PYRAMIDS AND GEOPOLYMERS
BOOK: THE PYRAMIDS AN ENIGMA SOLVED
￼Prof. Joseph Davidovits
A Close Look at the Problem
Generally, people believe that the pyramids were built by primitive methods of quarrying, carving, and hoisting huge limestone blocks because they have been conditioned thus. They have accepted their conditioning because it is handed down through the authority of scholarship. What they generally are not taught is that the evidence against the accepted theory is flagrant.
About forty theories attempt to explain how the Great Pyramid may have been constructed by carving and hoisting stone, all proposed by intelligent people with academic backgrounds. Yet something is wrong with a reasoning that spawns such technological profusion. Nothing is wrong with the logic itself, it is the premise of the logic that is erroneous. Traditional theory has simply not resolved the problems of pyramid construction.
Common sense rejects as illogical any conclusion accompanied by blatant flaws. And the more closely we examine the issue, the more blatant those flaws become. In my own process of discovering the true method of pyramid construction, my first step was to examine closely the accepted theory. I found myself embarked on a fascinating analytical journey, one that began with a close look at the unresolved problems of pyramid construction.
As mentioned previously, the labor involved in cutting the amount of stone in the Great Pyramid equals that required to cut all of the stone used in the monuments produced during the New Kingdom, Late period, and Ptolemaic period combined, a span of about 1,500 years (1550-30 BC). A calculation of the amount of stone used during this 1,500 - year period was made by de Roziere, a geologist with the Napoleonic expedition.
Napoleon’s army was stranded in Egypt for fourteen months during the French Revolution.An army of 50,000 men was accompanied by 150 scholars, among them Geoffroy Saint Hilaire, a naturalist; de Dolomien, the mineralogist who lent his name to dolomite; Dominique Vivant Denon, an artist and engraver; Claude Bertholet, a chemist; Dominique Larrey, a surgeon; Guillaume Villoteau, a musician; Marie Jules de Savigny, a botanist; Nicholas Conté, the inventor of the lead pencil; Colonel Coutelle, a geometrician; and de Roziere, a geologist. The academics among the group produced the most impressive study ever of Egyptian monuments.
Between 1809 and 1813, François Jomard, general com- missioner for the scientific expedition, produced his great work, Description de l’Egypte, based on the research of the Cairo Institute, which was founded by Napoleon. In this work de Roziere reported his volumetric approximations of stone used in Egyptian edifices .
“ Using approximations, I have estimated that the surviving sandstone edifices might represent a total surface area of about one and a half million square meters [125.5 acres], which are covered with bas-reliefs, including columns, pylons, and enclosure walls. This does not include the monuments which were demolished, of which vestiges can still be seen, and those which must have been destroyed completely, which would perhaps form a very considerable amount. And this estimate does not include Nubia, where the sandstone monuments are hardly less numerous and widespread than those of the Thebaid. By similar means, I have estimated the total volume of surviving sandstone monuments to be more than one million cubic meters [35,314,475 cubic feet]. The total would not be doubled by adding those which have disappeared because part of this material was used in succeeding edifices. If we take into account the material used in foundations, floors, roads, quays, and hydraulic constructions, we can estimate at a glance that there must have been at least three or four million cubic meters [141,257,950 cubic feet] of carved sandstone from quarries simply for those constructions in the Thebaid that can be estimated. However large this quantity, it still does not equal half of the material that exists merely in the pyramids of Giza or those at Saqqara. ”
The following calculation demonstrates the inefficiency of the accepted method of pyramid construction. My calculation is based on the amount and hardness of the stone used and the time required for construction. To balance the equation we will assume that bronze tools were used to prepare the blocks for the Great Pyramid even though they were unavailable. For a given amount of labor, using the same bronze tools as were used to build and decorate the sandstone edifices of the New Kingdom and later periods mentioned, all that could be carved would be the amount of a medium- soft limestone, such as that used in the Great Pyramid. Only a quarter of this amount could have been carved of Carrara marble, and scarcely a sixteenth of this amount of basalt. In other words, the labor required to cut, haul, and hoist the 4 million cubic meters (140 million cubic feet) of limestone for the two Great Pyramids alone, during forty years of work, equals the labor used to carve and erect the 4 million cubic meters (141,257,950 cubic feet) of sandstone used for all the monuments built during the 1,500 years of the New Kingdom, Late period, and Ptolemaic period combined (Fig.3).
Figure 3: Construction of the Great Pyramids required the same efforts as the construction of all monuments in the 1,500 successive years.
I use a twenty-year construction period for each pyra- mid in this calculation for two reasons. First, each pyramid was built during the reign of the pharaoh for whom it was constructed. The reign of Pharaoh Khufu (Kheops or Cheops) was from 2551 to 2494 BC, or twenty-one years. Second, when the Greek historian Herodotus (c. 484 - 425 BC) visited Egypt, he was told that the Great Pyramid was constructed in twenty years.
During the combined New Kingdom, Late period, and Ptolemaic period 4 million cubic yards of sandstone monu- ments were prepared in 1,500 years. During the Old King- dom, about 4 million cubic yards of stone for the two Great Pyramids were prepared in forty years. As mentioned, this production period is no aberration because the two pyra- mids of Sneferu (2575 -2551 BC), which have a total volume of 3 million cubic yards, were produced during this king’s reign of twenty-four years.
Because the Old Kingdom limestone in the Giza quarries is as soft as the sandstone used during the New Kingdom and later periods mentioned, the Old Kingdom could have produced 4 million cubic meters of sandstone in forty years. Therefore, to show how much more productive the Old Kingdom was compared with the New Kingdom and later times, we divide 1,500 years by 40 years, yielding 37.5 years. Assuming that during the New Kingdom and later as few as 20,000 workers were continuously involved in such labor, then 750,000 workers (37.5 x 20,000) would have been required to work on the great Pyramids to achieve the same productivity.
It is ridiculous to suppose that the 750,000 men required could effectively labor together in the work area at Giza; and Egyptians of the Old Kingdom, without bronze tools, accomplished in twenty years what took Egyptians of the New Kingdom, Late, and Ptolemaic periods together 1,500 years. This calculation makes it obvious that the standard construction theory is unacceptable.
Egyptologists are able to make only a poor attempt to settle this issue. Egyptologist Dieter Arnold, in an attempt to reconcile the vast number of blocks that would have to have been set per day, proposed to expand the life span of the pharaohs far beyond that provided for by Egyptology. D. Arnold calculated that from Sneferu to Khafra (Khefren or Chephren), a period he calculated to be eighty years, 12 mil- lion blocks were used in pyramids, yielding a minimum of 413 blocks set per day . He recognized that the number of blocks would not begin on the first day of the pharaoh’s reign. A site had to be chosen, plans drawn, and the leveling work completed. Depending on when work began on the pyramid itself, the number of blocks would exceed 413 and possibly become two to three times as high, leading to, as Arnold said, “ astronomical numbers ”.Arnold therefore proposed,“ There can only be one solution... namely to increase the lifetime of the pharaoh... ” He proposed life spans which are two or three times as long as those established by Egyptologists from existing records.
It is abundantly clear, however, that even going against the grain of established Egyptology and vastly lengthening life spans, no appreciable dent is made in the enormous problem. Arnold admitted, “ But we cannot deduce from the records how the Egyptian workers managed to accomplish this task. But the fact that they were able to solve the hard problems they were facing is beautifully exemplified by the pyramids of Khufu (Kheops or Cheops) and Khafra (Khefren or Chephren) ”. In this last statement, one begins to see the futility of the typical response to this puzzle. Instead of considering that a different method must have been used, experts throw up their hands and admire the monument in question.
The same type of response has been provided for the problems of quarrying hard varieties of granite and other hard rocks with primitive methods. We have already seen a passage from Description de l’Egypte mentioning that the means for quarrying the hard quartzite used for the Memnon Colossi had not been determined. A substantial number of finely jointed blocks of hard granite appear in the Egyptian pyramids. In The Pyramids of Egypt, I. E. S. Edwards, retired Keeper of Egyptian Antiquities for the British Museum, writes :
“ The methods employed in the Pyramid Age for quarrying granite and other hard stones are still a subject of controversy. One authority even expressed the opinion that hard stone quarrying was not attempted until the Middle Kingdom; before that time, the amount needed could have been obtained from large boulders lying loose on the surface of the ground. It seems difficult, however, to believe that a people who possessed the degree of skill necessary for shaping the colossal monoliths built into the granite valley building of Khafra (Khefren or Chephren) were not also able to hew blocks of this stone out of the quarry ”
In other words, because beautifully formed granite blocks appear in the pyramid complexes, the Egyptians must have quarried such stone even though expert opinion denies the possibility. Here, results are used as proof of method. This is a useless process when it ignores well-founded arguments to the contrary. Worse, the it-must-have-been-so approach does not settle the issue because the method by which hard granite blocks were shaped for construction remains unsettled.
Although it is taken for granted that the pyramids were erected by workers using simple stone or copper hand tools and primitive quarrying techniques, an examination of these methods will help to show how really limited they are. French archaeologist and architect Jean Pierre Adams remarked on the amount of surface area of stone that would have to have been cut for pyramid construction :
“ It is easily imagined from this, that to obtain one cubic meter [35 cubic feet] of building stone it was easier to make it in one single piece than from a number of smaller blocks which would considerably multiply the number and extent of surfaces to be worked. But before the carving, there was the extraction. Nowadays, it is difficult to imagine workers attacking a rocky cliff with stone axes. It is, however, in this way that numerous megaliths were detached and squared. ”
Assuming that the builders aimed for maximum efficiency when carving stone, the first pyramids should have been made of enormous blocks with a relatively low surface- to-volume ratio. As tools improved, the dimensions of the blocks forming the monuments should have diminished, yielding a higher surface-to-volume ratio. The opposite happened. The pyramid of Zoser (c. 2670 BC), the first ever erected, was made entirely of small stones, 25 centimeters (9.8 inches) high, weighing only several dozens of kilograms (50 -100 pounds) apiece. Blocks in the Great Pyramid, the seventh or eighth in chronology, are larger, weighing at least two tons apiece. Beams forming the vaults of the inner chambers of the last pyramids of the Fifth and Sixth Dynasties weigh from thirty to forty tons apiece. Monolithic burial chambers produced during the Twelfth Dynasty weigh seventy-two metric tonnes and more. We see that the size of stones gradually increased. Accordingly, the conventional theory does not accommodate the evolution of pyramid construction.
Dressing or knapping blocks with stone or copper tools would pose serious problems, and more acute problems would be encountered if another, still cruder, method advocated by Egyptologists was used to produce pyramid blocks. Adams remarked:
“ When dressing the surfaces was necessary, two techniques could have been used. The first, already described, consisted of dressing with the aid of hard stones or metal tools, the art of knapping being quite well known at the time. The second method described in Egyptian documents, among other sources, consisted of heating the surface of the stone very strongly with fire, then spraying on water to make it split. ”
Heating stone and applying water is applicable for reducing large pieces of sandstone, granite, or basalt into small aggregates. But granite blocks, for instance, in the base of Khafra’s (Khefren or Chephren) pyramid have only one flat side, perhaps the result of splitting by the water and heat method. The other surfaces of the stone are irregular, demonstrating that this technique is not applicable for making perfect blocks (Fig.4).
Figure 4: Irregular granite blocks on the west side of the Second Pyramid suggest builders of the Fourth Dynasty were unable to quarry regular granite blocks, if these were part of the original masonry.
In addition, blocks of the dimensions used for the pyra- mid of Zoser (25 x 15 x 10 centimeters, or 9.8 x 5.9 x 3.39 inches) cannot be dressed by heating and applying water without reducing them to debris. Moreover, heating with fire transforms limestone into lime, because the transformation to lime occurs at 704°C (1,300°F). This completely disqualifies the use of the heating operation for producing pyramid blocks.
How efficient are flint and copper tools for shaping pyramid blocks? Tools made of hard stone are useful for working softer varieties of stone but are not applicable for producing 2.5 million blocks for the Great Pyramid in twenty years. Copper is a soft metal. Because it is unsuitable for cutting hard stone, a popular theory proposes that the ancient Egyptians mastered a process for giving copper a high temper. This surmise has never been proved, and there is no evidence to support it. No such highly tempered copper has ever been found. It is difficult to believe, when considering the billions of dollars of research money spent on metallurgy in modern times, that the technique would not have been rediscovered.
Although the Great Pyramids were erected during historic times, technically they belong to the Chalcolithic (copper-producing) period, which marked the end of the Neolithic Age. The only metals known in Egypt were gold, copper, silver, and lead, which are all quite malleable. Native copper was available in the eastern desert, and copper was smelted from ores since prehistoric times. A copper arsenate alloy, considered as bronze, was used in Egypt during early times. This, however, was not a hard product.
The type of bronze required for cutting rock of medium hardness is an alloy of copper and tin, such as that introduced at either the end of the Middle Kingdom or in the early New Kingdom, about 1900 BC. In other words, hard bronze was introduced 800 years after the Great Pyramid was built. Some scholars estimate the appearance of iron at about 1400 BC, and others place it as late as 850 BC.
I am not suggesting that stone and copper tools were not used in pyramid construction where applicable. These primitive tools were used for leveling and tunneling work and for sculpting the in situ body of the Great Sphinx.Whereas fossil shells in the upper Giza bedrock make it difficult to cut into blocks, the bedrock itself is loosely bound and easily disaggregated (see more details in Appendix II: The Circuit at Giza).
However, shaping the Sphinx cannot be compared with building the Great Pyramid. We must appreciate the vast difference between using stone and copper implements for hollowing out tunnels and sculpting in situ monuments, and for using these same tools to produce 2.5 million blocks for the Great Pyramid in twenty years. Stone and copper tools are not applicable for producing the approximately 115,000 casing blocks that were fitted together with tolerances averaging 0.02 inch and as small as 0.002 inch in the Great Pyramid. The scale and precision of the Great Pyramid is simply too grand for primitive tools to have been applicable.
The problems of logistics are far more mysterious and complex than has been realized. The logistical studies established so far have never even considered certain germane issues. The geochemical study mentioned earlier, for instance, by D. D. Klemm, a German geochemist from the University of Munich, presents an unusual new dimension to the puzzle .
Klemm presented data at the Second International Congress of Egyptologists, held in Grenoble, France, in 1979. As mentioned, he attempted to determine which quarries provided blocks for the Great Pyramid. His team sampled twenty different building blocks from the Great Pyramid. The team also sampled twenty geological sites along the Nile, excluding those of Tura and Mokattam on the east bank, which are in a restricted area. The team then compared trace elements in the pyramid samples with those of the quarry samples.
Based on his analyses, Klemm reported that the twenty pyramid blocks he sampled came from the different geological sites he visited. In other words, he concluded that blocks for the Great Pyramid were hauled from sites hundreds of miles away from the pyramid itself. This presents a dramatic conflict. Legend has it that the blocks came from Tura and Mokattam (not tested by Klemm). Geologists who have performed petrographic analyses affirm that the blocks for the Great pyramid were quarried at Giza. Now a geochemist has determined that the blocks came from sites hundreds of miles away. The paramount problems Klemm’s study poses threaten all logistical studies made so far on the Great Pyramid. In 1988, at the Fifth International Conference of Egyptologists, Cairo, Egypt, Klemm presented new data obtained with different and less sophisticated tools. He was able to show that the stones match those of the Giza quarries (see for more details in Appendix II: The Circuit at Giza).
