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Monday, May 21, 2012

Great Pyramid - PYRAMIDS AND GEOPOLYMERS - 14.The Rise of Pyramids


Prof. Joseph Davidovits
Chapter 14
The Rise of Pyramids

Pyramid construction methods pose great questions. The work that would be involved using the accepted method is staggering, even with modern machinery; and with the construction method eluding historians, 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. This explanation fails to address the reason why pyramid building was not at least attempted during certain later wealthy dynasties possessing additional territory, masses of slaves, better tools, and executing prolific building projects.
The reasons for the rise and decline of pyramid construction crystallize when one considers the developments associated with the use of agglomerated stone. The developments in construction parallel those of the modern concrete industry after the introduction of Portland cement; specifically, the first pyramid blocks weighed only a few pounds. Their size gradually increased over the pyramid- building era to include enormous blocks and support beams weighing up to hundreds of tons apiece. If the pyramids were built of carved blocks, the observed evolution of pyramid construction would be highly unlikely. An overview clarifies these points.
Figure61: Sphinx and the Great Pyramid. Figure 62: The pyramids are situated in the necropolis on the West Bank of the Nile.

The Great Pyramid is one of the earliest pyramids (Fig. 61). More than seventy pyramids are known, and others may be concealed beneath the desert sands.Any still buried would not be great pyramids,but small,ruined structures.All known pyramids are situated in groups located at several different geographical areas of the necropolis on the West Bank (Fig. 62).
The pyramid of Pharaoh Zoser served as a prototype for following Third Dynasty pyramids. Because Third Dynasty history is obscure, with the number and order of reigns still debated, the identification of the pyramids immediately following Zoser’s is tenuous. Tentatively among Zoser’s Third Dynasty pyramid-building successors were pharaohs Sekhemkhet, Neb-ka, and Kha-ba. None of these kings reigned long enough to complete his monument.
The pyramid considered second in chronology is attributed to Zoser’s successor, Sekhemkhet, who is believed to have reigned from six to eight years. This complex is located at Saqqara near the original pyramid and was planned along a similar design. The intent to build a larger monument is apparent from a larger enclosure. This unfinished monument is in ruins. Only two tiers remain.
One distinctive architectural feature found inside is a door framed by an arch. If this pyramid were correctly dated to the Third Dynasty, the arch would most likely be the earliest ever constructed. Nearby, several Ptolemaic mummies were discovered in the sand. Also discovered were objects dating from the Twenty-sixth Dynasty and later During the Twenty- sixth Dynasty old traditions were revived. A chamber inside the pyramid, which was first entered during excavation in the 1950s, showed signs of previous entry even though almost 1,000 items of gold jewelry had not been removed from the adjoining passageway.
Construction ramps were found in situ. These ramps do not provide evidence for the hoisting of enormous blocks for the Great Pyramids because the blocks of this structure are small. If this pyramid is correctly dated to the era when stone was agglomerated, the blocks were manufactured near the site in numerous small wooden molds of different sizes. The blocks were then carried up the ramps and placed to construct the pyramid. It would have been cumbersome and unnecessary to cast these small blocks in place.
Relief drawings on the sandstone cliffs near the Sinai mines show Sekhemkhet smiting the local desert people in order to protect mineral deposits. Rothenberg’s expedition examined tool marks and graffiti on cavern walls, enabling a distinction between early and late mining operations. Whereas Middle and New Kingdom dynasties used pointed metal tools, in earlier times mine shafts were produced with pointed flint tools. Rothenberg observed that the mines were most heavily exploited by the end of the Fourth Dynasty. In other words, the mines were heavily exploited by the time the major pyramids were built [76].
Sandstone masses were removed from the mines by producing a series of holes. This stone was then crushed into sand with harder rocks to free the mafkat nodules.The mafkat itself was most likely transported back to Egypt to be crushed for the cement.
A pyramid located at Zawiet el-Aryan, not far from Giza, is known as the Layer Pyramid and belongs to the first phases of Egyptian architecture. It has not been attributed adequately. Pharaoh Kha-ba’s name is found in the nearby cemetery, making him the most likely builder (Fig. 63). The Layer Pyramid was poorly constructed and is in a state of ruin. The use of small limestone blocks here still prevails, but they have become somewhat larger. The block quality is inferior and is believed to originate from a quarry to the south. This quarry may well be the origin of the aggregates used to produce blocks for the pyramid. No chemical analysis has been made of these blocks, but their inferior quality could be the result of several factors.
Figure 63: Depiction of projected outline of Kha-ba's pyramid, which was never completed, rises over ruins (J.P. Lauer).
A mining or general work slowdown or the use of inferior minerals are possibilities. If the king was elderly when crowned or in poor health, mining, a difficult and very time consuming operation, might have been cut back and the cons- truction work completed as well as possible with the least amount of cement before his death. If the cement were used sparingly, the resulting blocks would not be well adhered. If these were poor agricultural years, vegetable products (plant ashes) for the cement might have been less abundant. Another possibility is that the noncarbonate parts of the limestone did not react. This occurs if the clay in the limestone is of a type called illite by geologists.
It is also possible that the cement used did nor harden fast enough to produce good quality blocks beyond a certain size. The blocks did not crack to pieces as the larger size present in this pyramid, and they perhaps seemed adequate during construction. Close observation may have revealed tiny cracks or a poor finish, prompting the Heliopolitan specialists to continue experimenting with the formula.
The objective for Third Dynasty builders was to achieve more rapid setting, yielding larger blocks of better quality. Building with larger units has definite advantages. The architects no doubt realized that large blocks, being difficult to move, provided more protection for the burial chambers. Large units are less likely to be exploited at a later date, and transporting stones is a lot of work that can be eliminated provided the blocks can be cast directly in place. In other words, the larger the building units, the less work involved.
Three other structures built far from Memphis are tentatively grouped into the Third Dynasty. Generally, these show no architectural advance over Pharaoh Zoser’s pyramid. These pyramids are small and far inferior except for larger blocks. Third Dynasty pyramids were designed as stepped structures with subterranean tombs. Structural designs varied in the different pyramids as architects experimented with engineering possibilities.
The last Third Dynasty king was Huni, also the last to build a step pyramid (Fig. 64). His structure is usually discussed in connection with Fourth Dynasty pyramids because of its controversial history. It seems that Sneferu, the first king of the Fourth Dynasty performed an experiment on Huni’s pyramid. Huni’s large step pyramid had been beautifully constructed at Meidum, forty miles south of Mem- phis. It originally had seven tiers and stood ninety-two meters (304 feet) high. Some of its blocks weigh about 0.25 tons x (550 pounds).
Figure 64: Huni's pyramid at Meidum (1988).
When Sneferu was enthroned, he ordered his workmen to increase its height and add additional casing blocks from the base to the summit of Huni’s pyramid. This produced the first exquisite, geometrical pyramid. The design was hailed as a great innovation, the inspiration for subsequent pyramids. The newly transformed pyramid, with its smooth finish of casing blocks, reflected brilliant streams of gleaming sunlight and won Sneferu the reputation of solar innovator. Sneferu ushered in the era we call the Pyramid Age.
At some point in history Huni’s elegant superstructure or Sneferu’s mystical architectural form underwent a sudden, cataclysmic demise. Much of its outer masonry crashed to the ground in one tumultuous earth-shaking moment. A huge mound of stone debris resulted. It still surrounds the monument. The site attracts a great deal of attention, with the causes of the incident becoming one of the puzzles of Egyptology.
The generally held theory is that, at an unknown date, key support blocks shifted out of place or were removed. If the latter, the most likely culprit would have been Ramses II, who was notorious for pillaging blocks from pyramids for his own monuments. Other theories accounting for the cataclysm are that the pyramid was disturbed by an earthquake or that there were incompatibilities between the original and the radical new design. Any of these possibilities might have caused a chain reaction, setting off the enormous avalanche that tore away most of the outer masonry [77]. Now, when viewed from afar, the remains have the surreal appearance of a fabulous high tower rising from the midst of an enormous mound.
Sneferu was the most industrious builder in Egyptian history. On the Libyan plateau, six miles south of Saqqara, at Dashur,he constructed two gigantic pyramids.They dominate the skyline even today. He appropriately named the first the Southern Shining Pyramid, and the second, to the north, the Shining Pyramid. Today they are known as the Bent Pyramid (also Rhomboidal, Blunted, and False Pyramid) and the Red Pyramid, respectively (Fig. 65). Together they incorporate more stone than the Great Pyramid. Sneferu’s workmen produced the monuments during the king’s twenty-four year reign, and we have already considered the logistical problems that this creates for engineers.
Figures 65: Sneferu's Bent Pyramid and Red Pyramid (1988). Figure 66: A stele of Sneferu was engraved on a cliff face in the Sinai.

