Category Archives: WORLD

Ancient Rome — Construction Workers Find Rare Intact Roman Tomb

Construction Workers Find Rare Intact Roman Tomb

‘The Tomb of the Athlete’ includes four bodies, a coin, offerings of chicken, rabbit and lamb and strigils, the symbol of Roman sportsmen

Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/construction-workers-find-rare-intact-tomb-rome-180969247/#49AkMEfdgbeVZkRc.99
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter
‘The Tomb of the Athlete’ includes four bodies, a coin, offerings of chicken, rabbit and lamb and strigils, the symbol of Roman sportsmen

It is a rare day when archeologists find an ancient burial that has not been destroyed by natural processes, ravaged by war, or plundered by hunters of artifacts.

It is why King Tut’s untouched tomb was so significant and why archaeologists are going gaga over the tomb of a Greek warrior discovered in Pylos.

Add another to the list; archeologists uncovered an untouched Roman tomb in Rome several weeks ago that they call the Athlete’s Tomb. Local Italy reports.

The tomb was found in the Case Rosse area west of the center of Rome by an earthmover working to extend an aqueduct about 6 feet underground.

Inside lay the undisturbed remains of 4 people, including a man in his 30s, a man in his 50s, a man between the age of 35 to 45, and a woman of undetermined age.

Francesco Prosperetti, who oversees archaeology in Rome, tells Elisabetta Povoledo at The New York Times that finding the tomb was sheer luck. “Had the machine dug just four inches to the left, we would have never found the tomb,” he says.

The discovery also unearthed an assortment of jugs and dishes, a bronze coin, along with dishes of chicken, rabbit and another animal believed to be a lamb or goat, likely offerings to sustain them in the afterlife.

Among the trove were two strigils, blunt hooks that Romans used to clean themselves and wipe off oil while bathing and that athletes used to scrape away sweat.

In fact, the strigil was considered the symbol of an athlete in the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome.

Still, calling the find the “Tomb of the Athlete,” is more or less a marketing move, Fabio Turchetta, one of the archaeologists working on the site, tells Povoledo since all the men inside are over 35 and would have been well past their prime by classical standards. “To say there was an athlete is a bit of stretch, but it works journalistically,” as he puts it diplomatically.

Based on the coin found in the tomb, which includes an image of Minerva on one side and a horse head with the word “Romano” on the other, the tomb dates between 335 and 312 B.C.E. during the heyday of the Roman Republic.

Researchers have begun the process of removing the bodies from the tomb, which will be sent to the laboratory for analysis and DNA testing to determine if they are a family.

A paleobotanist also collected samples of pollen and plant material to help figure out the flora of the area when the tomb was constructed.

The structure itself has been documented by a laser scan and will be sealed up once excavations are complete.

Turchetta tells Povoledo that the area the tomb was found in has been heavily surveyed and excavated in the past, so finding the intact chamber was surprising and emotional.

This isn’t the first time that construction in Rome has uncovered amazing finds. Just last year, while expanding the metro system, archaeologists found that the bones of a dog inside the remains of an aristocratic home that burned down during the reign of Emperor Septimius Severus in the 2nd century C.E.

The same construction project also uncovered the military barracks of emperor Hadrian’s Praetorian Guard.

Source: realmofhistory

Medieval Village Unearthed in Denmark

Lost medieval village discovered in Denmark

 Excavation of an extremely well-preserved cellar, which may have functioned as a place to store the town’s taxes.
Excavation of an extremely well-preserved cellar, which may have functioned as a place to store the town’s taxes.

Traces of three courtyards surrounded by a ditch marks out an area, which archaeologists have interpreted as the center of a village dating back to the Middle Ages in Tollerup, East Denmark.

Historical sources suggest that the farms belonged to the village rulers. A cellar in the largest farm was probably used to store tax revenues in the form of objects collected from the villagers.

“The interesting thing about this find is that we have some very old written sources that [give us] an entirely new understanding from what we can interpret from the excavation alone,” says Gunvor Christiansen, an archaeologist at Roskilde Museum, Denmark.

The excavated farmhouses date back to the Late Middle Ages and the Renaissance (around 1400 to 1600 CE), and it is rare to find such well-preserved remains from this period, outside the large market towns in Denmark, says Christiansen.

A vanished village

Archaeologists do not know why the village was abandoned but they knew it existed as it is mentioned in a number of written sources.

A letter from King Canute IV first records the gifting of a village at this location to a bishop in 1085. The excavated houses were built later. A number of tax rolls from Tollerup also refer to six farms and a manor on the site, which was possibly used to store the collected taxes.

