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Return to the Giza Power Plant – Part 2

Christopher Dunn

Continued from:
Chris Dunn, Return to the Giza Power Plant – Part 1

Although the ancient Egyptians are not given credit for having a simple wheel, the evidence proves that they not only had the wheel, they had a more sophisticated use for it. The evidence of lathe work is markedly distinct on some of the artifacts housed in the Cairo Museum, as well as those that were studied by Petrie. Two pieces of diorite in Petrie’s collection he identified as being the result of true turning on a lathe.

It is true that intricate objects can be created without the aid of machinery, simply by rubbing the material with an abrasive such as sand, using a piece of bone or wood to apply pressure. The relics Petrie was looking at, however, in his words, ‘could not be produced by any grinding or rubbing process which pressed on the surface.’

The object Petrie was studying would hardly be considered remarkable to the inexperienced eye. It was a simple rock bowl. Studying the bowl closely, however, Petrie found that the spherical concave radius, forming the dish, had an unusual feel to it. Closer examination revealed a sharp cusp where two radii intersected. This indicates that the radii were cut on two separate axes of rotation.

I have witnessed the same condition when a component has been removed from a lathe and then worked on again without being recentered properly. On examining other pieces from Giza, Petrie found another bowl shard that had the marks of true lathe turning. This time, though, instead of shifting the workpiece’s axis of rotation, a second radius was cut by shifting the pivot point of the tool. With this radius, they machined just short of the perimeter of the dish, leaving a small lip. Again, a sharp cusp defined the intersection of the two radii. While browsing through the Cairo Museum, I found evidence of lathe turning on a large scale. A sarcophagus lid had distinct lathe turning marks. The radius of the lid terminated with a blend radius at shoulders on both ends. The tool marks near these corner radii are the same as those I have observed when turning an object with an intermittent cut. The tool is deflected under pressure from the cut. It then relaxes when the section of cut is finished. When the workpiece comes round again to the tool, the initial pressure causes the tool to dig in. As the cut progresses, the amount of ‘dig in’ is diminished. On the sarcophagus lid in the Cairo Museum, tool marks indicating these conditions are exactly where one would expect to find them.

Egyptian artifacts representing tubular drilling are clearly the most astounding and conclusive evidence yet presented to indicate the extent to which knowledge and technology was practiced in pre-history. The ancient pyramid builders used a technique for drilling holes that is commonly known as ‘trepanning.’ This technique leaves a central core and is an efficient means of hole making. For holes that didn’t go all the way through the material, they reached a desired depth and then broke the core out of the hole. It was not only evident in the holes that Petrie was studying, but on the cores cast aside by the masons who had done the trepanning. Regarding tool marks that left a spiral groove on a core taken out of a hole drilled into a piece of granite, he wrote, ‘the spiral of the cut sinks .100 inch in the circumference of 6 inches, or 1 in 60, a rate of ploughing out of the quartz and feldspar which is astonishing.‘ After reading this, I had to agree with Petrie. This was an incredible feedrate (distance traveled per revolution of the drill) for drilling into any material, let alone granite. I was completely confounded as to how a drill could achieve this feedrate. Petrie was so astounded by these artifacts that he attempted to explain them at three different points in one chapter. To an engineer in the 1880’s, what Petrie was looking at was an anomaly. The characteristics of the holes, the cores that came out of them, and the tool marks indicated an impossibility. Three distinct characteristics of the hole and core, as illustrated, make the artifacts extremely remarkable. They are:

  • A taper on both the hole and the core.
  • A symmetrical helical groove following these tapers showing that the drill advanced into the granite at a feed rate of .100 inch per revolution of the drill.
  • The confounding fact that the spiral groove cut deeper through the quartz than through the softer feldspar.

In conventional machining the reverse would be the case. In 1983, Mr. Donald Rahn of Rahn Granite Surface Plate Co., Dayton, Ohio, told me that in drilling granite, diamond drills, rotating at 900 revolutions per minute, penetrate at the rate of 1 inch in 5 minutes. In 1996, Eric Leither of Trustone Corp, told me that these parameters haven’t changed since then. The feedrate of modern drills, therefore, calculates to be .0002 inch per revolution, indicating that the ancient Egyptians were able to cut their granite with a feed rate that was 500 times greater or deeper per revolution of the drill than modern drills. The other characteristics also create a problem for modern drills. They cut a tapered hole with a spiral groove that was cut deeper through the harder constituent of the granite. If conventional machining methods cannot answer just one of these questions, how do we answer all three?