In addition, the Palermo Stone records that Sneferu built temples throughout Egypt. He is also believed to have constructed the first Valley temples and causeways, as well as the small, subsidiary pyramids found south of parent structures. These types of masonry works adorned his own construction and were also believed to have been added by him to Huni’s complex. Sneferu far exceeded other prolific builders of Egyptian history.
The Palermo Stone records that he sent to Lebanon for cedar. He launched a fleet of forty large ships to retrieve enormous beams of cedar at the Lebanon coast, the same sort of mission carried out since early times. We have already considered how this historical event connects with the preparation of molds and containers for pyramid construction. Also relevant is that Sneferu’s name is found in the Sinai in large reliefs in the cliffs. As would be expected, he exploited the mines on an enormous scale. The Sinai mines exploited by him were known as Sneferu’s mines for 1,000 years (Fig. 66).
Sneferu’s Bent Pyramid was the first of the truly colossal superstructures. It is well preserved with a tip that is still pointed, and a great many of its casing blocks remain intact. Some of the casing blocks on the lower part of the pyramid are reported to be five feet high, a sure sign of cas- ting on the spot, whereas some of the smaller masonry fits together fairly roughly, suggesting the use of precast stone bricks. The heights of blocks range from small to large, providing for stability.
The modern name of Bent Pyramid was inspired by the angle of its slope, which suddenly diminishes on the upper half of the pyramid. Its shape makes it unique among pyramids. It is assumed that the architect radically altered the angle in an attempt to reduce the tremendous amount of stress on the corbeled walls of inner chambers, which, it is believed were already beginning to crack during construction. Yet, there could be another explanation.
For an unknown reason Sneferu went on to build the even larger Red Pyramid, so called because of the pink tint of its stones. Here the blocks are big, with each one cast directly in place. Cumulative alchemical and engineering developments afforded superior strength and design over all previous pyramids. The burial chamber, traditionally under- ground, was incorporated into the pyramid itself. The heights of the blocks vary from 0.5 meters (1.64 feet) to 1.4 meters (4.6 feet). The Red Pyramid stands 103.36 meters (113 yards) high, and has a square base of 220 x 220 meters (240 x 240 yards). Its dimensions approach those of the Great Pyramid to follow. Both pyramids were until 1995 in a restricted military entry zone, so I have not examined them personally.
Figure 67: Prince Rahotep and his wife Nefret. Fourth Dynasty. Cairo Museum (1988).
Painted limestone statutes of Prince Rahotep and his wife Nofret, the former a son of Sneferu, were found in the cemetery around Huni’s pyramid at Meidum (Fig. 67). The paint used is a fine alchemical product that maintains its fresh color today. The inlaid eyes are truly exquisite, as would be expected of agglomerated stone. Eyelids are made of copper, the whites of the eye are quartz, and the corneas are rock crystal. The material composing the irises is of uncertain composition, thought perhaps to be a type of resin. The Fourth Dynasty produced the most remarkable statuary.
Another son of Sneferu was Khnum-Khufu (Kheops or Cheops), who built the Great Pyramid (Fig. 68). His full name shows his reverence for Khnum. Although today it is called the Great Pyramid, Khufu named his monument The Pyramid which is the Place of the Sunrise and Sunset. The name, inspired by Heliopolitan mythology depicted the pyramid as the throne of the Sun god Ra during his daily course across the heavens.
Figure 68: Cross section of the Great Pyramid.
Khufu and his pyramid were richly endowed with a royal estate, which had been maintained for thousands of years. During those years a line of priests assigned to Khufu faithfully maintained temples and property and ritually prepared offerings for the deceased god-king. Altars were covered over with offerings of flowers, incense, and food. Monuments that make reference to these priests date to several historical periods spanning thousands of years. They indicate that the tradition was not broken until Ptolemaic times.
This same tradition was upheld by priests of Khufu’s father, Sneferu, and also those of his son, Khafra (Khefren or Chephren). Like his father, Khufu sponsored numerous building projects. His name appears on monuments throughout Egypt. He excavated for minerals in the Arabian Desert, Nubia, and the Sinai, where he was depicted on the cliffs protecting the mines.
Much of the complex belonging to the Great Pyramid has been destroyed. Only the foundations of the enclosure walls and the mortuary temple remain. The great causeway that Herodotus remarked almost equaled the pyramid in size was practically intact until 100 years ago. Today many large blocks remain to provide an idea of its original size and solidity. Other portions of the complex, such as the Valley Temple, are yet to be excavated. The cemetery surrounding the Great Pyramid is the most extensive, with large, impressive mastabas.
The seventh or eighth in chronology, the Great Pyramid is the largest and represents the peak in engineering design. Never again would Egypt build on this scale. Because of its masterful construction, this monument is the most celebrated of all time. It is little wonder that modern engineers wince at the thought of duplicating this monument, even with the best equipment. The base is 232 meters (253.7 yards) per side and the area of the base is 5.30 hectares (13 acres). Through careful observation of the stars, the Great Pyramid was oriented more accurately than any other; it is off only one-tenth of a degree of present-day true north. Its original height is estimated to have soared to 147 meters (481 feet). Today it is about 138 meters (450 feet) high with its capstone and some tiers missing. Its volume is 2,562,576 cubic meters (90,496,027 cubic feet). It contains approximately 2.6 million building blocks and has an overall weight of approximately 6.5 million tons.
It is difficult to appreciate the enormous size of the Great Pyramid by reading statistics. Perhaps a better illustration is this: if all of its blocks were cut into pieces one-foot square and laid end to end, they would reach two-thirds of the way around the world at the equator. Notwithstanding all of the problems of pyramid construction already raised, if the blocks of the Great Pyramid were carved and their carving waste taken into account, the total weight of the stone used would have been close to 15 million tons-placing an enormous burden on the accepted theory.
The carving and hoisting theory indeed raises questions that have been insufficiently answered. In October 1991, during the shooting of the TV production “ This Old Pyramid ” by NOVA with M. Lehner, aired on the American PBS network, I witnessed the weaknesses of the traditional theories. The pictures I took there (Fig. 69-74) illustrate the difficulty of the task. Using stone and copper tools, how did workers manage to make the pyramid faces absolutely flat?
Figure 69: NOVA's mini pyramid (1991); Khufu's (Kheops or Cheops) pyramid in background.

