Ouch. the level of precision seems completely outside what is possible with the Bronze Age. Even with a tool managed blow torch we are pushing our luck. Though we have never done enough with that to be sure.
What we are seeing both here and in So. America is possibly contemporaneous application of a precision tech.likely associated with pyramid building to produce useful applications technology we do not understand.
We will leave this here, but science needs to sort this out.
Up until the 7th century BC there was very little iron present in Egypt, as this material only became commonly used once the Assyrians invaded at that time; in fact, the ancient Egyptians regarded iron as an impure metal associated with Seth, the spirit of evil who according to Egyptian tradition governed the central deserts of Africa. A few examples of meteoric iron have been found which predate the Assyrians, but this consists largely of small ornamental beads.
Stone sculpture of Horus in Egypt. Source: Public Domain
Using common tools to work stone in ancient Egypt. ( Egyptraveluxe Tours)
We start in Aswan, which is close to the border of Sudan, and it is here that we find the famous unfinished obelisk, and another smaller one, still attached to the granite bedrock.
The large unfinished obelisk in the Aswan quarry. (Author provided)
In basic terms, any tool should have a greater hardness than the material being cut or shaped. The pink granite of which the unfinished obelisk is composed has a Mohs hardness that sits between the scale of 6 and 7, (the maximum being diamond at 10) and thus is more or less the same hardness as dolerite, making the latter a poor material for shaping the former. And bronze, the other tool substance known to and used by the ancient Egyptians is much softer, being on average 3.5 on the Mohs scale.
Dolorite pounders on top of a piece of pink Aswan granite. (Author provided)
'The unfinished obelisk offers compelling indirect evidence regarding the level of technology its creators had reached – not so much by indicating clearly what methods were used, but by the overpowering indications of what methods could not have been used.'
The idea that hand held pounders were responsible for the shaping of the unfinished obelisk has to be dismissed, and yet, what kind of technology could possibly have been responsible? Chris Dunn's opinion is that if one observes the pattern left by the tool which did the actual shaping, especially in the walls of the trenches that surround the unfinished obelisk, there is an even pattern which would unlikely have occurred if hand tools such as the pounders were used. According to Chris:
'The horizontal striations are typical in cutting when the feed of a tool that is removing material pauses along its path, withdrawn to remove waste, and the interruption of the tool leaves a mark on the surface. Also, it could be that as the tool was rocked back and forth against the walls of the trench to clear the waste on the vertical wall, horizontal striations appeared where the tool pressed the cutting surface against the side wall to keep the trench from narrowing.' In other words, some form of technology which the dynastic Egyptians simply did not have. And so this begs the question; if the dynastic Egyptians could not have done this work, and the later Greeks and Romans were not responsible, then who did and when? We have no choice but to entertain the idea that a civilization existed before what we call the pharaohs and in fact had forms of what we would call high technology, and that these people lived in the area prior to 3100 BC.
“Scoop marks” beside the smaller of the two obelisks. (Author provided)
Chris Dunn spent hours in the Petrie museum and was allowed to personally examine some of the drill cores. Here he discusses the characteristics of one of them:
'The most fascinating feature of the granite core Petrie describes is the spiral groove around the core indicating a feed rate of 0.100 inch per revolution of the drill. It was 500 times greater than modern diamond drills, but the rotation of the drill would not have been as fast as the modern drill's 900 revolutions per minute.'
Granite drill core in the Petrie Museum. (Author provided)
The often times quoted idea that these drill cores were achieved using a bow and copper tube with sand used as an abrasive must be thrown out, as no modern replication of these cores has been done to the level of efficiency as discussed above.
Making excavations in 1936, in the archaeological zone of Saqqara, Petrie discovered the Tomb of Prince Sabu, who was the son of Pharaoh Adjuib, governor of the I Dynasty (3,000 BC). Between utensils of funeral objects that were extracted, Emery's attention was powerfully drawn to an object that he initially defined in his report on the Great Tombs of the I Dynasty as: 'a container in the form of schist bowl.' Years later, in his previously mentioned work, Archaic Egypt, he commented on the object with a word that perfectly summarizes the reality of the situation and the discomfort the object causes; "cachibache" (a small hole that threatens to become a much larger hole.)
According to the typical and expected view of the archaeologists and Egyptologists, this object is no more than a tray or the pedestal of some candelabrum, with a design a product of blind chance. I am personally quite amazed that such a controversial piece is still on display in the Cairo museum, and wonder what even odder objects are hidden away in their warehouses.
The famous schist bowl or disk. (Author provided)
Large drill core at Karnak. (Author provided)
Another perplexing site is what is called the Serapeum at Saqqara, containing massive granite boxes which many academics believe were created during dynastic times. However, the boxes in the Serapeum are examples of what engineers such as Chris Dunn, I, and members of the Khemit School have major problems with as regards the conventional Egyptologists’ explanations. According to the latter, in the 13th century BC, Khaemweset ordered that a tunnel be excavated through the solid limestone bedrock, with side chambers designed to contain large granite sarcophagi weighing at least 70 tonnes each, to hold the mummified remains of prize Apis bulls.
Mummified Bull at the National Museum of Natural History. (Pccromeo/CC BY SA 3.0)
'The granite box inside Khafre's pyramid has the same characteristics as the boxes inside the Serapeum. Yet the boxes in the Serapeum were ascribed to the 18th dynasty, over 1100 years later when stone working was supposedly in decline. Considering that this dating was based on pottery items that were found and not the boxes themselves, it would be reasonable to speculate that the boxes have not been dated accurately. Their characteristics show that their creators used the same tools and were blessed with the same skill and knowledge as those who created Khafre's pyramid. Moreover, the boxes in both locations are evidence of a much higher purpose than mere burial sarcophagi. They are finished to a high accuracy; their corners are remarkably square, and their inside corners worked down to a dimension that is sharper than what one would expect to find in an artifact from prehistory. All of these features are extremely difficult to accomplish and none of them necessary for a mere burial box.
[ This strongly suggests that their later use as sarcophagi was likely incidental after the original use had been abandoned. - arclein ].
Yousef Awyan feeling the smoothness of the surface. (Author provided)
While it may be argued that modern man cannot impose a modern perspective on artifacts that are thousands of years old, an appreciation of the level of precision found in these artifacts is lacking in archaeological literature and is only revealed by an understanding what it takes to produce this kind of work. As an engineer and craftsman, who has worked in manufacturing for over 40 years and who has created precision artifacts in our modern world, in my opinion this accomplishment in prehistory deserves more recognition. Nobody does this kind of work unless there is a very high purpose for the artifact. Even the concept of this kind of precision does not occur to an artisan unless there is no other means of accomplishing what the artifact is intended to do. The only other reason that such precision would be created in an object would be that the tools that are used to create it are so precise that they are incapable of producing anything less than precision. With either scenario, we are looking at a higher civilization in prehistory than what is currently accepted. To me, the implications are staggering.
Astonishing precision of one of the Serapeum boxes. (Author provided)
What we also have to take into consideration is that most of the boxes in the Serapeum were made of granite, and most likely stone brought from the quarry at Aswan, about 500 miles from Saqqara. Not only that, but the lid of each box was cut from the same stone as the box itself. Why would the makers go to such trouble if bulls, no matter how prized, were the contents? It would appear, as Dunn alluded to, that the Serapeum boxes were not created in the 18th Dynasty and not by the dynastic Egyptians at all, but are remnants of an older and more technologically sophisticated culture, possibly those that are known as the Khemitians.
Top Image: Grinding stone, Dendera Temple, Egypt. Source: Chris Beckett/CC BY NC ND 2.0
By Brien Foerster