In the Fall 2000 issue of the magazine, ‘Egypt Revealed,’ Dr. Mark Lehner, probably the most vocal and visible Egyptologist to apply his knowledge of manufacturing in analyzing the technology of the ancient Egyptians, postulated the existence of a copper shop in the newly discovered ‘worker’s village.’ He stated that it was used ‘…to fashion thousands of copper chisels each probably no wider than your thumbnail for dressing the acres of limestone casing for the pyramids.’ In his documentary Obelisk I, Lehner passionately states that he is convinced that hieroglyphs and reliefs, the attributes of which Petrie marveled at because of their fine cross sections, measuring a mere .100 inch, indicating that the tool that created them had to have ploughed through the granite in a single pass, were actually created by bashing the granite with dolerite pounders.

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. I.E.S. Edwards, British Egyptologist and the world’s foremost expert on pyramids, makes the following statement.

‘Quarrymen 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.’ (Edwards, I.E.S. Ancient Egypt, Page 89. (1978 – National Geographic Society, Washington, DC.)

Hopefully, besides mainstream Egyptologists, such as Mark Lehner and IES Edwards, (RIP) other Egyptologists do not suggest that the copper chisels, that can now be found in the Cairo Museum, were representative of the tools used to build the pyramids. If they were I would strongly suggest that they make an effort to learn about the materials and processes that they are proposing by actually creating one of these artifacts. To identify copper as the metal used for cutting granite is like saying that aluminum could be cut using a chisel fashioned out of butter. What follows is a more feasible and logical method, and it provides an answer to the question of techniques used by the ancient Egyptians in drilling into granite.

The fact that the feedrate spiral is symmetrical is quite remarkable considering the proposed method of cutting. The taper indicates an increase in the cutting surface area of the drill as it cut deeper, hence an increase in the resistance. A uniform feed under these conditions, using manpower, would be impossible. Petrie theorized that a ton or two of pressure was applied to a tubular drill consisting of bronze inset with jewels. However, this doesn’t take into consideration that under several thousand pounds pressure the jewels would undoubtedly work their way into the softer substance, leaving the granite relatively unscathed after the attack. Nor does this method explain the groove being deeper through the quartz.

It should be noted that Petrie did not identify the means by which he inspected the core, whether he used metrology instruments, a microscope or the naked eye. It should also be noted that all Egyptologists do not universally accept his conclusions. In ‘Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries,’ Lucas takes issue with Petrie’s conclusion that the grooves were the result of fixed jewel points. He states:

‘In my opinion, to suppose the knowledge of cutting these gem stones to form teeth and of setting them in the metal in such a manner that they would bear the strain of hard use, and to do this at the early period assigned to them, would present greater difficulties than those explained by the assumption of their employment. But were there indeed teeth such as postulated by Petrie? The evidence to prove their presence is as follows.

(a) A cylindrical core of granite grooved round and round by a graving point, the grooves being continuous and forming a spiral, with in one part a single groove that may be traced five rotation round the core.

(b) Part of a drill hole in diorite with seventeen equidistant grooves due to the successive rotation of the same cutting point.

(c) Another piece of diorite with a series of grooves ploughed out to a depth of over one-hundredth of an inch at a single cut.

(d) Other pieces of diorite showing the regular equidistant grooves of a saw.

(e) Two pieces of diorite bowls with hieroglyphs incised with a very free-cutting point and neither scraped nor ground out.

But if an abrasive powder had been used with soft copper saws and drills, it is highly probable that pieces of the abrasive would have been forced into the metal, where they might have remained for some time, and any such accidental and temporary teeth would have produced the same effect as intentional and permanent ones…’

Lucas goes on to speculate that withdrawing the tube-drill in order to remove waste and insert fresh grit into the hole created the grooves. There are problems with this theory. It is doubtful that a simple tool that is being turned by hand will remain turning while the artisans draw it out of the hole. Likewise, placing the tool back into a clean hole with fresh grit would not require that the tool rotate until it was at the workface. There is also the question of the taper on both the hole and the core. Both would effectively provide clearance between the tool and the granite, thereby making sufficient contact to create the grooves impossible under these conditions.