Egyptologist can claim that the problems have been resolved. Theories of construction are many and continue to be invented.All are based on carving and hoisting natural stone, and none solves the irreconcilable problems. Only the agglomerated stone theory instantly solves all of the logistical
and other problems.
What direct evidence of molding is to be found in the Great Pyramid? The casing blocks are clearly the product of stone casting. As mentioned, most were stripped for cons- truction in medieval Cairo after an earthquake destroyed the city in AD 1301. Those that survive are at ground level, buried beneath the sand in 1301. Joints between the casing blocks are barely detectable, fitting as closely as 0.002 inch according to Petrie’s measurements. The casing blocks are smooth and of such fine quality that they have frequently been mistaken for light-gray granite. The English scholar John Greaves (1602- 1652) thought, at first sight, that they were marble.
Figure 75: Three possible positions for casting casing stones.

The casing blocks were angled to produce the slope of the pyramid. Because of their shape, casting them was more complicated than casting rectangular blocks. In Fig. 75, A, B, and C show three casting methods: casting from the top, casting upside down, and side casting. B and C are feasible when making fluid or semi-dry concrete. Filling a mold using method A is somewhat more difficult because the slurry must be pushed constantly against the inclined lid to prevent gaps from forming (this is possible with the pisé or rammed earth technique).
In 1982 the German Egyptologists Rainer Stadelmann and Hourig Stadelmann-Sourozian discovered that the inscriptions on the casing blocks of the Red Pyramid of Sneferu were always on the bottom [78]. This applies to the Great Pyramid as well and could indicate that the casing blocks were cast in an inverted position (method B or method C) against neighboring blocks. Once they hardened and were demolded, they were turned upside down and positioned. To find inscriptions consistently on the bottom is good evidence of the method by which they were made. Had the casing blocks been carved, inscriptions would be found on various surfaces.
Positioning the casing blocks was the most difficult and time-consuming part of building a tier. I still do not know whether the casing blocks were inverted and set while the rest of the tier was built from the inside and whether the packing blocks were added between the core masonry and the casing blocks to complete a tier.
The ascending passageway leading to the Grand Gal- lery had been plugged with three enormous granite blocks each 1.20 meters (3.9 feet) thick, 1.05 meters (3.4 feet) wide, and totaling 4.34 meters (14.3 feet) long. Edwards wrote [79]: “ The three plugs which still remain in position at the lower end of the Ascending Corridor are about one inch wider than its mouth and, consequently, could not have been introduced from the Descending Corridor ”. Since the plugging should have occurred after the funeral ceremony, Edwards continues, “ No alternative remained, therefore, but to store the plugs somewhere in the pyramid while it was under construction and to move them down the Ascending Corridor after the body had been put in the burial chamber ”. Egyptologists have hotly debated where the plugs had been stored but have offered no satisfactory answer. Although no analyses have been made of the granite plugs in any of the pyramids, I could suggest that these plugs in the Great Pyramid were agglomerated in the Grand Gallery and later slid into position. Yet, I do not have any proof on that matter.
Evidence of molding appears in the ascending passageway. The blocks in this passageway are alternately set in either an inclined or vertical position. Although the inclined blocks have no structural function, the blocks set vertically support the passageway itself. There are large monolithic gates, consisting of two walls and a ceiling, made in a reverse-U shape. The evidence that these gates were molded are the mortises, later filled with cement, in the floor beneath them. Poles were inserted in these mortises to support the part of the mold needed to form the ceilings of the gates.
Figure 76: Mortises and vertical grooves in the Grand Gallery (I.E.S. Edwards).
In addition, the sample provided by Lauer was from the wall of the Ascending Passageway. I have already described the sophisticated geopolymeric binder I detected, the stress bubbles, organic fibers, and wood-grain impressions exhibited in the sample.
The Grand Gallery is the most spectacular masonry feature of the interior of any pyramid. It measures 47.5meters (156feet) long, 8.5meters (28 feet) high, and 2.1 meters (7 feet) wide at the floor level. Its walls are corbeled. One of Jomard’s comments about the Great Pyramid was [80]: “ Everything is mysterious about the construction of this monument. The oblique, horizontal and bent passageways, different in dimensions, the narrow shaft, the twenty-five mortises dug in the banks of the Grand Gallery... ” Jomard was referring to the mortises carefully plotted on the drawings made by Cecile for Description de l’Egypte (Fig. 76).
Jomard did not notice that each square mortise in the floor corresponds with a vertical groove in the walls (Fig. 77). The two French architects, Gilles Dormion and Jean-Patrice Goidin, who drilled a hole in the wall of the Queen’s Chamber in 1987 in their search for hidden chambers, proposed that the purpose of the mortises was to stabilize poles that supported a wooden floor leading to a hidden passageway, which they failed to find [81]. Any hidden chambers which may be found would add to the complexity of building the pyramid according to the accepted theory.
Probably, these mortises and grooves were necessary for casting blocks. To produce a rectangular block, the mold must be oriented horizontally because, like water, a slurry will seek its own horizontal level when poured. If a block were cast on an incline, a misshapen block would result (Fig. 77). The blocks for the corbeled gallery were cast, therefore, in the horizontal position. The support mechanism was a wooden plank secured to the appropriate groove in the wall. The top of each groove is horizontal to the next mortise up. The plank was weighted, perhaps with a sandbag. Removing the weight disengaged the wooden structure so the finished block could be lowered and pushed into position.
Figure 77: Blocks were cast horizontally (A), and after setting, they were moved into the inclined position (B) to build the walls of the Grand Gallery.

The French architects previously mentioned used special devices provided by the French electricity company EDF, to measure the overall density of the pyramid. They found a bulk density twenty percent lighter than expected for limestone. An Associated Press article published in December 1986, titled “ 480,000 Stones Unaccounted for in Pyramid”,reported the team as saying,“ Holes.We have holes. Maybe the size of a fist; maybe the size of Notre Dame... Or the answer might be that some of the stones are of a lighter rock than the predominant limestone or that spaces appearing empty in the readings are filled with rubble ”.
Though they found no chambers or enormous holes, that core blocks are lighter than the bedrock was recognized in 1974 by the SRI International team. SRI International found the density of the blocks of Khafra’s pyramid twenty percent lighter than the bedrock [82]. Lighter density is a consequence of agglomeration. Cast and rammed blocks are always twenty to twenty-five percent lighter than natural rock.
The Grand Gallery leads up to the so-called King’s Chamber, deep in the interior and about two-thirds of the way up the pyramid. The blocks composing the flat roof of the King’s Chamber are impressive, among the largest in the entire structure. The roof consists of nine monolithic slabs weighing about fifty tons each, totaling about 450 tons. The floors and walls of the King’s Chamber are made similarly of finely jointed red granite that appears to be polished.
If one considers size, design and construction time limits, it becomes clear that if the Great Pyramids were dependent on primitive methods of carving and hoisting, they would not exist. In the Great Pyramid, hundreds of blocks that make up the core masonry weigh twenty tons and more and are found at the level of the Grand Gallery and higher. We have examined how the first pyramids were constructed of blocks weighing only a few pounds apiece. As engineering methods and design improved, casting stone directly in place in larger and larger units resulted in, to a civilization in the final phases of the Stone Age, monuments that stun modern observers, monuments that cannot be sufficiently explained today by experts or effectively duplicated within the appropriate amount of time by carving and hoisting natural stone. Now, we will examine the reason why, like the extinction of a mighty species, pyramid building in the sands of Egypt ceased.

