In this article Robert Klein revisits a chapter of his unpublished manuscript Paradigms Shift in which he discusses the development of infrastructure in ancient societies and explains his theory on the mathematics and engineering of the Great Pyramid.
I wrote this material over ten years ago and since then much has been added and discovered regarding prehistory and the Global Atlantean Age that I have shown to date conveniently between 2500 BC and 1159 BC. I presently suspect that the Atlantean Age ended directly with the outright subsidence of the Atlantic Ridge and the Cuban Arch. This came about as a result of hydraulic relief with the nine thousand year long melting of the Northern Ice Cap and was surely the last step in a process that saw sea levels rise at least one hundred meters globally. Recent work has established a ten kilometer jelly like rock layer beneath the plates and this confirms capability.
This chapter and preceding chapters set out to establish the mathematics of the Bronze Age and the methods used to establish mensuration. This led to then tackling key engineering issues which we partially cover in this chapter. All this made it possible to reconstruct a protocol able to build the Great Pyramid on time and on budget using only the resources available to the Egyptians during the Early Bronze Age. It is noteworthy that this coincides in time with the initial exploitation of the Lake Superior Copper mines which was necessary to provide a huge supply of native copper.
It remains possible that an alternative protocol is possible, but neither I nor anyone else has succeeded in discovering it. This is a solution that works and also informs us on how huge blocks could be shifted in the Bronze Age.
The part on the pyramid can be addressed first by the reader if he so wishes.
The emergence of antique stone building techniques and the global pyramid cult
The expansion of the extremely important grain based farming culture that had its beginnings almost 10,000 years ago finally culminated one hundred years ago with the completion of its final expansion into the Americas in the Peace River country. This combination of long-term food security combined with the implied management needs soon drove the initial rise of many new Antique civilisations throughout the globe. The first complete flowering that we are aware of came in Mesopotamia with the rise of Sumar. Typical of all these early civilisations it was river valley based in a semitropical climate, easily conducive to the development of an irrigation-supported monoculture. We can be certain that the establishment of a huge village based polity already dependent on grain preceded it. We can now try to sketch this development and understand their accomplishments.
It is here that we first see the full tool kit of civilization arise. Production specialization and organized commerce began with all their special needs being met with all the expected professionals in the appropriate urban setting. We discover lawyers and accountants. As the societies became ever more complex, more pressure was put on these societies to codify their laws and to securely record transaction information. We see the emergence of various writing forms and the solidification of counting and measurement techniques. These all evolve into practical forms that can be handily applied to the expanding logistical demands.
This process also happened over and over again. Remarkably, the simple idea of an alphabet, or ideogram system, once shown and simply explained seems to have inspired immediate imitation on some of the least likely soil even up into modern times. The singular creation of an Indian alphabet in the southern USA during the eighteenth century shows us how easy it was for the concept to be applied once understood by a clever tribal leader.
With the rise of large organised societies in the form of large cities dominating a surrounding developed hinterland, we also see the development of monumental building techniques with the state taking full advantage of the local surplus of labour tax. The labour tax was necessary and typically used to fund the building and ongoing maintenance of canals, city walls and roads. To divert some of this effort to the building of palaces and pyramidal temples dedicated to the local version of the Sungod cult was a natural extension of this tax, truly consuming the available surplus. It was also a quite natural outcome with the social separation of the local god king and his subjects increasing steadily as organised society increased hugely.
It should be noted that the economic model for all these states was for the citizens to contribute labour directly or indirectly. Surplus production would be difficult to police and even more difficult to dispose of. On the other hand it is apparent that the ruler retained all the trading rights of these states and acted as the chief merchant. Logically then those citizens of the state who produced tradable surpluses (a rather small part of the economy) would barter their tax obligation for these products. The ruler would then trade for the advantage of the whole community. In most of these early states, the authority of the ruler rested on his ability to redistribute these resources to the citizens however distorted by his decisions. Between the citizenry we have a normal barter economy.
With this natural pool of labour capital, these states eventually found themselves in the position of having more labour available than could logically be applied to normal infrastructure. The natural sink for this surplus was to build structures to honour the gods that the people believed in. It is thus that we see the building and rebuilding of temples and God King palaces in most of these civilisations.
There has been plenty of debate regarding the obvious global distribution of the Antique pyramid in its various forms. We see the natural impulse to build was already set up once an organised state was constructed. We can quite reasonably assume that the same cult idea was likely involved, which like the concept of the alphabet, is an easily transmitted idea. In fact we have cultural support for a sun god mythos that is global in extent and coincident with the Bronze Age in the Old World. The Americas appear to have been the last holdout at the time of contact. Post Bronze Age religions appear to have generated a more human pantheon in the Old World that slowly supplanted the old cult. Why is not obvious.
The most visible artefact of these states, and often almost the only record of these societies, is the use of monumental stones for building and for monuments. In fact, the dominance of this part of the record overshadows the primary building techniques of these civilisations. The reality is that all through the rise of our tool-based civilisation, wood has always been the material of choice for virtually every domestic need, including the building of substantial housing. It is also rather obvious that those societies that did not extensively use stone were hardly less advanced, even though the record of their existence is extremely thin on the ground.
An excellent modern example is the Pacific Northwest Indians who lived in large plank houses for thousands of years. Yet their precontact tool kit was pure Stone Age. Their use of stone other than for tools was quite minimal. Yet they had extended tribes and a social structure reminiscent of any antique civilisation. Had there been a centralising economic raison d’être, a civilisation would have arisen. This is also an excellent lesson in not underestimating the fabrication capacity of even our Stone Age ancestors.
In fact, the demands of housing and shipping caused the art of woodworking to reach a high level of sophistication, rather early and prior to the development of any antique civilisation. This held true even when only stone adzes and wedges were available as was glowingly demonstrated in the aforementioned Northwest. It merely took a lot longer and perhaps resulted in lower quality.
Another great example for us to consider is medieval Japan. A fully developed civilisation was constructed and solidified as modern as any for its time and place. Had the population disappeared five hundred years ago, the wood structures would be now gone as well as most metal with the exception of bronze. New forest cover would bury the limited use of stone. The result of such a transformation is that an archaeologist would initially be hard put on the basis of the remaining evidence to argue for a system of elaborate feudal estates, as we know to be the case. This also begs the question of what was it really like in wood based Europe three thousand years ago. It is incredibly easy to underestimate the abilities of these ancient societies.
Most antique civilizations seem to eventually start building monuments. The exceptions were probably merely too short lived. The greatest single achievement is in Egypt, but the fact is we have similar monuments around the globe, often built by carrying bags of spoil.
The first pre-requisite for the development of any monumental stonework in particular is some form of state managed labour tax. The nature of this type of stonework is such that a huge amount of full time semi-skilled labour is demanded that has to also be housed and fed during the sustained fabrication period.
The primary benefit of this type of massive construction is permanence. No enemy or even earthquake is going to easily tear down such walls or other structures. The proof of that is the extent to which these structures still exist today. However, it is still a primitive and costly technique that was soon abandoned with the discovery of cement during the Roman era. The Forum and other ancient Roman ruins again attest to the lasting capability of concrete.
Our discussion will now focus on the Egyptian achievement, which clearly surpasses those of any other. It will show what can be done at the limit of the technology and clearly by reflection shows what others accomplished in other locales.
The process begins with large block creation. Prior to the advent of garnet edged saws capable of leaving a flat surface, the only choice was to split out with some form of wedge a large irregular shaped piece and hand dress the rock to a usable shape. In some cases we have found in the archaeological record abandoned examples of the blocks or monuments themselves being hand dressed out in the quarry. This takes a huge amount of man-hours for each block created.