The method I propose explains how the holes and cores found at Giza could have been cut. It is capable of creating all the details that Petrie and myself puzzled over. Unfortunately for Petrie, the method was unknown at the time he made his studies, so it is not surprising that he could not find any satisfactory answers.

The application of ultrasonic machining is the only method that completely satisfies logic, from a technical viewpoint, and explains all noted phenomena. Ultrasonic machining is the oscillatory motion of a tool that chips away material, like a jackhammer chipping away at a piece of concrete pavement, except much faster and not as measurable in its reciprocation. The ultrasonic tool-bit, vibrating at 19,000 to 25,000 cycles per second (Hertz) has found unique application in the precision machining of odd-shaped holes in hard, brittle material such as hardened steels, carbides, ceramics and semiconductors. An abrasive slurry or paste is used to accelerate the cutting action.

The most significant detail of the drilled holes and cores studied by Petrie is that the groove is cut deeper through the quartz than the feldspar. Quartz crystals are employed in the production of ultrasonic sound and, conversely, are responsive to the influence of vibration in the ultrasonic ranges and can be induced to vibrate at high frequency. In machining granite, using ultrasonics, the harder material (quartz) would not necessarily offer more resistance, as it would during conventional machining practices. An ultrasonically vibrating tool-bit would find numerous sympathetic partners while cutting through granite, embedded right in the granite itself! Instead of resisting the cutting action, the quartz would be induced to respond and vibrate in sympathy with the high frequency waves and amplify the abrasive action as the tool cut through it.

The fact that there is a groove may be explained several ways. An uneven flow of energy may have caused the tool to oscillate more on one side than the other. The tool may have been improperly mounted. A buildup of abrasive on one side of the tool may have cut the groove as the tool spiraled into the granite.

The tapering sides of the hole and the core are perfectly normal when we consider the basic requirements for all types of cutting tools. This requirement is that clearance be provided between the tool’s non-machining surfaces and the workpiece. Instead of having a straight tube, therefore, we would have a tube with a wall thickness that gradually became thinner along its length. The outside diameter getting gradually smaller, creating clearance between the tool and the hole, and the inside diameter getting larger, creating clearance between the tool and the central core. This would allow a free flow of abrasive slurry to reach the cutting area.

A tube drill of this design would also explain the tapering of the sides of the hole and the core. By using a tube-drill made of softer material than the abrasive, the cutting edge would gradually wear away. The dimensions of the hole, therefore, would correspond to the dimensions of the tool at the cutting edge. As the tool became worn, the hole and the core would reflect this wear in the form of a taper.

With ultrasonic machining, the tool can plunge straight down into the workpiece. It can also be screwed into the workpiece. The spiral groove can be explained if we consider one of the methods that is predominantly used to uniformly advance machine components. The rotational speed of the drill is not factor in this cutting method. The rotation of the drill is merely a means to advance the drill into the workpiece. Using a screw and nut method the tube drill could be efficiently advanced into the workpiece by turning in a clockwise direction. The screw would gradually thread through the nut, forcing the oscillating drill into the granite. It would be the ultrasonically induced motion of the drill that would do the cutting and not the rotation. The latter would only be needed to sustain a cutting action at the workface. By definition, the process is not a drilling process, by conventional standards, but a grinding process in which abrasives are caused to impact the material in such a way that a controlled amount of material is removed.

Another method by which the grooves could have been created is through the use of a spinning trepanning tool that has been mounted off-centered to its rotational axis. Clyde Treadwell of Sonic Mill Inc., Albuquerque, NM, explained to me that when an off-centered drill rotated into the granite, it would gradually be forced into alignment with the rotational axis of the drilling machines axis. The grooves, he claims, could be created as the drill was rapidly withdrawn from the hole.

If Treadwell’s theory is the correct one, it still requires a level of technology that is far more developed and sophisticated than what the ancient pyramid builders are given credit for. This method may be a valid alternative to the theory of ultrasonic machining, even though ultrasonics resolves all the unanswered questions where other theories have fallen short. Methods may have been proposed that might cover a singular aspect of the machine marks and not progress to the method described here. It is when we search for a single method that provides an answer for all data that we move away from primitive, and even conventional machining, and are forced to consider methods that are somewhat anomalous for that period in history.

Further studies need to be made of the cores; indeed it has been suggested that replication of the cores using the methods I propose and those proposed by some Egyptologists using primitive methods. Following such a replication, a comparison should be taken of the cores using metrology equipment and a scanning electron microscope. Microscopic changes in the structure of the granite can occur due to pressure and heat while it is being worked. It is doubtful that Egyptologists will share my conclusions regarding the pyramid builders’ drilling methods, and it would be beneficial to perform these tests in order to prove conclusively the true methods used by the pyramid builders for cutting stone.

Amazing Discovery at Giza

In February 1995 I joined Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval in Cairo to participate in a documentary. While there, I came across and measured some artifacts produced by the ancient pyramid builders, which prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that highly advanced and sophisticated tools and methods were employed by this ancient civilization. Two of the artifacts in question are well known; another is not, but it is more accessible, since it is laying out in the open, partly buried in the sand of the Giza plateau. For this trip to Egypt I had brought along some instruments with which I had planned to inspect features I had identified during my trip in 1986. The instruments were:

  • A ‘parallel’: A flat ground piece of steel about 6 inches long and 1/4 inch thick. The edges are ground flat within .0002 inch.
  • An Interapid indicator. (Known as a clock gauge by my British compatriots.)
  • A wire contour gage. A device once used by diesinkers to form around shapes.
  • Hard forming wax.

I had brought along the contour gage to check the inside of the mouth of the southern shaft inside the King’s Chamber, for reasons to be discussed in a forthcoming chapter. Unfortunately, I found out after getting there that things had changed since my last visit. In 1993, a German robotics engineer named Rudolph Gantenbrink installed a fan inside this opening and, therefore, it was inaccessible to me and I was unable to check it. I had taken along the parallel for quick checking the surface of granite artifacts to determine their precision. The indicator was to be attached to the parallel for further inspection of suitable artifacts. Though the indicator didn’t survive the rigors of international travel, the instruments with which I was left were adequate for me to form a conclusion about the precision to which the ancient Egyptians were working. The first object I inspected was the sarcophagus inside the second (Khafra’s) pyramid on the Giza Plateau. I climbed inside the box and, with a flashlight and the parallel, was astounded to find the surface on the inside of the box perfectly smooth and perfectly flat. Placing the edge of the parallel against the surface I shone my flashlight behind it. No light came through the interface. No matter where I moved the parallel, vertically, horizontally, sliding it along as one would a gage on a precision surface plate I couldn’t detect any deviation from a perfectly flat surface.

A group of Spanish tourists found it extremely interesting, too, and gathered around me as I animatedly exclaimed into my tape recorder, ‘Space-age precision!’ The tour guides were becoming quite animated, too. I sensed that they probably didn’t think it was appropriate for a live foreigner to be where they believed a dead Egyptian should go, so I respectfully removed myself from the sarcophagus and continued my examination outside.

There were more features of this artifact that I wanted to inspect, of course, but I didn’t have the freedom to do so. The corner radii on the inside appeared to be uniform all around with no variation of precision of the surface to the tangency point. I was tempted to take a wax impression, but the hovering guides expecting bribes (baksheesh) inhibited this activity. (I was on a very tight budget.)

My mind was racing as I lowered myself into the narrow confines of the entrance shaft and climbed to the outside. The inside of a huge granite box finished off to an accuracy that we reserve for precision surface plates? How did they do this? And why did they do it? Why did they find this piece so important that they would go to such trouble? It would be impossible to do this kind of work on the inside of an object by hand. Even with modern machinery it would be a very difficult and complicated task!

Petrie gives the dimensions of this coffer, in inches, as: outside, length 103.68, width 41.97, height 38.12; inside, length 84.73, width 26.69, depth 29.59. He stated that the mean variation of the piece was .04 inch. Not knowing where the variation he measured was, I’m not going to make any strong assertions except to say that it’s possible to have an object with geometry that varies in length, width and height and still maintain perfectly flat surfaces. Surface plates are ground and lapped to within .0001-0003 inch, depending on the grade of the specific surface plate; however the thickness may vary more than the .04 inch that Petrie noted on this sarcophagus. A surface plate, though, is a single surface and would represent only one outside surface of a box. Moreover, the equipment used to finish the inside of a box would be vastly different than that used to finish the outside. The task would be much more problematic to grind and lap the inside of a box to the accuracy I had observed, which would result in a precise and flat surface to the point where the flat surface meets the corner radius. There are physical and technical problems associated with a task like this that are not easy to solve. One could use drills to rough the inside out, but when it came to finishing a box of this size with an inside depth of 29.59 inches while maintaining a corner radius of less than 1/2 inch, there are some significant challenges to overcome.

While being extremely impressed with this artifact, I was even more impressed with other artifacts found at another site in the rock tunnels at the temple of Serapeum at Saqqarra, the site of the step pyramid and Zoser’s tomb. I had followed Hancock and Bauval on their trip to this site for a filming on Feb. 24, 1995. We were in the stifling atmosphere of the tunnels, where the dust kicked up by tourists lay heavily in the still air. These tunnels contain 21 huge granite boxes. Each box weighs an estimated 65 tons, and, together with the huge lid that sits on top of them, the total weight of the assembly is around 100 tons. Just inside the entrance of the tunnels there is a lid that had not been finished and beyond this lid, barely fitting within the confines of one of the tunnels, is a granite box that had also been rough hewn.

The granite boxes are approximately 13 ft. long, 7 1/2 ft. wide and 11 ft. high. They are installed in ‘crypts’ that were cut out of the limestone bedrock at staggered intervals along the tunnels. The floors of the crypts were about 4 ft. below the tunnel floor, and the boxes were set into a recess in the center. Bauval was addressing the engineering aspects of installing such huge boxes within a confined space where the last crypt was located near the end of the tunnel. With no room for the hundreds of slaves pulling on ropes to position these boxes, how were they moved into place?

While Hancock and Bauval were filming, I jumped down into a crypt and placed my parallel against the outside surface of the box. It was perfectly flat. I shone the flashlight and found no deviation from a perfectly flat surface. I clambered through a broken out edge into the inside of another giant box and again, I was astonished to find it astoundedly flat. I looked for errors and couldn’t find any. I wished at that time that I had the proper equipment to scan the entire surface and ascertain the full scope of the work. Nonetheless, I was perfectly happy to use my flashlight and straight edge and stand in awe of this incredibly precise and incredibly huge artifact. Checking the lid and the surface on which it sat, I found them both to be perfectly flat. It occurred to me that this gave the manufacturers of this piece a perfect seal. Two perfectly flat surfaces pressed together, with the weight of one pushing out the air between the two surfaces. The technical difficulties in finishing the inside of this piece made the sarcophagus in Khafra’s pyramid seem simple in comparison. Canadian researcher Robert McKenty accompanied me at this time. He saw the significance of the discovery and was filming with his camera. At that moment I knew how Howard Carter must have felt when he discovered Tutenkahmen’s tomb.

The dust-filled atmosphere in the tunnels made breathing uncomfortable. I could only imagine what it would be like if I was finishing off a piece of granite, regardless of the method used, how unhealthy it would be. Surely it would have been better to finish the work in the open air? I was so astonished by this find that it didn’t occur to me until later that the builders of these relics, for some esoteric reason, intended for them to be ultra precise. They had taken the trouble to bring into the tunnel the unfinished product and finish it underground for a good reason! It is the logical thing to do if you require a high degree of precision in the piece that you are working. To finish it with such precision at a site that maintained a different atmosphere and a different temperature, such as in the open under the hot sun, would mean that when it was finally installed in the cool, cave-like temperatures of the tunnel, you would lose that precision. The granite would change its shape through thermal expansion and contraction. The solution then as it is now, of course, is to prepare precision surfaces in the location in which they were going to be housed.

This discovery, and the realization of its critical importance to the artisans that built it, went beyond my wildest dreams of discoveries to be made in Egypt. For a man of my inclination, this was better than King Tut’s tomb. The Egyptians’ intentions with respect to precision are perfectly clear, but to what end? I would suggest that further studies of these artifacts be made and, where applicable, should include thorough mapping and inspection with the following tools.

  • A laser alignment tool with retroreflector surface flatness checking capabilities
  • An ultrasonic thickness gage to check the thickness of the walls to determine their consistency to uniform thickness.
  • Inside micrometers to accurately measure the distance between the inside walls.
  • An optical flat with monochromatic light source. Are the surfaces really finished to optical precision? (Though a question remains as to whether there would be sufficient reflection from the surface.)