Great Pyramid - PYRAMIDS AND GEOPOLYMERS - 12,13:It Is Written in Greek/Latin


Prof. Joseph Davidovits
Chapter 12
It Is Written in Greek

Not to be overlooked is the classical historical account of pyramid construction, the well-known account of Herodotus. His account reflects beliefs popular in Egypt during the fifth century BC, which Egyptologists assume have no significant bearing on the actual method of pyramid construction. In any case, they agree that it com- plies fully with the standard carving and hoisting theory. But does it?
Herodotus was a remarkable and reliable historian, a unique figure of antiquity. He is called the Father of History for producing the first comprehensive attempt at historical narrative based on scientific inquiry. His work marks the beginning of the Western approach to historical reporting. His writing shows superb analytical skills; it is anecdotal, charming and entertaining.
Born in Asia Minor around 485 BC, he began seventeen years of extensive travel in the ancient world while in his twenties. The journey for which he is most well known is a four-month stay in Egypt, which he recounts in his entire se- cond book of The History. One summer, sometime after 460 BC, Herodotus arrived in the western Delta at the town of Canapé, Egypt. He visited several renowned sites and encountered many people until his departure from Pelusuim in the eastern Delta before the following winter.
He was captivated by Egypt’s wondrous monuments and geography. He reported what he learned of these and of history, arts, folklore, customs, and beliefs. During his visit to Memphis, he discussed the construction of the Great Pyramids with local guides. Herodotus’s work has been translated several times since AD 1450 from the old Ionic Greek, with each translator attempting to improve on the precise meaning of the text. The relevant portion of his re- port of their account is presented below. I have emphasized certain words and phrases vital to the true method of pyramid construction. The account begins [73]:
“ Now they told me, that to the death of Rhampsinitus there was a perfect distribution of justice, and that all of Egypt was in a high state of prosperity. But that Cheops (Khufu), the next king to reign,brought the people absolute misery. First he shut all the temples, and forbade the offering of sacrifice. Then he ordered all of the Egyptians to work for him. Some were appointed to drag stone from the quarries in the Arabian mountains to the Nile. Others he ordered to receive the stones which were transported in boats across the river, and drag them to the hills called the Libyan. ”
The group of emphasized words refers to the transportation of stone. Instead of stone blocks, this description could just as well relate to the hauling of stone rubble. The limestone material used for the casing blocks was most likely hauled from quarries in the Arabian mountains. The quote continues:
“ And they worked in gangs of 100,000 men, each gang working for three months. For ten years the people were afflicted with toil in order to make the road for the conveyance of stone. This work, in my opinion, was not much less than that of the pyramid itself; for the road is five stades [3,021 feet] in length, and its width ten orgyae [60 feet], and its height, where it is the highest, eight orgyae [48 feet]; and it is built of polished stone and is covered with engravings of animals. ”
Again, a reference to hauling stone may just as well relate to the hauling of rubble. Above, and again in the next portion provided below, the word polished appears to describe smooth stone bearing no tool marks. This is the same word, xeston, used about 200 years later by Manetho to describe Imhotep's invention. As discussed in Chapter 10, this word does not mean hewn. Herodotus’s account never states that the pyramid blocks were carved.
Another word above is translated engraved. Engraving is assumed by Herodotus, who does not understand the cons- truction method. Just the same, inscriptions or impressions do not require carving. Assuming agglomeration, hieroglyphic figures were impressed in objects such as the Colossi of Memnon and monolithic sarcophagi by the mold. Herodotus continues:
“ As I said, ten years went into the making of this road, including the underground chambers on the mound upon which the pyramid stands. These the king made as a burial place for himself.These last were built on a sort of island made by introducing water by canals from the Nile.Twenty years were spent erecting the pyramid itself. It is a square, each face is eight plethra [820 feet], and the height is the same; it is built entirely of polished stones, and jointed with the greatest exactness; none of the stones are less than thirty feet. ”
Again, we see a reference to the xeston polished or scraped stones, actually the casing of Khafra's pyramid. Herodotus could not describe the pyramid made of stairs and tiers, the way one sees it in modern times. His visit to Giza took palace 1800 years before the inhabitants of Cairo started dismantling the casing of all pyramids. There is also men- tion of canals extending from the Nile to the site. As mentioned in Chapter 6, on-site canals would be necessary for introducing water onto the Giza plateau for disaggregating the limestone and for the production of enormous quantities of cement. Mythology also supports the existence of on-site canals. According to mythology the pyramids would be connected to the Nile so that the spirit of the pharaoh could travel in his boat each night to the underworld.
Residues of cement production have long since vanished. There is, however, another historical account that implies that the river was let in through a canal to disaggregate limestone and natron, as would be necessary for cement production. This comes from Historical Library, by Diodorus Sicilus a later Greek historian visiting the pyramids [74]:
“ And the most remarkable part of the account is that, though the surrounding land consists of nothing but sand, not a trace remains either of ramps or the dressing of stones, so that they do not appear to have been made by the slow hand of man but instead look like a sudden creation, as though they had been made by a god and set down bodily in the sand. Some Egyptians make a marvel out of these matters, saying that in as much as heaps were made with salt and natron, when the river was let it dissolved them and completely effaced them without the intervention of man’s hand. ”
Herodotus continues...
“ This pyramid was built thus: in the form of steps, which some call krosae, and others call bomides. After preparing the foundation,they raised stones by using machines made of short planks of wood, which raised the stones from the ground to the first range of courses. On this course there was another machine which received the stone upon arrival. Another machine advanced the stone on the second course. Either there were as many machines as courses, or there was really only one, and portable, to reach each course in succession whenever they wished to raise the stone higher. I am telling both possibilities because both were mentioned. ”