It was not a big step to tight fit these early irregular blocks together by the technical expedient of sight-fitting a likely block, moving it to within two feet of position, and then with a spacing bar as a guide, dressing the two surfaces to fit. This produces an incredibly stable wall for a modest increase in labour cost. It may reduce the labour cost through careful matching, since all these faces were going to be dressed anyway. We see excellent examples in megalithic structures about the Mediterranean and in the Incan Empire.
With the availability of some form of stone saw, square cutting becomes the norm, and the amount of hand dressing is scaled back. A primitive stone saw can consist of a rather weak metal blade or even a long thin stone straight edge that is hard enough. The secret is in supplying loose abrasives, correctly chosen to the working surface and applying a back and forth rubbing motion in the cutting groove.
During construction some form of mortar is often used to fill joints. This could be mud, clay, or later, sand and quicklime. Mud brick was also contemporaneous with this level of building technology, as well as pottery making.
In order to move a large block or monument, it is necessary to accomplish motion in both the horizontal and vertical direction, usually as separate actions. For the sake of this discussion, we will assume a block size of ten to fifteen tons. The likely dimensions will be 4x4x8 feet. This seems to be the most common large weight handled.
We also assume it to be quite reasonable and logical that the stone is positioned first on a skid boat providing a smooth wooden undersurface, guides and a fastening frame. This also protects against breakage.
If one then lays down split green tree trunks as parallel rails, we have a moist slippery surface to pull the block on, even on mild inclines. And this surface can be kept moist and slippery with grease. A modest pulling crew could keep the block moving and under control. Young hardwoods averaging eight inches through and debarked should work well and are universally available. This allows just about any likely quarry site to be used without having to import rails, which will have a fair consumption rate.
For higher grades and just general lifting, it is necessary to step the block up or down safely to a new level. Now it is possible to imagine a variety of lifting methods. I am also certain that the engineers found efficient methods to accomplish their aims. What I am about to describe is one such strategy.
First we must recognise that a strong conditioned human worker can develop approximately 500 pounds of vertical lifting power using his upper legs over a distance of at least eight inches. If we leverage this by at least a rather minimal ratio of five to one, then he will be able to lift over a ton of weight, the distance of one inch with each such stroke.
The advanced solution to this leveraging problem is the vertical windlass. However, lacking that, it is only necessary to set up a horizontal rocker beam on a rocker frame with which to rotate on, and attach it to the load using a tough well connected vertical beam.
With a frame at each end of the block a short-handed crew can lift one end at a time or if well manned, both ends. At the end of each lifting stroke one-inch thick wooden plates would be placed under the block. Then the frame itself would perhaps be physically lifted one inch, allowing the process to begin again. This is a little primitive, but still gets the task done. A fifteen-man crew, well trained, would get this process down to about once every ten minutes or about half a foot in an hour. They also would not be tripping over each other since there would be five lifters at each end and four handling plate placement in the middle. One day of work would reasonably suffice to lift a block several feet, and to slide it to a new rest position. Any improvement on the leverage (i.e. metal) system will easily increase productivity, since the human body is quite capable of rocking through these lifts at the rate of about one a minute for at least ten repetitions. With rests, and better equipment it is theoretically possible to lift at an easy two feet per hour.
The important point to be made is that this is totally feasible with even the most rudimentary toolkit, as was demonstrated on Easter Island. As the toolkit is improved and expanded, it becomes possible to become much more efficient and safe. The second point to be made is that the manpower requirements are low enough to fit comfortably around the block. This permits a fair bit of scaling when applying to larger blocks. With the right choice of dimensions, it should be possible to handle blocks several times larger. The constraint becomes the strength of the wood and stone and the ability of the rails to accept the load, rather than the size of the block.
There will be other occasional difficulties arising from working in confined spaces. Careful planning would eliminate all but what is absolutely necessary and these could likely be handled with similar techniques and a lot more time.
We now come to the ultimate glory of monolithic stone technology. The building of the great stone pyramids. First, pyramids of some form or the other are located globally, not just in Egypt. Whether as step temples or earth mounds or perfect stone pyramids, they are a common response to a common cultic impulse. Most telling, a great number appear to be geographically situated in terms of specific unique latitudes and longitudes, which surely could not have been chosen randomly. This represents the best and perhaps the only specific and credible support for the existence of a global scholar priesthood, who were masters of astronomical lore and the measurement of time and space within the confines of their mathematica. The origins of such a group are speculative and probably can never be totally perfected.
It is worth noting that the emergence of the original Sumerian civilisation established a class of men with exactly the extensive skill sets needed. They were literate and a few were masters of astronomy, measurement and calculation. More importantly, the civilisation and its natural successors lasted for thousands of years, ample to create a thoroughly tradition bound cadre with cultic motives. And in spite of apparent heated debate among archaeologists, travel to distant locations was totally feasible, particularly by sea.
Many of these more obscure sites, are located without obvious regard to the existence of local support and may well have been only occupied long enough to create the site. There are examples in China and Russia as well as many known locales. There is strong locational evidence that these may have been built purely to satisfy a cultic need. I quote the following table from the book The Atlantis Blueprint by Rand Flem-Ath and Colin Wilson. Page 67.
10 phi sites during the Hudson Bay Pole. 10 phi is 4429.2 nautical miles from the Pole, which is equal to 16:11N.
Sacred Site Co-ordinates Distance to HBP Former latitude
Baalbek 34:00N/36:12E 4,431 Naut. Miles 16:09N
Paracas 13:50S/76:11W 4,431 16:09N
Cuzco 13:32S/71:57W 4,433 16:07N
Sidon 33:32N/35:22E 4,437 16:03N
Machu Picchu 13:08S/72:30W 4,407 16:33N
Ehdin 34:19N/35:57E 4,408 16:32N
Ollantaytambo 13:14S/72:17W 4,414 16:26N
Ninevah 36:24N/43:08E 4,451 15:49N
There are additional tables for different latitudes and for two other potential poles as well as related locations related directly to the Giza Prime Meridian. It is curious that while the orientation of the pyramids is to the North Pole, that of the Sphinx is to the Hudson Bay Pole (28 degrees).
It is observed that these locations are clearly sited in locales related to rather specific latitudes and longitudes that are related to each other and possibly to geographical position. The rational for these site locations can only be speculative in terms of our current knowledge.
The key question apparent from the cultural evidence just described is how were these locations chosen? It appears that a global grid coincident with a prime meridian running through Giza is part of the framework. It also appears that a grid based on the pre-Pleistocene Nonconformity Hudson Bay pole was also critical in site choice particularly were overlap occurred. The authors make another stretch and suggest that in some instances an additional Yukon Pole is indicated. I consider this option extremely unlikely if only because of the existence of major non-glaciated windows in the area. However, a clear predictive pattern was established between the two principal grids that led to the discovery of fresh confirmation sites.
These authors argue that this priesthood was possibly the descendant of scholars who survived the Pleistocene non-conformity. First, I do not think that that level of antecedence is necessary for the later existence of a global Bronze Age pyramid cult. The astronomical measurement tools as mentioned were already well developed in Sumer. Secondly, the observational challenge is to confirm cult sites that are over 10,000 years old or pre Bronze Age that partially confirm their theory. And that runs into the fundamental problem of archaeological evidence, which is that the number of surviving artefacts declines exponentially the deeper one goes back in time.
The locating of these sites required certain expertise among the ancient priest builders. They needed to precisely locate their latitude (easy) and longitude (vastly more difficult). We can only conclude that longitude was measured by some key angle of an object such as the moon with a fixed star. I do not have a simple procedure to recommend, but we know that specific devices such as the tanawa existed for the benefit of mariners of the time that did precisely this. On land, with long sight lines, it would be possible to achieve exceptional accuracy. Another mitigating issue for the builders is that once they located the pre chosen sacred site, they built where it was practical. This could easily be twenty to thirty miles away, which is probably the case with Giza. Coincidentally, the earliest pyramid is much better located on poor foundation material.
