by John Henry (September 2023)
Pÿramide, Paul Klee, 1930
Every time I notice a new tech phenomenon, I go back to my view about how our world has no ‘guardrails’ as it did, for example, when music producers essentially promoted artists and acts that they deemed marketable. It seemed to work well as consumers bought up nearly every album promoted by the Hollywood moguls that was pressed (from the early 60s until CD manufacture) and were quite thrilled with the content. (Only bootlegs released many years later highlighted other bands that had achieved some modicum of interest).
As far as books and magazines, news stories, art, etc. the same filtering occurred for hundreds of years. Those who were most capable of discerning ‘good work’ from ‘bad’ —the editors or respected art critics—released, published and printed what they thought was good for the public and would sell.
A few outliers along the way, in every related creative field, tried to game the system in order to be recognized. The best way to do this was to introduce something that bucked the current way of thinking, seeing, living, feeling that often included bizarre or unconventional behaviour.
This included all forms of art and writing. And I don’t have to list these rogue artists and authors but you can include probably Shakespeare to Hemingway and Kerouac, Monet to Jackson Pollack, Frank Lloyd Wright to Frank Gehry, and maybe Beethoven to Rachmaninoff to Bo Diddly to Iron Butterfly and Nirvana and Phillip Glass.
Some of these need not have struggled but they broke into the conventional streams with their unconventional methods and manners. The ‘keepers’ of the guarded standards had to give in and allow their spaces.
This idea of breaking into closed systems has been given a steroid push with the onset of the internet which allows anyone to blog, put up a website, join chat rooms and social media platforms, create a video, etc. and unleash their thinking, music, art, and wares—on an unsuspecting public. What has happened is that we are completely overrun with underperformers in all modes of artistic expression and written communications.
In fact, some are woefully inept and flat out wrong and ugly in their pronouncements that nobody is permitted to edit as per the rules. Of course, in recent political times there have been nefarious backroom agreements to censure any type of criticism or discussion which rocks the current party line.
What the internet allows is for anyone to publish their art, writing, ideas and theories without formal checking or peer review by any other authority. Commenting on video and blog articles and starting polemics is the only way things are settled and, of course, this parallels the way politics are being settled—that is, they aren’t being settled.
One of the oldest established professions that is being rocked by ‘non-professionals’ or uncredentialed thinker/writers is Egyptology. There are archaeologists, historians and academics who comprise this group. There is an orthodoxy to their thinking and prolific book writing and historical narrative promulgated in their societies and university courses. It is a way of thinking that is embedded and considered fait au complet—conclusions that cannot be challenged. They proclaim that the available evidence has been meticulously scrutinized and there is a fixed narrative on how everything was done.
Since I would call Egyptology a sort of ‘para-science’ —because much of what is seen cannot be properly duplicated in a scientific manner to be proven or disproven with certainty—there is a sort of cult of leadership much like the Masons and other groups who keep the faith and bump off challengers similar to the beavers in an arcade game. Those in authority are the only ones who can approve or disprove ‘rogue’ theories.
Hundreds to a few thousands of years of tourists, travelers, commentators, historians, archaeologists, stone kickers, and amateur analysts have also examined the ruins on the Giza plateau. Their theories, scientific papers, and historical chronicles are further analyzed by succeeding generations of Egyptologists and fixed conclusions are made. I am not sure how many other ‘professions’ can exhibit the protective nature of an unproven narrative that seeks in this case to fix exactly how the pyramids were constructed, how the ‘stones’ were cut and shipped or transported, and how much effort was needed to accomplish what can be examined in the physical record.
But now we have the internet and simple cell phone videos or those from other handheld pro level cameras which are indicating—for all to see in incontrovertible color images—evidence in the cutting records of quarrying and methods of design, production, and erection that clearly challenge the old guard—including re-interpretation of older drawings and photos that do not even substantiate the older conclusions based on revived examination of the evidence.
Those who are taking their cameras to the prime locations of artifacts and are joined by architects, metallurgists, stone cutters, building contractors, minerologists, mechanics, geophysicists, geologists, gemologists, and the like (including alien theorists) who claim that the pronouncements of established and published work on the subject is outdated and do not account for the evidence that is now being re-evaluated with precision instruments and testing.
These newer groups conclude specifically that the way the particular buildings, statues and stones were believed to be mined, carved or hauled and put in place, are wrong; that it would simply not be possible to build these structures using the tools and methods that were available at the time.
If you start simply with the line that it took 20 years (the general time of reign per each Pharoah) to build the Great Pyramid and succeeding ones, the 2.3 million blocks that had to be mined, rough cut, shipped, hauled and erected precisely required the setting of a block of stone every 20 seconds per a 10-hour workday. This would be an astonishing feat requiring hundreds of thousands of laborers and some kind of super-human means as the available tools were basically stone age plus copper hand tools.