As mentioned, the same sort of scientific dilemma is associated with the Memnon Colossi in the Theban necropolis. These remarkable monuments were built during the New Kingdom a period during which the quality of architecture declined in comparison with that of the Old Kingdom. The colossi are two gigantic seated statues of the great Eighteenth Dynasty Pharaoh Amenhotep III. They adorned the entrance of his funerary temple, which is now demolished but which must also have been spectacular.
The colossi were originally monolithic and are made of exceptionally hard quartzite, a type of stone that is almost impossible to carve. The statues weigh 750 tons a piece and rest on 556-ton pedestals. Including their pedestals, they each originally stood sixty-three feet high or the height of a seven- story building. The width at the shoulders is twenty feet. The length of the middle finger of the hand is 1.35 meters (4.5 feet).
A legend is associated with the statues. The northernmost of the colossi was damaged during an earthquake around 27 BC. After the earthquake, reports say that every morning when sunlight struck the statue, musical tones, like those of a harp, were emitted. The statue was repaired about 250 years after the earthquake by a Roman emperor, Septimus Severius, during the Roman occupation of Egypt. His men repaired the statue by adding blocks, so it is no longer made of a solid piece of stone. From the day of the repair forward, the statue remained silent.
Even more interesting are the features that have mystified those who discovered the colossi and modern scientists alike. The passage from Description de l’Egypte describes the fact that none of the quartzite deposits, where the stone had to have originated, exhibit tool marks, and that it was the opinion of members of the Napoleonic expedition, that because the quartzite is so hard, an unknown process must have been used on this unworkable type of stone. Members of the expedition were amazed by the fact that the flint and agate aggregates constituting the stone were never disturbed by the engraving process.
In 1913, French scholar M. G. Dofressy and German scholar G. Steindorff proposed that the 750-ton statues were transported along the flow of the Nile from around Edfu or Aswan to Thebes . In 1965, L. Habachi, Chief Inspector of Antiquities of Egypt, concurred . In 1973, a team from the University of California, Berkeley, proposed a more incredible feat. Based on the team’s studies, it was proposed that the statues were quarried at Gebel el-Ahmar, not far from Cairo. In other words, they say that the 750 ton colossi were floated 440 miles along the Nile against its flow! 
To determine the source of the quartzite, the French and German teams made petrographic analyses. They analyzed flint, agate, and the other components off the stone. The Berkeley team studied the geochemical aspects of the quartzite, performing analyses on infinitesimal quantities of trace elements with neutronic activation, a method allowing the quantity and type of minerals occurring to be measured.
After comparing the quarry samples with samples of the colossi, the team concluded that indeed the stone originates from Gebel el-Ahmar. However, the French and German scientists interpreting these scientists’ data arrived at their original conclusion, that the stone came from Syena (Aswan). Even expert scientists with the most sophisticated modern equipment and methods cannot agree on the origin of the stone for the Colossi of Memnon.
The list of anomalies about the Great Pyramid lengthens when we consider the dimensions of the blocks. There is a misconception about the blocks of the Great Pyramid which archaeologists perpetuate. They advocate that the heights of the blocks at the base are always greater than those near the summit. If accurate, this would make logistical problems far less complex.
It is true that the height of the blocks at the base is 1.41 meters (1.54 yards) and that the heights of blocks progressively diminish to 0.59 meter (1.93 feet) in the first seventeen steps.With the exception of the huge cornerstones, the weight of blocks in the first seventeen steps diminishes from approximately six to two tons. Beyond the seventeenth step, however, blocks weigh from fifteen to thirty tons apiece, showing that block size does not consistently diminish as the pyramid ascends.
What most people fail to recognize is that at the nineteenth step the height of the blocks increases suddenly to 0.90 meter (2.95 feet). This is not obvious when you are standing at the bottom of the pyramid looking up because the heights of blocks forming the tiers appear to diminish. From a distance it is difficult to make an accurate assessment. The only way to determine the exact heights of the steps is by measuring them. Because it is difficult and potentially dangerous to climb to the top of the pyramid, it is likely that most specialists have mounted only the first few steps.
MM. le Pere and Colonel Coutelle of the Napoleonic expedition very carefully measured the heights of the steps of the Great Pyramid one at a time and recorded the exact measurements in feet and inches in Description de l’Egypte. I transposed their measurements onto Graph I in Fig.5 and have made the following observations:
1. Stones more than 1 meter (1.09 yards) high are equally distributed throughout the pyramid.
2. Except for the cornerstones, the largest stones of all are located about thirty stories high in the pyramid, at about the level of the King’s Chamber.
3. Small stones are distributed between several successive series of larger stones throughout the pyramid, with many situated near the base.
Figure 5: Height variation for Khufu (Kheops or Cheops) Pyramid layers.
Why is the misconception perpetuated? Egyptologists rely on the following general remarks by Jomard from Description de l’Egypte, which they consider, without further verification, to be precise :
“ Finally, in 1801 MM. le Pere and Coutelle measured all of the steps of the pyramid with the utmost care, using a specially designed instrument. The number of steps counted was 203 and the height of the pyramid itself was 139.117 meters (152.14 yards]. . . It is perhaps worth taking note of the agreement which exists between our measurements and those of le Pere and Coutelle, not only regarding the height, but for the number off steps. Among the various travelers, some have counted 208, others 220, etc....The perfect agreement on this point, together with that of our measurements of the base and height, is important proof (if proof were necessary) of the scrupulous care with which the engineers and artists of the expedition made their observations. Before deducing measurements other than the base and height, I should point out the differences in the heights of the steps from bottom to top. As is natural, the heights continuously decrease from 1.411 meters [1.54 yards] down to 0.559 meter [1.83 feet], with the smallest stones of all 0.514 meter [1.68 feet] high.The average height is 0.685 meter [2.24 feet]. ”
Jomard’s remark that, “ As is natural, the heights continuously decrease ” was meant as a general statement which was not intended to account for all blocks in the pyramid. It certainly does not apply to hundreds of blocks weighing from fifteen to thirty tons situated near the King’s Chamber. Blocks of this size, represented in Graph I and shown in Figure 6, are so large that they occupy the space of two tiers. Nevertheless, Jomard’s general statement is always cited, whereas the precise, detailed reports of le Pere and Coutelle are rarely, if ever, taken into consideration. Because of the difficulty of raising such large stones to great heights, their detailed report poses a serious threat to the accepted theory.
In November 1984, I made an on-line search in the French archaeological data bank, Francis-H, using the key words PYRAMID and QUARRY. I discovered that in 1975, at the same time I was transposing le Pere and Coutelle’s measurements for Graph I, Georges Goyon, a French Egyptologist published a report after climbing the northeast corner of the Great Pyramid and carefully measuring the steps . Comparing his results with the measurements of 1801 reveals that the Great Pyramid has lost steps 202 and 203. The peaks and plateaus charted by Goyon compare exactly with all other data established in 1801. Step heights suddenly increase and diminish in nineteen sharp fluctuations. Goyon could not account for the dramatic fluctuations except to propose that they must conform to the heights of the geological strata of the Giza plateau. His assumption is incorrect. The blocks of both the Great Pyramid and the Second Pyramid of Giza are smaller than the heights of the strata at Giza.
Almost none of the pyramid blocks matches the Giza bedrock. The strata appearing in the body of the Great Sphinx are 1 meter (1.09 yards) high. Those in the quarry near Khafra’s pyramid are more than 4.5 meters (4.90 yards) high. Realizing this, we might begin to feel sympathetic toward some of the wildly conjectural pyramid construction theories presented in recent years.
Having been impressed by the heights of the double blocks measured by le Pere and Coutelle, as can be deduced from Graph I, I decided to make a preliminary study of the lengths (or widths). The lengths have never been measured, and I therefore photographed the area below the top thirty levels of the south and west faces of the Second Pyramid of Giza. The blocks in the Great Pyramid itself are too eroded to afford accurate overall measurements. The area I photographed is unweathered and in very good condition because the casing blocks previously covering it were removed only within the last 150 years (see in the Giza Circuit, Appendix II). The area encompasses twenty-two steps, or - 1,000 surface blocks per face. The steps photographed represent about ten percent of the area of the pyramid.
Figure 6: Large blocks at Step 35 (A). Isolated large block spans Steps 20 and 21 (B).
I found that blocks do conform to the same lengths, and not to a moderate degree. Surprising as it may seem, almost all 2,000 blocks conform to ten perfectly uniform lengths. These lengths are distributed in diverse patterns throughout the twenty-two steps. Any possibility that the blocks were cut to the random sizes that would be dictated by cracks and other features of bedrock is eliminated.Anyone attempting to explain the preparation and use of blocks of such highly uniform dimensions based on the carving hypothesis would encounter serious difficulty. This degree of uniformity makes the possibility of carving with primitive tools out of the question.
It might appear that the Egyptians had a taste for performing bizarre and impossible tasks. Another example is the placement of monolithic sarcophagi in confined or otherwise difficult spaces. We can, for instance, appreciate the emotion of Cotaz, a member of the Napoleonic expedition, as he discovered the numerous tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Cotaz entered the valley on the one road that passed through a narrow access gorge situated between two steep mountains. Cotaz reached the area consecrated to the Ramses pharaohs. He reported :
“ The gate through which one enters the valley is the only opening in its entire contour. As this opening is man-made, the valley must previously have been shaped in the form of an isolated basin which could only be reached by climbing the steep mountains. It was perhaps this remoteness which gave them the idea of placing the royal sepulchers there to make them safe from robbery, which the ancient Egyptians so much feared.... High mountains crowned with rock are hemmed in on all sides from the horizon, allowing only part of the sky to be seen. Towards midday when the bottom of the valley has been in the sun for a few hours, the heat becomes concentrated and excessive. Any tempering wind can find absolutely no way into this enclosure. It is like an oven. Two men from the escort of General Desaix died from suffocation. I do not think that it would be possible to remain there for twenty-four hours without the shade provided by the catacombs which offer protection from this overwhelming heat. ”
Most of the sarcophagi Cotaz discovered in the various tombs had already been destroyed. He described one, belonging to Ramses III, which was still intact and is now in the Louvre:
“ Imagine a large oblong chamber made of pink syenite granite, ornamented inside and out with hieroglyphs and paintings. Its dimensions are such that a man standing inside can hardly be seen by anyone outside. A blow with a hammer makes it ring like a bell.... The sarcophagus must previously have been closed by a cover which has since disappeared.... The cover would have formed a considerable mass which was very difficult to move.... A comparison between the dimensions of the sarcophagus to those of the entrance to the valley yields a big surprise and a new example of the Egyptian’s taste for difficult tasks.The entrance of the Valley of the Kings is not wide enough to allow the sarcophagus through, so that the huge mass must have been hoisted with a crane or pulley up the hills which surround the valley and then brought down along their sides. ”
The sarcophagus in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid is another example of unusual placement. It does not fit through the doorway or adjoining hallway. Egyptologists surmise that it must have been placed before the pyramid was completed.Although this goes against what is known about Egyptian funerary customs, the carving and hoisting theory offers no other alternative. Cotaz suggested the use of pulleys for raising sarcophagi, although Egyptologists have discovered since that pulleys were not known to the Egyptians until the Roman occupation. The matter in which sarcophagi were placed will be tentatively discussed as we progress.