The most compelling part of Flem-Ath and Wilson’s so-called blueprint is the apparent retention of the antediluvian sky as part of the knowledge base. A group of scholars, largely remote from anything other than local villages, strong enough to inhibit destruction for several thousands of years, and influential enough to garner support from the indigenous priesthood during the Bronze Age seems a difficult proposition.
But it is not impossible if remote from the rising civilisations. The Lamas of Tibet or perhaps the Copts of Ethiopia show us one way in which this might have occurred. Perhaps they were based in the mountains of Turkey where curious underground infrastructure has been found. Then the next challenge is for this enterprising group of scholar-priests to mount expeditions of two to three thousand to a number of remote locations about the globe for the purpose of building large pyramid like structures. It could have happened if the determination was there.
Rand argues that these sites were located and visually marked prior to the advent of the non-conformity. This rather obviously solves a lot of difficulties. I point out though that all the scholars needed to know were the axis of displacement and the angle (28 degrees). This could have been done with one single known location sighted on the original pole. This would conveniently provide a purpose for the sphinx and provide additional support for those enthusiasts who believe it is antediluvian. Scholars could then model the appropriate grids on a globe. Determining the correct locations of future sacred sites is then as easy as taking the appropriate coordinates off the model globe.
Obviously subdividing the globe into traditional blocks of time (e.g. One hour is 15 degrees) was paramount in defining their scientific cult. With this information, the Egyptians or the Sumerians could dispatch expeditions with alacrity to these locations to scout out the possibility of building new monuments. More likely, exploring early Bronze Age expeditions had an easy cosmic formula for sighting in the proper sacred location for building local temples. Imagine if Christianity had such a creed. We would have churches in the most inaccessible and unpopulated locales imaginable.
Shifting the grid to reflect additional poles was just as easy, but may have been motivated by something other than the reflection of an ancient Crustal shift. It could in fact be an attempt to crystallize a specific position with key stars to start a time clock. It is also worth noting that the location of the so called Yukon Pole is about seventy five degrees away from the Hudson Bay pole and both poles are about thirty degrees from the current pole. This is a touch too coincidental, particularly since it is impossible to truly locate the purported pre shift pole location with any particular accuracy. Since a working of the dynamic equations may show a natural mode supporting a thirty-degree shift I will reserve judgement. These were however the types of options available to the scholars sitting in Egypt and Sumar.
The building of pyramids was derived largely from at-hand local materials. Usually this meant carrying baskets of earth and building a steep sided mound on the location indicated by the priest. In Sumeria mud bricks allowed more complex architecture. And eventually in some locales, stone was used. It is noteworthy that in some active sites, the pyramids were continuously added to as recently as several hundred years ago.
Climax- building the great pyramid
For reasons that are obscure, it fell on Egypt to take stone building to its ultimate expression in the form of the Great Pyramid of Giza during the height of the Bronze Age. It would be remarkable if this construction effort were not the culmination of a scholarly effort reaching back at least to the Sumerian Genesis.
These builders incorporated measurement precision, a variety of key ratios and most likely certain astronomical information. The last is a little more difficult to judge since the measurement system itself was linked directly to the circumference of the globe and the time of rotation. The extraordinary precision of the measurements involved, including angles has allowed us to back engineer some of the underlying mathematical knowledge that they possessed. We can discover the ratios of Pi and the golden mean. All this strongly supports the theory that the pyramid was the penultimate temple of the sun pyramid cult. We will return to these issues later.
The Great Pyramid was originally 481 feet, five inches tall (146.7 meters) and measured 755 feet (230 meters) along its sides. It covered an area of 13.6 acres, or 53,000 square meters. The angle of elevation was just over fifty-one degrees. For our current purposes, it is not necessary to quote the measurements in the original cubits. The primary building material was limestone. Some of the important larger blocks were however granite. The exact number of stones was originally estimated at 2,300,000 stone blocks weighing from 2-30 tons each with some weighing as much as 70 tons. Computer calculations indicate 590,712 stone blocks were used in its construction. (Information c/o www.crystalinks.com)
There are supposedly 144,000 casing stones, all highly polished and flat to an accuracy of 1/100th of an inch, about 100 inches thick and weighing about 15 tons each with nearly perfect angles for all six sides. Computer calculations indicated that 40,745 casing stones were used averaging 40 tons each before the face angle was cut.
The average casing stone on the lowest level was 5 ft. long by 5 ft. high by 6 ft. deep and weighed about 15 tons. Casing stones weighing as much as 20 tons were placed with an accuracy of 5/1000ths of an inch, and an intentional gap of about 2/100ths of an inch for mortar.
201 complete courses of masonry remain with remnants of 2 more at the summit.
The granite shows the existence of an advanced tool technique achieving results any precision machinist would respect today. Although the bulk of the limestone core was well fitted, it was not exceptionally so in terms of the standards of the day demonstrated by the outer cladding, which was fitted and finished with extraordinary precision.
There has been some debate as to whether the main pyramids were built earlier than approximately 5,000 years ago. The preponderance of evidence supports the building of this national temple complex about 5,000 years ago at the height of the Egyptian Bronze Age. There is a lively debate as to whether the main pyramids were built 12,000 years ago, which is as yet unconvincing. Appropriate carbon dating is available in at least one instance and unless the provenience is false, always a real risk, traditional dating is correct.
I suggest that it will be sufficient to demonstrate the likely building method within the confines of the Egyptian culture of 5,000 years ago. We want to show that it could have been done at the only time in our history it would ever have been done. This also dispenses of various speculations by certain enthusiasts for the special intervention of some source of external expertise, which never answered the important question; why would they build this way if they were so advanced?
We will now describe in sufficient detail the most likely construction scenario.
1 A cadre of Priest – Engineers – Civil Servants united in a common tradition of mathematical, engineering, organisational skill and ample prior experience in this type of construction.
2 Ample core stone on site and speciality stones available upriver on the Nile.
3 A possible water supply partially elevated from the site. Much has been made of this, but it would only have been a modest convenience for operations at the base. Pressure pipes were not available to do anything particularly clever. Even the Romans had problems with pipes three thousand years later. Modern hydraulics came with cast iron.
4 Tools to prepare and dress this type of stone. Certainly bronze, and possibly iron for special work.
5 An ample supply of quality timber cants imported continuously from Lebanon. A cant is a log in which the sides have been squared of in preparation for the manufacture of boards. The importation required large cargo ships with ample hulls.
6 Because the core or heartwood is intact the strength is uniform and comparable to the original log. Once the construction is finished the well-cured wood flows back into the shipbuilding industry. Any failure mode telegraphs its intention in plenty of time by splitting across the corners. It can then be strengthened by the expedient of using sinew rope to bind the cant together. Sinew rope is applied wet and tightened. On drying it contracts while increasing its elasticity. We do not consistently match its capability with any manmade fibre today.
7 Superb wood working skills including shipbuilding. They were hauling large thirty-ton loads out of Lebanon.
8 Enthusiastic skilled labour tax cohort. Many of these guys were well paid.
This was a culmination point for a remarkably successful and unchallenged civilisation. It was reaching out to exploit, under the pharaoh, new sea borne trading opportunities. This has led to the acquisition of a steady flow of high quality ship building timber from the Levant. Shaping tools are been used capable of allowing the carving of granite. This is, within the material limits of the day, a sophisticated tool culture.
