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Pyramid Stones Were Poured, Not Quarried

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the that-was-really-far-up-the-tech-tree dept.

Science 445

brian0918 writes "Times Online is reporting that French and American researchers have discovered that the stones on the higher levels of the great pyramids of Egypt were built with concrete. From the article: 'Until recently it was hard for geologists to distinguish between natural limestone and the kind that would have been made by reconstituting liquefied lime.' They found 'traces of a rapid chemical reaction which did not allow natural crystallization. The reaction would be inexplicable if the stones were quarried, but perfectly comprehensible if one accepts that they were cast like concrete.'"

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It has to be said (5, Funny)

lecithin (745575) | more than 7 years ago | (#17069890)

"They found traces of a rapid chemical reaction which did not allow natural crystallization. "

That is what I call concrete evidence!

Re:It has to be said (1, Informative)

DragonFodder (712772) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070014)

Why is this even news? I recall reading about this theory back in the late 80's. Nothing new, other than maybe they are saying we can now confirm it was concrete with modern analysis techniques.

Re:It has to be said (5, Insightful)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070108)

Nothing new, other than maybe they are saying we can now confirm it was concrete with modern analysis techniques.

Which is PLENTY of reason for news, even if the theory was widely believed.

I mean, there's a theory that the Sphinx was built about 10,000 years earlier than was previously thought, by an entirely different civilization. It's not widely believed, but the guy does have some evidence.

As for the current theory, I doubt *IT* was widely believed either. I've watched a few shows on Egypt, and never heard of it before now.

Re:It has to be said (1)

krotkruton (967718) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070728)

This is definitely interesting, but I'm confused as to just what difference it makes other than that Egyptians used concrete.

FTA: This wet "concrete" would have been carried to the site and packed into wooden moulds where it would set hard in a few days.

So they brought the concrete to the base of the pyramid to let it harden or to the top? If they brought it to the base and then carried it up the pyramid, then what's so special about it (again, besides the fact they used concrete). The article mentions the fact that the wheel hasn't been invented as if this concrete business makes sense of the pyramids, but didn't they still carry these large concrete blocks up it? I'm probably missing something, can anyone make sense out of that?

Re:It has to be said (5, Insightful)

DilbertLand (863654) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070988)

The difference is about the same as someone asking you to move 2000lbs of sand from your driveway to your roof using a ladder and someone asking you to lug a single 2000lb solid rock to the top of your roof. There's a big difference in logistics.

Re:It has to be said (2, Funny)

abradsn (542213) | more than 7 years ago | (#17071010)

Basically, they are saying...
blocks near the base may have been quarried and dragged to the site.
Joe Egyptian thought "Damn, this is some hard work, pulling these tons of blocks and stuff... why don't we pound this stone into dust... carry it in bags... and add some water and beer into the mix when we get to it..."

Re:It has to be said (5, Informative)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070130)

because in science, a hypothesis is interesting, but prooving a hypothesis is important. What you heard was the hypothesis. This right now is the information that major strides have been made towards actually prooving it.

Re:It has to be said (5, Insightful)

Kraeloc (869412) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070308)

We never prove a hypothesis, we just find supporting evidence.

Re:It has to be said (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17070388)

If you prove a hypothesis, it becomes a law rather than a hypothesis. In that sense, the hypothesis is proven and is no longer called a hypothesis.

Complete and utter nonsense (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070986)

As the GP said, you can't prove scientific theories like you can prove mathematical theorems. You find supporting evidence for it, and at some point, you accept the theory as a pretty darn good descriptor of what's actually going on.

As for the entire law vs hypothesis thing - complete claptrap as well. There's no rhyme or reason why something is a law versus a theory. Generally, laws of physics come from the time when science was still lumped together with ethics and neurology under philosophy (with science called natural philosophy, if I remember correctly). It came from the idea that the universe is ordered, and that there are laws that govern it. All we had to do was find out what those laws were. Now we know (a little) better.

Re:It has to be said (0)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070594)

Of course we prove hypotheses... by eliminating all other possibilities.

Re:It has to be said (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17070560)

Be careful not to try to proove a loosing hypothesis !

Re:It has to be said (5, Funny)

dr_dank (472072) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070218)

That is what I call concrete evidence!

It would have been conclusively proven years ago, but the investigation was stonewalled.

Well... (5, Funny)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070722)

...the archaeologists were trying to cement their relationship with the aliens, who were stealing all the limelight.

Re:It has to be said (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17070892)

Like others, I'm somewhat skeptical of the claim the blocks were poured. In fact, I don't think the investigation was stonewalled, I think the investigators were stoned.

