WHAT ARE WE TO THINK OF THE ENGINEERING OF THE LONG, LONG PAST?


EVERY society has to have engineer types, by whatever name.

Just as every tribe had a medicine woman and/or a shaman – both of whom were mainly healers, every tribe had to have someone who carried more technical knowledge than most.  Medicine women and shamans had to know the plants for healing, and which mushrooms were edible.  It wasn’t all about visions and mumbo jumbo, though arkies would have us all think that.

Engineer types are the ones who know how to build wigwams or build houses on stilts over Swiss lakes.

But those actually are later developments.

The cave art in Spain and France – on rivers that lead down to the Atlantic – shows the high level of art that someone either learned in the caves (so doubtful as to be retarded for anyone to think it could be true) or they came to the caves already with those talents.

The original Lascaux Grottoes, with the walkway built in the 1940s.
(Original source: unknown)

The latter idea has never even been considered, though it is the most likely.  After all, one gains painting skill by painting, and if one has nothing to paint on but cave walls, where is the evidence on those walls and celings of the rudimentary skill being practiced and improved?  Where are the 3rd-grade-level pictures?  If those are not on the cave walls, then we can be assured that the 3D quality of the cave paintings did not develop there.  Here, just by amazing coincidence is a bit of 3rd grade cave art – done by modern 3rd grader:

Modern 3rd grade "cave art" on brown paper

Post-Roman European art took till the 1300s or 1400s to wake up to 3D painting; till then it was all flat 2D representations.  Yet there, 30,000 years ago, cave artists drew in such a manner.

The megalithic sites around the world – and they ARE around the world – including pyramids from Egypt to Mexico to China and including precisely fitted multi-ton, no-mortar stone walls and ‘temples’ give testament to an ability to intentionally plan both buildings and complexes for some use which we can only guess at.  When arkies call such unknowns ‘ceremonial’ or ‘for ritual purposes’ they are not operating from knowledge.  They are only repeating the (self-judged superior) religious viewpoints of the early white Anglo-Saxon arkies – because it is what they were taught and they aren’t allowed to designate the bewildering megalithic buildings in any other way.  In archeology, making waves means waiting tables instead of supervising digs.  Conservatism is everything.  “Radical” means saying a hieroglyph means “A” instead of “a”.  Saying it means “b” can get you labeled a radical.

Megalithic buildings were done intentionally.  Intentional building means technological knowledge.  No one can just go from teepees and igloos and lean-tos to moving 3-ton walls into walls and buildings with the snap of a finger.  There are a LOT of developmental steps in between.  Whoever was designing them, they did a great job, because in all of megalithic building – in all of the world – there is only ONE site we know of that appears to have collapsed while under construction.  This is a remarkable record of expertise and knowledge of such things as ‘stress analysis’, ‘strength of materials’, and architectural/structural principles.  Today (at least in Illinois) in order to allow people to live or work in a building, the building ‘blueprint’ design has to have the stamp of either an architect or a structural engineer.  This is to guarantee that the building will not be inadequate and not come tumbling down around the people inside.  The design has to be fully vetted.  And yet, we still hear of buildings falling down or collapses during construction, don’t we?  And in the whole world only one megalithic structure fell down – around the people building it.  That was at Meidum in Egypt, about 20 miles south of Giza.  Here is what a collapsed pyramid looks like:

The pyramid at Meidum. You can see the core. The outer layers slumped like an avalanche. (no known copyright restrictions)

Megalithic building in Peru was done so well that not only the Incas were able to build their own stone structures on TOP of the earlier megalithic walls, but some of them even have Catholic churches built on top of both.  Both early walls and the later structures have stood together for upwards of 600 years – and have every indication of still being there 1,000 years from now, since even in an earthquake zone there are few if any that have even the slightest weakness showing.  Contrast that to our modern houses built of sticks.

We all know that the megalithic structures in Egypt were built 3,000 years ago.  Such structures do not stand the test of time by being sketched out on the back of Middle Dynasty napkins.  There was INTENT in their design, INTENT on the choice of limestone and granite, INTENT in the stress determinations, INTENT on funding such permanent structures.  And behind all that intent, there was PURPOSE – purpose to have each of them last a long, long time.  Oh, the arkies can nod their heads and agree that the Egyptian mumbo jumbo religion decreed that their beliefs in their gods be supplicated by the best means possible, or that their all-powerful kings and pharaohs willed it, therefore there was no choice but to make them edifices for the ages.  Of course, the will of the kings or the supplication to the gods wouldn’t mean a hill of beans if the technology had not ALREADY been developed by which to design and build such megalithic structures in the first place.

Which brings us back to the question we asked about the art in the caves at Lascaux and Altimira and so many other caves.  WHERE is all the evidence of the 3rd-grade-art?  With the megalithic structures, where are the earlier stages?  If the earliest structure at Giza is accepted as the Sphynx Temple, why is it that the Sphynx temple is actually the best built of all the structures at Giza?

