PYRAMIDS AND GEOPOLYMERS
BOOK: THE PYRAMIDS AN ENIGMA SOLVED
Prof. Joseph Davidovits
It Is Written in Hieroglyphs
Written texts of pyramid construction must have existed. The legacy of and events surrounding these monuments were far too important to have gone unrecorded. Surviving documents from the Old Kingdom (c. 27O5 - 225O BC) are limited in number and extent, and Egyptologists have long claimed that no ancient Egyptian record from any period describes how the pyramids were built. Their error is that they seek records of stone cutting, hauling, and hoisting. They do not have the perti- nent texts that would be required for making their historical deductions about pyramid construction.
Unaware of the technology used, Egyptologists have misunderstood the meaning of Egyptian writings that docu- ment pyramid construction-writings that concur with my findings. A pertinent document was inscribed on a rock, called the Famine Stele, discovered on the island of Sehel, near Elephantine, by Charles Wilbour in 1889. Egyptologists are divided on its authenticity, but insist the document is a copy of Old Kingdom texts made by priests of Khnum in about 200 BC. The texts date to the reign of the pharaoh Zoser, 2,500 years earlier.
During 200 BC, foreign kings ruled Egypt. In 332 BC, the king of Macedon, Alexander the Great, led an allied Greek army into Egypt. Having endured centuries of oppressive foreign domination, Egypt welcomed Alexander as the deliverer. Egypt had been ruled by Libya, Sudan, Assyria, Nubia, and Persia, and only managed to regain a brief re- establishment of native power when the Greek army advanced. Alexander sacrificed to Egyptian gods and ceremoniously received the double crown of the pharaohs, acquiring the title “ Son of the Sun ”.
In the winter of 332-31 BC, Alexander founded the capital city of Alexandria in northern Egypt along the Mediterranean Sea at the western edge of the Nile delta.After his death, Egypt was ruled by his subordinates, who laid the basis for the Ptolemaic dynasty. Under Ptolemaic kings, Alexandria rapidly became the main religious and intellectual center of Jewish and Hellenistic culture. Even though Greek interests dominated, there was no desire to eradicate Egyptian culture. The Macedonian people held the utmost regard for the Egyptians. They admiringly traced their own architectu- ral heritage and religion to Egypt. Numerous Egyptian deities were identified with Greek gods.
Under Hellenistic cultural dominion Egyptian cities became known by Greek names. The holy city of the Sun cult, Anu, became known as Heliopolis, the city of the Sun. A town called Khmun (the City of Eight) became known as Hermo- polis, the city of the Greek god Hermes. The Greeks identified the Egyptian god Djehuti, or Thoth as he was called in Greek, with Hermes. The town of Khmun acquired its name from the Ogdoad, four pairs of primeval gods that presided in the waters of Chaos, namely, Darkness, Invisibility, Secret, and Eternity. By historic times, Thoth had absorbed and replaced these gods. Thoth became the personification of divine wisdom, the scribe of the gods who protected learning and literature. Egyptian texts called him Lord of Divine Books, Scribe of the Company of Gods, and Lord of Divine Speech.
Alexandria possessed two celebrated royal libraries, and Hermopolis also maintained a great library containing treasured literature preserved by the virtues of Thoth. It was this library that preserved a document from the time of King Zoser that recorded Imhotep’s revelation.
The Famine Stele was produced during the reign of King Ptolemy V Epiphanes (205 - 182 BC). This king was enthroned at the age of five, and his reign was characterized by the loss of foreign territory, revolts in the Nile delta, and general civil and political upheavals. His decree inscribed on the famous Rosetta stone, produced in 196 BC, indicates that in this political setting native Egyptians were gaining more control over their domestic affairs. Taxes and debts were remitted and temples received benefactions.
The political climate was appropriate for the clergy of Khnum to resolve a matter of growing concern to them: Greek troops stationed in the region near the first cataract paid great tribute to the goddess Isis. Greeks at all levels, soldiers, commanders, and the king himself especially venerated this goddess. The king’s father, Ptolemy IV was so devoted to Isis that he made the title Beloved of Isis part of his royal name. An old temple of Isis at Philea, built during the Saite period (664 - 525 BC), was torn down by Ptolemy II (285 - 246 BC) and replaced with an extravagant, costly temple. Territories of Nubia, south of the border, were dedicated to Isis, and additional elaborate offerings made her cult the wealthiest in southern Egypt.
The region Isis occupied was the primary seat of Khnum worship since remotely ancient times. It encompassed the entire cataract region, including the island of Elephantine, Philea, Sehel, Esna, and Aswan. Elephantine, the sanctuary of Khnum, is located in the middle of the river, and the island represented the official southernmost border throughout most of the nation’s history. Elephantine served as a garrison because of its location directly below the first cataract, a natural defensive barrier, and also as an entrepot for imports entering Egypt by ship from the south.
