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Pyramids: Cast, Poured, or Both?

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Author Topic: Pyramids: Cast, Poured, or Both?  (Read 8542 times)
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« Reply #90 on: May 30, 2009, 02:31:07 pm »

A couple of years back I started a thread on AR about this very topic because I bought a 2'x2'x2' block of limestone to carve a bowl. I used power tools to rough it out but work kept getting in the way of my fun so a little research led me to a site where I learned if I filled my rough bowl with regular household vinegar and left it covered when I returned a couple of days later I could just scoop out about a 1/2" to 3/4" of limestone goop from the sides and bottom of my bowl. This made the bowl carving much easier as all I did was scoop goop instead of actually working. I ended up with about a 5 gallon bucket of limestone goop and a fairly smooth bowl. I had read from the site if I was to add sodium hydroxide((lye) the site called it natron salt or something similar) to the goop it would harden. I had a couple of gecko interlocking paver molds so I applied some mold release, added lye to my goop and in no time flat I had a solid chunk of limestone whatever in the bucket. Nowhere in the information I read did it say the reaction would be that fast nor get so hot it softened the bucket.

Are the pyramids made from concrete? Who knows but vinegar for disolving limestone could have been available as well as lye to harden it back up. The disolving part is easy, controlling the hardening may also be easy but my experience ended with a bucket shaped clump(which was very hard BTW).

I posted the above on AR again but forgot to mention the about my experiments with granite. I had read that there were granite and basalt "vases" found that were very thin walled and very smooth. Stone cutters of today aren't sure how to recreate these but it was suggested that it would be possible to dissolve away the stone instead of trying to carve it which would induce stresses that would cause the thin walls to break. I tried vinegar to my granite but all it did was make my granite smell like a salad. I had some muratic acid and that caused a reaction. Although it didn't dissolve the stone it appeared to soften it to make scraping shapes considerably easier.

There are a number of  products on the market, some high tech and some low tech, that when mixed with water produce substances very stone like. Hydro-stone is low tech and has been around for a while and is used to cast stone-like pieces. Grancrete is more high tech(if you go by dollar amount) and it produces a material so hard and strong it is used to spray on foam panels to make supporting walls for houses. Fly ash is a substance that is scraped out of flues in coal power plants and when mixed with water produces a very hard stone like material, it is also used with concrete to improve various charateristics.

The logistics of casting a pyramid is just as daunting as carving blocks though. Weight is weight and moving 10 tons of a solid block or 10 tons of material to cast a block is about the same. The advantage of casting would be in not having to carve a perfect block before you haul it. The disadvantages of casting are controlling the set time, the heat the reaction generates and dealing with the inevitable burns from the lye(breathing the fumes from that stuff will kill you).
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« Reply #91 on: May 30, 2009, 10:03:14 pm »

Hi iwanno!  Glad to see you here.  Welcome to the forum.

I've said this in the other thread you posted in, but you were the first person I read at AR and thought your name was so cool.    I remember you saying about the experiment and I did wonder how it would turn out.  Who'da thunk that good old vinegar would melt limestone!?!  So it worked! 
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« Reply #92 on: May 30, 2009, 11:27:07 pm »

I wouldn't use the word melt but would say dissolve.
 It was fun to play around with but then Karina happened and I haven't had much play time in the past couple of years. Maybe after I finished building my new house in NC I'll start playing with some good size chunks of marble and granite I've dug up. I really want to try to dissolve the granite more from an art perspective than science but alot of good art is science.
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« Reply #93 on: May 31, 2009, 05:19:30 pm »

iwannano, I remembe clearly your thread from AR, I, too, was once a member there.  The Bosnian Pyramid, too, is suggested to have concrete aspects to it by Prof. Davidovits:

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« Reply #94 on: May 31, 2009, 05:19:35 pm »

Sunday, May 3, 2009
Prof. Davidovits: "The Sample from the Bosnian Valley of the Pyramids is Ancient Concrete!"
The French scientist Prof. Joseph Davidovits, discoverer of the geopolymer chemistry, has communicated the results of electron microscopic analysis performed on the sample of concrete found in Vratnica site (Bosnian Temple of Heaven)

Photo: Electron microscopy image

In Summer 2008 geoarchaeological drillings on Toprakalia elevation (Gornja Vratnica) have revealed at a depth of 54 meters (177 ft) the presence of layers of fine-grained concrete approx. 2 meters (6.56 ft) in height. The layers of concrete found above and below a cavity 4 meters high (13.12 ft) is a mixture of fine-grained gravel and water. One of the samples of concrete were given by Semir Osmangic to Prof. Davidovits for electron microscopic analysis during Hystories & Mysteries Conference 2008 in Edinburgh. Prof. Joseph Davidovits, who also is an archaeologist specialized in ancient civilizations, performed the analysis of the sample of concrete using electron microscopy at the French Geopolymer Institute and confirmed that the sample taken from the tumulus in Vratnica is ancient concrete.
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« Reply #95 on: May 31, 2009, 09:08:14 pm »

Is there any indication as to the age of the Bosnian pyramid?

