PYRAMIDS AND GEOPOLYMERS
BOOK: THE PYRAMIDS AN ENIGMA SOLVED
Prof. Joseph Davidovits
Closing the Knowledge Gap
How much more advanced our civilization might be today if there had been a continuum of science from antiquity instead of the destruction of knowledge by war, civil unrest, religious intolerance, and other circumstances. The burning of the Great Library of Alexandria, reputed at one time to hold about 900,000 manuscripts, is a classical example of the destruction of in- formation. Most written works by pre-Socratic scholars have not survived. A few of the scholars are remembered only by their great reputations, and some are represented through fragments in classical literature.
In our own “ Information Age ”, even general knowledge is not flawlessly transmitted. For example, most contemporary history books credit Pythagoras with discovering that the earth is round, but, as shown by Herodotus’s Melpomene this knowledge existed in ancient Egypt during the reign of Pharaoh Necho II (610-595 BC), who lived before Pythagoras (c. 582-507 BC) :
“ As for me, I cannot help but laugh when I hear the people who have given descriptions of the circumference of the Earth, claiming, without allowing themselves to be guided by reason, that the Earth is round, as if it had been shaped on a potter’s wheel; that the ocean surrounds all of its parts.... As for Libya [during Herodotus’s time the entire African continent was known as Libya], it is surrounded by the sea except for where it is joined to Asia. Nechos, the king of Egypt, was the first to our knowledge to have demonstrated this. When he ceased the construction of the canal joining the waters of the Nile to the Arabian Gulf [Red Sea], he sent a Phoenician crew with orders to sail around and return to Egypt through the Mediterranean Sea by way of the Pillars of Hercules [Strait of Gibraltar].The Phoenicians navigated from the Red Sea to the Austral Sea [Indian Ocean] and every autumn they docked on the Libyan coast and sowed wheat, then waited for their harvest. Having collected their grain, they returned to sea again, and after two years they passed the Pillars of Hercules and in the third year returned to Egypt.The men had claimed, though I do not believe the statements they made, that in sailing westerly around the southern extent of Libya that the Sun was on their right. ”
A true historian, Herodotus documented the report of the circumnavigation of Africa and its cosmographic implications despite his own belief in the possibility of a spherical world. The reported position of the Sun, which rose on the right once the fleet passed the equator, upholds the authenticity of the voyage and affords an accurate calculation of the shape of the earth. It was not until 2,000 years later that the general European populace slowly began to realize that they were living on a spherical world after the New World was discovered by Columbus in early Renaissance times.
The knowledge may have been taken for granted by learned astronomers and cosmographers of Babylon and Heliopolis. The Greeks held extraordinary reverence for the Egyptian sages, and Pythagoras, who visited Egypt and Babylon as a young man, may have been tutored in these lands. Today, some contemporary encyclopedias suggest that the dimensions of the Great Pyramid incorporate information on the spherical shape and size of the earth.
Other lost or obscured knowledge is exemplified by ancient products and processes that are little understood today. Some were mentioned in Chapter 1, and those not already explained will be covered in this chapter. The products of antiquity in question are the result of ancient chemistry or alchemy. Understanding them helps to close the knowledge gap between ancient and modern science, and some of the recovered technology can help solve complex modern problems. This was my main objective at the Institute for Applied Archaeological Sciences (IAPAS), which I founded at Barry University near Miami, Florida, in 1984. This is still one of my objectives at the Geopolymer Institute. Before considering the ancient technology, let us take a brief look at the history of alchemy from a broader historical perspective than ever before possible.
History recognizes that the birthplace of alchemy was ancient Egypt and that alchemy flourished in Alexandria in the Hellenistic period. Though Arabic, Indian, and other forms of alchemy are outgrowths of the old Egyptian science, scholars have been unable to approach the origins of alchemy with certitude. It now becomes clear that Hellenistic alchemy and its outgrowths were descendants of the alchemical processes of Khnum. This opens new avenues for exploring the relationship between the alchemy of pre-Alexandrian Egyptian and Western Europe. The root of the word alchemy, “ chemy ”, is uncertain but can be traced clearly to Khnum, who was spelled shnum during the Old Kingdom (see the discussion in the previous chapter 11). Hellenistic alchemy was especially kindled by documents such as the Famine Stele relating to Imhotep and Khnum. The rise of alchemy that historians recognize in Alexandria was actually the rebirth of alchemy under the Ptolemies.