The importance of the island of the southern frontier varied after the Middle Kingdom (2035 - 1668 BC), depending on what territory Egypt controlled. Khnum’s influence was vastly diminished before the Ptolemaic period, long after the pyramids were built. Khnum’s temples suffered a great deal of damage over the centuries at the hands of invaders entering from the south. And Khnum’s dilapidated temples sorely contrasted with the exquisite new temple of Isis. This, coupled with the loss of Nubian territory to Isis, meant that Khnum’s cult was rapidly being displaced by that of Isis.
An opportunity apparently presented itself for Khnum’s clergy to confront the king with the matter. The Rosetta stone informs us that in the eighth year of the reign of Ptolemy V the Nile produced an extraordinary inundation of all of the plains. This created famine by diminishing the productive farmland temporarily. Khnum symbolized the Nile, and his clergy administered matters concerning its aber- rant flooding. A nilometer leading from the bank to the low water level, with calibrated steps to measure the rise of floodwater, still remains on Elephantine.
The priests visited the Hermopolitan library probably around 190 BC. There they referenced old texts to demonstrate how Nile aberrations had been remedied in the past. Even though there were many famines in Egyptian history they sought records dating to the time of Pharaoh Zoser and Imho- tep. These records showed generous offerings to Khnum for ending a famine, and the priests were able to demonstrate to the king that their cult had more than 2,500 years of experience in effectively dealing with abnormalities of the Nile.
Figure 48: Famine Stele on Sehel, near Elephantine.
The accounts they referenced had been preserved for 2,500 years despite episodes of civil war and invasion. They produced from the records a dramatic historical story, animating Khnum, as was customary with Egyptian gods, in an episode with King Zoser. For this they used a written mes- sage sent to Elephantine by King Zoser, identifying his pleas for an eight-year famine to end. They sought to show that the territory given to Isis had been dedicated to Khnum by King Zoser himself. Not only did the priests have the data to produce a stele serving as a territorial marker, but they could demonstrate the prosperity provided for Egypt by their cult’s careful management of the Nile over the ages. Their records also served to remind the Greek administration of the great legacy that Khnum’s alchemical technology had given Egypt.
They reproduced inscriptions on a rock, now called the Famine Stele, which stands on the large island of Sehel, 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) south of Elephantine (Fig. 48). Sehel, treasured for its mineral deposits, was the traditional abode of the goddess Anunkis, Khnum’s daughter. When the stele was viewed by the king and his ministers, its authenticity and authority were honored. The Greeks revered Zoser as an exceptionally great king, who, along with Imhotep, was considered to be one of the founders of Egyptian culture. An earlier king, Ptolemy II, had established the worship of Imho- tep as a deity in the upper level of the temple of Deir el-Bahari, located on the West Bank almost directly opposite Karnak. Still standing are remains of a temple dedicated to Imhotep on the island of Sehel built by Ptolemy V at about 186 BC.
It appears that the priests had advised the king well with regard to the Nile. The wise management of the des- tructive flood turned it into a blessing. The Rosetta stone re- lates that King Ptolemy V spared no expense in erecting a dam to direct an overflow of the Nile to proper channels. In doing this, he created an abundant crop yield and earned the title Savior of Egypt. The king also drew up a new decree to provide benefactions for Khnum’s temples. Khnum was given all rights of sovereignty up to a distance of twenty miles of Elephantine, which included lost portions of Nubia. All who fished or hunted within this territory were required to pay a fee. The quarries of Sehel and Aswan could be exploited only by consent of Khnum’s priests. Boats would pay duty on imports, such as metals or wood entering Egypt along the Nile from the south.
Figure 49a, b: a) Head of the Stele. b) Medium portion of columns 8 to 15 (read from right to left) on the Famine Stele.
The Famine Stele contains other major elements having nothing to do with territorial rights or famine. Actually, the stele might be better named Khnum’s Alchemical Stele, for it holds the key to the method of manufacturing man-made stone. Of about 2,600 hieroglyphs making up the inscriptions, about 650 or approximately one-forth pertain to rocks and mineral ores and their processing (Fig.49).This disclosure occurs in columns 10 to 22 and I am focussing on this pas- sage. I use the English version of Lichtheim  as a guide because it is the English version available today. I have underlined the words (keywords) I studied so far:
The revelations of Imhotep
(Col. 11) There is a mountain massif in its eastern region, with precious stones and quarry stones of all kinds, all
(Col. 12) the things sought for building temples in Egypt, South and North, and stalls for sacred animals, and palaces for kings,all statues too that stand in temples and in shrines.Their gathered products are set before the face of Khnum and around him.