I must admit that my knowledge of these ancient sites is limited as I got started in this from playing around with limestone.
I did some work a couple of years back at a "government site" that had 3 supercomputers and alot of satellite dishes. One of the many tasks these guys were performing was working with NASA and archeologists to locate ancient cities that were grown over, buried under jungles. I was told that some of these discoveries couldn't be seen from a few meters away but they were there. Some of those discoveries were said to pre-date the GP. I don't know how they can tell because you can't carbon date rock but if it concrete there may exist something from the water that can be dated. Same would go for this Bosnian site.
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« Reply #96 on: June 01, 2009, 03:11:43 am »

Cool.  I didn't know prof. Davidovits had tested anything from Bosnia. 
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« Reply #97 on: November 13, 2009, 05:39:25 pm »

Why the pharaohs built the Pyramids with fake stones
Joseph Davidovits
Geopolymer Institute
ISBN 9782951482043
20 years after the best seller book: The Pyramids: an enigma solved,
after 20 years of new researches, and new discoveries,
you will understand why the theory is more alive than ever, why more and more
scientists agree, simply because it is the truth.

Chapter 1
Why a new theory on how the pyramids were built?
Professor Davidovits, you are a research scientist and you are described as the father of a new branch of
chemistry. Throughout the world people are doing research in various fields to extend your work on what you
have called “geopolymers”; what exactly are these?

Geopolymers are mineral substances obtained synthetically, i.e. by chemical processes that are
actually also found in nature, but which there take millions of years.

So you are able to make all kinds of rock and stone identical to that found in the natural state?

Yes and no. These synthetic stones are in fact re-agglomerated materials. The process is explained
in more detail later in the book. Basically, the principle is as follows: starting with a mineral
substance such as eroded, disintegrated or naturally disaggregated rock – such as the limestone
found everywhere in northern France – we give it a compact structure using a binder, a
geological glue that will agglomerate (or re-agglomerate) the mineral particles. The result is a
rock that looks perfectly natural: in our case, for example, an extremely solid limestone similar to
certain types occurring naturally. A geologist would notice nothing unusual. Only a very close
observation of the binder can reveal the synthetic nature of the rock, because the particles
themselves are without question limestone – or granite or whatever you like.

So the fine statues in your laboratory, all depicting the same human head in various stones – these are made of

Yes, they are. They were all cast in the same mould from different mixtures as an example of what
we can do.

Very interesting. But what took you from geopolymers to the Pyramids of Egypt?

It was partly chance. My work as a research chemist really started in 1972. For two years, in my
first laboratory in Saint-Quentin in Picardie, I worked first of all on the chemical reactions of clay
minerals. Nobody took any notice of us and with my team we developed the first applications, for
the building industry. But in June 1974, I realised that what we were producing were materials
that are very close to natural cements, such as rocks based on feldspars, the feldspathoids. One day, as a joke, I asked my scientific partners at the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle de Paris what
would happen if, we buried in the ground a piece of the product that we were synthesising in the
laboratory at the time, and an archaeologist were to discover it in 3000 years’ time. Their answer
was surprising: the archaeologist would analyse this object disinterred from the garden of a ruin
in Saint-Quentin, and the analysis would reveal that the nearest natural outcrop of the stone was
in Egypt in the Aswan region! It was on that day that I realised that if I did not reveal the
synthetic nature of the product we had developed, it would be taken for natural stone
Figure 1: Examples of moulding in geopolymer stones
(limestone, granite, sandstone, arkose, …)

To see picture of all the different heads - link
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« Reply #98 on: November 13, 2009, 05:48:48 pm »

I see where you are going: why not surmise that this same science gave the pyramids?