Re:It has to be said (1)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070364)

I think you meant to say that this is "hard evidence" or maybe "evidence that puts this hypothesis over the top".

So this means... (1)

Swimport (1034164) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070718)

the aliens gave them cement trucks?

Re:It has to be said (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17070846)

I'm not convinced it could really work...it looks like a pyramid scheme to me.

Sorry, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17070938)

That is what I call concrete evidence!

Sorry but it's not like these results are written in stone, so take them with a grain of sand. Other scientists can slowly chip away at his new theory.

Yeah, but... (3, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17069896)

wouldn't the aliens have just created them out of random molecules in the air using some sort of crazy technology?

Re:Yeah, but... (5, Funny)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070442)

No intelligent person believes that the pyramids were built by aliens.
We know for a fact that they were built by humans.
Aliens just supplied the anti-gravity beams.

Re:Yeah, but... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17070838)

well Jews, so not really fully human, but humaniod, in a greedy money loving way.

Oh come on! (5, Funny)

necro81 (917438) | more than 7 years ago | (#17069902)

How are we supposed to believe that an advanced alien race would still be using something so mundane as concrete?

Re:Oh come on! (5, Funny)

nullCRC (320940) | more than 7 years ago | (#17069972)

Maybe they were illegal aliens and lacked the funds...

Re:Oh come on! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17070236)

Simple, they used space-concrete. Pretty cheap at the space-WalMart.

Swi

Re:Oh come on! (3, Funny)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070422)

How are we supposed to believe that an advanced alien race would still be using something so mundane as concrete?

Could you imagine the volatility of a pyramid made of naquadah?

Re:Oh come on! (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070530)

Wouldn't be as bad as naquadria...

Re:Oh come on! (4, Funny)

dr_dank (472072) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070600)

It proves once and for all that the Egyptians were visited by Teamsters.

Aliens (0, Redundant)

imbroken3a (862091) | more than 7 years ago | (#17069908)

So aliens poured the pyramids? That explains it.

Re:Aliens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17070002)

No the aliens did not pour the blocks, they used some "speed things up ray" that caused the stones to "grow" at an accelerated rate so that the Egyptians could quarry more...

Casting Vs Forming (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17069924)

I've poured a lot of concrete with my dad over the years. So I will share with you some of the useless knowledge I acquired before college. He has only a high school degree so it's not like he was a scholar on this material.

My dad always used to tell me that when Alexandria was burned, all the publications holding the Roman recipe for concrete went with it. That, he claimed, was why all concrete poured was inferior to the Roman Aqueducts. And why it wasn't until 1948 that the right combination of limestone & other minerals was discovered to be able to resist water and hold that high a level of precision. Cement/concrete are by nature porous surfaces and so often sap water which causes structural problems. The fact that the some of the aqueducts still hold their accuracy within inches of their architectural specifications after 2000 years is nothing to overlook.

If Egyptians (for thousands of years prior to the Romans) had experimented with or refined this process and if an Aristotelean (such as Demetrius of Phaleron) had moved this information to Alexandria, that would explain how the structures like the aqueducts were constructed with such high quality mixtures.

I have one tiny problem with the summary as the article states:
The Ancient Egyptians built their great Pyramids by pouring concrete into blocks high on the site rather than hauling up giant stones, according to a new Franco-American study.
While summary uses the word cast:
The reaction would be inexplicable if the stones were quarried, but perfectly comprehensible if one accepts that they were cast like concrete.
I would like to point out that this is known as forming [wikipedia.org] concrete and not casting [wikipedia.org] concrete. The difference is like the difference between pouring concrete for a foundation of a house and laying brick. Laying brick is casting while pouring concrete (like the article alludes to) is called 'forming.'

This might sound like a small matter but laying brick & forming concrete walls are two entirely different professions.

In all honesty, if you were to ask me to construct a pyramid today--knowing what I know, I would build the core of the pyramid out of laid brick. And then I would, starting from the bottom, form up the angled sides and fill in those areas. If you're wondering why I would take this route, try it with paper. Cut out blocks of paper from a notebook without making marks and try to make a perfect angled edge between them. Pretty difficult. Now try it in three dimensions with 2000 year old tools.

It makes sense that they would have both technologies (like the article states), one quarried for huge bricks and the other formed up ash, salt & lime. It would also explain a lot of technologies the Romans had.

Re:Casting Vs Forming (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070102)

If Egyptians (for thousands of years prior to the Romans) had experimented with or refined this process and if an Aristotelean (such as Demetrius of Phaleron) had moved this information to Alexandria, that would explain how the structures like the aqueducts were constructed with such high quality mixtures.
Or the Romans tried many times before creating Bath's and Aqueducts.