(Col.13)... there is in the midst of the river a place of relaxation for every man who works the stone on its two sides.
(Col. 15) Learn the names of the stones that are there lying in the borderland: ... bhn, mt3y, mhtbtb, r’gs, wtsy, prdn, tsy.
(Col. 16) Learn the names of the precious stones of the quarries that are in the upper region: ...gold, copper, iron, la- pis lazuli, turquoise, thnt, red jasper, k’, mnw, emerald, tm-ikr,
nsmt, t3-mhy, hm3gt,
(Col. 17) ibht, bks-’nh, green eye-paint, black eye-paint, carnelian, shrt, mm, and ochre,...
The dream of Zoser
(Col. 18) I found the god standing before me..., he said, I am Khnum, your maker! My arms are around you, to steady your body,
(Col. 19) to safeguard your limbs. I bestow on you stones upon stones (that were not found before) of which no work was made for building temples, rebuilding ruins, on laying sta- tues’ eyes. For I am the master who makes, I am he who made himself exalted Nun, who first came forth, Happy who
(Col. 20) hurries at will; fashioner of everybody, guide of each man.
In column 12, Lichtheim changes the meaning of the hieroglyphic sign for pyramid into palaces, which is not the same (see in Fig. 51). In columns 11 to 17, Imhotep describes the rocks and minerals of the Elephantine region to Zoser. Columns 18 to 20 describe a dream of Pharaoh Zoser, in which Khnum gives the minerals to Zoser to build his sacred mo- nument. Limestone (transliterated ainr hedj), the predominant variety of stone found in the pyramids, is not found on the list. Sandstone (ainr rwdt), the primary material used to build temples between 1500 BC and Roman times, is not listed, nor is Aswan granite (maat), the preferred buil- ding material of the Ptolemaic period, especially at Alexandria. A pyramid cannot be built with mineral ores unless one uses the minerals to produce a binder for agglomerating stone.
Figure 50: Key words in Famine Stele
In 1988, I produced a new translation of the stele at the Fifth International Conference of Egyptologists, Cairo, Egypt, presented here . It combines my research with the standard translations made by Egyptologists Karl Brugsch (1891), W Pleyte (1891), Jacques Morgan (1894), Kurt Sethe (1905), Paul Barguet (1953) and Lichtheim (1973) . Barguet’s translation reflects the most up-to-date knowledge of Egyptology. The only fairly recent study of the stele was made by S. Aufere in 1984. The only improvement the latter may provide is a possible translation of one semiprecious variety of stone. The key words I studied follow (Fig. 50):
The first word is an adjective which is transliterated into English as ari-kat. Ari, when associated with minerals, is a verb that means to work with, fashion, create, form, or beget. The second part of the word, kat, means man. Ari-kat means the work done by man. In other words, ari-kat means man- made, processed, or synthetic. A general example of its use is the designation of imitation lapis lazuli. The word appears in columns 13, 19, and 20. In columns 13 and 19, it describes the process of mineral ores for pyramid building. In column 20 it refers to Khnum creating mankind.
Another key word appears in column 11 and is transliterated rwdt. Barguet translated this word to mean hard stone. J. R. Harris, in Lexicographical Studies in Ancient Egyptian Minerals, discussed rwdt in some detail and stated : “ In any event, there can be little doubt that rwdt is a term indicating hard stone in general, though which stone would fall into the category it is difficult to say, especially in view of the reference to alabaster as rwdt. ”
Alabaster is a very soft stone. Rwdt, however, generally refers to the monumental sandstone of southern Egypt. This is the soft stone discussed in Chapter 3 used to build the tem- ples of Karnak, Luxor, Edfu, Dendera, and Abu-Simbel, the stone material so soft that it can be scratched with one’s fingernails. This type of stone is eight times as soft as Aswan granite, and rwdt therefore could not indicate hard stone.
Rwdt, however, also means to germinate or grow. A causative verb form, s-rwdt, means to make solid or tie strongly; rwdt also describes aggregates or pebbles of sandstone, quartzite, and granite. These varieties of stone result from the natural solidification of aggregates. Sand, for instance, reconstitutes into sandstone in nature. Rwdt could therefore indicate aggregates that can be naturally or otherwise cemented into stone and could be the determinative for agglomerated stone.
The word transliterated ainr simply means natural, solid stone. Most types of stone used for construction are referred to as ainr. When the “ r ” is omitted from ainr to produce ain, the word has a slightly different meaning. Ain is a generic word for stone, simply used to set it apart from other materials such as wood or metal. The generic word ain appears in column 15 to describe the various rocks and mineral varieties, whereas ainr or solid stone block, such as ainr hdj (limestone) and ainr rwdt (sandstone) do not appear in the Famine Stele at all.