Not only the pyramids, but other megaliths from antiquity too often present us with the same
puzzles: quarries that are always several dozen kilometres away, for example, posing huge
transport problems; the problem of carving these enormous blocks of stone in an age when iron
was still unknown. The more I think about it, the more absurd I find the idea. Superficial analyses
of the stone megaliths have been made, to be sure, and up to now nobody has questioned their
natural character. Searching for precise information, I went to UNESCO. There I obtained a
report on the 1972 expedition to Easter Island. In this report were geological and mineralogical
data on the statues. Now, in the light of my new knowledge, some of these data – on the oldest
statues – strongly suggest that they were made by an agglomeration process. The most recent
statues, on the other hand, were clearly carved out of volcanic rock.

Are you giving us the subject of your next book?

Yes and no, because not one, but several books will have to be written. A whole series, in fact,
because the information that I had gathered (we are still in 1974) was sufficient to justify in-depth
studies of several sites apart from Easter Island, scattered throughout the world. The reason why
I preferred to concentrate on Egypt at the time was that I had already built up a whole scenario:
blocks of soft limestone extracted from quarries, when broken up with water, could give a
limestone mortar easily transportable in baskets. This mortar, mixed with ingredients including kaolin, natron salt and chalk, could be poured out and compacted into moulds just as concrete is, directly on the site of the pyramids.

You make this operation sound quite simple to carry out.

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« Reply #99 on: November 13, 2009, 05:54:44 pm »

The idea is certainly a novel one, and appears interesting from what you say. I assume that, back in 1974, you
didn’t wait long to publish it.

At that stage, I had to make my theory known so that, in return, I could come by certain
information I still needed. Thus, after an article appeared in Agence France Presse, and was taken up
by the French and foreign media, I was able four years later to publish my first book, ahead of the
second International Congress of Egyptologists, in Grenoble, organised in 1979 by the CNRS. I
gave two talks. In one I described the hypothesis of the technique by which Egyptian hard stone
vases were made by agglomeration using binders, i.e. special cements. In the other talk, I
described how the technique was applied to the pyramids, using the action of natron salt
(chemically, sodium carbonate).

Something tells me that your theories did not generate much enthusiasm.

What exactly?

Because otherwise they would have become well known.

So you want to know what happened?

Yes, I do.

Well, during the discussion that followed, it was acknowledged that my hypothesis on the making
of vases in artificial stone was feasible. The Egyptians had the necessary chemical and technical
knowledge to mould them in this way (knowledge of copper, alkalis and ceramics). But
transposing this alchemy to the building of the pyramids was described as inconceivable.

So that was the start of the polemic?

Yes, but I will not go into all that now, but will come back to it later. If you read the note at the
end of this chapter you will understand the atmosphere of the time, particularly during the
Toronto congress (figure 3).

But couldn’t the matter simply be decided by analysis? You said at the beginning of this interview that by
studying the binder, the nature of the rock could be determined.

The very sophisticated analyses required needed specialists and equipment that we did not have
at the time.
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« Reply #100 on: November 13, 2009, 05:57:37 pm »

And today?

The analyses were carried out not long ago by an international team.

And the outcome?

The proof is there. The samples given to me by the Egyptologist Jean-Philippe Lauer in 1982 are
indeed fragments of geopolymers (see chapter Cool, confirming my own X-ray analyses in 1982-84.

So you’re a happy man?

Finally, it was not such a bad thing that these analyses were unfeasible twenty or thirty years ago,
since, lacking any “incontrovertible proof”, I was forced to venture outside my own initial field of
study in order to become familiar with the equally vast field of Egyptology. And I have learned a
great deal. First and foremost, I was convinced that if the pyramids had been built as I thought,
there must necessarily be, among all the writings left to us by the Egyptians, some trace
somewhere. I therefore had to comb through and compare many translations in many languages.
And I found what I was looking for: the texts exist and are even well known among specialists.
But because they failed to understand what they were transcribing, the translators were forced to
use imprecise terms in translation, and sometimes the translation of a passage was completely
erroneous. So I went right back to the original writings and began a linguistic investigation on a
series of technical words. And you will see in the book that a similar approach was necessary to
the history, the religion and even the economy; in short, everything is connected.
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« Reply #101 on: November 13, 2009, 06:02:56 pm »

If I am to understand, it appears that the implications of your discovery open up a vast field of investigation for
archaeology and perhaps place a question mark over many things that we thought we knew. Did this worry your

As far as future work is concerned, you're probably right. As for my "detractors", I don't know.
As a chemist, I was considered above all as an "amateur" in the eyes of many Egyptologists and
hence not to be taken seriously. And it is this "handicap" which has led me to give more and more
depth to my arguments, and which has resulted today in my theory being held in regard by the
scientific community, with many ready to defend it.