The engineering challenge was not the manufacture of the stone blocks, but the material handling issue. If we accept that the structure was built inside of twenty years, then we also are faced with the task of handling at the site about one hundred blocks per day on average. Since preparation time will absorb easily as much time as the placing of the blocks, this means that we need the ability to place at least 200 blocks in a day. This works out to about 10 to 20 blocks each and every hour, or one load of 50 tons per hour. This is a B-train every hour carrying prepared blocks. And this pace was kept up for twenty years. Fortunately they had ample earlier practise, but it would still have been the penultimate management and design challenge.
The problem is to move fifty tons of material efficiently. For this reason it makes a great deal of sense to build the material movement around a barge capable of supporting 50 tons. This is a size well within the capacity of a few men to move around easily. Additionally, if the material can be loaded at the quarry and then moved in this manner to the work face, then each block is physically handled twice only at locations set up for this purpose. The primary building material was formed from 2.5-ton blocks at site. Transporting by temporary canal allowed movable inventory to be built up while preparations were underway for the next course. The canals could be made from wood, supported by stone blocks and chalked as in a ship. Basins could be flooded. And block-manufacturing debris can be also moved conveniently. It is often forgotten that a good yield in finished product is about forty percent. This means that one and one half of the mass of the pyramids must be moved off site. Even if the yield was sixty percent, the waste volume is huge.
The dimensions of such a barge are not known but would typically be four meters wide by ten meters long by two meters deep. This displaces eighty tons. If these barges were top heavy, judicious use of crossbars and a conveying boat would solve that problem on the Nile. Or alternately, lashing the crossbars of two such vessels together to form a wide double-hulled vessel also does nicely. Once on site, men using the crossbars could then stabilise and guide the barge through the canal system.
Such a barge was still small enough (3 to 5 tons) that with some pre-planned knockdown capability, it could be lifted out of the water empty and moved around. It could even be fully dismantled and slid down the side of the pyramid fairly easily. Another option was to stack the barges on top of the just built tier and when finished, use the locks to send them back down. Also, the canal system easily allowed for the movement of substantially smaller and more convenient boats.
The measurements we so authoritatively state in the next few paragraphs are reasonable first estimates that certainly meet the design requirements. On the other hand, my assumption of a foot by foot cant is just that. It is convenient for an estimate of maximum stress. In practise larger dimensioned cants would be placed on the bottom tiers, with lighter loading taking place toward the top. This is just one variation we might expect to be used to improve load capacity. Also, without detailed modelling and field experience we cannot predict how much use was made of flying buttresses and cable stays if any.
The pyramid itself was built from the outside in. First, a course of casing stones was laid with maximum precision. The first course was laid, as expected, with a great degree of surface preparation. This was necessary to establish a perfectly flat base. At this point the joints of the casing blocks were mortared and the floor of the base was also sealed. This then permitted flooding of the enclosed basin with five feet of water. When this was accomplished, the masons could recalibrate the degree of flatness of the course of casing stones, ordering any necessary adjustments for the next course.
The following procedure was then followed for each successive course.
1 A first course of core blocks were floated in on barges and positioned in back of the casing blocks and dressed to receive the new casing block.
2 The casing stones were then floated into the basin on barges, and slid from the barge directly into position and cemented in place.
3 Once the next course of casing stones is in position, then the core blocks for this level are floated in and positioned.
4 The newly formed base is once again sealed with either mortar or organics to permit flooding.
5 This process would continue tier by tier.
During this building process, stone dressers could work on a hanging scaffold, and perfect the outer surface of the casing stones. This apparently included doing inscriptions. In any event, they would have easily had two to three months on average for most of the early tiers.
Also, as part of the building program, significant internal structures were built, requiring careful fitting and cutting as each of the early levels were laid. This became less of an issue as the structure rose.
It is reported that surface evidence supports the use of a holding basin of 180 acres surrounding the pyramids and a dual lock system from the Nile unto the site. This certainly implies the operation of an easily used and ample supply of water, likely brought in by wooden aqueduct from a nearby lake, now dry. Lifting water from the Nile in multiple steps is always an available labour intensive alternative. We may be sure that it was avoided if at all possible.
We now know that material was moved by barge unto the site, and that ample water was supplied at the base of the structure to perhaps fill a 180-acre reservoir while it was been built. I assume that a good portion of the core limestone was mined in the creation of the holding basin, which would explain its areal size. Excavating just ten feet would generate several million tons of material. One obvious technique would be to cut a large number of blocks and then skid them unto nearby barges sitting in the quarry. Once sufficient barge loads were available for the construction phase, that portion or the whole basin could be flooded providing immediate buoyancy. Running a wooden canal to a likely quarry area seems to also be attractive for taking advantage of resources at higher elevations.
There has been some suggestion that the pyramid was designed as a massive hydraulic ram pump (Edward J. Kunkel) in order to pump water to higher elevations. Others have suggested an internal hydraulic lift. The massive partially revealed inner structure represented a major engineering task in its own right. It seems unlikely that its purpose could have been, solely to assist in the final stages of building the pyramid when two thirds of the job was already complete.
We have already alluded to the use of water locks on the site. This technology is obvious and was invented and employed over and over again, whenever traffic needs justified it. If one is moving a vessel occasionally, then unloading combined with portaging on a slipway is fairly acceptable. It is not when the vessels arrive daily.
It is reasonable that the Egyptians progressively built and operated a lock system to lift blocks onto each tier. One primary advantage of such a system is that the barges can be moved readily from lock to lock in well under an hour, with every second lock holding a barge. This is a real conveyor system. More importantly, as each vessel arrives in the pool at the top of the pyramid, it displaces its load in water out of the pool. This implies a fairly minimum need for replenishment while blocks are been floated in.
The lock system itself was likely built using Lebanese cedar beams typically a foot square, using a post and beam construction system. These beams were flowing into Egypt to the Pharaoh’s account, and would ultimately recycle into the shipbuilding and other construction industries. However, they were perfect as a source of material for a temporary canal and lock system.
The primary frame would consist of two twenty-foot uprights placed twenty feet apart on a support beam thirty feet long. As the structure was built up one tier at a time, the uprights were placed directly over the under lying upright and tongued into the horizontal beam. This permitted the framing of a fourteen-foot wide canal with three-foot walkways on either side. The five-foot horizontal extension on either side allowed for bracing. We can assume that on the lower levels these frames were placed about one meter apart.
In the end we have to be able to stack these frame modules high enough to effectively reach the apex of the pyramid while several of the tiers will be carrying a fully loaded canal. We grant that in the upper reaches of this structure less material will be required. We will be building a wooden skyscraper that is maybe as little as sixty feet wide, which is a tenth of its height. The natural precision imparted by the post and beam construction as well as the obvious room for internal bracing was probably enough to maintain stability. Prior building of smaller structures had given the builders the measure of the method, and in any event the building of flying buttresses at intervals along the structure was always an option. I suspect it was unnecessary.
If we calculate for a one-meter section we have the following wood volumes. A thirty-foot crossbeam and two twenty-foot uprights will total 70 cubic feet. The contribution of the canal will be another 30 cubic feet while bracing and sundries will add at least another 20 cubic feet. The total of 120 cubic feet will weigh in at no more than 3.0 tons. When carrying water, an additional six tons must be added.
Now the reason for using large rather short beams is to avoid buckling failure. In fact, it is not too difficult to over-engineer the lower parts of the structure to eliminate this risk. This means that the only failure mode (short of falling over) we need calculate is compression failure among the lower uprights.
The minimum cross-section of the two uprights total 288 square inches. The compression strength of the wood is easily 5000 psi. This means that failure will occur for structural loads in excess of 5000 x 288 or 1,440,000 pounds or 720 tons. Since the pyramid is approximately 500 feet in height, we are ultimately building twenty-five tiers. If we assume water loading every five tiers we can calculate a maximum load of 3 x 25 + 5 x 6 or a total of 105 tons. We have a seven to one safety margin. Obviously, there is ample room to remove material from this design and still be sufficiently robust. We can expect that this is probably close, when we begin to factor in water lifting equipment and other unexpected requirements.
