached. However, the manner in which the masons used their tools can be discussed, and, perhaps if we compare current methods of cutting granite with the finished product (i.e. the granite coffers), there may be some basis on which to draw a parallel.
Today's granite cutting methods includes the use of wire-saws and an abrasive, usually silicon-carbide which slices through granite with ease. The wire is a continuous loop that is held by two wheels, one of the wheels being the driver. Between the wheels, which can vary in distance depending on the size of the machine, the granite is cut by being pushed against the wire or by being held firmly and allowing the wire to feed through it. The wire does not cut the granite, but is designed to effectively hold the silicon carbide grit that does the actual cutting.
By looking at the shapes of the cuts that were made in the basalt items 3b, and 5b, one could certainly speculate that a wire saw had been used and left its imprint in the rock. The full radius at the bottom of the cut is exactly the shape that would be left by such a saw.
Mr. John Barta, of the John Barta Company informed me, that the wire saws used in quarry mills today cut through granite with great rapidity. Mr. Barta told me that the wire saws with silicon-carbide cut through the granite like it is butter. Out of interest, I asked Mr. Barta what he thought of the copper chisel theory. Mr. Barta, possessing an excellent sense of humor, came forth with some jocular remarks regarding the practicality of such an idea.
If the ancient Egyptians had indeed used wire saws for cutting hard rock, were these saws powered by hand or machine? With my experience in machine shops and the countless number of times I have had to use a saw (both handsaws and power saws), there appears to be strong evidence that, in at least some instances, the latter method was used.
Once again, Petrie provides a clue:
'On the N. end (of the coffer) is a place, near the west side, where the saw was run too deep into the granite, and was backed out again by the masons; but this fresh start they made still too deep, and two inches lower they backed out a second time, having cut out more than .10 inch deeper than they had intended...'
The above was Petrie's notes on the coffer inside the King's Chamber in the Great Pyramid. The following concerns the coffer inside the Second Pyramid:
'The coffer is well polished, not only inside but all over the outside; even though it was nearly all bedded into the floor, with the blocks plastered against it. The bottom is left rough, and shows that it was sawn and afterwards dressed down to the intended height; but in sawing it the saw was run too deep and then backed out; it was, therefore, not dressed down all over the bottom, the worst part of the sawing being cut .20 inch deeper than the dressed part. This is the only error of workmanship in the whole of it; it is polished all over the sides in and out, and is not left with the saw lines visible on it like the Great Pyramid coffer.'
Petrie estimated that a pressure of one to two tons on jeweled tipped bronze saws would have been necessary to cut through the extremely hard granite. If we agree with these estimates as well as with the methods proposed by Egyptologists regarding the construction of the pyramids, then a severe inequity can be discerned between the two.
So far, Egyptologists have not given credence to any speculation that suggests that the builders of the pyramid might have used machines instead of manpower in this massive construction project. In fact, they do not give the pyramid builders the intelligence to have developed and used the simple wheel. It is quite remarkable that a culture, which possessed sufficient technical ability to make a lathe and progressed from there to develop a technique that enabled them to machine radii in hard diorite, would not have thought of the wheel before this.
Petrie logically assumes that the granite coffers found in the Giza Pyramids were marked prior to being cut. The workmen were given a guideline with which to work. The accuracy exhibited in the dimensions of the coffers confirms this, plus the fact that guidelines of some sort would have been necessary to alert the masons of their error.
While no one can say with certainty how the granite coffers were cut, the saw marks in the granite have certain characteristics, which suggests that they were not the result of hand sawing. If there was not evidence to the contrary, I might agree that the manufacturing of the granite coffers in the Great Pyramid and the Second Pyramid could quite possibly have been achieved using pure manpower, and a tremendous amount of time.
It is extremely unlikely that a team of masons operating a 9-foot handsaw would be cutting through hard granite fast enough that they would pass their guideline before noticing the error. To then back the saw out and repeat the same error, as they did on the coffer in the King's Chamber, does nothing to confirm the speculation that this object was the result of hand work.
When I read Petrie's passage concerning these deviations, a flood of memories came to me of my own history with saws, both power and manual driven. With these experiences, plus those observed in others, it seems inconceivable to me that manpower was the motivating force behind the saw which cut the granite coffers. While cutting steel with handsaws, an object that has a long workface, and certainly one with such dimensions as the coffers, would not be cut with great rapidity, and the direction the saw may turn can be seen well in advance of a serious mistake being made; the smaller the workpiece, naturally, the faster the blade would cut through it.
On the other hand, if the saw is mechanized and is cutting rapidly through the workpiece, the saw could 'wander' from its intended course and cut through the guideline at a certain point at such a speed that the error is made before the condition can be corrected. This is not uncommon.
This does not mean that a manually operated saw cannot 'wander,' but that the speed of the operation would determine the efficiency in discovering any deviation that the saw may have from its intended course.
Another interesting point to consider is that the saw was run too deeply, backed out, and then proceeded to cut again. Anyone who has been faced with the problem of drawing a saw-blade out of a cut and then making a restart on only one side of the cut, which is essentially what was done with the granite, knows that excessive pressure on the saw-blade would force it back into the original cut. To make a restart of this type it is necessary that very little pressure is put on the blade. With these considerations, it is doubtful that Petrie's deductions of two to three tons pressure being necessary to cut the granite can be verified.