Why is the founder of alchemy considered to be Hermes Trismegistus, the Ptolemaic equivalent of the Egyptian god Thoth, instead of Khnum? The influence of Khnum saw a brief resurgence during the New Kingdom, but the power of Amun was paramount. The knowledge of Khnum, however, was retained in the Books of Thoth. And Thoth gained prestige under the dominion of Amun, because Thoth was the god of Hermopolis, where Amun was one of the primeval ogdoad. This explains why the knowledge of Khnum was held in the library of Hermopolis, the seat of political rivalry during the Middle Kingdom.
As Amun became more powerful, his clergy usurped for him all of the attributes of the other Egyptian gods, and the influence of Amun is seen even in alchemical literature. The name Amun, for instance, is the root of the word ammonia. Sal ammoniac (ammonium chloride), a product crucial to alchemists attempting to transmute baser metals into gold, literally means the salt of Amun. The whole notion of transmutating baser metals to gold may reflect the extent of the influence on alchemy of Amun, the god presiding over metallurgy. In addition, translation errors from old Egyptian texts into Greek or Arabic may account for the belief that base metals could be transmuted into gold.
Is the legendary Philosopher’s Stone, the agent believed to transmute baser metals into gold and to prolong life indefinitely, synonymous with the pyramid stone? The Philosopher’s Stone had various names in many languages. Zosimos of Panopolis, an early Hellenistic alchemist, called it The Tincture. Some Hellenistic alchemists also called it The Powder. The Arab alchemists called it the Elixir of Life. With science and philosophy united as one body of knowledge, the substance later became known to western European alchemists as the Philosopher’s Stone and sometimes just The Stone. But its various names always characterize the pyramid stone, because they are usually associated with some form of minerals, liquid, or stone.
There is no doubt about its inorganic nature, and mysterious descriptions in alchemical literature, such as “ a stone which is not a stone ”, now become clear. It also becomes clear why alchemists commonly ascribed alchemical works to Khufu (Kheops or Cheops) or other great personality of Egyptian antiquity who was involved with alchemical stonemaking.
When Empedocles influenced the alchemical doctrine by proposing that air, earth, fire, and water composed all matter, he recognized these elements in the primeval Egyptian gods of creation. The links between the creation beliefs of the Old Testament authors and the mythology of Khnum were pointed out in Chapter 9. Other profound esoteric implications involving alchemy will be discussed in the future.
Mysteries of the ancient world unfold as we understand more about ancient technology. The challenge to the age of the Sphinx, which centers on the question of the damaging water’s source is an example. The large amount of water at the site can be explained easily by the fact that the limestone of Giza was disaggregated in situ with water to construct the monuments of Giza (see the discussion in Appendix 2, The Circuit of the Pyramid Plateau).
The so-called pyramid power issue is also settled. Wheat, which is thousands of years old, has been found in good condition stored in stone vessels within pyramids. The grain. was in such excellent condition that researchers made an abeit unsuccessful attempt to germinate it. Well-preserved flowers and other organic materials have also been found. The popular theory of pyramid power, which attributes preservation, in part, to the shape of the pyramid, resembles teachings of the Pythagorean school, which ascribed special attributes to numbers and geometrical shapes. The real se- cret lies in chemistry.
The principle is this: one of several possible formulas for the making of stone vessels is based on the synthesis of zeolites, secondary rock-forming minerals that readily gain and loose moisture. The water absorbed, ten to twenty per- cent by weight of the zeolite, is easily released when heat is applied. The zeolites, therefore, allow any vessel made of geopolymeric material, to store organic material through harmony with natural atmospheric heat and moisture.