The composite word, rwdt uteshui, appears at the end of column 11. Barguet translates the word to mean « hard stone from the quarries ». He notes, however, that his translation may be doubtful because of the peculiar way in which the word is written. I have shown that rwdt could not mean hard stone.
The root word tesh also appears in two stone materials listed in column 15. Barguet transliterates this root as sheti. Tesh has the general meaning of crush, separate, or split. The word hetesh indicates the action of dissolving or disaggregation. Tesh, therefore, describes a stone that has been crushed, disaggregated, or split, meaning an aggregate such as would be required for making synthetic stone. The compound word rwdt uteshui could refer to the raw material, crushed, disaggregated, or naturally weathered natural stone. If this assumption is correct, the stony materials (ain) listed in column 15 were in a loose form or easy to disaggregate. In column 15 two names contain the root tesh, whereas four names do not. As discussed later, however, the two stones (mthay and bekhen) belong to the category of disaggregated materials.
Mthay appears to contain the word mat, which means gra- nite. Harris agrees with Barguet when he notes that it is strange that granite is not otherwise mentioned in the Fa- mine Stele. They expected to find stone suitable for construc- tion. Furthermore, granite and sandstone are the most common stone varieties found in the Aswan region.
It is likely that this remarkable form of writing alters the word mat (granite). Except for the peculiar hieroglyphic orthography that occurs in the Famine Stele, granite is always written in a standard way, namely, a sickle, which indicates the sound “ me ”, accompanied by various adjectives.
Instead of the sickle, in columns 15 a denuded bird appears, devoid of feathers or wings. This way of writing “ me ” also appears in the word mut, meaning to kill oneself. A similar word, meth, means to die. And mat or granite is often written with the ideogram for heart of life, suggesting the notion of living granite. Assuming that the scribe wanted to indicate that the desirable granite chosen must be weathered, loosely bound, or disaggregated, he would have emphasized the idea of dying or withered granite.
The stone called bekhen has also been named in inscriptions at Wadi el-Hammamat, located in the desert southwest of Aswan. Bekhen is considered to be one of several possibilities, black basalt, diorite, sandy schist, porphyry, graywacke, or psammite. The inscriptions at Wadi el-Hammamat indicate that quarrying bekhen was carried out in a primitive fashion . The boulders chosen were pushed off a cliff and thereby split into numerous chunks. This would indicate that this hard stone was, after all, separated in smaller aggregates, as would be required for agglomeration.
Aat appears in columns 11, 16 and 19. Aat designates for Bruggsh Steinen (stones), for Sethe kostbare Mineralien (precious minerals), for Barguet pierres précieuses (precious stones), for Lichtheim precious stones. Harris  discusses the meaning of aat and concludes:
“ Now it is evident that aat does in fact cover a very wide range of materials, largely minerals... If then aat is to be regarded as a word for mineral, with perhaps certain implica- tions of value and rarity, the distinction between aat and inr becomes clear, since the latter refers principally to stones which were quarried in large quantities... it is possible to ar- rive to some significant conclusions regarding the ancient Egyptian attitude to raw materials as a whole and to mineral substances in particular... In general there seems to have been a fairly clear distinction drawn between those natural resources which were minerals, and those which were of vegetable or animal origin, the former being referred to as aat, the latter as shmw,... ”
According to Harris aat means a mineral brought from the mountains and probably therefore mined, generally in small lumps as opposed to the larger blocks of constructional stone; aat would then refer to mineral ores. Column 16 starts with “ learn the names of the rare aat ” and the list provides the hieroglyphic names for mineral substances including metals, semi-precious stones (mafkat), mineral ores (red ochre) and other untranslated substances. More restricted terms for the different classes of mineral substances are almost entirely lacking, and it is quite evident that there was little or no differentiation between the metals and the mineral ores. In historical times most metals were obtained by smelting ores suggesting that aat also refers to mineral ores which had to be processed. Although Egyptologists often associate aat with hard stone vessels, many of the minerals listed in Columns 16-17 are friable and even powdery. In column 19, one really appreciates the exceptional value of this text. It speaks of the actual processing of mineral subs- tances, which were being used for the very first time for buil- ding a pyramid and temples.Verse 19,quoting Khnum,reads, “ I give you aat after aat... never before has anyone processed them [to make stone] in order to build the temples of the gods... ”
Khem (a bladder with liquid) (sign Aa3 in Gardiner’s list).
This hieroglyph opens several areas of discussion. None of the aforementioned translators have offered a phonetic value for the hieroglyphic symbol or ideogram depicted. The symbol signifies odor, but not a pleasant scent such as that of perfume. Instead, it depicts substances that give off an odor, efflux, or emanation which is not offensive; the word, therefore,does not imply stench.At times the symbol is found in combination with the symbol for pleasure or pride.