The logical place for the water lifting apparatus is between the two rows of canals that are spiralling their way up. This permits topping up canals on either side as needed without adjusting other canals. The likely system employed would be a walking water wheel with a likely diameter of twelve feet giving a ten-foot lift. If it were six feet across, permitting between three to six men to apply their weight totalling between 400 to 800 pounds, and a rotation of one revolution per minute is achieved, then we can expect to see 500 pounds or one quarter ton per minute production. This works out to about 10 to 15 cubic meters or tons per hour. We can calculate the requirements for a lower stage part of the pyramid where the sides are 100 meters by 100 meters at maybe 15,000 cubic meters. At this production rate the pool will be filled in 1000 hours or 40 days. Adding a couple more lifting lines for the lower levels would obviously triple capacity. This is more than quick enough. And the manpower requirement works out to possibly twenty men per wheel to allow for a lot of trading off. At the maximum height, less than 1000 men on site could operate the system.
Each successive lock was five feet higher than the last.
The system was designed to be perhaps ten to twelve locks long in either direction before turning around. This gave a system length of between 400 to 500 feet.
The foundations were probably secured with blocks and debris to prevent any movement. It would make some sense to build an embankment on either side to a height of thirty feet and infill material.
An integral part of the strength of the overall structure is the building of canals at every level for on average fifty percent of the length.
The process begins by building the first tier to supply the first course of casing blocks. This forms a 500-foot canal.
For the second course, a 40-foot lock is created at the beginning of the canal. The remainder of the canal is floored five feet higher and the sides are raised five feet. This allows access to the second tier.
Repeating this process ten times brings a lock 40 feet or more from the face of the pyramid. This third last lock is either widened to sixty feet or an angled canal is positioned to permit either turning or more likely reversal into the parallel canal lock system. A canal is built and immediately locked up to the level of the new tier. The canal is the built all the way back to the beginning of the structure and the angled in on top of the primary canal string. It is then advanced back along this string and unto the next course. The beginning of the system and the part of the system adjacent to the pyramid end up carrying weight of the transfer construction, and is built in place accordingly.
Leaving out four blocks every second tier can readily support the canal structure build up the face of the pyramid, or as more likely in the last stages, every four tiers.
This means that we can deliver by fifty-ton barge to the last twenty feet of the pyramid. And why quit now? Reducing canal size for two more lifts and somewhat smaller barges will let us get two more courses of casing stone in place leaving a remaining area of about 14 to 15 feet square. Probably the remaining casing stones and core stones can be moved by more traditional means at this point, and we are close enough to the apex to be able to lever the capstone on.
All that then remains is the retreat down the face of the pyramid, emplacing the four block strings where they were omitted to hold the canal frame. Obviously this is a process of disassembly to each point that the appropriate lock can be used. The barges can be used to carry timber back down without any damage.
The posts and braces are tongued into the horizontal beams in order to secure the structure with its own weight. Theoretically, no other fastening is needed. Because the structure is also built out over twenty years with well-cured wood while constantly loaded and unloaded, settling and load shifting is minimal and easily adjusted for.
If necessary, some additional security can be provided with bolts or lashing.
The core stones were shifted around while submerged in water. This brought their gross effective handling weight in water down by fifty percent as the density of limestone is about twice that of water.
Barge removal could be accomplished two ways. Either by a wooden slideway down the side of the pyramid with a block and tackle braking system or by taking it out on the canal structure and again using a block and tackle, lower it to the ground. Dismantling is also an option since rebuilding the barges would be fast and efficient and there would be nominal damage risk. The other alternative is to stack them until the level is complete and then lock them back down.
None of this really gives full credit to the extraordinary planning that was involved to bring all these pieces together. Most certainly a scale model was built showing every step in the process. And we can be sure that this system was used to build the other large pyramids.
Once this master temple was built, the timber was recycled back into the economy, ending the use of this technology.
Using this technology, the number of men directly involved in the day to day process of building, including pumping, barge and lock operation, stone placing, stone dressing, canal construction and barge removal should have been under 2,000 at all times.
The number of quarry men can be simply estimated by allowing twelve man days per block, which means that a production rate of 100 blocks per day would employ 1200 workers.
It then appears that the operation employed about 3500 directly and an additional 6500 indirectly supporting them.
I think that we have clearly demonstrated the building of the Great pyramid and its sisters using only the tools and resources available to the time and place.
All parts of the great pyramid and its construction were executed with extreme precision. We can be quite sure that there were no errors in the building of the canal lock system. The fitting of their mathematica into various parts of the building as well as their astronomical knowledge largely supports the importance of this building as a temple. The hinged portal was designed to be opened, and it seems likely that some form of ramp or stairway was available for access. It could easily have been wood and removable when the temple was not used. We do not know how it all worked, and it is likely that key parts are destroyed or simply not working. Unless we discover a text that explains it to us, we may never know.
It is worth noting that stone machining had reached a high level by this time, as demonstrated many times in the pyramid. The process consists of using a tool hardened as much as possible and supplying plenty of abrasive. The tool would likely be bronze, but I would not discount meteoric iron. For granite one could use garnets as an abrasive, which are readily available in good volumes. For limestone, which is soft, silica sand would work well and would be free. Of course there are better ways, but they were unlikely to be reasonably available and these workers had time to do things slowly.
This leads us back to one other important question. How were the blocks of Baalbek in Lebanon moved the distance of one mile from the quarry to the placement site? We observe that the platform at Baalbek contains more material than the great pyramid. Again we quickly realise that a temporary canal and lock system is certainly necessary to handle the volume. The real issue is the three large blocks whose weight has been estimated at as much a 1500 tons. This probably was the real technical limit of the handling technology.
The blocks themselves were 68 feet long and 14 feet square for a total volume of about 13,550 cubic feet and an estimated weight of 1500 tons. They still had to lift the blocks in order to build a barge under it. On the other hand, positioning could be done with the barge directly over the placement site and then once more lifting the block to remove the barge material. In other words, the only time in which lifting was applied was at the beginning and the end avoiding any difficulties enroute. This is a much easier and safer engineering problem than the currently envisaged model of physically transporting these blocks over uncertain terrain.
If we assume the application of 75 leveraging devices to a side we end up having have each device carrying a ten-ton load. Assuming the use of a robust bronze jack up device capable of handling the stresses applied, it is easily possible to achieve a twenty to one lifting ratio without destroying the wooden rocker arm. Three men on the beam would deliver the required thrust. The beams can be staggered in length to allow the close packing, or alternately be situated above each other if necessary. Described this way, it sounds like a day’s work to lift the block sufficiently. Set up time is quite another matter.
We have largely disposed of the salient technical issues, at least in theory. Experiments to prove out these techniques are likely to be quite difficult and to require a fair bit of imagination. We merely have the advantage of knowing that it can be done. There is always a body of art to be relearned when new methods are to be applied.
The global scope of the Bronze Age pyramid cult is evident from the clear global distribution of sites. The fact that the oldest sites reflect sacred latitudes and even longitudes tied to the Middle East merely confirms the obvious. That this cultic form lasted into the precontact era in the Americas long after it was supplanted in the Old World should not be too much of a surprise. The end of the Bronze Age cut these cultures off from any Old World influences about 3000 years ago.
It should also be observed that this early Bronze Age cultural expansion occurred in a world in which most potential local resistance was likely nominal. The situation was not dissimilar to the situation facing Europeans globally in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries. It is also highly likely that the driving force of this movement was primarily trade and that trade was primarily about copper. There is limited evidence of some agricultural technology transfer similar to what happened between the Americas and Europe after contact.