Apart from the Pyramids, can you give us an example which shows the utilisation of this chemical science?

Yes, and quite a spectacular one. In 1999 at the Grand Palais in Paris, there was an exhibition on
the ancient Egyptian empire "L’art égyptien au temps des pyramides". Exhibited there were objects
from the Ancient Empire (3000 to 2400 BC), such as hard stone statues (granite and gneiss).
And among other remarkable objects, I noticed a vase, or as it was called in catalogue number 99
"coupe" resembling an ashtray (figure 2). The shape of the vase was curiously evocative of
ceramic, whereas in fact, it was made in one of the hardest rocks that exist, anorthositic gneiss. It
was described thus in the catalogue:
"... the walls are astonishingly thin, and the folding of the edges is so natural that anybody not knowing that it
is made of stone would believe it to be of some flexible material

With its beautifully shaped curves and its wafer thin walls, how could such a vase have been
fashioned? How could such a hard and crystalline material have been worked without being
broken by the sculptor’s chisel? To this, the experts have no answer, and are content to suggest
that the craftsmen would have worked extremely slowly and minutely, chipping away at this very
hard material millimetre by millimetre for a whole lifetime. No, clearly, the craftsmen used a
technique similar to that of a potter, using instead of clay a stone paste developed through
chemical knowledge and worked in a similar way.

click to see picture.

Maybe, but you must admit that to suggest that a people of nearly 5000 years ago had knowledge of the very
latest science and technology of today appears unlikely.

Perhaps, but we can approach things differently. Is it finally so surprising that a civilisation, that
so venerated stone, the symbol of eternity (and we shall see that the act of agglomeration is
indissociable from religious practice), should turn some of its energy to the observation, study and
experimentation of minerals? Their knowledge did not appear from nowhere. It is the product of
history, i.e. a long transmission from initiate to initiate, with discoveries, failures and technicians,
one of whom, Imhotep, probably the wisest of all, is known to us. This is real science. And this
science, like others, has been lost. The history of progress is not a linear history, whether
scientific or not. And is it not paradoxical that our modern Western society, which has invested
so much in the study of the animal and vegetable kingdoms (from which have come oil
chemistry), has done so little with minerals? In other words, your perplexity stems perhaps more
from our own ignorance than to the incontestable genius of the ancient Egyptians.
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« Reply #102 on: November 13, 2009, 06:06:33 pm »

Extended Abstract of the Theory
(simplified list of arguments)
In his books, They built the pyramids (2008), Professor Joseph Davidovits presented a theory on
the pyramids’ construction: they were built by using re-agglomerated stone (a natural limestone
treated like a concrete and then moulded), and not by using enormous blocks, carved and hoisted
on ramps. Initially published in New York in 1988 under the title The pyramids: an enigma solved,
this thesis has recently been released in several books with an important update of facts missing in
the first American edition.
The theory is based on scientific analysis, archaeological elements and hieroglyphic texts as well
as religious and historical aspects. Contrary to other theories that only seek a technical
explanation for the Giza Plateau pyramids, and often looking only at Kheops itself and ignoring
the others, his theory encompasses the building of all the pyramids of Egypt for 250 years, from
the first of Zoser to those in crude bricks.

1. The formula and materials used:
The most important material is limestone. Analysis done by the German geochemist D.D. Klemm
[1] showed that 97 to 100% of the blocks come from the soft and argillaceous limestone layer
located in the Wadi, downwards the Giza Plateau. According to the Egyptologist Mr. Lehner [2],
the Egyptians used a soft and crumbly limestone, unusable for hewn stones. The workmen did
not choose the hard and dense limestone located near the pyramids, with rare exceptions for later
restorations. The geologist L. Gauri [3] showed that this limestone is fragile, because it includes
clay-like materials (in particular kaolinite clay) sensitive to water which explains the extreme
softness of the Sphinx body, whereas its head, cut in the hard and dense geological layer, resisted
4000 years of erosion.
This soft argillaceous limestone, too fragile to be a hewn stone, is well adapted to agglomeration.
Moreover, it naturally contains reactive geopolymeric ingredients, like kaolinitic clay, essential to
manufacture the geological glue (a binder) and to ensure the geosynthesis.
It was not required to crush this stone, because it disaggregates easily with the Nile water during
floods (the Wadi is filled with water at this time) to form a limestone mud. To this mud, they
added reactive geological materials (mafkat, a hydrated alumina and copper silicate, overexploited
at the time of Kheops in the Sinai mines) [4], Egyptian natron salt (sodium carbonate, massively
present in Wadi Natrum), and lime coming from plants and wood ashes [5]. They carried this
limestone mud in baskets, poured it, then packed it in moulds (made out of wood, stone, crude
brick), directly on the building site. The method is identical to the pisé technique, still in use
This limestone, re-agglomerated by geochemical reaction, naturally hardens to form resistant
blocks. The blocks thus consist of 90 to 95% of natural limestone aggregates with its fossil shells,
and from 5 to 10% of geological glue (a cement known as "geopolymeric" binder) based on