The Nile valley is characterized by extreme dryness during the day. At night the humidity level rises. The zeolitic reconstituted stone absorbs humidity at night or any time the humidity rises. During the day, the material absorbs ca- lories from the atmosphere, which has been heated by the Sun, and the previously absorbed humidity evaporates. In the stored material, this exchange maintains a temperature that is constant with that of the atmosphere. It eliminates sweating on the inner walls of the structure and, therefore, mold growth. The material provides for an exchange of humidity from the interior of the vase to the exterior-in other words, automatic humidity and temperature control. There is no renewal of oxygen in a hermetically sealed vessel, and the material has more than adequate strength to prevent inva- sion from gnawing insects and rodents. These parameters combined with the longevity of geopolymeric materials provide ideal conditions for storage.
The zeolitic make-up of geopolymers also explains the method of desalination attributed to the pots described by Plinius. He called the method “ remedying unfit water ”, but the chemical process involved is now called ion exchange. A more sophisticated method of ion exchange is widely used in water softening today. In the chemical reaction at work in the vessels, ions, electrically charged atoms or groups of atoms, were reversibly transferred between the vessel and the salt water, allowing only salt-free water to enter the vase.
The vessels Pliny described would have behaved in exactly the same manner as would the 8,000-year-old white lime vessels from Tel-Ramad, Syria. The fragments I examined contain up to forty-one percent of analcime, one of the many zeolites capable of ion exchange with solutions.
Zeolites were synthesized in the Near and Middle East 8,000 years ago and more to produce chemical reactions now known as geopolymeric. Why were geopolymeric chemical reactions not developed by modern science earlier? The reason is that mineralogy has been neglected by industry. Until developments in recent years, there were no extraordinary breakthroughs in the cement, glass, and ceramic industries for 150 years.
Since the synthesis of urea in the 1800s, industry has invested in research and development of organic chemistry, yielding dye stuffs, drugs, plastics, synthetic fibers, and the like. Industry considered mineralogy useful mostly for classifying rocks and minerals and for producing synthetic jewels, but though analysis of rocks serves to classify them, their major elements were studied primarily. About ten per- cent of a stone is made up of mineral elements that bind that stone together. This ten percent is what interests me, and when I first began my chemical research in mineralogy, there was absolutely no competition. The five to ten percent of mineral elements binding the pyramid blocks, though different from the micritic cement in the bedrock, is every bit as effective.
Another explainable issue is the discrepancy between the dates provided by the recent carbon-14 dating of the pyramids with those historically established. Mortar sampling was carefully performed by the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) team for the project sponsored by the Edgar Cayce Foundation. The latter group hoped to date the pyramids to 10,000 BC, the date provided for the construc- tion of the Great Pyramid by Edgar Cayce, a well known reputed American psychic.
The November/December 1985 issue of Venture Inward, published by the Edgar Case Foundation, carried an article describing how the samples were taken and other aspects of the project. In a follow-up article titled “ The Great Pyramid Reveals Her Age ”, appearing in 1986 in the same publication, former Edgar Cayce Foundation member and Egyptologist Mark Lehner remarked:
“ You can look at this almost like a bell curve, and when you cut it down the middle you can summarize the results by saying,“ Our dates are 400 to 450 years too early for the Old Kingdom pyramids, especially those of the Fourth Dynasty ” The discrepancy here is in hundreds of years, not in 8,000 years, but it’s really significant and everybody is excited about it. ”
When asked if he thought the established chronology was wrong, Lehner said he thought they could be wrong within 400 or 500 years, dating the Great Pyramid to about 3100 BC instead of to the Fourth Dynasty at 2650 BC. Lehner, et al, have since published a report in the British Archaeological Report International, Series 379, in which the average difference is 374 years older, instead of 400 to 450 years .