Once the initial exploratory drive exhausted itself, global trade settled down and focused on the best sources of copper. This particularly includes the Andes where there is ample supporting evidence and probably Cambodia where the true Bronze Age most likely got its start. Both locations have rich and close sources of the necessary copper and tin. Every other locale demanded extensive trade routes to combine these metals.
In the meantime, various native proto states imitating the attractive civilisation of these sea borne traders arose wherever it was possible for them to sustain themselves in the image of the first creators. In this the remnants that exist in the high Andes are truly compelling. I am also reminded of one author who reinterpreted the Bronze Age tale of Jason and the Argonauts as a voyage to the court of a king living in the same high Andes. Most startling to my eyes was the apparent resonance between these mythic descriptions and the descriptions of conquering Spaniards two and one half millennia later.
It is ironic that the only surviving material outside of the bible from the Bronze Age, are this particular legend of Jason and the epics of Homer. These are all about a race of lusty seafarers who went fearlessly into danger and the unknown. I will not sell them short.
Bronze Age global trade
The tragedy for the modern scholar on tackling the history of the Bronze Age is that these peoples are largely mute. The result is that our histories have tended to grossly underestimate the texture of their real and triumphant societies. My own eyes were not truly opened until I read Homer in translation and discovered a hidden economic life that I could understand. This was a world in which a man’s wealth was measured in his possession of bronze, usually in the form of tripods and pots. Copper was the currency of this world. Not too surprisingly, little of it was buried. Stolen, yes, buried, no.
From time immemorial small local and regional trade networks existed, shifting tools, breeding stock and seeds down the line. After eating and story telling, the world’s greatest packrat is a trader. The rise of early antique civilisations initially changed little except to intensify and reallocate this natural barter exchange system.
The development of copper and bronze technology completely changed everything. Goods made out of these metals became a handy and portable medium of exchange. It is no accident that Homer mentions the number of metal tripods first when he recounts the loot captured by his protagonists. These were the most valuable trade goods of the Bronze Age.
As the Bronze Age developed, every household acquired copper pots and other metal tools made from these metals and demanded more. I suggest that the estimations of above ground copper during this age are grossly underestimated, simply because it was rarely buried but inevitably reworked. Most calculations link grave content to above ground content by some simple assumptions. These are nonsense. Try calculating the current 100,000 tons of above ground gold on the basis of the number of wedding rings found in graves.
Pottery, on the other hand, was constantly been replaced and provides an excellent indicator of local economic activity. Thus a more accurate method would link economic activity to the presence of pottery spoil, which informs us of how much copper would reasonably be accumulated. This could be estimated from cultural sources such as the Iliad in which the city of Troy is looted or even from the Bible and the building of Solomon’s Temple. Both are describing marginal centers in the Bronze Age world.
Copper needed to be mined. The process was labour intensive and consumed a lot of fuel that needed to be processed and transported fair distances. The steps involved are as follows;
Locate an ore face that will stay dry and can be accessed. The likely grade for a typical ore is about twenty to thirty pounds of copper per ton. Deposits like this are not scarce in general, but the numbers that can be worked close to the surface are small.
Gather plenty of fuel. Prepare this fuel by charcoaling it. This drives out any moisture, which allows for a much higher and more predictable combustion temperature. It is easier to transport.
Stack fuel on face and light. This heat will slowly heat several inches of ore partially cracking and weakening it. This will take several hours to do right. This is a good time to haul wood and water.
Throw copious amounts of cold water unto the face of ore. This will increase the cracking.
Using hammers and prying tools remove the loosened ore. This will take several hours and produce perhaps a ton of ore depending on the geometry of the ore face.
Take the ore and sledge it into smaller gravel-sized pieces.
Using a heavy tough milling stone dragged in a circle on a lever, fine grind this material. Again several men or a couple of donkeys are needed all day.
Now gather this material and using a pan or clay dish, separate the heavies from the waste rock. Water helps. This should produce between fifty to one hundred pounds of material. This takes several men all day.
This is now roasted in a hot pottery oven. Some flux may be added in the form of quartz. Fifteen to thirty pounds or more of copper is produced and over sixty pounds of slag is thrown out.
The molten copper is poured into a sand mould perhaps formed by tamping an appropriately sized hide into the sand, which gives the ingot four handles. The average ingot weighs about a couple of hundred pounds and the handles allow easy handling and lashing unto a carrying animal.
I suspect that I am wildly optimistic thinking we can produce one pound of copper per person every two or three days. And as the mine goes deeper into the earth, and as the wood charcoal must be brought in from further a field, these numbers worsen.
Without question, even with this primitive technique, we have an organised industrial operation.
The demands of the insatiable copper market and the inevitable depletion of ores at any given mine drove the miners farther and farther a field. And with the advent of bronze the miners had to locate tin. Tin occurs in only a few locales globally. Bolivia, Southeast Asia and southern England are predominant today and were prominent then.
So, regardless of the existence of records or convincing evidence, the sheer necessities of the times demands extensive land and maritime trade in metals. This appetite was only enhanced by the inevitable rise of mine ownership monopolies.
Value of copper in late Bronze Age
The above description of mining technique pretty clearly spells out the labour costs of a pound of copper. An easy to work mine would likely incur at least three days of work to recover one pound. What was the actual marginal economic rate? To answer this question we can refer to a mining operation that archaeologists studied in Late Bronze Age Ireland. This probably was a culture coming late to the copper business. The astonishing reality of this mine, using the technology just described, is that they were mining ores grading 0.4 % copper or eight pounds per ton. This is the mining grade today for the hugely efficient open cast pits we operate today. We have not mined this effective grade of ore until the last one hundred years.
We know it takes the production of one ton of waste rock for every ton of ore. The manpower requirements for fuel acquisition, breaking out the rock, crushing and separation of the copper in about one ton of ore are about twenty men over four days. Three or four less men and we have a one-week work cycle liberating six to eight pounds of copper.
We can safely assume that this was an extended family group that was working communally. The bottom line is that a week’s work might earn one half pound of copper per worker. The fact that such a marginal deposit was been worked loudly speaks to the strong incentive encouraging the discovery of richer sources.
The extension of copper mining to the Americas.
We can point to two locales in the Western Hemisphere where high grade copper was both readily available at surface, and was likely mined in the time periods required. These are the highlands in and around Lake Titicaca in Peru and Bolivia, and the south shore of Lake Superior. Operations in and around Mexico should also have existed but I know of no obvious evidence. Other writers who have convincingly demonstrated trade access by way of the Parana River have discussed the South American locale. Extensive ancient mine workings in pursuit of copper, gold and tin exist throughout the region and much further a field throughout the region. Most importantly, grades were high by global standards, readily supporting a long lasting commerce over possibly more than one thousand years. Most of this metal would certainly have flowed to the Middle East.
One unusual result of the advent of mining in the Andean Mountains is the native mining of gold resources for several thousands of years. This internal trade led to cultural accumulations of gold unsurpassed anywhere. It represents an extraordinary achievement independent of any practical use.
For Lake Superior, we can reconstruct the commerce as follows;
A ship capable of thirty tons (Certainly available during 1st century BC, ref. Caesar’s Gallic Wars and then already representing centuries of deep sea shipping technology) sets sail with at least fifty men in the spring from Celtic Europe. It arrives several weeks later in early July in the mouth of the Hudson River and sails upriver to the Celtic trading factory. The ship takes on returnees and a cargo of copper, furs and some other goods.
The fifty men land and organise two years worth of supplies as well as large birch bark transport canoes capable of carrying six to ten tons. These canoes were the mainstays of the later fur trade. They then travel up the Hudson, the Mohawk, and ultimately into Lake Ontario. This route was relatively benign in terms of local resources and certainly better than the St Laurence route.