When researchers introduce designs for wooden ma- chines, which they propose might have been used for hoisting pyramid blocks, their concepts do not comply with the archaeological record. No evidence of any such wooden machinery from the Pyramid Age has ever been found by archaeologists. There was certainly no focus during the late Stone Age on the invention of machinery as we think of it- structures consisting of a framework and fixed and moving parts.
Herodotus’ firsthand reporting nevertheless led to speculation about the existence of tripods and pulleys during the Old Kingdom, but archaeologists are satisfied that these implements were not introduced in Egypt until Roman times, after 30 BC. This contradiction between the firsthand report and the archaeological record produces a dilemma.
The wooden machines cited could be wooden molds or, better, wooden containers. The quote reads in the following manner when the word “ machine ” is changed to read “ mold ” or “ container ”.
“ This pyramid was built thus: in the form of steps [like a step pyramid],which some call krosae, and others call bomides. After preparing the foundation, they raised the other stones by using containers (or molds) made of short planks of wood, which raised the stones from the ground to the first range of courses. On this course there was another container (mold) which received the stone [rubble] upon arrival. Another container (mold) advanced the stone on the second course. Either there were as many containers (molds) as courses, or there was really only one, and portable, to reach each step in succession whenever they wished to raise the stone higher. I am telling both possibilities because both were mentioned. ”
This machine (mechane) may be similar to the pisé technique described in Chapter 11, Fig. 53. It is a box made of short planks of wood held together with ropes, therefore versatile, and easily portable.Workers used it either as a container to temporarily store the “ wet stone ”, and as a mold to pound the wet material giving it the final shape. The slight language distortion that converted machines to containers (molds) shows how difficult it can be to interpret even very simple technical words when knowledge has been lost. A container or mold can be considered as an apparatus or device. The Greek word, mechane, used by Herodotus, is a general term indicating something contrived, invented, or fabricated. Because the word is nonspecific, a gross generalization, what is left to the imagination produces a conceptual distortion, and unfamiliarity with the actual construction method affects the way translators interpreted and therefore translated the text.
Not only does Herodotus’s account not support stone cutting, it also does not imply that blocks were hoisted up the pyramid. What exists is a description complying with piling a pyramid tier by tier. The account never states that blocks were raised via ramps or from the ground by machine directly to great heights. The account continues:
“ The highest parts of it, therefore, were first finished, and afterwards they completed the parts next following. Last of all they finished the parts on the ground, and those that were the lowest. 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 inscription, as I well remember, told me this amounted to 1,600 talents of silver. And if this be true, how much more was probably expended in iron tools, in bread, and in clothing for the workers, since they took the time that I have mentioned to build this edifice without even counting, in my opinion, the time for quarrying the stones, their transportation, and the construction of subterranean chambers, which were without doubt considerable ”.
Herodotus, who liked to calculate problems, had trouble believing that the pyramid had been built in twenty years. But more interestingly, without appropriate scientific insight, the reference to onion and garlic is absolutely absurd. It appeared, for instance, so ridiculous to the noted Egyptologists Budge and Gaston Maspero, that they thought Herodotus was deceived by the interpreter. Budge commented in The Mummy that the inscriptions were pure invention. We now know, however, that chemical odors, such as those resembling garlic,comply with Khnum’s alchemical processes as described in the earlier chapter 11 “ It is written in Hieroglyphs ”. Knowing this, we recognize that this passage is something truly precious. It is a piece of genuine news preserved from the time of the completion of the Great Pyramid.
Herodotus’s comments about other costs clearly indicate that he did not understand the chemical sense of the inscriptions. Nor does it seem that he was made to appreciate why this relevant information was provided. It was certainly considered to be a primary part of the guides’ explanation, lending a clue that they may have understood something about the construction method. If they did not understand, they certainly knew that the inscriptions were relevant.
It is not difficult to understand why the guides would be ineffective in communicating the construction method to Herodotus if they understood it. There seems to have been no suitable Greek word to describe such stone, the closest word being polished or scraped (xeston). Communicating the notion of man-made stone and stone otherwise prepared or reconstituted by man could easily be misunderstood, especially when conversing with a traveler unfamiliar with the technology through an interpreter.
Different possibilities emerge regarding Herodotus’s quote. One is that the guides thought they were adequately communicating the method of pyramid construction. The interpreter may have distorted the account in translation. More probably, the guides related only distorted legendary information. Whatever the case, modern translators have inadvertently obscured the text by misinterpreting some key words. Preconceived ideas about pyramid construction played a significant role in the translations of the text into modem languages.
Although the account contains some misinformation, we also find that, paragraph by paragraph, it is riddled with clues of the actual construction method, relevant clues that could not be present otherwise. The amount and relevance of the clues can be no accident, nor can these clues be ignored. This leads to the standard interpretation of the account coming into serious question. When stripped of distortion, a clearer account emerges. Instead of supporting the standard theory, this account must be taken as historical documenta-tion supporting my findings.
Chapter 13
It Is Written in Latin