Brugsch suggests that the ideogram signifies an unguent, whereas neither Barguet nor Lichtheim attempt to translate it. Instead, Barguet remained cautious and stated that it indicated, “ products connected with those cited in column 11 ”, that is, mineral substances.
The ideogram for Khnem (the bladder with a liquid) is the key for deciphering certain minerals found on the stele. I suggest that the symbol could depict a bladder containing urine, which would give off an odor as opposed to the pleasant scent of perfume. My assumption is that the symbol signifies chemical odors specifically. Most chemical products have a particular odor with which chemists are familiar. According to columns 11 and 12, the odorous products are the mineral substances used for building the pyramid and temples.
Nobody has ever considered that the ancient Egyptians could have used some of the same methods we use today for classifying and determining the chemical composition of minerals. We know that since prehistoric times the Egyptians heated minerals for enamel production. Today, the blowpipe is used to detect various phenomena that occur during heating. Some minerals melt and give the flame a color, such as violet for potassium and yellow for sodium. Some types of minerals break up, whereas others shed flakes, and still others swell and emit bubbles. Some, such as arsenic minerals and sulfides produce irritating fumes. My examination of the Fa- mine Stele reveals that then, just as today, the names of cer- tain minerals were derived from their chemical composition. When mineral ores are to be deciphered, it is when odor, color, taste, and other chemical determinatives are considered that we comply with their means of classification.
Figure 51: The Famine Stele. Davidovits translation of columns 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19.
The English words for stones, derived from Greek and Latin, can usually be traced to the root word for their color or general appearance. For instance, ruby comes from the Latin word rebeus, which is akin to the Latin word ruber, meaning red. But this was not the main criterion for naming rocks and minerals in ancient Egypt. Barguet, for example, was unsuccessful in deciphering the hieroglyphic names of rocks and minerals on the Famine Stele by comparing them with the hieroglyphic words for colors. Because the Egyptians generally did not classify rocks and minerals by color, the majority of their hieroglyphic names have no contemporary equivalent.
One area of discussion this ideogram raises is etymological. It may seem incredible to find that our modern word for chemistry was derived from a root word associated with Khnum. Certain hieroglyphic words variously transliterated as khnem, shemm, and shnem, include this ideogram. This would indicate that the word is associated with or is one of Khnum’s odorous products.
Some etymologists hold that the word “ alchemy ” originated from the ancient name for Egypt, Kemit, which means black earth. Others maintain that the root is the Hebrew word for Sun, Chemesch. I propose that the original root of the word“ alchemy ”is khem or Khnum,written shnem during the Old Kingdom . The corruption in Greek could have produced khemy or chemy; indeed, the name of the pharaoh for whom the Great Pyramid was built, Khnum-Khufu, was altered in Greek to Cheops and also Chemis. I suggest that the base khnem or khem became alchemy through language corruption, for example: Greek, chymeia; Arabic, alkimiya; Middle Latin, alchemia; Old French, alchimie; English: alchemy, chemistry.
Determinative mineralogy was never before applied to deciphering the Famine Stele. Perhaps the main reason for this is that the large-scale chemical uses of minerals were unknown. Even today, Egypt’s primary mafkat mineral, chrysocolla, has no major industrial use; another mafkat, tur- quoise, has only an ornamental value. The arsenic minerals, olivenite (arsenate of copper) and scorodite (arsenate of iron), are listed in guides to rocks and minerals as being of interest only to mineralogists and collectors. In ancient Egypt these minerals, blended with copper ores, were used to produce the well-known copper with high arsenic content. Olivenite and scorodite could also have been used to produce rapid setting, needed for stone artefacts. Although arsenates are not similarly used in modern geopolymers, arsenic chemical wastes act as a catalyst when combined with geopolymers, environmentally safe containment of chemical wastes being one of the applications of geopolymers.
Scorodite is an arsenic mineral that when heated gives off a strong odor of onion or garlic, and there is historical testimony indicating the use of arsenic minerals in pyramid construction. In his book titled Euterpe, the Greek historian, Herodotus (c. 485-425 BC), reported what Egyptian guides told him about the method of constructing the Great Pyramid. Egyptologists use Herodotus’s account to support the stan- dard theory of pyramid construction, and his full account will be more fully examined in the next chapter. One passage reads:
“ On the pyramid is shown an inscription in Egyptian characters of how much was spent on radishes, onions, and garlic for the workmen. The person interpreting the inscrip- tions, as I remember well, told me this amounted to 1,600 ta- lents of silver. ”
Today, 1600 talents of silver represents approximately $100 million in U.S. currency, a colossal sum for feeding radish, onion, and garlic to workers. Herodotus was surprised by the large sum for such a limited variety of food. In the light of Khnum’s chemistry, the legendary implication becomes clear: The sum of $100 million represents the cost of mining arse- nic minerals for constructing the Great Pyramid.
