Zahi Hawass and the Uproar over the Pyramids
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Zahi Hawass and the Uproar over the Pyramids

Geopolymers are a type of concrete that was apparently used in the construction of the pyramids of Egypt that is denied by Zahu Hawass the Chief of Antiquities in Egypt.

Until recently Zahi Hawass was the head archaeologist in Egypt among other things that fell under his sway were the great pyramids of Egypt at Giza. The uproar began when a French chemical engineer named Joseph Davidovits came to the conclusion that some of the stones in the pyramids were cast in place rather than being dragged up to the pinnacle of the pyramids as generations of archaeologists had assumed. From this assumption what Davidovits developed a whole new class of construction materials that he named geopolymers.

It appears that geopolymers trace their ancestry back to at least 25,000 years when mankind discovered it was feasible to dissolve many different kinds of rock with naturally occurring acids that are found in plant juices. It is also possible to make a form of man-made concrete by mixing a strong base such as sodium hydroxide with sodium silicate and some sort of pozzolan material that can be made from many different earth materials if they are subjected to a heat of around 750°C for at least a half hour. One of the most common of these materials is volcanic ash although there are many others like calcined clay, glass and pottery that have been ground up into a fine powder for use. The mixture of these ingredients with construction aggregate will produce a product that is very similar to concrete except that it is a better building material because it does not contain Portland cement but rather a mixture of alumino/silicates creating something that is similar to granite.

If you think this technology is now being used in many high-tech products is beyond the ability of primitive man to make you are mistaken. The original name for Ancient Egypt was the Land of Khem; the Egyptians were superb chemists that gave the name of their country to our word “chemistry.” It was well within their capability of producing a man-made concrete from the chemicals they had on hand notably: natron that is sodium carbonate that is found in dried-up lakes in Egypt especially at the Wadi al Natron that is located not too far from the pyramids. From this chemical is possible to synthesize sodium hydroxide by the addition of calcium hydroxide, or as it is sometimes called “quick lime.” In solution the quick lime acts on the sodium carbonate precipitating out calcium carbonate as limestone and leaving a solution of sodium hydroxide.

This reaction that was known to the ancient Egyptians is the basis for making geopolymer concrete all that it took was finding a method of making sodium silicate that is relatively easy if you already have access to sodium hydroxide. This process can be accomplished by adding a strong solution of sodium hydroxide to diatomaceous earth. The individual particles of DE are composed of the skeletal remains of primitive algae whose skeletons are made of amorphous silica or as more commonly known as Opal. The DE was dissolved in a strong solution of sodium hydroxide.

The uproar began when Zahi Hawass stuck with the old tale at the upper levels of the pyramids were made from cut stone blocks that were a labor asleep driving up to the top of the pyramid by some kind of method that we don't even know today. One of the assumptions is that this work was accomplished by dragging the stones up an Earth incline by hundreds of thousands of slaves. There is no evidence that such an incline ever existed.

Geopolymers so closely resemble natural stone that it is virtually impossible for geologists to recognize the difference. The only known test that can distinguish geopolymers from natural stone is done with a device called a magnetic resonance spectrometer. This is a test that Hawass has consistently not allowed Davidovits to apply it to the stones of the pyramid. While he wasn't looking however another scientist from Rutgers University in New Jersey did test some samples taken from the stones of the pyramids that showed they were indeed made from geopolymers.

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Comments (4)

Excellent work, it is reallt very informative and in fact I did not hear this story about Joseph before.Thanks John for sharing

Nice article. But there is another story about pyramid and I will let you all know very shortly. Thanks

Ranked #22 in Archaeology

I did wonder exactly what Geopolymers were. This is very interesting. I have not thought about chemistry in terms of ancient history.

Ranked #10 in Archaeology

You should read some of the history of technology!!!