When did the last vestiges of the technology disappear and why? The answer to these questions remains elusive. Existing alchemical knowledge can still be pinpointed to a time shortly after the death of Jesus Christ. A description is found in the ancient science encyclopedia written by Pliny the Elder (AD 23 - 79), the Roman naturalist. Pliny’s account is not legendary or written esoterically; it clearly describes the salient features of the technology.
Pliny became one of the authorities on science and its history for the Middle Ages, making a profound impact on the intellectual development of Western Europe. He had established a new type of scientific literature - the encyclopedia. He was the first to collect old, diversified material of science and pseudoscience and methodically and expertly assemble it. The resulting encyclopedia of Natural History, consisting of thirty-seven books, is impressive in its scope. It covers botany, zoology, geography, anthropology, cosmology, astronomy, and mineralogy. During the Middle Ages, lessons in his work often substituted for a general education, and Pliny’s authority remained undiminished for over 1,500 years.
It was not until 1492 that Pliny’s authority was first challenged in Concerning the Errors of Pliny, by the noted physician and philologist Niccolo Leoniceno. Although Pliny’s encyclopedia is today appreciated as one of the monumental literary works of classical antiquity, some scholars still declare the work useless as science. Be that as it may, if our aim is to understand, appreciate, and indeed attempt to recover the best of the sciences of antiquity, Pliny’s encyclopedia is a jewel of science.
To date, the passages related to alchemical stonemaking confuse scholars, resulting in gross errors of translation in Pliny’s work. Worse, the salient principles and characteristics of the ancient science being unknown, the translators dismissed Pliny’s account as erroneous. De Roziere commented on the problems of translation [75]:
“ M. Grosse, author of a German translation of Pliny, highly esteemed by learned people, points out that in the whole of this description the Roman naturalist seems to have done his best to make himself obscure.“ Despite my familiarity ”, he said, “ both with Pliny’s style and with the meaning he gives to terms, it has been difficult, sometimes even impossible, to translate the passages clearly and exactly ”. The reason was certainly that he was simply unfamiliar with the substance that Pliny was describing. ”
One can appreciate the difficulty of literally translating technical material after technical knowledge has been lost, especially for a strictly literary scholar. Except for my trans- lation, all attempts to translate the relevant passages have been futile.
In 1832-1833, the French Academy of Sciences, in order to compare ancient scientific knowledge with that of its day, produced and annotated a French translation of Pliny’s encyclopedia. The first half of the nineteenth century produced several important developments. Jean-François Champollion deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs, and Georg Friedrich Grotefend deciphered Persian cuneiform. Portland cement was first manufactured, and a complete mineral clas- sification was established. The latter allowed for a comprehensive critique of Pliny’s writings on mineralogy by the French Academy of Sciences.
A passage from Book 31 of Pliny’s encyclopedia made no sense to the French scholars. But the passage is compelling in its support of the existence of alchemical stonemaking. The passage appears in Latin as follows:
“ Nitrariae Aegypri circa Naucratim et Memphim tanturn solebant esse, circa Memphim deteriores. Nam et lapidescit ibi in acervis: multique sunt cumuli ca de causa saxei. Faciunt ex his vasa... ”
Translated into English this passage reads:
“ In previous times, Egypt had no outcrops of natron except for those near Naucratis and Memphis, the products of Mem- phis being reputedly inferior. It is a fact that in accumulations of materials it (natron) petrifies [minerals]. In this way occurs a multitude of heaps [of minerals] which become transformed into real rocks. The Egyptians make vases of it.... ”
This particular passage is simple and straightforward, so there is no error of translation - the Egyptians made real rocks according to Pliny. And the last sentence suggests that Khnum’s technology was again being used to produce stone vases. Pliny provides a more detailed description of the ma- nufacture of artificial stone in a segment about vase produc- tion. The vases are called murrhine vases. The following is a standard translation of Pliny’s description found in Book 37:
“ Date of the introduction of the murrhine vases and what they commemorated:
VII. With this same victory came the introduction to Rome of the murrhine vases.Pompey was the first to dedicate murrhine cups and bowls to Jupiter in the Capitol. These vessels soon passed into daily use, and they were in demand for display and tableware. Lavish expenditure on these items increased daily: an ex-consul drank from a murrhine vessel for which he paid 70 talents [about 1 million $US in 1988] although it held just three pints. He was so taken with the vessel that he gnawed its edges. The damage actually caused its value to increase, and today no murrhine vessel has a higher price upon it. The same man squandered vast sums to acquire other articles of this substance, which can be determined by their number, so high that when Nero robbed them from his children for display they filled the private theater in his gardens beyond the Tiber, a theater large enough to satisfy even Nero’s urge to sing before a full house as he rehearsed for his appearance at Pompey’s theater.
It was at this event that I counted the pieces of a single broken vessel included in the exhibition. It was decided that the pieces, like the remains of Alexander the Great, should be preserved in an urn for display, presumably as a token of the sorrows and misfortune of the age. Before dying, the consul Titus Petronius, in order to spite Nero, had a murrhine bowl, valued at 30 talents [$400,000 U.S.], broken in order to deprive the Emperor’s dining table of it. But Nero, as befitted an emperor, surpassed everyone else by paying 100 talents [$1.5 million U.S.] for a single vessel. It is a memorable fact that an emperor, head of the fatherland, should drink at such a high price. ”
The passage indicates that the precious stone vases were dedicated to Jupiter, the supreme god in Roman mythology. This could reflect a carry-over in religious tradition. It is probable that more anciently alchemically made stone vessels were dedicated to the Sun god of Egypt, Ra in the form of Khnum Ra. After the Roman conquest, Jupiter was worshipped in Egypt in the form of Jupiter-Amun,Amun being the supreme deity identified with the Sun during the late era. It could be that the word murrhine was derived from the name of Khnum.
The Latin spelling is murrhinum. Excluding the “ m ”, the succession of consonants in Latin is: .rrh.n.m, which could be a Latin way of writing .kh.n.m: The letter “ kh ” are pronounced the same as are “ ch ” in German and the letter “ J ” (jota) in Spanish, the sound heard in the name Juan. This pronunciation has a guttural sound “ rrh ”. This type of pronunciation or sound would transform the word to mukhinum, which is close to the name Khnum.