A gravel pit alongside the three farms could explain why they did not find the remains of the other three farms, says Christiansen.“Compared with other farms of the same period, we can see that one of the farms must have been the manor house, referred to in the written sources. It’s a qualified guess because the farm is so large,” she says.

The three farms are approximately five meters wide and 15 to 20 meters long, but the manor has a cellar area of 50 square meters. The foundations of the outer wall of the manor suggest that it was a two-story building.

Exceptionally well preserved

The archaeologists were pleased to see that the cellar remains were buried so deep. This would have protected them from a disturbance at the surface, for example by farming equipment turning the land over the years.

It’s rare to find houses from the Middle Ages in Denmark, says archaeologist Nils Engberg, curator at the National Museum of Denmark.

“We have lots of excavations from earlier periods. For example from the Stone Age and Bronze Age. But unfortunately not from the Middle Ages because the houses were built in a different way,” he says.

The large cellar was 50 square metres in size. Part of it was probably used to store the collected taxes while the other side was used to store farming equipment. (Photo: Kirsi Pedersen)
The large cellar was 50 square metres in size. Part of it was probably used to store the collected taxes while the other side was used to store farming equipment.

It was at this time that people began to construct houses with stone foundations after a law was passed to prevent felling of trees. Previously, all houses were timber constructions which led to a timber shortage throughout the country.

But the remains of stone houses could be easily looted and the materials used elsewhere in subsequent buildings, meaning that few were preserved to this day.

Christianity had a foothold in the community

When in use, the cellars would have been full. Archaeologists found evidence of two grinding stones from a mill, plough equipment, and many more everyday objects.

Moreover, they found traces of clay flooring, an oven, and pieces of tile with religious motifs, including a priest.“Religious motifs were very typical of the 1500s,” says Christiansen. Engberg agrees.

This was when Christianity gained momentum, he says.“In this period we had a permanent royal power and a centralized administration.

The country was split into dioceses such as Roskilde and Lolland Falster diocese. Soon, a government formed and we begin to slowly see a societal structure similar to that of today,” he says.

Roskilde’s bishop had connections to Tollerup

Archaeologists suspect that the village fell under the Diocese of Roskilde.“The Bishop of Roskilde received the taxes during this period and he may well have rented the manor for a vassal to administer it.

In the end, all taxes from Tollerup went to the bishop up until the Reformation after which the king took control,” says Christensen.

It is not yet absolutely certain that the town is the disappeared village recorded in the old tax rolls and the king’s letters. Archaeologists and historians will continue to study the site to find out for sure.

Source: archaeology.org

Oxford medieval road discovered under a field near Willow Walk

Oxford medieval road discovered under a field near Willow Walk

The unearthed causeway is made of rounded river pebbles, limestone and chalk rocks
The unearthed causeway is made of rounded river pebbles, limestone and chalk rocks

A ‘REMARKABLY intact’ Medieval stone causeway with horseshoes still lying on top of it has been uncovered beneath a field in Oxford.

Made of rounded river pebbles, limestone and chalk rocks, the cobbled road still has ruts in its surface made by cartwheels more than 500 years ago.

The pathway, next to Willow Walk, between Oatlands recreation ground in Botley and North Hinksey Lane, is one of several surprising discoveries made by archaeologists working on the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme.

Over the past three months, the team from Oxford Archaeology dug some 200 trenches along the three-mile route of the proposed £120m flood channel from Botley Road to South Hinksey.

Another of the most exciting finds which could change the history of Oxford was evidence of Iron or Bronze Age roundhouses in a field near South Hinksey – which could date back as far as 4,000 years.

Oxford Archaeology project manager Ben Ford said: “This was a totally unexpected find.

“There are a number of roundhouses suggesting a small settlement which probably extends under South Hinksey.”

Fragments of pottery and animal bones will be examined over the coming weeks using radiocarbon dating, which will confirm the age of the discoveries.

Mr. Ford said: “We’re very excited about the prospect of further work on these roundhouse findings – especially the possibility they indicate that there has been a settlement at South Hinksey from the Bronze Age – we didn’t know that before.”In another area, the digging revealed an ancient track which seems to point towards New Hinksey.

The investigations are the first opportunity archaeologists have had to study this area of the Oxford floodplain in detail, and Mr. Ford said: “This gives us an unprecedented insight into the history of part of Oxford.”

The team found 6,000-year-old Mesolithic flints which will help develop an understanding of hunter-gatherers who lived in what is now Oxford.