When these articles were brought to my attention, I realized their problem. The problem is one of contamination, not through careless sampling, but because of chemical make- up. One of the ingredients used to make the mortar is natron (sodium carbonate), which contains carbon. The actual date of the geological formation of the natron in the samples is uncertain, and very small quantities dramatically affect the age evaluated by carbon-14 dating. Carbon dating could only produce such illogical results as the mortar at the top of the Great Pyramid dating older than that at the bottom. The illogical dates obtained for some of their samples suggest that established chronology is off from 200 to 1,200 years.Although the charcoal and reeds found in the mortar were subjected to acid leaching to remove carbon contamination prior to the dating process, there is no pretreatment that can eliminate contamination due to a concentrated alkaline solution of so- dium or potassium carbonate. The scientific literature describes several cases of error in dating aquatic plants that grew in hard water lakes similar to the Egyptian lakes where natron was harvested . Calcined trees and reeds from a natron lake typically date older. In addition, cellulose fibers are known to chemically react with the highly alkaline so- dium carbonate. Because it is highly porous, charcoal absorbs not only a great deal of natron solution, but also a lot of carbon dioxide, resulting from the decomposition of natron.
Have all of the mysteries of pyramid construction been solved by my research? The examples of Egyptian artifacts previously presenting baffling problems are numerous: the man-made sandstone statuettes of the Thinite epoch examined by Le Chatelier; hard stone vases with long, thin necks and bulbous belies that no known tool could have produced; the diorite statue of Pharaoh Khafra (Khefren or Chephren) supposedly carved with stone or copper tools; other hard stone statues with inlaid eyes; monolithic stone sarcophagi situated in confined spaces disallowing their ingress and egress; heavy portcullises situated in spaces in pyramids too small to accommodate the manpower required for lifting them; huge, perfectly formed monolithic burial rooms made of extremely hard stone materials in Twelfth Dynasty pyramids; the seven story high Colossi of Memnon exhibiting inscriptions that are impossible to produce through carving and which, though originally monolithic were not (based on de Roziere’s examination of the quartzite quarries) quarried in monolithic form; coatings and cements lasting for thousands of years though some were exposed to blistering sunlight and harsh sandstorms through the ages; great temples with blocks too enormous to move; and most popular and conspicuous of all, the massive Great Pyramid structures themselves, each built during the reign of a pharaoh, with their casing stones exhibiting no tool marks and fitting as to closely as 0.01mm. The problems these and other artifacts posed became increasingly more baffling and complex as scientific methods of investigation improved.
The quantity of popular books generated in the last fifteen years about the mysteries of the pyramids and other ancient feats of engineering demonstrate the ongoing quest for a solution. Few Egyptologists take part in this quest. They are willing to accept standard, inadequate explanations of the enigmatic artifacts and are mostly satisfied with logistical studies on the pyramids. However, the problems of logistics accompanying the carving and hoisting theory prove to be larger in scope than has been studied so far. In fact, based on the uniform sizes of pyramid blocks and Klemm’s initial study concluding that the stone used for the Great Pyramid was quarried from all over Egypt, the problems are insurmountable.
The measurements of Coutelle and le Père of the Napoleonic expedition show that many of the largest stones in the Great Pyramid are situated thirty stories high. These measurements, obtained 150 years ago are rarely acknowledged. The problems calculated by Dieter Arnold, who proposed doubling or tripling the life span of pharaohs, merely leave the subject open for debate among Egyptologists, that is, debate based on the carving theory. And Le Chatelier’s revelation of 100 years ago was never applied to other artifacts, even though the use of man-made stone should have been considered as a possible explanation to the age — old riddle of pyramid construction.
Though the standard theory is speculative, with no scientific merit, from every perspective — engineering logistics, geochemistry and geology, Egyptology and other history, feasibility and common sense — all of the mysteries of pyramid construction dissolve when the casting theory is applied.
In 1978, I discovered that Pliny’s description of the murrhine vases was mistranslated. That was 145 years after the publication of the Panckook edition of Natural History in 1832, resulting from the translations of the French Academy of Sciences. How long it will take for my corrected translation to be accepted remains to be seen. And Pliny’s text is in Latin, a language used and understood by many scholars. With fewer expert Egyptian hieroglyphic linguists, identifying and redeciphering relevant texts will take longer.
