Re: Pyramid technology

Wed, 1 Nov 1995 19:36:08 EST

-- [ From: Luis G. Ordonez * EMC.Ver #2.10P ] --
Expanded recipient data:
cc: Francesco Balderacchi \ PRODIGY: (YPGQ04A)

>> Furthermore, some granite blocks surrounding the
>> Sphinx enclosure weigh up to 200 tons! Moving
>> these massive pieces was not possible in our era
>> until 1959, with modern machinery.

> There are blocks of solid limestone in the Western
> Wall (1st cent BC) surrounding the Temple Mount of
> Solomon weighing from 400-600 tons, depending
> on who makes the estimate. Furthermore, we know
> how they were transported - by man and animal.
> Modern society always underestimates the
> technological and creative capabilities of earlier
> civilizations.
> Joe Zias, Curator of Anthropology/Archaeology
> Israel Antiquity Authority
> Jerusalem, Israel

"The amazing feat is not the mere size and weight of these blocks.
Jericho, dating back to 8000 BC, already featured massive stone walls.
The builders of the Sphinx temple imposed upon themselves architectural
and engineering problems of a magnitude encountered nowhere else in
Egypt, not even in the pyramids. For no conceivable rational
architectural or engineering reason, the blocks are elaborately dressed
and slotted into place as if it were no more than a piece of a jigsaw
puzzle. They were cut to tolerances that today could not be equalled
easily or economically, or perhaps at all. The point of a penknife
cannot be inserted between two blocks. Furthermore they were RAISED
and set in order to achieve such precision. It is typical of the stones
in this Sphinx temple complex, and quite atypical of all the rest of
The use of blocks of this size raises interesting questions. Firstly,
how did an ancient civilization, apparently devoid of an advanced
metallurgy, work and handle blocks of stone of such weight? Secondly,
why, if Dynastic Egypt was responsible for the Sphinx and its temple
complex, did it never build in this style or to this scale again?
Lastly, what could be the motive for men, ostensibly not so different
from ourselves, to devise a project so arduous and, from an
architectural and engineering standpoint, so irrational?
1. As far as I know, no architect or engineer has set himself to
solving the specific problems involved in the Sphinx temple. A
considerable amount of time and effort has been spent trying to solve
the equally difficult but different problems raised by the construction
of the pyramids, and many questions still remain. Engineers and
architects informally claim that surprisingly large and heavy objects
can be handled by an ingenious use of levers and other primitive
devices. But all agree that the LIFTING into place of a finely dressed,
extremely dense and extremely heavy block of stone poses a different
kind of problem. This question, too, must remain open for the present.
2. The architecture and art of Dynastic Egypt, from the First Dynasty
on, reveals a consistent pattern, particularly when seen in terms of
the 'flow' of the symbolic directives underlying changes in style.
(Even the reforms instituted by the 'heretic' Akhenaten can be
incorporated into this pattern when the symbolism of Akhenaten's
peculiar and exceptional age are understood.) In no large sense is this
pattern what we would call 'development' (as the modern racing car is a
'development' from the horseless carriage), and the one exception to
this overall picture supports rather than undermines the hypothesis
that Egypt inherited her wisdom from an earlier civilization.
From the First Dynasty to the Fourth, sculptors and painters show an
increasing mastery over their materials. The canon of proportion
already existed in the First Dynasty, but the ease with which artists
and sculptors created within the limitations imposed by the canon
increased dramatically during the four centuries allotted to these
dynasties. This is exactly what might be expected in a situation in
which the body of sages or initiates comprising 'the Temple' knew
exactly what they wanted to achieve from the start, but in order to
achieve it had to train a corps of artisans, more or less from scratch,
to the necessary degree of expertise."

Luis G. Ordonez