With excavations now finished, the archaeologists hope to produce a final report early next year.

The archaeology has been funded by the Environment Agency in preparation for constructing the three-mile Oxford flood alleviation channel.

Uncertainty still hangs over the funding for the scheme, after the EA warned in September that it still needed to find the final £4.35m ‘by November’ or the scheme may have to be scrapped

Source: bbc

Two Ancient Egyptian Kingdom Tombs Opened in Luxor, Egypt

Two Ancient Egyptian Kingdom Tombs Opened in Luxor, Egypt

Two tombs of unidentified officials dated to Egypt’s New Kingdom era have been opened at Luxor’s Draa Abul-Naglaa necropolis years after they were initially discovered by German archaeologist Frederica Kampp in the 1990s.

The opening of the tombs was announced at an international conference attended by the governor of Luxor, the minister of social solidarity, the director-general of the International Monetary Fund, members of the international media, foreign ambassadors, members of parliament, and Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany.

“It is a very important discovery because both tombs contain very rich funerary collections, and one of them has a very distinguished painted statue of a lady in the Osirian shape,” with this most recent discovery being the third Draa Abul-Naga alone.

“It seems that our ancient Egyptian ancestors are bestowing their blessing on Egypt’s economy as these discoveries are good promotion for the country and its tourism industry,” El-Enany told Ahram Online.

Mostafa Waziri, the secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and head of the Egyptian excavation mission, explains that both tombs were given special numbers by German archaeologist Frederica Kampp in the 1990s.

The first tomb, named “Kampp 161,” was never excavated, while excavation work on the second, “Kampp 150,” was undertaken by archaeologist Kampp short of entering the tomb itself.

The tombs had been left untouched until excavation started during the recent archaeological season.

Most of the items discovered in Kampala 161 are fragments of wooden coffins.

The most notable discoveries are a large wooden mask that was originally a part of a coffin, a small painted wooden mask, a fragment of a gilded wooden mask in poor condition, four legs of wooden chairs that were among the deceased’s funerary equipment, as well as the lower part of a wooden Osirian shaped coffin decorated with a scene of goddess Isis lifting up her hands.

“The owner of Kampp 150 is not yet known, but there are two possible candidates,” Waziri told Ahram Online.

He said that the first possibility is that the tomb belongs to a person named Djehuty Mes, as this name is engraved on one of the walls.

The second possibility is that the owner could be the scribe “Maati,” as his name and the name of his wife “Mehi” are inscribed on 50 funerary cones found in the tomb’s rectangular chamber.

The tomb has only one inscription on one of its northern pillars. It shows a scene with a seated man offering food to four oxen, with the first kneeling in front of the man, who is giving it herbs. The scene also depicts five people making funerary furniture.

The entrance of the long hall is inscribed with hieroglyphic text with the name of “Djehuty Mes.” The ceiling of the chamber is inscribed with hieroglyphic inscriptions and the cartouche of King Thutmose I.

The objects uncovered inside include 100 funerary cones, painted wooden masks, a collection of 450 statues carved in different materials such as clay, wood and faience, and a small box in the shape of a wooden coffin with a lid.

The box was probably used for storing an Ushabti figurine 17 cm tall and 6 cm large. Also found was a collection of clay vessels of different shapes and sizes, as well as a mummy wrapped in linen with its hands on its chest in the Osirian formStudies, suggest that the mummy, which was found inside the long chamber, could be of a top official or another powerful person.

Denmark barbarian battle: Archaeologists Just Discovered the Mangled Remains

Denmark barbarian battle: Archaeologists Just Discovered the Mangled Remains

One of the nearly 400 slaughtered barbarians thought to be buried at Alken Enge in Denmark.
One of the nearly 400 slaughtered barbarians thought to be buried at Alken Enge in Denmark.

A ragtag troop of about 400 Germanic tribesmen marched into battle in Denmark about 2,000 years ago against a mysterious adversary and were slaughtered to the last man. Or at least that’s the story their bones tell.

Exhumed from Alken Enge — a peat bog in Denmark’s Illerup River Valley — between 2009 and 2014, nearly 2,100 bones belonging to the dead fighters have given archaeologists a rare window into the post-battle rituals of Europe’s so-called “barbarian” tribes during the height of the Roman Empire.

In a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark dug into the bloody details.

“The ferocity of the Germanic tribes and peoples and their extremely violent and ritualized behavior in the aftermath of warfare became a trope in the Roman accounts of their barbaric northern neighbors,” the authors wrote in the new study. 