These vases were truly precious items, either because of sacred tradition or simple technological developments. Adding certain raw materials and heating under certain conditions produces extraordinarily beautiful optical qualities, such as those described next. Clearly the material described has features that do not comply with those of natural stone. In the relevant passages, emphasis is added.
“ VIII. The murrhine vases come to us from the East. They are found there in various little-known places, especially in the kingdom of Parthia.The finest come from Carmania.They are said to be made of a liquid to which heat gives consistence when covered with earth.Their dimensions never exceed those of a small display stand.Rarely,their thickness is no more than that of a drinking vessel such as mentioned.They are not very brilliant.They glisten rather than shine.What makes them fetch a high price is the varieties of shades, the veins, as they revolve, vary repeatedly from pink to white, or a combination of the two, the pink becoming firey or the milk-white becoming red as the new shade merges through the vein. Some connoisseurs especially admire the edges of a piece, where the colors are reflected as in the inner part of a rainbow. Others favor thick veins. Any transparency or fading is a flaw. Also there are the grains and the blisters which, like warts on human bodies, are just beneath the surface.The stone is also appreciated for its odor.”
According to Pliny these vases were made from a liquid that hardened when heated, a description indicating that the vases could not have been produced by carving natural stone. The mention of blisters and odor could refer only to an artificially produced material. A puzzled committee of scientists from the French Academy of Sciences responded as follows:
“ The matter of the murrhine vases was discussed for a long time. According to Scaliger, Mariette, Lagrange, et al., it was porcelain that, in Roman times, was only made at the extremities of the known world (China, Japan, and Formosa), and which, transported at great cost overland through the hands of twenty different people, must indeed have fetched an enormous price. But porcelain is artificial, and the variety of colors, the play of light on the murrhine surface, the stripes, and the wavy stains of which Pliny speaks, are not traits of porcelain. Moreover, -... humorem sub terra calore densari...- a liquid to which heat gives consistency when covered with earth, i.e., hardens when it is heated in clay, can hardly mean a man-made process analogous to that which transforms kao- lin into porcelain. But from his description, the only natural substance with all the features described by Pliny is fluorite. ”
Despite Pliny’s description of a material that could only be manmade, the French scholars decided that the vases had to be made of fluorite, a stone material, with white and pink veins, which must be carved. Their comments continue:
“ To identify fluorite in the midst of so many heterogeneous substances would have been difficult; to extract it, i.e.,to isolate it and purify it, impossible. It was thus necessary to find native pieces of heterogeneous material with as little filler as possible.This was rare.Rarer still were pink crystallized samples,for pink is last in the order of abundance: greenish gray, white, yellow, violet, blue, honey yellow, and pink. It should be remembered that, even today, fine specimens of fluorite are used to make beautiful vases. Recently, fluorite was used to give a matte finish to porcelain statues which had become vitrified during firing. ”
In this last statement, the scholars were referring to the fact that fluorite is used to produce hydrofluoric acid, vital to ceramic production. Fluorite is dissolved in sulfuric acid to make hydrofluoric acid for attacking glass. An interpretation of Pliny’s text by the French Academy of Sciences follows:
“ ...For which he paid 70 talents: Such incredible sums (70 talents) are almost beyond belief. Seventy talents equals almost 35,000 sovereigns [1 million $US] in our money; and we shall be referring to a sum more than four times as great as this a little later-and all this for a vessel meant for the least auspicious applications.
Any transparency or fading are flaws: Semi transparency: this is confirmed below.
The stone is also appreciated for its odor: This is one of the reasons to believe that the murrhine was artificial.
Made of a liquid to which heat gives consistence: it is difficult to understand that heat can cause solidification. Normal experience is that when a solid is heated it melts.Thus, we must consider the possible meanings of the expression, viz.: (1) evaporation followed by condensation, binding together of a magma, and still more likely, crystallization, (2) kinds of stalac- tites or stalagmites (remembering that there does exist a com- pact variety composed of small lumps bound together). ”
In the 1830s, the members of the French Academy of Sciences did not know that a liquid could become hard when heated. With organic chemistry not yet developed, the phenomenon was unknown. In keeping with developments in inorganic chemistry in their day, the transformations of the different states of matter as produced by heat could only occur in an immutable manner. When heated, solids become liquids. Liquids become gases. Then, upon cooling, gases become liquids as they condense, and liquids become solids as they crystallize. This fundamental, uniform behavior of all matter constituted immutable natural laws for the members of the distinguished French Academy of Sciences.
Therefore, Pliny’s description was nonsense in their opinion. It defied natural laws. Their consensus was,“ Beware of Pliny and his fantastical descriptions! ” Modern chemistry, of course, has substantiated Pliny’s claim that liquids can become solid when heated. Thermosetting plastics harden upon heating. And the chemistry of geopolymerization demonstrates that a colloidal solution of minerals hardens when heated.
However, Pliny’s authority in this regard has still not been vindicated. Despite the description that could only indicate the production of artificial stone, fluorite, a natural stone, remains in the translations of Pliny’s text.
Every Egyptian hieroglyphic and cuneiform text deciphered during the early 1800s reflects the limitations of the scientific knowledge of that time. For 150 years, the trans- lations of most ancient texts have not been updated to reflect modern knowledge. This means that ancient texts that may contain descriptions of alchemical stonemaking remain grossly inaccurate.
Pliny is appreciated for his ability to tie together bits of information from scattered sources and arrive at conclusions that often prove to be accurate. He criticized the pharaohs for building such elaborate pyramid tombs but probably gave little thought to the pyramid construction method. Like Pochan and the researchers at SRI International, Pliny also overlooked the construction method. He knew that the murrhine vases were artificial stone, and he knew that, using natron, the Egyptians made “ real rock ”, yet, though he wondered how the Egyptians raised the heavy blocks in the Great Pyramid so high, he never applied his knowledge to pyramid construction.