I am certain that, as well as the Famine Stele and the Irtysen Stele, hieroglyphic texts exist and contain information about the alchemical stone-making process of Khnum, but are mistranslated. As is stated in the Hermetic writings,
“ Hermes ... used to say that those who read my books find them clear and very easy to understand... whereas they will become absolutely abstruse when the Greeks translate them from Egyptian into their language, and this will yield a complete distortion of the original text and a complete misunderstanding of its meaning. ”
When hieroglyphic and cuneiform texts describing metallurgical processes were first translated, thanks to the deciphering of Champollion and Grotefend, metallurgists and chemists were consulted to ensure the correctness of technical words and information. While careful translations were carried out with the help of experts from appropriate scientific disciplines, such translations may not be possible for a long time with texts involving geopolymerization because of the time it will take to produce experts in this field. In fact, it may take several years before experts and organizations involved with Egyptology recognize projects dealing with this topic as valid.
Historians must depend on information derived from Egypt’s ecology, geography, artifacts, and inscriptions, the latter of which are known often to be ritual. Very little of Egypt’s actual history is known until Ptolemaic times. The historian Manetho compiled a chronological list of pharaohs which sheds some light upon some more ancient history. Egyptologists must, therefore, qualify and conditionalize their historical writings. They have never found a historical docu- ment that they recognize as describing their theory of how the Great Pyramids were built. But the Famine Stele and the Irtysen Stele support the alchemical method of agglomerating stone, and the historical reports by Herodotus and Pliny, previously ambiguous, now make perfect sense.
Some years ago, I came across the following quote:
“ ... You might reasonably think that the decipherment of the script would have been greeted with open arms by archaeologists. Not a bit of it! The reaction of the digging fraternity (and sorority) to the most exciting development in archaeology this century has been ... rejection. It is not that they claim, like Champollion’s opponents that the decipherment has not taken place, they simply believe it is Closing the Knowledge Gap not worthy of notice (at least overtly). ”
This quote is from Michael D. Coe’s book Breaking the Maya Code . Coe, from Yale University, wrote a compul- sive account of the decisive breakthrough accomplished by Yuri Knorosov in deciphering the hieroglyphic Maya carvings.
We have reached back into the history of science at its roots. We have followed the evolution of alchemical stonemaking in Egypt from the production of the prehistoric stone to vessels of Khnum to a probable transition of door jambs and floors in royal mastabas, to an entire building made of cast stone,the first pyramid.With the construction method eluding historians, the reasons for the rise and decline of pyramid building are misunderstood.
In general, Egyptologists advocate that early pyramid building put an intolerable burden on manpower and the economy, causing the decline. Some scholars conjecture that erratic changes in climate produced food shortages against which the kings were powerless. Though such elements may be valid, consider that Egypt’s economy became increasingly more depressed because of the erosion of its once enormous construction industry, which in time would jeopardize faith in government. Instead of the decline in the civilization causing the building decline, the opposite is more likely to be accurate.
The reasons for the rise and decline of pyramid cons- truction crystallize when one considers the developments associated with the use of cast stone. The building degeneration may have been caused by a depletion of mineral resources. With the depletion of the Sinai mines the decline originated in the consumption of something quite traceable after all. We know that pyramids were built entirely of man- made reconstituted stone during the Third and Fourth Dynasties, when the Sinai mines were abundant in minerals. The Fifth and Sixth Dynasties are characterized by a dramatic decrease in the amount of cast stone used in the pyramids, corresponding to the depletion of the mines. But on the other hand, under Sneferu, Khufu (Kheops or Cheops) and Khafra (Khefren or Chephren), the entire country was indoctrinated with the gigantic task of supplying combusti- ble for lime calcination. This intensive exploitation of agricultural resources may have generated an ecological disaster. It is easy to see why during the Fifth Dynasty kings began to remove stone from the monuments of their ancestors, though this has never before been adequately explained, and why, with less material to work with, they concentrated on building surrounding funerary complexes, paying special attention to making exquisite bas-reliefs. By the Sixth Dynasty stone was conserved for the most vital parts
of pyramids, such as casing stones and burial chambers. Little stone was used in the Twelfth Dynasty pyramids. During the reign of Senusert I, the discovery of a small vein at Serabit el-Khadim in the Sinai provided only enough stone for the royal burial chamber. The end of pyramid building marked the end of any appreciable amount of mineral
quarrying in the Sinai.