Despite these historical accounts, little evidence of these practices has ever been discovered in archaeological finds — until now.

“Comprehensive slaughter”

In the Alken Enge find, archaeologists unearthed 2,095 human bones and fragments from the peat and lake sediment across 185 acres of wetlands in East Jutland.

These bones belonged to 82 distinct people — seemingly all men, most of them 20 to 40 years old — but likely account for just a fraction of the bones initially deposited in the area, the researchers wrote.

After analyzing the geographic distribution of the bones, the team estimated a minimum of 380 skeletons were originally interred in the water.

This population “significantly exceeds the scale of any known Iron Age village community,” the researchers wrote, suggesting the men were recruited from a large area to participate in a common battle.

Using radiocarbon analysis, the team dated the bones to between 2 B.C. and A.D. 54 — sometime between the reigns of the Roman emperors Augustus (27 B.C. to A.D. 14) and Claudius (A.D. 41 to 54).

During this time, Rome expanded its empire north into Europe but met fierce resistance from the scattered tribes who lived in modern-day Germany and Denmark.

Some tribes allied with the Empire, and infighting between tribes was common.

The bones of the men at Alken Enge are thought to be the casualties of one such tribal battle.

Ancient weapons like axes, clubs, and swords were found scattered about the site, and it was clear to the researchers that many of the skeletons had sustained critical battle wounds before dying.

“The relative absence of healed sharp force trauma suggests that the deposited population did not have considerable previous battle experience,” the researchers wrote. Indeed, the scrappy group of soldiers met “comprehensive slaughter.

“Ritual burial or hasty cleanup?

Nearly 2,100 bones were found in East Jutland, Denmark. Numerous other finds have been discovered preserved in the region's peat bogs.
Nearly 2,100 bones were found in East Jutland, Denmark. Numerous other finds have been discovered preserved in the region’s peat bogs.

Finding boneyards of dead soldiers is no rarity in archaeology; what truly excited the researchers about Alken Enge was the seemingly ritualistic way in which the skeletons were buried.

For starters, it appears that the skeletons were deposited in the lake after they had decomposed in the wild for anywhere between six months and a year.

Nearly 400 of the bones were hatched with gnawing tooth marks probably left by scavenging animals such as foxes, wolves or dogs.

Moreover, the absence of bacterial decay on the bones suggests that the men’s inner organs were removed, decomposed or eaten by scavengers before their ultimate burial, the researchers wrote.

Whether it was a friend or foe who did the burying is still unclear. The man’s arm and leg bones were severed from their torsos.

Few intact skulls were present, but many cranial fragments appeared to have been smashed with a club or other bludgeoning tool, the researchers said.

Four pelvic bones hung around a single tree branch with deliberate intent.”Alken Enge provides unequivocal evidence that the people in Northern Germania had systematic and deliberate ways of clearing battlefields,” the researchers concluded.

The find certainly “points to a new form of postbattle activities” in Germanic tribes at the dawn of the current era — but what it all means is still a mystery.

Source: inticweb

London: Crossrail dig unearths 13,000 Victorian jam jars

London: Crossrail dig unearths 13,000 Victorian jam jars

Marmalade was one of the condiments produced in the factory by Crosse & Blackwel

Marmalade was one of the condiments produced in the factory by Crosse & Blackwel

When the London Archeology Museum (MOLA) investigated the site of a proposed new London train station, they did not expect to find a stash of over 13,000 smashed pickling pots and jam jars dating back to the 1900s.

The stash was discovered during the construction of the railway station under an old nightclub. The area used to be a dumping ground for rejection from a factory that stood on the site until 1921 in Crosse & Blackwell (a British specialty food company).

The find included over 13,000 various containers. They ranged from bottles of mushroom catsup (a popular Victorian condiment) Piccalilli pots, and jars for marmalade and jam. All of them were discovered in a cistern that stood beneath the factory’s warehouse.

Nigel Jeffries, an archaeologist with the Museum of London Archaeology, explained that the cistern used to be filled with water during the factory’s production.

It was built in order to power the steam engines in the factory, but when the building was redesigned in the 1870s, the cistern became obsolete. After that, the cistern was used as a landfill by the Victorians.

Mushroom Catsup was popular with Victorians

Mushroom Catsup was popular with Victorians

While it may seem strange that archaeologists would want to dig up the Victorian trash pile, a person’s trash can tell us a lot about how they lived. Trash piles are a historian’s treasure.