Making a restart in the middle of a cut, especially one of such dimensions as the granite coffer, would be more easily accomplished with machine sawing than it would be with hand sawing. With hand sawing there is little control over the blade in a situation like this, and it would be difficult to accurately gauge the amount of pressure needed. Also, the blade of the handsaw would be moving quite slowly; a fact that would question further the suggestion of a handsaw being used. At such a slow speed and with very little pressure, accomplishment of such a feat would be almost, if not completely, impossible.
With the power driven saw, on the other hand, the blade moves rapidly, and control of the blade is possible. The blade can be held in a fixed position, with uniform pressure over the entire length of the blade, and in the direction necessary to restart. This front and side pressure can be accurately maintained until sufficient material has been removed from the workpiece to allow a continuation of normal cutting speed.
The fact that a normal cutting rate was attained shortly after rectifying the mistake can be deduced by noting that in the Great Pyramid's coffer, the mistake was repeated two inches further along. This is another example of the blade cutting through the granite at the wrong place faster than the men were able to detect and stop it.
Another method of correcting a mistake while using a handsaw, if the error was only in a small area of the cut, would be to tilt the blade and continue cutting in the unspoiled area, so that when the blade reached the area which needed correcting, the blade would be supported by the fresh tilted cut and would have sufficient strength to combat any tendencies to follow the original straight cut.
If the granite coffers had been cut with handsaws, it is conceivable that this method could be used in correcting the errors on the granite coffers. However, it has probably become apparent by now that William Flinders Petrie had the eye of a hawk and documented just about anything which came in sight. At the same time he was studying the cutting mistakes in the granite, he was also noticing other features:
'It is not finely wrought, and cannot in this respect rival the coffer in the Second Pyramid. On the outer sides the lines of sawing may be plainly seen: horizontal on the N., a small patch horizontal on the E., vertical on the S., and nearly horizontal on the W.; showing that the masons did not hesitate at cutting a slice of granite 90 inches long, and that the jeweled bronze saw must have been probably about 9 feet long.'
If the operators of the saw, in an attempt to correct a mistake, had tilted their blade in the manner described above, the saw lines would show a difference with the pre-error saw lines, because they would be at an angle. The mistakes in the granite were found on the north side of the coffer, and Petrie observed that the saw lines on this side were horizontal. Following Petrie's footsteps in 1986, I was able to verify his observations of the coffer in the Great Pyramid. The saw lines on the side where the mistakes were made are all horizontal. Any argument proposing that the mistake was overcome by tilting the blade, which is probably the only method that would be successful using a hand-saw, is invalidated. This evidence points to the distinct probability that the pyramid builders possessed motorized machinery when they cut the granite found inside the Great Pyramid and the Second Pyramid.
Today these saw marks would reflect either the differences in the aggregate dimensions of a wire bandsaw with the abrasive, or the side-to-side movement of the wire, or the wheels that drive the wire. The result of either of these conditions is a series of slight grooves. The feed-rate and either the distance between the variation in length of the saw or the diameter of the wheels determine the distance between the grooves. The distance between the grooves on the coffer inside the King's Chamber is approximately .050 inch.
Along with the evidence on the outside further evidence of the use of high speed machine tools can be found on the inside of the granite coffer in the King's Chamber. The methods that were evidently used by the pyramid builders to hollow out the inside of the granite coffers are similar to the methods which would be used to machine out the inside of components today.
Tool marks on the inside of the granite coffer in the King's Chamber indicate that when the granite was hollowed out, preliminary roughing cuts were made by drilling holes into the granite around the area which was to be removed. According to Petrie, these drill holes were made with tube-drills, which left a central core that had to be knocked away after the hole had been cut. After all the holes had been drilled, and all the cores removed, Petrie surmises that the coffer was then handworked to its desired dimension. The machinists on this particular piece of granite once again let their tools get the better of them, and the resulting errors are still to be found on the inside of the coffer in the King's Chamber:
'On the E. inside is a portion of a tube-drill hole remaining, where they had tilted the drill over into the side by not working it vertically. They tried hard to polish away all that part, and took of about 1/10 inch thickness all around it; but still they had to leave the side of the hole 1/10 deep, 3 long, and 1.3 wide; the bottom of it is 8 or 9 below the original top of the coffer. They made a similar error on the N. inside, but of a much less extent. There are traces of horizontal grinding lines on the W. inside.'
The errors noted by Petrie are not uncommon in modern machine shops, and I must confess to having made them myself on occasion. Several factors could be involved in creating this condition, although I cannot visualize any one of them being a hand operation. Once again, while working their drill into the granite, the machinists had made a mistake before they had time to correct it.
Let us speculate for a moment that the drill was being worked by hand. How far into the granite would they be able to cut before the drill had to be removed to permit cleaning the waste out of the hole? Would they be able to drill 8 or 9 inches into the granite without having to remove their drill? It is inconceivable to me that such a depth could be achieved with a hand-operated drill without the frequent withdrawal of the drill to clean out the hole, or provisions being made for the removal of the waste while the drill was still cutting. It is possible, therefore, that frequent withdrawals of the drill would expose their error, and that they would have noticed the direction their drill was taking before it had cut a .200 inch gouge into the side of the coffer, and before it had reached a depth of 8 or 9 inches. Can't we see the same situation with the drill as with the saw? Here we have two high speed operations where errors are made before the operators have time to correct them.
CONTINUE TO :
Christopher Dunn, Return to the Giza Power Plant - Part 2