The Famine Stele also supports the fact that the ancient Egyptians used arsenic minerals for pyramid construction. The stele lists garlic, onion, and radish stones.
For the mineral ore that smells like onions when heated, the word is hedsh (also uteshi). Barguet provides no translation. Harris says the meaning remains inconclusive. Brugsch thinks the word means white. According to E. A. Wallis Budge’s hieroglyphic dictionary hedsh means onion. But the transla- tion of onion for a stone has puzzled Egyptologists and they have, therefore, avoided translation. The hedsh stone could be a mineral ore that gives off white fumes which smell like onion when heated.
Similarly, the words tutem and taam, containing the root tem, are thought to mean garlic. An ore listed in column 16, tem- ikr, could indicate a mineral that gives off the odor of garlic. The last two letters, “ kr ”, mean weak. This, therefore, could qualify the word to mean the mineral that gives off a weak smell of garlic.
Kau (also ka-t) means radish. An ore in column 16, ka-y, could indicate an ore that smells like radishes when heated.
Based on the key words discussed, the following is my translation of the relevant passages of the Famine Stele. The English transliterations are provided for rocks and minerals which remain untranslated. Small parts of the stele are missing because they contain no relevant information. Those portions are here filled in with ellipses, and on the hieroglyphic chart with diagonal lines. The new translation clearly depicts mineral processing for fabricating pyramid stone (Fig. 51). The words which differ from the traditional interpretation (Lichtheim) are underlined.
The Revelation of Imhotep
(Column 11) On the east side (of Elephantine) are numerous mountains containing all of the minerals (ores), all of the loose (disaggregated, weathered or crushed) stones (aggregates) suitable for agglomeration, all of the products (Column 12) people are seeking for building the temples of the gods of the North and South, the stables for the sacred animals, the pyramid of the king, and the statues to be erected in the tem- ples and the sanctuaries. Moreover, all of these chemical products are in front of Khnum and surrounding him... (Column 13)... in the middle of the river is a wonderful place where on both sides people are processing the minerals for the stone... (Column 14)... learn the names of the gods which are in the temple of Khnum.... (Column 15) Learn the names of the stony materials which are to be found eastward, upstream of Elephantine: bekhen, mtay (dead or weathered granite), mhtbtb, regs, uteshi hedsh (disaggregated onion stone),... prdn,... teshi (disaggregated stone)... (Column 16) Learn the names of the rare minerals (ores) located in the quarries upstream: gold, silver, copper, iron, lapis lazuli, tur- quoise, chrysocolla, red jasper, ka-y (radish stone), esmerald, tem-ikr (garlic stone), and also neshemnet, ta-mehy, heaget (Column 17), ibehet, bekes-ankh, green makup (malachite), black antimony, and red ochre....
The Dream of Pharaoh Zoser
(Column 18) I found the god standing. He spoke to me, saying, “ I am Khnum, your creator I am putting my hands upon you in order to strengthen your body, to (Column 19) take care of your limbs. I give you mineral (ore) after mineral (ore).... Since creation (never before) has anyone manufactured them (to make stone) in order to build the temples of the gods or to rebuild the ruined temples... “
Building inscriptions relating to the Colossi of Mem- non also contain language similar to that found in the Fa- mine Stele. One inscription refers to the mortuary temple which stood behind the Colossi and reads,“ Behold, the heart of his majesty was satisfied with making a very great monu- ment such as never happened since the beginning ”. This will be discussed in another chapter.
The hieroglyphic writings for the notion “ to build ”
The notion of building monuments is represented by two dis- tinct verbs, namely khusi and kedj.
The sign for the verb kedj is found in the middle of Column 19. It represents a man building a wall or an enclo- sure made of crude silt bricks (see in Gardiner’s list the sign A35). In addition, this sign is often found as the determinative for the notion of: to fashion, mold, model, form, construct (a body or a statue?) (Fig. 52).
The verb khusi is found at the beginning of Column 12. It is also spelled khuas, khesi. It is always written with the determinative sign showing either a man pounding in a mortar or packing material in a mold (see in Gardiner’s list the sign A34). For Egyptologists to whom I talked,- for example the hieroglyphs expert A. Loprieno from UCLA, University of California at Los Angeles -, this verb was probably derived from the word that originally designated the technique used in building walls with rammed earth (pisé). Instead of describing the packing of malleable wet earth, this hieroglyphic sign may well describe the packing of wet nummulitic limestone paste, to make pyramid stones, as well as the packing of other stony materials for temple stones. This technique is still in use today in the Mediterranean countries and in Africa.