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« Reply #103 on: November 13, 2009, 06:07:11 pm »

2. Why do geologists see nothing?

This is due to the geological glue, which, though artificial, is seen by the geologists either as an
impurity, and therefore useless to study, or as a natural binder. At best, the analysis tools and the
working methods of geologists consider the glue as a perfectly natural "micritic binder". Joseph
Davidovits manufactured an artificial limestone containing 15% of synthetic binder, and
submitted it to geologists who, on studying it, suspected nothing [6].
A geologist not informed of geopolymer chemistry will assert with good faith that the stones are

3. The chemical formula:

The geosynthesis aims to react the kaolinite clay (naturally included in the Giza limestone) with
caustic soda (see chemical formula 1). To manufacture this caustic soda, they use Egyptian natron
(sodium carbonate) and lime (coming from plant ashes) (see chemical formula 2). Then, they get
soda which will react with clay.
But the most interesting point is that this chemical reaction creates pure limestone as well as
hydrosodalite (a mineral of the feldspathoids or zeolites family). [6]
Chemical reaction1:
Si2O5,Al2(OH)4 + 2NaOH = > Na2O.2SiO2Al2O3.nH2O
kaolinite clay + soda = > hydrosodalite
Chemical reaction 2:
Na2CO3 + Ca(OH)2 = > 2NaOH + CaCO3
Sodium carbonate (Egyptian natron) + lime = > soda + limestone
Summary of the re-agglomerated stone binder chemical formula:
clay + natron + lime = > feldspathoids + limestone (i.e. a natural stone)
The re-agglomerated stone binder is the result of a geosynthesis (a geopolymer), which creates
two natural minerals: limestone and hydrated feldspar (feldspathoids). We understand why the
geologists can easily be misled.

4. Scientific analysis:

The analysis methods used today by geologists are not relevant. To show the artificial nature of
the material, they need to work with more powerful methods (analysis by synchrotron,
transmission and electronic scan microscopy SEM TEM, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Particle
Induced Gamma-Ray Emission, Particle Induced X-Ray Emission, X-ray fluorescence, X-ray
Diffraction). These tools are seldom used in this situation. Studies have been made, and all show
that the pyramid stones are artificial. [7]

We can quote the following scientific papers:
Microstructural Evidence of Reconstituted Limestone Blocks in the Great Pyramids of Egypt,
Barsoum M.W., Ganguly A. and Hug G., J. Am. Ceram. Soc. 89[12], 3788-3796, (2006).
* The Enigma of the Construction of the Giza Pyramids Solved?, Scientific British Laboratory,
Daresbury, SRS Synchrotron Radiation Source, 2004.
* PIXE, PIGE and NMR study of the masonry of the pyramid of Cheops at Giza, Guy
226, 98 - 109 (2004).
* X-Rays Analysis and X-Rays Diffraction of casing stones from the pyramids of Egypt, and the
limestone of the associated quarries., Davidovits J., Science in Egyptology; A.R. David ed.; 1986;
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« Reply #104 on: November 13, 2009, 06:09:42 pm »

Proceedings of the "Science in Egyptology Symposia"; Manchester University Press, UK; pp.511-
* Differential thermal analysis (DTA) detection of intra-ceramic geopolymeric setting In
archaeological ceramics and mortars., Davidovits J.; Courtois L., 21st Archaeometry Symposium;
Brookhaven Nat. Lab., N.Y.; 1981; Abstracts P. 22.
* How Not to Analyze Pyramid Stone, Morris, M. JOURNAL OF GEOLOGICAL
EDUCATION, VOL. 41, P. 364-369 (1993).
* Comment a-t-on construit les Pyramides: polémique chez les Égyptologues, HISTORIA
Magazine, Paris, No 674, fév. 2003, dossier pp. 54-79 (2003).
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