For an update on the precision of these boxes click here

I have contacted four precision granite manufacturers in the US and haven’t been able to find one who can do this kind of work. With Eric Leither of Tru-Stone Corp, I discussed in a letter the technical feasibility of creating several Egyptian artifacts, including the giant granite boxes found in the bedrock tunnels the temple of Serapeum at Saqqarra. He responded as follows:

‘Dear Christopher,

First I would like to thank you for providing me with all the fascinating information. Most people never get the opportunity to take part in something like this. You mentioned to me that the box was derived from one solid block of granite. A piece of granite of that size is estimated to weigh 200,000 pounds if it was Sierra White granite which weighs approximately 175 lb. per cubic foot. If a piece of that size was available, the cost would be enormous. Just the raw piece of rock would cost somewhere in the area of $115,000.00. This price does not include cutting the block to size or any freight charges. The next obvious problem would be the transportation. There would be many special permits issued by the D.O.T. and would cost thousands of dollars. From the information that I gathered from your fax, the Egyptians moved this piece of granite nearly 500 miles. That is an incredible achievement for a society that existed hundreds of years ago.’

Eric went on to say that his company did not have the equipment or capabilities to produce the boxes in this manner. He said that his company would create the boxes in 5 pieces, ship them to the customer and bolt them together on site.

Another artifact I inspected was a piece of granite that I, quite literally, stumbled across while strolling around the Giza Plateau later that day. I concluded, after doing a preliminary check of this piece, that the ancient pyramid builders had to have used a machine with three axes of movement (X-Y-Z) to guide the tool in three-dimensional space to create it. Outside of being incredibly precise, normal flat surfaces, being simple geometry, can justifiably be explained away by simple methods. This piece, though, drives us beyond the question, ‘What tools were used to cut it?’ to a more far reaching question, ‘What guided the cutting tool?’ In addressing this question and being comfortable with the answer, it is helpful to have a working knowledge of contour machining.

Many of the artifacts that modern civilization creates would be impossible to produce using simple handwork. We are surrounded by artifacts that are the result of men and women employing their minds to create tools which overcome physical limitations. We have developed machine tools to create the dies that produce the aesthetic contours on the cars that we drive, the radios we listen to and the appliances we use. To create the dies to produce these items, a cutting tool has to accurately follow a predetermined contoured path in three dimensions. In some applications it will move in three dimensions, simultaneously using three or more axes of movement. The artifact that I was looking at required a minimum of three axes of motion to machine it. When the machine tool industry was relatively young, techniques were employed where the final shape was finished by hand, using templates as a guide. Today, with the use of precision computer numerical control machines, there is little call for handwork. A little polishing to remove unwanted tool marks may be the only handwork required. To know that an artifact has been produced on such a machine, therefore, one would expect to see a precise surface with indications of tool marks that show the path of the tool. This is what I found on the Giza Plateau, laying out in the open south of the Great Pyramid about 100 yards east of the second pyramid.

There are so many rocks of all shapes and sizes lying around this area that to the untrained eye, this one could easily be overlooked. To a trained eye, it may attract some cursory attention and a brief muse. I was fortunate that it both caught my attention, and that I had some tools with which to inspect it. There were two pieces laying close together, one larger than the other. They had originally been one piece and had been broken. I found I needed every tool that I had brought with me to inspect it. I was most interested in the accuracy of the contour and its symmetry.

What we have is an object that, three dimensionally as one piece, could be compared in shape to a small sofa. The seat is a contour that blends into the walls of the arms and the back. I checked the contour using the profile gage along three axes of its length, starting at the blend radius near the back, and ending near the tangency point, which blended smoothly where the contour radius meets the front. The wire radius gage is not the best way to determine the accuracy of this piece. When adjusting the wires at one position on the block and moving to another position, the gage could be re-seated on the contour, but questions could be raised as to whether the hand that positioned it compensated for some inaccuracy in the contour. However, placing the parallel at several points along and around the axes of the contour, I found the surface to be extremely precise. At one point near a crack in the piece, there was light showing through, but the rest of the piece allowed very little to show.