Figure 53: the pisé technique used today in Africa for rammed earth building.
Figure 54: the hieroglyphic sign khusi, to build with the pisé technique, used for building with hewn stone.
When hieroglyphic writing was invented in Egypt, the verbs khusi and kedj were associated with the handling of clay or earth. In the early dynasties, hundreds of years before the erection of the Pyramids, the notion of building masta- bas with crude mud brick was well expressed with the no- tion of packing or pounding Nile silt, that is khusi. When Imhotep substituted packed limestone for packed mud brick in the construction of Zoser’s pyramid, he reproduced in stone the architectural forms of the bricks and maintained the hieroglyphic writing. Later on, when carved stones replaced agglomerated (packed) stones, the notion khusi and its hieroglyphic sign depicting a man packing agglomerated stone, remained associated with the building of temples with carved stone. Even 2,500 years after Zoser’s time, the Roman Emperor August engraved an inscription in the Temple of Kalabsha (Talmis), south of Aswan, that reads as follows (Fig. 54): “ The Lord of Egypt, the Emperor son of the sun God ... Caesar ... has erected monuments in honor to his mother Isis and has built (founded) (khusi) for her this beautiful temple ” .
During the entire Egyptian civilization, 3000 years long, the hieroglyph sign for “ to build ” (khusi) has not changed at all.
It is written in hieroglyphs - The Irtysen Stele
Figure 55: The C14 Louvre Stele or Irtysen Stele, 2000 B.C.
Recently, we found a second hieroglyphic stele considerably outdating the Famine Stele. This stele can be contemplated by every tourist visiting the Louvre Museum in Paris. It is called the Stele of Irtysen and is practically 4.000 years old (Fig. 55).
The Stele (C14 in the Louvre nomenclature) is the autobiography of the scribe and sculptor Irtysen who lived around 2000 B.C., under one of the Mentuhotep Pharaohs, 11th. Dynasty. A brief description of the stele is given on a note placed on the bottom of it. It reads as follows:
In French: “ Stele du chef des artisans, scribe et sculpteur Irtysen, règne de Nebhepetrê Montouhotep, 2033-1982 av. J.C., XI° dynastie, calcaire. Je connais les techniques de la coulée (?) Je sais fabri- quer des matières (d’incrustation ?, des faïences ?) que le feu ne peut consommer ni l’eau dissoudre. Je n’en revèlerai le procédé à personne, si ce n’est mon fils ainé.. ”
“ Stele of the overseer of the craftsmen, the scribe and sculptor Irtysen,reign of Nebhepetrê Montouhotep,2033 - 1982 B.C.,11th dynasty,limestone.I know the techniques of the cast (?) ... I know how to manufacture objects (for inlays? faience?) that fire cannot consume, nor water dilute either... I will not reveal this process to anybody, except my eldest son... ”
The Stele comprises four parts:
1) The usual dedication, social titles and the call for offerings (lines 1 to 5).
2) The main body of the stele (lines 6 to 15), subdivided into five paragraphs, each conveying a certain kind of information. There is a first paragraph which introduces Irtysen as a scribe, conducting the offering-ritual and proficient in magic, as well as a successful craftsman. Each of the three following paragraphs begins with the leitmotiv “ I know... ” and deals successively with craft (sculpture), style (design) and technique (cast objects). The final paragraph contains a eulogy of the eldest son Senusert.
3) The presentation of Irtysen’s family, his wife on the left, and his three sons, daughter and son in law .
4) The bottom scene of the offering-ritual.
The stele C14 of the Louvre has been often studied. Yet many of its expressions pertain to the domain of technology and have been tentatively translated with terms differing so widely that obviously the translators were not able to understand the described technology.
I have selected five out of fourteen translations issued since 1877, which I believe are representative of all the others.
The fourteen authors are: G. Maspero, (1877); Fl. Petrie (1895); E. Naville (1907); H. Madsen (1909); H. Sottas (1914); M.A. Murray (1925); M. Baud (1938); W.St. Smith (1946); J.A. Wil- son (1947); H.E. Winlock (1947); W. Wolf (1957); A. Badawy (1961); W. Schenkel (1965) and W. Barta (1970) [56-69].
The translation by A. Badawy seems probably the most adequate to date, and is used as a guide for our discussion of the main body (lines 6 to 15) of the stele.
(line 6).....I know (line 7) the secret of the hieroglyph; the conducting of the offering-ritual; every magic I mastered it: none thereof passing me by. (line 8) Moreover I am a craftsman excellent in his craft, pre-eminent on account of what he has
I know the parts of bagw; (line 9) the weighings of the norm; bringing forth (or) letting in as it comes out (projects) (or) goes in (recedes), so that a member come in its place.