Arrive at winter Camp in the area of Peterborough, Ontario. This camp is on the riverine portage route between Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay. It is also sufficiently isolated as to provide good security from local bands of hunter-gatherers. It is likely that the entire interior route was lightly populated, since slash and burn corn culture had not yet emerged. This would not be true on the coast were a strong population of maritime tribes existed.
With the spring break-up (early May) travel swiftly to Georgian Bay, the northern part of Lake Huron, the Sault Ste Marie channel into Lake Superior and along the south shore to the copper mines. This would take less than four weeks arriving in early June.
Work two months unearthing native copper and high-grade ores without the need for extensive excavation or heat breaking of ore. Smelt into ingots until about twenty-five tons of copper is produced at about 500 pounds per day.
Mid September or sooner, retrace steps to winter camp and possibly winter over. There should be enough time to make the run into the Hudson camp, were supplies would be plentiful.
In the spring return to the Hudson, if not already there, in ample time to catch the summer’s ship out back to Europe.
This commercial enterprise would return an average of 1000 pounds of copper per person for three years of effort. This is at least twice as rewarding as our contemporaries mining 0.4% copper in Ireland. In reality, this process was much more efficient, since extra hands would have been available along the route at the two bases. The alternative access route up the St. Laurence also existed, and was probably faster, but would have had much less local supply and some difficult river navigation.
It is also known that many lower grade mines were opened close to the coast and the Hudson River trade route. The full extent of this copper driven trade can be only speculated on. They had the time to expand into many other locales in the region, but the sheer richness of the Lake Superior deposits certainly militated against this.
The local tribes were not a significant source of trade potential, since they were not settled, except along the coast, where their life way was not particularly different from the Celts themselves. Rather, they represented a continuous security treat.
It is certain, had the corn culture been available at this time that it would likely have been transferred to Europe. The failure to adopt copper or bronze by the natives is readily understood in terms of the general non-settled life way of the tribes. We only have some evidence of an occasional trade acquisition.
Extensive remains of apparent Celtic large stone tomb and temple structures have been located in the Hudson River valley and in the New England area in general. An apparent mine road has even been located. Apparent Celtic inscriptions have been observed and remarked on. More scattered remains have been identified throughout the entire region east of the Mississippi, and it is worth noting the contemporaneous non-conforming adoption of Western European pottery technology within what is styled by archaeologists as the eastern woodland Indian culture. This supports a possibly larger colonising effort than expected from a trading factory supporting mining endeavours. Inter marriage and associated cultural transfers with the coastal tribes give a similar result.
More critically, the Peterborough camp is well known and has over a thousand appropriate copper artefacts, and an inscription apparently conforming to Northern European late Bronze Age usage.
Extensive ancient mining operations consisting of over 5,000 mine pits have been uncovered on the south shore of Lake Superior representing possibly hundreds of years of exploitation. Carbon dating establishes exploitation coincident with the northern European Bronze Age, which ran from 2,000 BCE to 1,000 BCE at least. Geological research shows that a bare minimum of 500,000,000 pounds of copper was extracted. Effectively none of this material shows up in any North American native sites.
This also indicates the scale of operations. On average fifty canoe-loads bearing at least ten men and five to seven tons of ingots were shipped each autumn. This is more than enough manpower to discourage local confrontation.
Cultural evidence suggests that this trade was ultimately over run by hostile tribes. This was likely inevitable with the collapse of copper values at the transition point between the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. A remnant of this trade, likely in furs, may have continued to the rise of the Roman Empire. Then, competition with Russian furs from the Black Sea drainage basin would have ended further profitable trade with the Northeast coast. It is well to recall that over a hundred years elapsed after contact by Columbus before any serious effort was expended on trade and on the colonisation of this coast.
No one has yet located a Celtic trading port on the Hudson. It would be well buried in the river mud and could be almost anywhere on the river. It should be as far up the Hudson as a thirty ton sailing vessel can reasonably go. This shortens the travel time inland and also puts one out of contact with the stronger coastal Indian populations. Extensive evidence of settlement activity does exist and a centre of gravity might possibly be determined.
Unlike the Stone Age, where failed tools went out on the local garbage tip, Bronze Age tools were reclaimed and recycled leaving negative evidence in the form of garbage tips without a full set of stone tools. So, if we wish to prove these likely trade routes, in either North or South America, our best bet is to look for sunken ingots in deep water enroute. Other methods such as isotope analysis may also succeed, except that I cannot help but think that every piece of above ground copper or bronze has been mixed again and again with metal from other sources. We will have to be lucky.
The Celts and the Indian tribes of the Atlantic coast were similarly armed in terms of general weapon utility and were making their livings on much the same type of food. The Celts had advanced to a more pastoral life way in the European interior, but were not too separated from the life way of the hunter. They had little compelling to offer each other, and were militarily matched.
It is possibly at this time that some north-eastern tribes adopted the common hieroglyph script of the Egyptians. Its usage was contemporaneous and says much for its prestige. This script was salvaged by missionaries and used to write a Micmac bible forty years prior to the decipherment of hieroglyphs in Europe.
During the life of this enterprise, which is approximated at a thousand years, intermarriage would become a way of life. The cessation of the enterprise probably as early as 500 – 800 BCE ended the influx of new participants. The succeeding 1000 to 1500 years of intermarriage prior to contact would have dissolved the minority gene pool into the greater, preventing any indisputable reappearance of clearly European traits.
Bronze Age shipping
The civilisations and cultures strengthened by the use of metal had 3,000 years to develop the more efficient use of hulled vessels. The use of thirty-ton capacity sailing rafts and ocean going dugouts represent successful prior art whose usage extended into modern times particularly on the west coast of the Americas. None of these vessels had any serious difficulty on the high seas and have all been proven out in modern experiments. They were just awfully slow.
The Bronze Age development of the large faster hulled vessel was demonstrated by the haulage of timber from Lebanon. These were freight boats and they generally tended to be in the thirty-ton capacity and relied on the wind. The shift to higher speed provided better security in the inshore environment where manoeuvrability mattered.
Cultural evidence characterises the sea trade as large, adventurous and secretive. On the other hand it is quite easy to judge the practical extent of these sea-lanes.
Gibraltar to tropical America was easy and had the northern return route that delivered a trader right back to where he started. When he got to the Americas, he had to continue down to the Parana River in order to access the minerals of the high Andes. All other routes to this resource though potentially shorter were severely jungle bound and naturally inimitable to the health of the trader. The possibility of a trade factory establishment at Vera Cruz also conforms to this trade model, allowing the mining of mineral in the Mexican and Central American highlands. This route gave no practical natural access to the west coasts of the Americas. Ideas walked in but trade ships did not.
Northern Europe to the Northeast and back on the northern return route as before. Again, trade in copper drove this market and access has already been described.
Crossover at Suez. This critical juncture split the trading world in two. Shipping had no incentive to turn the Cape and so pushed counter trade through this bottleneck. This was certainly the fundamental reason for the importance of the Levant and Egypt from earliest times.
Sea-lanes to India and South East Asia. These routes were easy to use and most certainly were. The region had well known and ample sources of both copper and tin, negating any need to explore outside the region. In central Thailand, copper and tin ores exist across the river from each other and probably gave rise to the original development of bronze.
Sea-lanes into the Pacific were nearly useless and essentially went nowhere. Any attempt to reach the Americas was long and arduous. Recall that the Pacific represents fifty percent of the globes surface area.
Not surprisingly, the Pacific Northwest and Australia had the two most inaccessible, yet still habitable coasts in the world. Thus they slumbered in the late Stone Age.