Re:Casting Vs Forming (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070296)

Or the Romans tried many times before creating Bath's and Aqueducts.
There's a lot of stuff out there that I can grind up and mold. It will last a day. It will last two days. It will last the week and it might even last the season. But when you come to a place of sand and you see these pyramids that have weathered the elements and retained a decent shape for possibly thousands of years, you might say, "What have you got there?"

I'm not keen on Roman/Egyptian history but I think that the Egyptian society and race are a bit older than the Romans. Wikipedia tells me that the Egyptian empire ran some 7,000 years while the Roman Empire technically only lasted only from 44 BC to AD 476. Ok so in 500 years, how many experiments with possible mixtures could you test. You can test for hardness & solubility on the fly but not duration. If you mix limestone with gypsum, you come up with something like drywall that won't last long at all in the elements. but might initially have a very hard composure.

Go look at some of the adobe structures that have lasted for hundreds upon hundreds of years in the Southwest of the United States. They were using the most abundant resource that was known to last the longest. R&D for the Romans was probably pretty high quality but I was just speculating that nothing then could match 7,000 years of research for something that would bring your leader's through the ages.

It was just speculation on my part but I highly doubt the Romans were the sole originators of the formula for the aqueducts. It really is too bad Alexandria was burned. If I could undo one thing in history, I would be tempted to pick that one.

Re:Casting Vs Forming (4, Informative)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070644)

Wikipedia tells me that the Egyptian empire ran some 7,000 years while the Roman Empire technically only lasted only from 44 BC to AD 476.

To be fair, you should probably measure the duration of the civilization, not just the time when it was called an "empire." In that case, the Roman civilization (monarchy, republic, and empire) lasted from 753 BC to AD 476.

Also, the Wikipedia article on Ancient Egypt says that your 7,000 year figure is high by a factor of 2:

Ancient Egypt developed over at least three and a half millennia. It began with the incipient unification of Nile Valley polities around 3150 BC and is conventionally thought to have ended in 31 BC when the early Roman Empire conquered and absorbed Ptolemaic Egypt as a state.

So the Egyptions lasted longer than the Romans, but not by nearly as wide a margin as you stated.

Re:Casting Vs Forming (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070770)

Depends what you consider to be "Roman". you can go back many thousands of years and still pretty safely consider the civilization to be "Roman". See Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

Re:Casting Vs Forming (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070888)

Sorry, "many hundreds" not thousands. It's not helped that the Romans had a tendency to make up their history as they went (and as was convenient at the time), but I generally support your statements.

Re:Casting Vs Forming (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070680)

A detail, but the "Roman Empire" is less than half of the Roman civilization lifespan. You have to add on the Roman Republic and pre-republic period, which tasks on a thousand years or two.

Re:Casting Vs Forming (0)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070870)

I'm not keen on Roman/Egyptian history but I think that the Egyptian society and race are a bit older than the Romans.

And thus the Romans had access to Egyptian knowledge. The Romans were, on the whole, technology borrowers, not innovators (the primary exception being military organization).

Go look at some of the adobe structures that have lasted for hundreds upon hundreds of years in the Southwest of the United States.

I've lived in adobe structures. They require sheltering from the elements and/or annual upkeep.

It was just speculation on my part but I highly doubt the Romans were the sole originators of the formula for the aqueducts.

The Romans had access to an abundent supply of a material the Egyptians did not. Pumice.

KFG

Re:Casting Vs Forming (1)

2short (466733) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070948)

"the Egyptian empire ran some 7,000 years"

A series of different empires occupied similar territory over a span of more like 3000 years. The Pyramids were all built by the first one, over a fairly short period.

Re:Casting Vs Forming (2, Informative)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070382)

He has only a high school degree so it's not like he was a scholar on this material.

Bucky Fuller only had a high school degree, so it's not like he was a scholar on building geodesic domes.

Cut out blocks of paper from a notebook without making marks and try to make a perfect angled edge between them. Pretty difficult. Now try it in three dimensions with 2000 year old tools.

Euclid: circa 365-275 BC. I might also note that the ancient Egyptians were so adept at making marks directly on stone that some of those marks still survive and that they invented the surveyor's wheel. They weren't cave men (now, don't get up on the wrong side of the rock. I didn't mean anything by it).

KFG

Re:Casting Vs Forming (2, Informative)

notthe9 (800486) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070418)

Forming, rather than casting? In my experience with structural concrete (which is not all that much: I am an undergraduate structural engineerning student) I have encountered the term cast used with concrete. I have heard "cast-in-place" contrasted with precast concrete.

The ACI Committee 318 Building Code defines "Precast concrete" as "Structural concrete element cast elsewhere than its final position in the structure," which would suggest to me that structural concrete members that are not precast are indeed cast in their final positions.