Was the fall in pyramid construction actually attributed to the decrease of lime-ash CaO production, due to a severe shortage in wood fuel? This is quite possible. We start to understand the evolution of pyramid construction and why these great structures were no longer built. Too, we see the transparency of the evidence for the standard theory of pyramid construction presented by Egyptology. Additionally unaware of the two different masonry methods, agglomerated stone and carved stone, Egyptologists recognize only a few stylistic alterations in the monuments of Theban kings, which they attribute to differences in Theban ideas about the afterlife from those of Memphite predecessors. Egyptologists have never fully understood the sudden rise to pre-eminence of the Amun clergy. With the abatement of alchemical stonemaking, the pyramid tradition became increasingly less practical. The Amun clergy, however, could endlessly perpetuate their religious tradition by carving very soft stone.
The Pyramid of Zozer built near 2750 BC, the Pyramid of Khufu (Kheops or Cheops) in 2683 BC, the temples of Amenhotep III erected around 1408 BC, Seti I near 1300 BC, and Ramses II at about 1280 BC, were made of stone. On the other hand, the palaces and fortresses in which these kings resided were made of crude silt brick, sun-dried clay and wood. Stone, either agglomerated or carved, had a sacred value and could not be used for such non sacred structures. It was not until the Ptolemaic reign under Greek domination, some two thousand years after the pyramids were built, and one thousand years after the construction of the Temples of Karnak, Luxor, and Abu Simbel, that stone became a constructional material used indifferently in temples, palaces, and garrisons.
The finest method of cutting stone, represented by fine chisel marks, was applied to stone by the Egyptians when stone had a religious significance. The dowel rod technique, representing the roughest and most primitive method of cutting stone, was used by the Greeks and Romans who did not consider stone to have the same metaphysical aspects as did the Egyptians.
Each block of stone was perfected in the quarry, the manifestation of Amun, as each hewn stone represented a limb or part of Amun. This belief explains why the Egyptians of the New Kingdom did not use the primitive wooden dowel rod method of cutting stone. To haphazardly cut a block of stone into pieces was an act of sacrilege, as unthinkable as to damage the body of Amun, the newly proclaimed progenitor. We have gained precious insight into the old religion of Khnum and also into the religious objectives for producing faience,stone,and glass.Mystery upon mystery is solved.After thousands of years, a substantial part of the secret of the pyramids is revealed and their true story told. However, for the Egyptian authorities (Dr. Z. Hawass and colleagues) only 30 per cent of the archaeological remains have been unearthed
and 70 per cent still remain buried under the desert sand.
I am ending this book, the product of many years of research and reflections, feeling both perplexed and hopeful. The outlook on the history of Egyptian civilizations, that was opened here, should offer young researchers a large and fascinating realm of investigation. Large because of the size of the task that remains to be accomplished. Fascinating because of the undeniable necessity to challenge our views on the civilizations from which we directly proceed. And my perplexity originates in that challenge, in the relationship that men of the past had with the sacred, which was not quite the one our civilization claims to be.
But do Egyptologists see me as the visionary who solved the pyramid riddle? So far, the reaction appears to reflect the NIH (Not Invented Here) factor, if we are to judge by comments appearing in magazine and newspaper articles. Some Egyptologists have commented in the press that my theory is “ a hunch carried too far ” and is “ against reason and logic ”. Their only knowledge, however, of my research comes from the press.
A criticism of me by the general public is that I have taken all of the fun and mystery out of the pyramids. My response is this: carving and hoisting stone is grueling labor that is in no way glamorous or romantic, but ingeniously building pyramids through chemistry, and thereby fooling even brilliant modern minds, is a great credit to the researchers of antiquity.Whether or not this presentation will convince anyone who does not want to be convinced is hardly predictable. The German philosopher Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860) wrote,“ There are three steps in the revelation of any truth: in the first, it is ridiculed; in the second, resisted; in the third, it is considered self-evident ”. It was ridiculed from 1979 to 1988, resisted from 1989 to 1996 and seems to become self- evident now.
I directed my investigation somewhat in the way Sherlock Holmes might have: when all the logical conjectures have been set aside, the one that remains, as improbable as it may seem, is likely to be true.