This discovery is helping researchers learn more about “the tastes and palates of the Victorians”, Nigel Jeffries pointed out.

Crosse & Blackwell were based in this area of London between 1830 and 1921, right smack dab in the middle of the industrial revolution and the Victorian era.

Records of the factory say it produced “a very distinctive pungency to the surrounding atmosphere”, which is saying a lot considering it was hard to smell anything during that time period through London’s notorious smog.

The find was originally made by London’s Crossrail Project, a government-funded project that’s revolutionizing London’s train system and building a new railway for the city.

Due to the nature of the project, they have to do a lot of digging, and they’ve dug up all sorts of archaeological finds recently, including several skeletons dating back to the Black Plague, an entire mass-grave dating back to the Dark Ages, and some history of Bedlam Hospital. They’re taking great pains to ensure that no British history is lost in the construction of the new rail line.

These decorative jars were used to sell preserved ginger

These decorative jars were used to sell preserved ginger

Source: bbc

Roadside dig Reveals 10,000 Year Old House In Israel

Roadside dig Reveals 10,000 Year Old House In Israel

 This image shows the 10,000-year-old house, the oldest dwelling to be unearthed to date in the Judean Shephelah.
This image shows the 10,000-year-old house, the oldest dwelling to be unearthed to date in the Judean Shephelah.

Archeologists say that while digging at a construction site in Israel, they have uncovered some stunning finds, including stone axes, a “cultic” temple, and traces of a house 10,000 years old.

The discoveries provide a “broad picture” of human development over thousands of years, from the time when people first started settling in homes to the early days of urban planning, officials with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said.

In preparation for the widening of an Israeli road, the excavation took place at Eshtaol, about 15 miles (25 kilometers) west of Jerusalem.

The site’s oldest discovery was an 8th millennium B.C. building during the Neolithic period.

“This is the first time that such an ancient structure has been discovered in the Judean Shephelah,” archaeologists with the IAA said, referring to the plains west of Jerusalem.

The building seems to have undergone a number of renovations and represents a time when humans were first starting to live in permanent settlements rather than constantly migrating in search of food, the researchers said.

Near this house, the team found a cluster of abandoned flint and limestone axes.

“Here we have evidence of man’s transition to permanent dwellings and that in fact is the beginning of the domestication of animals and plants; instead of searching out wild sheep, the ancient man started raising them near the house,” the archaeologists said in a statement.

The excavators also say they found the remains of a possible “cultic” temple that’s more than 6,000 years old.

The researchers think this structure, built in the second half of the 5th millennium B.C., was used for ritual purposes because it contains a heavy, 4-foot-tall (1.3 meters) standing stone that is smoothed on all six of its sides and was erected facing east.

Archaeologists think this standing stone, which is worked on all of its sides, is evidence of cultic activity in the Chalcolithic period.
Archaeologists think this standing stone, which is worked on all of its sides, is evidence of cultic activity in the Chalcolithic period.

“The large excavation affords us a broad picture of the progression and development of the society in the settlement throughout the ages,” said Amir Golani, one of the excavation directors for the IAA.

Golani added that there is evidence of rural society in Eshtaol making the transition to an urban society in the early Bronze Age, 5,000 years ago.

“We can see distinctly a settlement that gradually became planned, which included alleys and buildings that were extremely impressive from the standpoint of their size and the manner of their construction,” Golani explained in a statement.

“We can clearly trace the urban planning and see the guiding hand of the settlement’s leadership that chose to regulate the construction in the crowded regions in the center of the settlement and allowed less planning along its periphery.

The buildings and artifacts were discovered ahead of the widening of Highway 38, which runs north-south through the city of Beit Shemesh.

Throughout Israel, construction projects often lead to new archaeological discoveries. For example, during recent expansions of Highway 1, the main road connecting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, excavators discovered 9,500-year-old animal figurines, a carving of a phallus from the Stone Age and a ritual building from the First Temple era.

Source: foxnews

The surprising truth about the construction of the Great Pyramids

The surprising truth about the construction of the Great Pyramids

Professor Michel Barsoum stands before one of the Egyptian pyramids for which he has found evidence suggesting some of the stone blocks were cast, not quarried.
Professor Michel Barsoum stands before one of the Egyptian pyramids for which he has found evidence suggesting some of the stone blocks were cast, not quarried.

“It’s not my day job,” Michel Barsoum begins as he recounts his foray into the mysteries of Egypt’s Great Pyramids.

As a well – respected ceramic researcher, Barsoum never expected his career to take him down a path of history, archeology, and “political” science with mixed – in materials research.