Re:Casting Vs Forming (-1, Troll)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070586)

My dad always used to tell me that when Alexandria was burned, all the publications holding the Roman recipe for concrete went with it. That, he claimed, was why all concrete poured was inferior to the Roman Aqueducts.

That's a nice theory - but the aqueducts were built of stone, not concrete.
 
 
The fact that the some of the aqueducts still hold their accuracy within inches of their architectural specifications after 2000 years is nothing to overlook.

Given that we don't have the architectural specifications - that's a claim utterly without support. (And given how few miles out of the original number still stand and are capable of carrying water....)
 
 
In all honesty, if you were to ask me to construct a pyramid today--knowing what I know, I would build the core of the pyramid out of laid brick. And then I would, starting from the bottom, form up the angled sides and fill in those areas. If you're wondering why I would take this route, try it with paper. Cut out blocks of paper from a notebook without making marks and try to make a perfect angled edge between them. Pretty difficult. Now try it in three dimensions with 2000 year old tools.

That says more about your [lack of] knowledge of ancient tools and building methods than it does about pyramid building techniques.
 
They had tools for both measuring and marking stone - and tools to measure angles. The had wood and tools from which to build jigs, and metals from which to build measuring rods. Using those tools - it's far, far easier to build the interior from large blocks of stone (as they did) than by forming and casting an order of magnitude more bricks.

Re:Casting Vs Forming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17070726)

Well, according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :
Roman aqueducts were extremely sophisticated constructions. They were built to remarkably fine tolerances, and of a technological standard that had a gradient of only 34 cm per km (3.4:10,000), descending only 17 m vertically in its entire length of 31 miles (50 km). Powered entirely by gravity, they transported very large amounts of water very efficiently (the Pont du Gard carried 20,000 cubic meters {nearly 6 million gallons} a day and the combined aqueducts of the city of Rome supplied around 1 million cubic meters (300 million gallons) a day (an accomplishment not equalled until the late 19th century and represents a value 25% larger than the present water supply of the city of Bangalore, with a population of 6 million). Sometimes, where depressions deeper than 50 m had to be crossed, gravity pressurized pipelines called inverted siphons were used to force water uphill (although they almost always used venter bridges as well). Modern hydraulic engineers use similar techniques to enable sewers and water pipes to cross depressions.
Sounds like architectural specifications to me.

With the fall of the Roman Empire, although some of the aqueducts were deliberately cut by enemies, many more fell into disuse from the lack of an organized maintenance system. The lack of functioning aqueducts to deliver water had a large practical impact in reducing the population of the city of Rome from its high of over 1 million in ancient times to considerably less in the medieval era.
Well, if they were smashed deliberately then I would imagine it would be hard for them to hold up.

Also, I can't find a definitive source stating whether they were cut from stone or poured. Also, a lot of the pyramids were built 2600 BC, you sure those tools were around back then?

Re:Casting Vs Forming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17070730)

The aquaducts were made with stone and concrete. The Romans had a formula for concrete that would harden under water and thus aquaduct piers could be build in rivers which they had to cross. Many of the piers that were built with this type of concrete (made with volcanic ash) still exist today under water.

Re:Casting Vs Forming (1)

needacoolnickname (716083) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070776)

I really liked his comment until you got to it.

Granted, both of you could be talking out of your asses and I wouldn't know the difference.

Brick Pyramids (3, Informative)

spike2131 (468840) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070688)

In all honesty, if you were to ask me to construct a pyramid today--knowing what I know, I would build the core of the pyramid out of laid brick.

A lot of the later pyramids actually were built with a core of laid brick, and cased in stone. These didn't hold up as well as the older, all stone pyramids, like the Great Pyramid, because the bricks were made out of mud and eventually turned to dust. Today, a lot of the brick pyramids basically resemble mounds of dirt and rock, with the original pyramid shape just barely distinguishable.

Re:Casting Vs Forming (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070946)

I would like to point out that this is known as forming concrete and not casting concrete. The difference is like the difference between pouring concrete for a foundation of a house and laying brick. Laying brick is casting while pouring concrete (like the article alludes to) is called 'forming.'

Actually, I'm not so sure I agree with the authors on this point. Assuming some of them are made and not quarried, then if they were formed in place, why are they still clearly distinctive stones with detectable (though still very small) gaps between them? It's not like with modern concrete, where rubber or stone is used to separate pieces, or where it is poured as one long piece then scored to direct cracking.

Rather, I would propose that some of the higher stones were cast. Assuming they had the technology to do so, why not? I would bet that, by the time the pyramid was nearing completion, there were thousands of tons of loose limestone debris sitting around the construction site, from broken stones, shaved fragments, or bits removed during fitting. Rather than drag another thousand tons of stone from the quarry, why not cast some new big stones from the leftovers? After they are cast, they can be hand trimmed to size and set into place like all the quarried stones.

Then, this still leaves the question of where the stones were cast (on the ground, or on the big ramps built up around the pyramid) and how they were set into place. The authors of this study might think that they have answered this question, but see no reason to believe they have done so, as I think this alternative proposal is a more likely scenario.

Whoa Slashdot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17069964)

That's way - way too old news!

I can hear the Egyptologists now... (1)

Morphine007 (207082) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070038)

... b.b.b.but what about the evidence we've found throughout the years about the workers in the area? And what about the timelines?

I would think that this will throw a bone in some of their theories, so I'm surprised that the two researchers were even allowed on to the site... At any rate, this explains why the separation between the "stones" is so tight in certain places.

Re:I can hear the Egyptologists now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17070182)

And what about the timelines?


Well, actually this is concrete evidence of time traveling. Some friggin' idiot went back in time and changed the timeline forever.

Re:I can hear the Egyptologists now... (2, Informative)

starwed (735423) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070206)

They're just saying some>/i> of the stones were made this way. Not all of them.

Re:I can hear the Egyptologists now... (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070518)

but what about the evidence we've found throughout the years about the workers in the area?

Someone had to drive the cement trucks!

Erich von Daeniken (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17070054)

Incidently, von Daeniken claimed exactly that some thirty years ago (?) in his book 'Erinnerungen an die Zukunft' (Memories of the Future), and claimed further that LoneStar were using the pyramid recipe. I didn't expect it would ever come to that, but now I have to say: Daeniken was right in this case (and was proven a rotten liar in dozens of other cases, like that of the 6000 year old battery).

Re:Erich von Daeniken (1)

shotgunsaint (968677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070774)

MOD PARENT UP for knowledge of ancient theories both sound and wildly overblown. I, myself love von Daaniken, but can't bring myself to take it too seriously.

(obligatory grains of salt) (5, Interesting)

mmell (832646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070064)

Question 1: Is the activity of casting liquified lime depicted on any pictographs/heiroglyphics in Egypt? The ancient Egyptians had a marvellous habit of recording a great many things on very durable media - including how their own technology worked. I would expect to find depictions somewhere of Egyptians or their slaves engaged in the tasks of manufacturing and pouring concrete.

Question 2: Is there evidence that the Egyptians used this technology elsewhere? I find it difficult to believe that they would've evolved this kind of technology (concrete) and used it exclusively for the task of pyramid-building.

Re:(obligatory grains of salt) (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070226)

As far as point two is concerned, it would make sense, if these findings hold true, that only the pyramids had this technology when one considers why the pyramids were built in the first place. Since the Egyptian Kings were considered gods, they were given the best of everything. Why not make their final resting place of the best materials using the best construction methods?

It wouldn't make sense to use such processes for the lowly commoner but it would make sense to use this process for a god's structure.

Re:(obligatory grains of salt) (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070638)

Since the Egyptian Kings were considered gods, they were given the best of everything. Why not make their final resting place of the best materials using the best construction methods?

You haven't read much Egyptian history, I see.

Some Pyramids were cannibalized to finish up others, when they were needed suddenly (by an untimely death). Some Pharoahs (Tutankhamon, for instance) were buried in whatever tomb happened to be ready when he died.

The Egyptian Pharoahs were Gods, alright. But mostly the dead ones were treated as dead, and the live ones got to decide what was important - and with few exceptions, they didn't think their own tombs were nearly so important as the stuff they were using while they were still alive. Much less the tombs of that last guy, whatsisname....

Re:(obligatory grains of salt) (3, Insightful)

Beek Dog (610072) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070328)

The ancient Egyptians had a marvellous habit of recording a great many things on very durable media - including how their own technology worked.

A 1: If they were so good at recording their technology, then why are we still debating how they made the pyramids? Are there pictographs showing hundreds of slaves pushing/pulling a giant slab up the face? Maybe there are, but I haven't heard of them, and they surely would have removed a lot of the mysteries.

A 2: They article states that the method was used on more than one pyramid, so yes.

Silly rabbit, sigs are for kids

Re:(obligatory grains of salt) (1)

Jabrwock (985861) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070864)

Are there pictographs showing hundreds of slaves pushing/pulling a giant slab up the face?

I don't have any links, but I have seen tomb wall paintings depicting quarryers making large blocks (mostly on quarry chief's tomb walls), pullers, workers pouring water over wood & mud to make the blocks slide easier, etc.

Of course, some state that these paintings were just put there on the direction of the aliens, a conspiracy to deceive as it were.

Re:(obligatory grains of salt) (1, Insightful)

Brad Eleven (165911) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070336)

These diagrams might have been created and preserved for us to examine, but the Masons forbade it. It's plausible that this was the (groan) foundation of the Masons' secretive customs.

Re:(obligatory grains of salt) (2, Insightful)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070432)

I find it difficult to believe that they would've evolved this kind of technology (concrete) and used it exclusively for the task of pyramid-building.

That's because you don't live in a primitive era where the local boss was considered an actual deity (the reincarnation of Horus, if I recall my amateur Egyptology correctly).

Re:(obligatory grains of salt) (1)

Scothoser (523461) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070520)

In answer to question two, it could easily have been too expensive financially for the average Egyptian to use concrete, when brick making was so simple. It could easily have been an economic problem.

Keep in mind that the Egyptian culture made the Pharoh the owner of everything, including all resources. Those resources were distributed to the common folk to satisfy their needs. If buildings needed to be built, most likely they were built as inexpensively as possible.

Granted, this argument relies on one of two points:
1. The ingredients for concrete were more scarce than the ingredients for mud bricks.
2. The process for combining concrete was more labor intensive than creating bricks.

Re:(obligatory grains of salt) (1)

UltimApe (991552) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070524)

Hardly... they were quite a superstitious bunch... maybe it was only worthy for a king to have such a high qualit material. Go alchemy.

Formula (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17070622)

Is the activity of casting liquified lime depicted on any pictographs/heiroglyphics in Egypt?

Yes. It goes like this:

Bird's eye bird's eye, dancing guy, two chicks looking at each other, bird's eye, chicks again, that dog faced god looking to the heavens, some women throwing wheat into the air, guys picking ground, bird's eye, god of something, mound of cement.

There you go!

MOD PARENT UP (1)

Beek Dog (610072) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070928)

I wish I hadn't of posted so I could have modded you instead. MOD PARENT UP

According to late night talk radio (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17070070)

The pyramids weren't built. They *landed*.

Why those lying egyptians! (3, Funny)

whodkne (778580) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070072)

They told those history shows that they lugged those stones up ramps and whatnot!

so why then use blocks ? (1)

PermanentMarker (916408) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070086)

Strange if true, the romans did use concrete to create lots of forms in buildings.
Why if they had a kind of concrete would they be building blocks??
It's not logic those people in that time where handy.
Probaply more handy then a lot of 'modern' people who only know how to right click...

Just explain logix would be create walls of this stuf (not even besed on blocks) then fill it up with concrete.

Re:so why then use blocks ? (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070242)

If I'm translating your post right, which I'm probably not, what I gather you are saying is that there is no logical reason for them to use blocks?

Actually, if the process were innacurate, blocks would be easier so they could undo mistakes in smaller portions. Additionally, separate blocks are probably sturdier than one solid wall, and finally, depending on how fast the stuff set, they may have time to fill a block mold with the concrete, but not a full wall mold.

Re:so why then use blocks ? (4, Insightful)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070248)

Because blocks are the most practical solution?

It isnt really viable with bronze age technology to do large scale in-place casting.

So with blocks, they could be prepared nearby, and when cured be put in place.

The big advantage is not that they dont have to be lifted up, but that they dont have to be fetched from distant quarries.

Re:so why then use blocks ? (1)

lectos (409804) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070270)

It's because the pyramids are very big. Pouring a "wall" is a more daunting task than making a giant cube.

Re:so why then use blocks ? (2, Interesting)

Scothoser (523461) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070360)

Good question. The answer to that would be the lack of reinforced concrete. Concrete is a very durable material, but designed to only withstand compression. Because of it's makeup, it's not as durable as stone unless it's been reinforced by something that can handle the tension required to keep it together (like steel rods).

Think of bricks. Yes, you can build a brick out of mud or clay, and it will work find on it's own. But in order to use it to build structures that were strong, they needed to include a material that can handle tension. Hence the ancient world would use straw. The plant fibers would provide enough strength in tension to build brick buildings.

But what of other concrete structures you may ask? True, the Romans did build a number of concrete structures that were quite large (note the Pantheon), but they used varying types of concrete with different density levels. This allowed for better construction. But even then, the foundation needed to be stone.

Thermal stress (4, Informative)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070492)

Go look at a concrete highway sometime, and check whether the concrete is continuous (like asphalt*) or whether it has regular seams. There's a reason for the seams: namely, that concrete expands and contracts with temperature. If we poured roads as once continuous chunk they'd expand in the heat and buckle, or contract in the cold and crack. The seams are there to relieve the temperature-induced strain.

Now, consider the fact that the Egyptions lived in the middle of the desert. One particular feature of such a climate is that there are wide extremes of temperature: it gets really hot during the day, and really cold at night. Once you realize that the Egyptions probably had prior experience with the materials before trying to build the biggest structure in the world out of them, you might expect that they'd realize the same thing current civil engineers do, and put in releases to prevent cracking. In 3D, this would mean pouring the concrete in blocks.

(*note: asphalt can be laid in continuous strips because it's much less brittle than concrete, at least at normal service temperatures.)

Re:so why then use blocks ? (3, Informative)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070564)

Have you ever noticed that sidewalks are divided into little squares? I'm no expert, so there may be lots of reasons for it I haven't thought of, and it may not be the same thing at all. However, it seems to me it might be easier to get concrete to dry in little blocks than in one huge pyramid a hundred feet tall. Also, with heat/moisture, these things swell and shrink, and it's good to have a division so they won't crack and fall apart.

Just PR to misinform (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17070146)

Dr Daniel Jackson knows the truth

Doesn't make sense (5, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070176)

In an era before the invention of the wheel, it wouldn't have been any easier to drag a 20-ton concrete mixer truck chassis up the pyramid than to just drag up a 20-ton block of stone.

4000 AD (5, Funny)

bronzey214 (997574) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070302)

I can only imagine archeologist's reactions when our society is kaput.

"The Americans had slaves that carried concrete slabs to form long unending structures. We also have evidence that these were called "free-ways". We think these "free-ways" were in worship to some sort of God and the metal heaps on these "free-ways" offerings for this God."

Re:Doesn't make sense (1)

EnderGT (916132) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070406)

True, but they could haul up 20,000 1-lb buckets of concrete, or maybe 840-ish 1-gallon buckets of water and 13,330-ish 1-lb bags of lime and a 200-lb mixing bowl.

Re:Doesn't make sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17070588)

The ancient Egyptians had wheeled vehicles.

Bucket brigade (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17071016)

I know you were kidding .. but just in case .. What they may have done, you can see in India today when their building buildings and even roads. That is, a long of queue of literally hundreds of people passing buckets of cement all the way up to the top of the pyramid. They can choose to mix the concrete up there (passing up dry cement mix and water buckets) .. or the mixed cement itself. Either way .. with the bucket brigade system.. you don't need a cement truck to be hauled up there.

According to Wikipedia the workforce on the Great pyramid of Giza was "an average workforce of 14,567 people and a peak workforce of 40,000". Also mentioned is that it's reckoned didn't have the use of pulleys, wheels or iron tools. It may have taken them 10 to 20 years to build.

I wonder how long the pyramid would take to build today?

One thing's for sure it'll be mad expensive.

2nd time I've heard this (4, Interesting)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070224)

The first time was when a researcher about 10 years ago (give or take 10) claimed they were poured because he found a human hair embedded in one.

Yes, poured like concrete (3, Insightful)

us7892 (655683) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070258)

It explains all the pottery found around the pyramids. They formed long passing lines to send water to fill the concrete mixing troughs. And they built casts with lumber, also found around the pyramids...it all makes sense now.

Or, aliens from mars mixed the concrete on their spaceships and poured the casts while hovering over each apex...

That's cement, not concrete (4, Interesting)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070272)

There's no mention of aggregate, the sand and gravel that cement glues together to make concrete.

Re:That's cement, not concrete (1)

rootEToTheIPi (937469) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070532)

It's true that the article doesn't mention it, but it seems that sand and gravel were probably readily available in Egypt at the time. Perhaps they thought that it went without saying.

Why quarry granite then (3, Interesting)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070392)

If the Egyptians knew how to form and pour concrete, why on Earth would they drag huge blocks of limestone and granite around to build the rest of the structure? (Maybe Union rules negotiated by the Lower Nile chapter of the Amalgamated Pyramid Craftsmen?) Why not make the whole structure out of concrete? And where are the form marks -- the marks from the boards or whatever that were used to make the form for each block? Granted they'd probably be weathered off from the exposed surfaces, but they should still be there on protected surfaces.

Re:Why quarry granite then (1)

Socguy (933973) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070596)

Expedience I would guess, the article said that it would take something like 9 days for it to fully set. Also the material they we using as concrete was actually more like a limestone, I believe, and it was only used on the outside since limestone is not really good enough to be structural support.

Re:Why quarry granite then (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070740)

Granted they'd probably be weathered off from the exposed surfaces, but they should still be there on protected surfaces.

Unless they were chiseled off by a worker.

Re:Why quarry granite then (2, Informative)

Panaflex (13191) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070826)

It's called "Scope creep." Wonder who was the project manager on that one?