Great Pyramid - PYRAMIDS AND GEOPOLYMERS - 11.It Is Written in Hieroglyphs


Prof. Joseph Davidovits
Chapter 11a
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.

Egyptologists believe that the relevant inscriptions on the Famine Stele were derived from authentic documents dating from Pharaoh Zoser’s reign (2630 - 2611 BC), that were enhanced by Khnum’s priests during the Ptolemaic period. The Famine Stele consists of five chapters, made up of thirty- two columns of hieroglyphs written from right to left: columns 1 to 4, The Description of the Famine; Columns 4 to 6, The Visit to the Library of Hermopolis; Columns 8 to 18, The Revelations of Imhotep; Columns 18 to 22, The Dream of Pharaoh Zoser; Columns 22 to 32, The Royal Decree.
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 [51] 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

The hieroglyphic names of several minerals on the list have never been translated. Other words are of dubious translation. Their correct translation is vital to the meaning of the stele. I refer to the latter as key words, and they are related to rocks and minerals or their synthesis. Based on my own archaeological discoveries and knowledge of mineralogy and chemistry I have started an in-depth study to decipher as many of the untranslated and mistranslated terms as possible.
In 1988, I produced a new translation of the stele at the Fifth International Conference of Egyptologists, Cairo, Egypt, presented here [50]. 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) [51]. 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 [52]: “ 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 [53]. 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 [52] 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 [54]. 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).
Figure 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.

Fig. 53 outlines today’s making of a wall with the pisé technique. The worker stands barefoot inside the mold made of short planks of wood held together with ropes and is pounding the wet material with a wooden pestle. The block is packed against a bare neighboring block producing a close fit. Sometimes hairs fall from his arms or his legs and are pounded into the stony material.Air is also becoming trapped during packing. Owing to the pressure applied during pounding, the resulting trapped air bubbles, instead of being spherical, are ovaloid in their shape. This would explain the characteristic features of the analyzed pyramid sample in Chapter 7 and Figure 19.
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 ” [55].
During the entire Egyptian civilization, 3000 years long, the hieroglyph sign for “ to build ” (khusi) has not changed at all.

Chapter 11b
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.. ”
English translation:
“ 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.

(General Introduction)
(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

All authors share the same view on the importance of Irtysen's exceptional knowledge set forth in Lines 8-9, (Craft) (Fig. 56). However their translations differ widely and remain obscure,
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... ”]

It is noteworthy that Irtysen did not use wax or other natural resins to replicate the statues. Although these items are generally stable to water, they will burn. Irtysen’s repro- ductions are made in a material that will not be destroyed by fire, unlike wax or resins. It is on the one hand mineral based (fire resistant), and on the other hand water resistant. Irtysen’s material might relate to the geopolymeric reactions described in this book.
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:

(General Introduction)
(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.