I know the going of (line 10) a male figure (statue?), the coming of a woman; the positions of an ins- tant (?); the cringing of the solitary captive; the glance of the eye at its sister; frightening the face of the guarded foreigners; (line 11) the balance (lif- ting) of the arm of the one who throws down the hippopotamus; the tread of the runner.
I know how to make baked (objects), things (line 12) cast without letting the fire burn them, nor that they be washed by water, either.
(Eulogy of eldest son)
(line 13) It was not revealed about it to anyone except (to) me alone and my eldest son of my body; (for) the god (Pharaoh) had commanded that he does a revelation (line 14) for him about it. I saw the achievements of his two hands when acting as overseer of works in every costly material beginning with silver and gold (line 15) even to ivory and ebony.
According to A. Badawy’s interpretation, Irtysen was a sculptor who worked relief sculpture, not round statue. I shall demonstrate that Irtysen’s secret knowledge pertained to the making of statues, not carved, but cast (agglomerated stone) like plaster cast.
Let us examine more carefully the various technical terms of this text and the way they were translated in the five selected interpretations (I am not discussing the chapters General Introduction, Style and Eulogy of eldest son, which do not contain difficult special technical terms). The selected translations are those of Maspero, Baud, Wilson, Badawy and Barta.
Figure 56: Lines 7-10 of Irtysen Stele
G. Maspero: “ ... I know what belongs to it, the sinking waters, (9) the weighings done for the reckoning of accounts, how to produce the form of issuing forth and coming in, so that a member go to its place... ”
M. Baud: ( translated from French) “ ... I know how to mix the cements, (9) to weigh the parts according to the rules, to dig out the bottom, go in and dig in so that the member (the flesh) (remains or) goes to its place ” [in French : “ Je savais malaxer (gacher) les ciments, doser suivant les regles, creuser les fonds, introduire sans que cela dépasse ou creuse de facon que le membre (la chair) (reste ou) vienne a sa place ”].
J.A. Wilson: “ ... I know (how to reckon) the levels of the flood, (9) how to weigh according to rule, how to withdraw or introduce when it goes out or comes in, in order that a body may come in its place. ”
A. Badawy: “ ... I know the parts of baagw; (9) the weighings of the norm; bringing forth (or) letting in as it comes out (projects) (or) goes in (recedes), so that a member come in its place. ”
W. Barta: (translated from German) “ ... I know the parts of transformation, (9) how to determine the right calculation... ”. [in German: “ Ich kenne die Teile der Umwandelbarkeit und die Abschätzungen der richtige Berechnung... ”]
The final paragraph (Eulogy of eldest son), line 18, is extremely interesting since it explains how Irtysen's post in the arts and crafts was transmitted. As a rule the revelation of the professional secrets was to be authorized by Pharaoh Mentuhotep himself. Irtysen’s eldest son was the eligible heir to the secrets of his father’s craft, provided that he shows sufficient abilities in this field. The technique is also highly secret and part of the religious belief (the making of the ka statue, the double in stone, according to god Khnum’s technology).
The Louvre stele C14 outlines the secret and religious technique of making statues with agglomerated stone (cast stone, man-made stone). I had long discussions with Egyptologist and linguist A. Loprieno from University of California, Los Angeles. He could not find anything against my proposed translation of the key-words. My interpretation of Irtysen's knowledge is the following:
(line 6)... I know (line 7) the secret of the hieroglyph; the conducting of the offering-ritual; every magic I mastered it: none thereof passing me by. (line 8) Moreover I am a craftsman excellent in his craft, pre-eminent on account of what he has known.
I know the parts belonging to the technique of molding (with castable) fluid (stone), namely: (line 9) the weighing (of the ingredients) according to the exact recipe; the (making) of mold parts that must be introduced inside (during casting and hardening) and withdrawn before demolding so that a member come in its place.
I know the going of (line 10) a male figure (statue?), the coming of a woman; (how to capture) the instant of a realistic posture; the cringing of the solitary cap- tive; the glance of the eye at its sister; frightening the face of the guarded foreigners; (line 11) the balance (lifting) of the arm of the one who throws down the hippopotamus; the tread of the runner.
I know the making of (foundry) molds to make repro- ductions (line 12) cast in a material that will not be consumed by fire, nor be washed by water, either.
(Eulogy of eldest son)
(line 13) This (secret) knowledge was not revealed to anyone except (to) me alone and my eldest son of my body; the god (Pharaoh) had commanded that he stands (line 14) before him, and took the revelation about it. I saw the achievements of his two hands when acting as overseer of works in every costly material beginning with silver and gold (line 15) even to ivory and ebony.
Other remarkable hieroglyphic words bring additional clues. They comply with the made-stone scenario and are discussed in the notes 70 to 72.