As a distinguished professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Drexel University, his daily routine consists mainly of teaching students about ceramics, or performing research on a new class of materials, the so-called MAX Phases, that he and his colleagues discovered in the 1990s.

These modern ceramics are machinable, thermal-shock resistant, and are better conductors of heat and electricity than many metals — making them potential candidates for use in nuclear power plants, the automotive industry, jet engines, and a range of other high-demand systems.

Then Barsoum received an unexpected phone call from Michael Carrell, a friend of a retired colleague of Barsoum, who called to chat with the Egyptian-born Barsoum about how much he knew of the mysteries surrounding the building of the Great Pyramids of Giza, the only remaining of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.

The widely accepted theory — that the pyramids were made of carved – out giant calcareous blocks that workers carried up ramps — was not only not embraced by everyone, but as important had quite a number of holes.

Burst out laughing

According to the caller, the mysteries had actually been solved by Joseph Davidovits, Director of the Geopolymer Institute in St. Quentin, France, more than 2 decades ago.

Davidovits claimed that the stones of the pyramids were actually made of a very early form of concrete created using a mixture of limestone, clay, lime, and water.

“It was at this point in the conversation that I burst out laughing,” Barsoum said. If the pyramids were indeed cast, he said, someone should have proven it beyond a doubt by now, in this day and age, with just a few hours of electron microscopy.

It turned out that nobody had completely proven the theory … yet.”What started as a 2-hour project turned into a 5-year odyssey that I undertook with one of my graduate students, Adrish Ganguly, and a colleague in France, Gilles Hug,” Barsoum said.

A year and a half later, after extensive scanning electron microscope observations and another testing, Barsoum and his research group finally began to draw some conclusions about the pyramids.

They found that the tiniest structures within the inner and outer casing stones were indeed consistent with a reconstituted limestone. The cement binding the limestone aggregate was either silicon dioxide (the building block of quartz) or a calcium and magnesium-rich silicate mineral.

The stones also had a high water content — unusual for the normally dry, natural limestone found on the Giza plateau — and the cementing phases, in both the inner and outer casing stones, were amorphous, in other words, their atoms were not arranged in a regular and periodic array. Sedimentary rocks such as limestone are seldom, if ever, amorphous.

The sample chemistries the researchers found do not exist anywhere in nature.

“Therefore,” Barsoum said, “it’s very improbable that the outer and inner casing stones that we examined were chiseled from a natural limestone block.”More startlingly, Barsoum and another of his graduate students, Aaron Sakulich, recently discovered the presence of silicon dioxide nanoscale spheres (with diameters only billionths of a meter across) in one of the samples. This discovery further confirms that these blocks are not natural limestone.

Generations misled

At the end of their most recent paper reporting these findings, the researchers reflect that it is “ironic, sublime and truly humbling” that this 4,500-year-old limestone is so true to the original that it has misled generations of Egyptologists and geologists and, “because the ancient Egyptians were the original — albeit unknowing — nanotechnologists.”As if the scientific evidence isn’t enough, Barsoum has pointed out a number of common sense reasons why the pyramids were not likely constructed entirely of chiseled limestone blocks.

Egyptologists are consistently confronted by unanswered questions: How is it possible that some of the blocks are so perfectly matched that not even a human hair can be inserted between them? Why, despite the existence of millions of tons of stone, carved presumably with copper chisels, has not one copper chisel ever been found on the Giza Plateau?

Although Barsoum’s research has not answered all of these questions, his work provides insight into some of the key questions. For example, it is now more likely than not that the tops of the pyramids are cast, as it would have been increasingly difficult to drag the stones to the summit.

Also, casting would explain why some of the stones fit so closely together. Still, as with all great mysteries, not every aspect of the pyramids can be explained. How the Egyptians hoisted 70-ton granite slabs halfway up the great pyramid remains as mysterious as ever.

Why do the results of Barsoum’s research matter most today? Two words: earth cement.”How energy intensive and/or complicated can a 4,500-year-old technology really be? The answer to both questions is not very,” Barsoum explains.

“The basic raw materials used for this early form of concrete — limestone, lime, and diatomaceous earth — can be found virtually anywhere in the world,” he adds.

“Replicating this method of construction would be cost-effective, long-lasting, and much more environmentally friendly than the current building material of choice: Portland cement that alone pumps roughly 6 billion tons of CO2 annually into the atmosphere when it’s manufactured.

“Ironically,” Barsoum said, “this study of 4,500-year-old rocks is not about the past, but about the future.”