Not the first time (3, Interesting)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070410)

I've heard this theory before but from what I know the mix they are talking about it isn't nearly as strong as regular limestone. The slower crytalization pattern of natural limestone gives it the strength. I question that artifical limestone would be strong enough for even the top layers of a structure that big. Pure limestone isn't concrete. They aren't talking about concrete, that would be obvious if used, they are talking about reclaimed limestone. There are a lot of problems with that theory. Not the least of which is how would the eygptians make that much lime for the stone? You have to heat the lime dust to a very high temperature to break the chemical bonds. It wouldn't be a small undertaking on it's own and would take huge amounts of energy, charcoal essentially. Wood was scarce. There is no other evidence that they made lime concrete so I have serious doubts.

Re:Not the first time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17070654)

"It wouldn't be a small undertaking on it's own and would take huge amounts of energy, charcoal essentially."

Why do you think it is that Egypt is largely desert? Same sort of thing happened on the Easter Islands.

Tut tut... (1)

NoseyNick (19946) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070444)

... just can't get the slaves these days, can you? I remember when we used to use real stones, hewn out of quarries many miles away...

Misleading Summary... only the highest sections (2, Insightful)

WoTG (610710) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070462)

For once I actually RTFA. The article claims that the rocks used at the top of the pyramids react differently than rocks used at the bottom of the pyramids when poked with some new fangled methodology. I'm actually surprised that it's possible to make limestone that is so similar to naturally formed rock that it took until 2006 for this to be figured out.

The majority of the pyramid material was still quarried.

Re:Misleading Summary... only the highest sections (1)

freeweed (309734) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070814)

You mean this part of the summary?

Times Online is reporting that French and American researchers have discovered that the stones on the higher levels of the great pyramids of Egypt were built with concrete.

Different timing? (0, Redundant)

posterlogo (943853) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070536)

I think it's plausable that the stones at the top were built at a later time than the rest of the pyramid -- perhaps even as repair work. Naturally, those structures take a long time to build, and perhaps they just changed their minds and switched to pouring the blocks at the top (on location so to speak). Or, perhaps a later dynasty decided to repair the tops (which if we look at the pyramids today, appear to be the most fragile), and used a different method.

Mortar (4, Interesting)

kaoshin (110328) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070576)

I always thought that the mortar used was more amazing than the blocks themselves. I had this book named the great pyramid decoded which explained that there were blocks held together with sheets of mortar that were in some places as thin as a sheet of aluminum foil. I have read elsewhere on the web that the chemical composition of the mortar is known but that it can't be reproduced today. I may be easily fascinated by this stuff, and there may be an better mortar now, but I just think that is really cool.

A little insight (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17070662)

As a student at Drexel, I have had the privilege of hearing about this research firsthand - it is more than convincing. There is no doubt in my mind that he is 100% correct. For those of you in doubt - he is not claiming that all stones were "cast" or "molded" into places. Only the ones at the top and on the outside of most of the "newer" pyramids. The older pyramids do not use this technology. It is believed the egyptians discovered this technology as they were building and their pyramids became more sofisticated as a result. You can just look at the pictures:

The Bent Pyramid (an older pyramid), its obvious blocks put into place from a quarry up until where it bends.
http://www.richard-seaman.com/Travel/Egypt/Dahshur /BentPyramid/EgyptianPoliceman.jpg [richard-seaman.com]

Now, look inside the Red Pyramid (a newer pyramid), tell me they carved 26 million bricks with such perfect precision. They carved Limestone, using copper tools (ahem, softer than limestone), so perfectly together that you can't even fit a playing card between them? I don't think so.
http://www.richard-seaman.com/Travel/Egypt/Dahshur /AllPyramids/StaircaseInsideRedPyramid.jpg [richard-seaman.com]

This article can also be found on the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/01/science/01pyrami d.html?ref=science [nytimes.com]

Re:A little insight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17070840)

Please forgive my mispelling of sophisticated. It also happens to be the week before finals here at Drexel and I'm exhausted ;-).

To make up for it, here's two very convincing videos from the Geopolymer Institute:
http://www.geopolymer.org/archaeology/pyramids/pyr amids-4-videos-download-chapter-1 [geopolymer.org]

This Isn't Exactly New (2, Informative)

RetiefUnwound (472931) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070816)

A book I have - published back in 1988 proposed the same idea. It's a good read. Here's the Amazon link if anyone wants to try and pick up a copy:

The Pryamids [amazon.com]

Must I be the one to say it? (1)

rholland356 (466635) | more than 7 years ago | (#17070952)

It seems that if you haul enough blocks to the pyramid, you might just come up with a better way to get the job done!
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