The Sphynx Temple
(No known copyright restrictions)

It is widely accepted as common knowledge that the ancient Egyptian buildings and structures came into existence fully developed. They started OUT with the best and went somewhat downhill from there?  Hardly.  That is one of those ‘facts’ in archeology and New Age literature that simply isn’t true, no matter how many times you read it.   And that is what I am saying here:  Where is the ramp-up evidence?  For art?  For architecture? For engineering?  There is a history of all that development, even if we currently don’t know about it.  It certainly does not appear to have been developed in Egypt, because if it had, we would see the evidence of it.  Earlier almost-as-good buildings would still be standing if they ever existed.  Since they don’t exist in Egypt we must conclude that the development occurred elsewhere.  We will leave that for now, but just mull all that over and see if you see that it makes sense.

Our archeologists simply blow right past all this, straight to the mumbo jumbo depictions.  They can’t understand what an edifice is for, ergo it is for mumbo jumbo, however fancy they dress up the descriptions.  The arkies believe that the lay public is a bunch of suckers, just as P.T. Barnum called us all, that we will blindly accept that early people were not practical, just a bunch of post-Neandertals barely out of the caves who are scared of the tiny-twinkling-in-the-night-sky gods – without explaining why any person – cave man or king – would be afraid of stars.  The arkies actually believe their own pronouncements about the ignorance of the ancient peoples about their gods, about the ‘heavens’, about life after death – their party line.  But looked at from a practical point of view the arkies’ view of almost everything ancient is an insult to the intelligence of the earlier human race.  For that matter, it is an insult to the present human race, too.  Like their visions of ancient priests they weave mumbo jumbo tales – about how kings push “gotta keep our power over the stupid masses” stories onto their stupid as horses tribesmen. And then there is the one about priestly efforts at appeasing gods and kings paving their way to immortal life, and we, the modern public are supposed to see the ancients as stupid, uncritical thinkers with no more sense than modern preschoolers who believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.  Anyone with half a mind – in ancient Egypt, Cusco, Sumeria, Stonehenge, Newgrange, or now – cannot but be insulted by such pompous thinking.  If the arkies think we could believe it, shame on them.  But worse yet, if they themselves believe it shame on them the more.

It is time we gave the ancients some credit for having common sense, for having critical faculties, for being hard-nosed people who would not get involved with huge construction projects without having good reasons.  And we need to give them credit also for having the ability to put two and two together and getting four (consistently) – as well as developing engineering principles, geometry, trigonometry, statics and a horde of organized and cataloged  knowledge about strength of materials and construction methods.  To this day we do not know how they worked granite as easily as if it was chalk.  Yet arkies just blow that off with waves of the hand with talk about copper tools and dropping 8″ balls to wear away stone – none of which holds one iota of credibility with modern engineers.  LITERALLY, there is not a single engineer on the planet who would look at copper tools and granite and tell you that the copper tool could even begin to remove even ONE gram of the granite.  Yet people in ancient Egypt DID cut granite, the pre-Incan people in Peru cut granite (as did the Incas themselves), the people in Japan cut granite.  So not only did ONE civilization at one point in history know a technology that we can’t figure out, but people at different times and in widely varying locations figured it out.  If you want to really be impressed with the granite cutting, go look at some of the deeply incised hieroglyphs of storks, etched into mirror-like facades, with their slender legs 2 millimeters wide yet 15-20 millimeters deep and with edges as sharp as a knife and with sharp internal corners everywhere.  There are no crumbled edges, no shaky edges, no tool marks.  There is also no need to go 20 mm deep.  What tool could be strong enough to cut so deep in such a slender hieroglyph?  It is , IMHO, hard to appreciate these unless you have stood 10 inches in front of them and puzzled at them.  The devil is in the details – the smallest details.

I have designed thin cutting tool holders for tight spots, and I can tell you it isn’t east to make sure your tool holder doesn’t wobble, or the cutting edge doesn’t deflect.  Precision cutting means that the tool – and its holder – has to be ten times more rigid than the precision you are aiming for.  To imagine something that rigid in ancient Egypt is simply mind blowing.  Christopher Dunn continually asks, “What guided the tool when surfaces are flat – or true arcs or true ellipses – to within 0.0005 inches?”  Yes, these are things we can do now – but we certainly could not have done them 40 years ago or when Piazzi Smyth was slogging around in the Giza sand.  And we probably can’t do them on the scale of the Egyptians – though we might be able to – but at great, great expense.  The Apis bull  ‘sarcophagi’ in the Serapeum at Saqqara with their 6 inch thick lids each would cost upwards of a million dollars today.  The walls inside and out are flat within 0.0005 inches over surfaces 14 feet long and 7 feet high, and all are square to each other to the same precision.

Rule #1 of machining is:  Precision costs money.  And double the precision and it costs you four times as much money.  So Rule #2 is: Do NOT specify precision you don’t really need.

Who would spend a million dollars on caskets for animals today?  Who would do it for a king?

Not to beat my breast about our society’s shortcomings, but why can we moderns not figure out how the ancients cut and fitted stones in the way they did, that looks like it was a walk in the park?  It was so easy the pre-Incans could do it, that the Egyptians could do it.  These, of course, are the same mumbo jumbo ancients the arkies look down their noses at.  Can one begin to see why they think we are so gullible as to believe such stories?