During this time, I had attracted quite a crowd. It’s difficult to traverse the Giza Plateau at the best of times without getting attention from the camel drivers, donkey riders and purveyors of trinkets. It wasn’t long after I had pulled the tools out of my backpack that I had two willing helpers, Mohammed and Mustapha, who weren’t at all interested in compensation. At least that’s what they told me, but I can honestly say that I lost my shirt on that adventure. I had cleaned sand and dirt out of the corner of the larger block and washed it out with water. I used a white T-shirt that I was carrying in my backpack to wipe the corner out so I could get an impression of it with forming wax. Mustapha talked me into giving him the shirt before I left. I was so inspired by what I had found I tossed it to him. Mohammed held the wire gage at different points along the contour while I took photographs of it. I then took the forming wax and heated it with a match, kindly provided by the Movenpick hotel, then pressed it into the corner blend radius. I shaved off the splayed part and positioned it at different points around. Mohammed held the wax still while I took photographs. By this time there was an old camel driver and a policeman on a horse looking on.

What I discovered with the wax was a uniform radius, tangential with the contour, the back and the side wall. When I returned to the US, I measured the wax using a radius gage and found that it was a true radius measuring 7/16 inch.

The side (arm) blend radius has a design feature that is a common engineering practice today. By cutting a relief at the corner, a mating part that is to match or butt up against the surface with the large blend radius may have a smaller radius.

This feature provides for a more efficient machining operation, because it allows a cutting tool with a large diameter, and, therefore, a large radius to be used. With greater rigidity in the tool, more material can be removed when making a cut. I believe there is more, much more, that can be gleaned using these methods of study. I believe the Cairo Museum contains many artifacts that when properly analyzed, will lead to the same conclusion that I have drawn from this piece. The use of high-speed motorized machinery, and what we might call modern techniques in non-conventional machining, in manufacturing the granite artifacts found at Giza and other locations in Egypt warrants serious study by qualified, open-minded people who could approach the subject without preconceived notions.



In terms of a more thorough understanding of the level of technology employed by the ancient pyramid builders, the implications of these discoveries are tremendous. We are not only presented with hard evidence that seems to have eluded us for decades, and which provide further evidence proving the ancients to be advanced, we are also provided with an opportunity to re-analyze everything from a different perspective. Understanding how something is made opens up a different dimension when trying to determine why it was made.

The precision in these artifacts is irrefutable. Even if we ignore the question of how they were produced, we are still faced with the question of why such precision was needed. Revelation of new data invariably raises new questions. In this case it’s understandable to hear, ‘Where are the machines?’ Machines are tools. The question should be applied universally and can be asked of anyone who believes other methods may have been used. The truth is that no tools have been found to explain any theory on how the pyramids were built or granite boxes were cut! More than eighty pyramids have been discovered in Egypt, and the tools that built them have never been found. Even if we accepted the notion that copper tools are capable of producing these incredible artifacts, the few copper implements that have been uncovered do not represent the number of such tools that would have been used if every stonemason who worked on the pyramids at just the Giza site owned one or two. In the Great Pyramid alone, there are an estimated 2,300,000 blocks of stone, both limestone and granite, weighing between 21⁄2 tons and 70 tons each. That is a mountain of evidence, and there are no tools surviving to explain its creation.

The principle of ‘Occams Razor,’ where the simplest means of manufacturing holds force until proven inadequate, has guided my attempt to understand the pyramid builders’ methods. With Egyptologists, there is one component of this principle that has been lacking. The simplest methods do not satisfy the evidence, and they have been reluctant to consider other less simple methods. There is little doubt that the capabilities of the ancient pyramid builders have been seriously underestimated. The most distinct evidence that I can relate is the precision and mastery of machining technologies that have only been recognized in recent years.

Some technologies the Egyptians possessed still astound modern artisans and engineers primarily for this reason. The development of machine tools has been intrinsically linked with the availability of consumer goods and the desire to find a customer. One reference point for judging a civilization to be advanced has been our current state of manufacturing evolution. Manufacturing is the manifestation of all scientific and engineering effort. For over a hundred years industry has progressed exponentially. Since Petrie first made his critical observations between 1880 and 1882, our civilization has leapt forward at breakneck speed to provide the consumer with goods, all created by artisans, and still, over a hundred years after Petrie, these artisans are utterly astounded by the achievements of the ancient pyramid builders. They are astounded not so much by what they perceive a society is capable of using primitive tools, but by comparing these prehistoric artifacts with their own current level of expertise and technological advancement.