So then it becomes impossible to believe this assessment yet the authorities cling to it with a passion as it shows how brilliant and powerful the ancient Egyptians were to have undertaken such an amazing feat making the Great Pyramid of Giza the first and greatest of the 7 Wonders of the World.
So the ‘authorities’ in place dismiss, by routine practice, any new writing about how the dynastic Egyptians may have accomplished this feat and left it to posterity for wonder, and immediately shoot it down. The basic thinking is that through sheer brute manpower by the thousands, primitive copper tools and dolomite stones, water, fire, sand, logs, ropes and reed or rare wooden boats—stones were quarried hundreds of miles away (including monolithic obelisks and other megaliths), floated up stream to the north, unloaded, further carved to suit, and then dragged up mile long ramps at steeper than 7 percent inclines to construct the pyramids.
This idea of brilliant engineering and herculean effort cannot be trumped by any other possible technology, earlier race, or theoretical conjecture that is not in the current historical record to date. There is a national pride at the bottom of all this that cannot be usurped.
About 15 years ago, I came upon a book whose premise was that the limestone at least (behind the granite outer casing which supported it) of the outer structure of the pyramids were essentially reconstituted limestone—on which most of the plateau of Giza is built. By adding water and lime, the workers fashioned a type of concrete termed ‘geopolymer’ —to make it easier to swallow. The author had photos to prove his point and wanted to return to investigate further but the authorities stopped him from additional research on site as his theory ran counter to the establishment’s thinking.
Because if this neophyte could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the pyramids were built out of formed and poured concrete, it would destroy all previous theories and weaken the heroic narrative. Instead of dragging multi-ton blocks of hewn stone carved beforehand on 7 percent incline ramps (the construction of any ramps like this which has been shown to have been more onerous than erecting a stone superstructure for the pyramid itself) all the workers had to do was gather crushed limestone (which could be pulverized first in the water canals, softening the stone first), dry it and move it up ladders in sacks to each higher level and simply mix it with lime and water and other binders (alchemy) into large blocks and set in place. It goes to reason that this may be why it is impossible to put a razor blade between the blocks as they ‘fused’ next to each other as the concrete, or geopolymer, mix set up. Not all pours fused however and over time individual blocks separated and fell out due to weathering or plundering. [One proof of this theory is shown at right: sedimentary stone (limestone) does not have a spongy texture to it as it lays in strata. Obviously many blocks like this one show that this is not real stone but a polymer. Also, a completely homogenous texture is not indicative of natural mined stone, as shown in upper photo.]
While a special mix of limestone and admixtures seems to me a practical and plausible solution, others have been put forward. A cast concrete, for many critics, has been completely rejected by the way.
One unusual theory for construction is based on the thinking of a modern day hydraulic engineer postulating that blocks of limestone were first rough mined three hundred miles upriver and floated into staging canals, then carved under water to more exact sizes, and then tied to inflated animal skins. By using locks and waterproof channels up the sides of the pyramid (!), the blocks would simply float up to the top of the working layer based on differential water pressure. The hydraulic engineer even produced a small mockup illustrating how it would function. This theory, based on modern hydraulics, could possibly have worked but there is no evidence to support it. The Egyptians had great mathematical, astrological, and chemical understanding, but in the time of the pyramids the wheel was not yet invented and everything was hauled on sleds over terrain. In my mind this sounds preposterous and nearly impossible to duplicate at full scale, but if you find the video it is quite engaging.
In another proposal a French architect (who sold nearly all he had and devoted the last third of his life trying to figure out how the pyramids could have been erected) postulated the same stone blocks quarried at Tura or Aswan but a arrived at a different erection sequence. The architect’s father sent him a rough sketch one day showing how internal ramps would work and this theory, after modeling and other research, turned out to be quite credible. The 7 percent ramp would be inside the outer structural layer and wind internally upwards from the base. In this way the four sides of the structure could be monitored to be perfectly straight and level to the peak.
But Egyptian authorities did not like this idea as it made the work too easy for their ancestors and forbade the architect to return to complete his research. Some simple pyramid spelunking later and a type of Xray scanning do show that there might be an internal spiral system in the digital scans but authorities will not let any further digging or boring into the stonework.
I will not speculate here on exactly which method or systems employed is most likely as there is yet more research and confirmation to be done, but the Egypt based Supreme Council of Antiquities continues to block inquiries when their established theories are questioned and consequently threaten to diminish their national heritage. Especially if it can be shown that only a few thousand workers were actually needed, ramps and heavy hauling were not required, multi ton stones did not need to be mined and shipped hundreds of miles away, and that the wizardry of alchemist priests alone was able to make the process sensible and economical.
Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast