Stories tagged Pyramids of Giza

Jan
23
2008

Cementing a new theory: After looking at the blocks of Egyptian pyramids through scanning electron microscopes, researchers now think that constructors poured the blocks like cement rather than carving them out of limestone rock.
Cementing a new theory: After looking at the blocks of Egyptian pyramids through scanning electron microscopes, researchers now think that constructors poured the blocks like cement rather than carving them out of limestone rock.Courtesy Nina Aldin Thune
Every once and a while a significant scientific discovery slides under the radar and goes past virtually unnoticed.

A colleague here the museum last week slipped me a printout of a web story broken this past spring that’s pretty big news but hasn’t seemed to catch public attention. So why not broadcast it out here to the Science Buzz community, where it will light people’s scientific imaginations and spread like wildfire.

We’ve all seen those old epic movies showing the enslaved Israelites toiling away carving and pulling huge stone blocks to create the pyramids of Egypt. Well, upon closer inspection is might not have exactly worked that way.

After about five years of researcher, primarily through the use of scanning electron microscopy, Michel Barsoum of Drexel University and his research team have built a convincing case that some of the blocks in the pyramids were constructed out of a poured concrete-type mixture, not out of cut blocks of limestone.

A couple small details jumped out big to help them reach this conclusion. First, little structures found in the inner and outer casing stones were much like materials found in cement binders. Second, the pyramid stones were also much higher in water content than limestone slabs found in the general area. Looking closer at the atomic structure of the cementing phase, it was amorphous. That means its atoms do not arrange in a regular pattern. Sedimentary rocks rarely, if ever, have an amorphous structure.

Since the pyramid blocks are made of stone that doesn’t seem to occur naturally in the area, the researchers now think they blocks were poured like cement out of a concoction of limestone, diatomaceous earth, lime and water. In many ways, the early Egyptians had figured out ways to alter everyday items on the nano-scale to be able to build great things.

The new theory certainly helps erase some of the unanswerable questions from the long-accepted carved-stone theory. Among those questions were how could basic tools match up blocks to fit together so smoothly? Why have no copper chisels, presumably used to carve out the stone blocks, never been found? How could manpower labor get heavy top-capping blocks to the tops of the tall pyramids?

For sure, there are more questions to be answered with these new discoveries. But now Egyptologists have a new direction and a new perspective to view these findings from.

What do you think about all this? Share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.

Feb
07
2007

Stay or go: With a new list being compiled of the Seven Wonders of the World, should the Pyramids of Giza have to compete again? It's the only remaining original world wonder still in existance.
Stay or go: With a new list being compiled of the Seven Wonders of the World, should the Pyramids of Giza have to compete again? It's the only remaining original world wonder still in existance.
An effort is underway to identify the new Seven Wonders of the World. But the folks in Egypt aren’t happy about that.

You see, the Ancient Pyramids of Giza are the only remaining original wonders of the world that are still standing. They’re now included in the new poll of the new wonders of the world. But the Egyptians think they shouldn’t have to re-earn a spot on the new list.

I have to admit I’m very skeptical about this process. It’s an Internet vote open to anyone. You can participate by going to www.new7wonders.com. Voting runs until July 7.

To refresh your memory, the original Seven Wonders of the World included the pyramids, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Temple of Zeus, the Temple of Artemis and the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.

The new contenders for the World Wonder status are the Acropolis, Greece; Hagia Sophia, Turkey; the Colosseum, Italy; Neushwanstein Castle, Germany; Stonehenge, England; Alhambra, Spain; Kioumizu Temple, Japan; Sydney Opera House, Australia; Taj Mahal, India; Statute of Christ, Brazil; Machu Picchu, Peru; Statue of Liberty, USA; Effiel Tower, France; Great Wall of China; the Kremlin, Russia; Angkor, Cambodia; Petra, Jordan; Easter Island statues, Chile; and Chichen Itza, Mexico.

I have to admit I’m not familiar with all the places on this list. And some seem kind of out of place to me. Here are the seven I’d place my votes for:

Easter Island statues, Machu Picchu, Stonehenge, the Acropolis, Great Wall of China, Chichen Itza and of course, the Giza Pyramids. I guess those the are the things that really make me wonder “How did they do that?”

Which seven would/will you vote for? Should the pyramids get a free pass onto the new list? Share your thoughts here about this new effort.