Many others have asked the same questions I am asking above.  But the true BEST question to ask is “WHY would anyone have built edifices and statues like the Egyptians and pre-Incans did?  It wasn’t necessary in later civilizations.  Oh, the Greeks and Romans have wonderful temples – but they were not in the same league.  The Romans left a record of what they did and hnow they did it.  They mostly just used brute force.  We KNOW how their engineers did what they did and why – because the demands of a functioning aggressive Greek and Roman societies needed aqueducts, mills, public baths, public forums, sewers, siege machines and catapults – and many more things.  Most of it was applications of brute force, and we have inherited the Greco-Roman philosphy of scaling things up by analyzing the forces and adjusting.  That, to a great degree, is what engineering in our world is based on – take an existing design and size it up or down and apply it to the problem at hand.  And it works well for us, too.

When we look at ancient engineering works, though, we often can NOT figure out what their intent was.  Thinking in our way doesn’t give us useful answers.  God knows we’ve all tried.  There just is some glitch in the translating of ideas, some basic premises that are different, some mindset that was as different as Americans trying to make sense of Chinese written characters.  If their achievements had been chapels in wooded glades or 1920s gas stations no one would care.  But when their achievements outdid anything done prior to 1900 and equal or exceed those of 2012 then we need to keep on trying to understand why Newgrange’s S-shaped passage had to align with the rising Sun, why the Great Pyramid (or Chephren’s or the Red Pyramid or the Bent Pyramid) had to be so damned big – and why their passageways are all different, how the granite was cut, how 800 ton blocks were handled at Baalbek, and how stones were fitted so precisely why there are over a thousand stone circles in the British Isles as well as hundreds more around Europe, and why there are so many hundreds of menhirs and dolmens in so many rows at Carnac in France.

It isn’t that we cannot understand little things about these engineered sites.  The issue is that we have nothing but guesses about even the most rudimentary aspects of any of them.

At a time when the entire world’s population was perhaps ten million people, works needing ten thousand people cropped up seemingly everywhere.  In the case of Egypt – when the entire world population had grown to only about 20 million (the size of current Mexico City) – and Egypt had about 2 million, they not only found engineers of the first order, but also stone masons and construction supervisors to manage the biggest projects in history up to perhaps modern times.  When we are told that 100,000 people were needed to build the Great Pyramid, we need to contrast that against, say, the biggest vertically integrated industrial company in Germany in the 1920s, United Steelworks, which had 200,000 workers in both their steel mills and their coal mines.  That 100,000 workers would today almost constitute a Fortune 50 company based on number of employees (yes, 50, not 500).  Significantly, not one of those modern biggest 50 companies is a construction company.  When we in a world of 7 billion people hear “100,000 people built the Great Pyramid” we cannot easily appreciate that number of people at that time in the world.  The world population is now about 250 times what it was then.  I for one would not have wanted to be the manager of such a large number of workers, then or now.  Even if the total was spread out over the life of the project and included everyone who ever worked on it,it is still a huge undertaking.  Just the necessary infrastructure of the project is overwhelming – feeding the workers and providing accommodations – is beyond my comprehension given the basic level of life then.

Move to 1500 BC and to Stonehenge, Newrange, and Avebury, – and all the other stone circles, and there were less than one million people lived in all of Britain.  That averages out to about 900 people per stone circle.  Realistic?  No, but it apparently is what happened.  Which brings up the questions of why and who organized and planned them.  Something must have been very important to do with aligning the stones to the stars.  And whatever it was it convinced essentially the entire population to participate.  The standard arkie line is religion.  I simply don’t accept that.  For one thing there is basically no solid evidence to that effect, making it just a guess.  What scraps of evidence can be read many ways, and it is almost all from graves.

My own standard reply to grave artifacts is this: “If some grave robbers 1,000 years from now find OUR stuff in our graves, how much of our society will they be able to correctly figure out?”  If you answered. “Almost nothing.” you are on my side.  They MIGHT find a Manchester United scarf or a fob watch left by one’s grandfather, or a photo.  We bury almost nothing with our dead, so the grave robbers would soon be in another line of work, unless they can find a lot of rings and necklaces not worthy of being passed on to our children.  They may conclude that our society was focused on cheap jewelry – and that we didn’t wear shoes.

So, when I hear arkies tell us this or that is so because of what they found in graves, I quietly shake my head.  They only have three sources of info about ancient times – graves, stone artifacts and stone edifices.  There are few of the stone artifacts, so mainly it is graves and stone structures.  Little can be discerned about a society from its stone structures, so I use the same argument as on graves: Any conclusions are likely to be projections from the minds of the arkies.  And given how conservative their discipline is, they will still be talking about mumbo jumbo 2,000 years from now.  There is little to learn from the arkies.  It is like learning about the Wild West by talking to an immigrant dishwasher in 1875 Philadelphia – what he knows is what he hears.  That is not good enough for me.

Some very intelligent people in ancient times were building some fascinating structures and aligned arrangements, and I think they had a reason.  Perhaps more than one reason.  It is certain that the arkies have no clue what those reasons were.  So rejecting their thinking is the first step toward finding out about those reasons.

More later…

Steve

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s