The interpretation and understanding of a civilization’s level of technology should not hinge on the preservation of a written record of every technique that they had developed. The ‘nuts and bolts’ of our society do not always make good copy, and a stone mural will more than likely be cut to convey an ideological message rather than the technique used to inscribe it. Records of the technology developed by our modern civilization rest in media that is vulnerable and could conceivably cease to exist in the event of a worldwide catastrophe, such as a nuclear war or another ice age. Consequently, after several thousand years, an interpretation of an artisan’s methods may be more accurate than an interpretation of his language. The language of science and technology doesn’t have the same freedom as speech. So even though the tools and machines have not survived the thousands of years since their use, we have to assume, by objective analysis of the evidence, that they did exist.

There is much to be learned from our distant ancestors, if only we can open our minds and accept that another civilization from a distant epoch may have developed manufacturing techniques that are as great or perhaps even greater than our own. As we assimilate new data and new views of old data, it is wise to heed the advice Petrie gave to an American who visited him during his research at Giza. The American expressed a feeling that he had been to a funeral after hearing Petrie’s findings, which had evidently shattered some favorite pyramid theory of the time. Petrie said, ‘By all means let the old theories have a decent burial; though we should take care that in our haste none of the wounded ones are buried alive.’

With such a convincing collection of artifacts that prove the existence of precision machinery in ancient Egypt, the idea that the Great Pyramid was built by an advanced civilization that inhabited the Earth thousands of years ago becomes more admissible. I am not proposing that this civilization was more advanced technologically than ours on all levels, but it does appear that, as far as masonry work and construction are concerned, they were exceeding current capabilities and specifications. Making routine work of precision machining huge pieces of extremely hard igneous rock is astonishingly impressive.

Considered logically, the pyramid builders’ civilization must have developed their knowledge in the same manner any civilization would and had reached their ‘state of the art’ through technological progress over many years. As of this writing, there is much research being conducted by many professionals throughout the world. These people are determined to find answers to the many unsolved mysteries indicating that our planet Earth has supported other advanced societies in the distant past. Perhaps when this new knowledge and insight is assimilated, the history books will be rewritten and, if mankind is able to learn from historical events, then perhaps the greatest lesson we can learn is now being formulated for the benefit of future generations. New technology and advances in the sciences are enabling us to take a closer look at the foundations upon which world history has been built, and these foundations seem to be crumbling. It would be illogical, therefore, to dogmatically adhere to any theoretical point concerning ancient civilizations.

For the full text and context of Advanced Machining in Ancient Egypt Read The Giza Power Plant: Technologies of Ancient Egypt.

Christopher Dunn

Christopher Dunn was born in 1946 in Manchester, England and has an extensive background as a craftsman, starting his career as an indentured apprentice in his hometown of Manchester. Recruited by an American aerospace company, he immigrated to the United States in 1969. Over the past 48 years, Chris has worked at every level of high-tech manufacturing from machinist, toolmaker, programmer and operator of high-power industrial lasers, Project Engineer and Laser Operations Manager. For the past 15 year, he has served as Human Resource Director for a Midwest aerospace manufacturer. Chris's pyramid odyssey began in 1977 after he read Peter Tompkins' book Secrets of the Great Pyramid. His immediate reaction after learning of the Great Pyramid's precision and design characteristics was to consider that this edifice may have had an original purpose that differed from conventional opinion. After further research and study of source material on various theories, Chris concluded that it must have originally been built to provide a highly technical society with energy ”in short, it was a very large machine. Discovering the purpose of this machine and documenting his case has taken the better part of twenty years of research and following the 1998 publication of Chris's book, 'The Giza Power Plant: Technologies of Ancient Egypt' which describes a holistic energy device that is harmonically coupled with the Earth and its inhabitants. Chris has published over a dozen magazine articles, including the much quoted 'Advanced Machining in Ancient Egypt' in Analog, August 1984, and has had his research referenced in over a dozen books on Egypt. In the United States he has appeared on PAX Television, the Travel Channel, Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, and Lifetime Television discussing his research. Chris's second book, entitled 'Lost Technologies of Ancient Egypt' is scheduled for release by Inner Traditions/Bear & Company in the Spring of 2010. In this work, Chris focuses on an important aspect of his research into the manufacturing capabilities of the ancient Egyptians and through his engineer's eye and camera, reveals to his readers previously overlooked magisterial characteristics of Egyptian architectural and manufacturing wizardry.

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