Scope of trade
The primary difficulty with attempting to estimate the scope of this deep-sea trade is the simple reality that shipping leaves few tracks in the sand. We know of the huge copper consuming markets of the Levant and Middle East, which anchored the copper market of the Mediterranean. We also are aware of far more robust megalithic western European coastal societies than can be explained by later apparent population densities. Large stone-fortified town sites as far north as the West Coast of Scotland demonstrates this.
Without question, copper alone provided the economics necessary to support long distance trading. Furs probably provided the consolation prize and filled up the surplus volume even on the ships carrying a copper cargo.
The other compelling piece of indirect evidence is the movement of the sea peoples after 1200 BCE, which coincides with the passing of the high point of the Bronze Age. It is often forgotten that the first incremental drop in demand has an immediate and catastrophic impact on prices. And marginal foreign supply sources are the first to be abandoned.
This would have suddenly thrown the copper economy back on dependence on local agriculture and fishing for sustenance, forcing a possible sudden reduction in population and certain abandonment of some population centres.
We know that the movement of the Sea Peoples totalled at least 20,000 people and likely a great deal more as successive waves arrived to support new colonies. A measure of their desperation is the fact that they colonised what is now Gaza, an area marginal at best for agricultural exploitation. Of course their main business may still have been the sea trade, which proximity to Suez would have made lucrative as in piracy.
Since a successful industrial enterprise typically feeds ten mouths for everyone directly involved, it is possible to show that at least one hundred large freight ships capable of carrying at least one hundred people were readily available.
If we look at the North Atlantic trade where we estimate that at least 500 tons of copper were transported annually, we find a need for about twenty to thirty ships making the annual voyage. Certainly as much tonnage would have sailed to Veracruz and the Parana from the Mediterranean for a much longer span of time. It is reasonable then to estimate that late Bronze Age shipping, including local traffic in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea probably totalled close to 3,000 tons or about one to three hundred vessels. This larger local trade hauled grain, dried fish, and olive oil in particular as well as luxury goods. Certainly, this was the dominant trade pattern of the succeeding millennia. As an aside, wood for building the great pyramid probably used up 100 tons of shipping per year, well within the economic envelope.
While this may seem a lot, in fact probably about 10,000 crewmen were directly employed in the North Atlantic either on the trading ships or in piracy (Scotland?). Their effective dependants would easily add 50,000 more in the ports they operated from. When their livelihood collapsed on the Atlantic seaboard, the only obvious option available would be to invite themselves into the homes of their former customers in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Even though I have quoted likely tonnage figures, I rather think that we are erring greatly on the side of caution. With almost three thousand years and ample motive, the global shipping trade would have rapidly maximised itself to scour the earth for profitable trading opportunities. Wood hulled ships and all the technique that goes into safely using them requires a long developmental lead-time in a strongly supportive economic environment. This suggests that the newly founded discipline of deep-sea archaeology will uncover a much larger and older global marine tradition than anyone is anticipating.
The demand for metal in Western Europe drove a thousand years of private exploration and supported trade contact on a global scale. Contemporaneously and for centuries before the onset of the European Bronze Age, demand in the Levant drove the development of the South American and Mexican trade. The miners brought cultural influence to the areas of sustained interaction along with some minor trade. Their key trade item lacked wide local utility and limited the adoption of the Bronze Age tool kit in the mining area. I suspect that the traders, while paying a tribute to the local big man, always operated the mines, probably with their own people. They were certainly not anxious to sell a valuable bronze axe into the local market, when their whole purpose was to sell it in Europe or the Levant. For the same reason today, there is a paucity of local gold artefacts in South America from the post contact era.
In Peru, this acceptance of metal as tribute became cultural with the society amassing a huge inventory in gold over several thousand years. It is obvious that while placer gold was plentiful the tribute could be high. As grade dropped the tribute would drop. An incredible amount of gold was scoured from the rivers of the Andes. More incredibly, it was never really redistributed. Much of the surplus labour tax was used to acquire gold rather than build pyramids. It is also compelling that the Bronze Age miners cared so little for gold, that they left it there for the natives to accumulate. One had a small luxury market in Europe, while the other had a huge consumer market.
Nor did these alien miners recreate their high civilisation at their mining and trading camps, anymore so than we do so today. They were unlikely to build native empires, either, but probably encouraged their development. They knew far too well that been far from support and been themselves far too few, their presence there was always temporary.
The conversion to iron threw this trade to the Americas into rapid decline, ultimately making it a poor shadow of itself. It did not re-emerge until the development of a new economic dispensation some fifteen hundred years later.
One other conclusion can also be made. It is clear from the forgoing that the world of the late Stone Age and Bronze Age evolved in its time and place. There is no particular necessity for any input whatsoever from a former antique civilisation dating prior to the Pleistocene non-conformity. A globally distributed Bronze Age trading enterprise with its cultural baggage, more than sufficiently explains virtually all the available global evidence that we have. It also explains the apparent lag time between the Old World and the New World in the rise of agriculture and the emergence of the resultant antique civilisations. The trading enterprise itself was big enough and it lasted long enough to do the job.
A large pre-nonconformity antique civilisation was still possible and even likely. It is merely not necessary. Those enthusiasts who desire to dig up this past cannot expect any credible succour in the artefacts of the successors as they have found in their traditions.
This means that we most likely must find ancient data points deep in the ocean to support a 12,000-year genesis with any surety. This is not an unreasonable goal, but certainly difficult. Land based targets will have been hugely disturbed if only by weathering, and in any event, will be few in number due to the sheer weight of time. Right now, we do not even know for sure whether such a putative civilisation might have used monumental building practises. We hope they did.
If they did not, then our hands are largely tied. Even carbon dating starts to let us down as we go that far back in time. This is a hypothesis that will be plagued by rare and controversial artefacts; regardless of provenance until an intact extensive site is located showing an advanced culture of the appropriate age. Even this would be fought over.
We point to deep-sea sites as a possible source of ancient artefacts. This immediately begs the technology used. Sites related to hulled vessels are as common as would be expected. If however, the prior technology used reef rafts for thousands of years, as has been suggested and demonstrated, then we have a major problem. Rafts are a secure ocean going platforms, albeit slow. They simply will not sink in normal handling conditions. This means that just about the only wreck sites will be on shorelines and reefs were the conditions are profoundly destructive. This just gives us yet another reason to anticipate a paucity of evidence from this deep in time.
This is all difficult. Once one understands that man took to the marine environment like a fish from the early beginnings 30,000 years ago, it is not hard to anticipate the scope of his marine economy.
Our best prospect to establish the extent of this economy may well be to locate sunken harbours and seaside towns that were inundated quickly enough for the remains to not be ground up in the advancing seashore. The best prospects would have to be sea accessible sites that were protected by hills in which swift sedimentation had a chance to bury artefacts before final submergence. Perhaps something similar to conditions found around San Francisco Bay.
We are entering an age of deep-sea archaeology, which is bound to revolutionise our understanding of the past. If we start out with the premise that if man could go there, he did, and only then we are likely to look deep enough. Certainly, no ancient books will help us. On the other hand, every sea road collected debris overboard, which ended up in the deep-sea ooze. An ingot or a piece of pottery will survive. Perhaps even more.
Robert Klein, a published mathematician, is 68 years old and lives in Vancouver. He writes a daily blog Terraforming Terra (http://globalwarming-arclein.blogspot.com) which investigates a number of scientific and cultural conjectures. He is currently developing Cloud Cosmology and an alternate interpretation of human history all of which is threaded through his blog. He has recently decisively confirmed with an associate the physical existence of the second tier of matter that is the realm of the spirit body through an experiment in which a ten inch vacuum tube was irradiated with the appropriate wavelength. This tube upon been unconnected self radiated in a dark room for nine full hours as the surplus photon energy was discharged. No atoms existed to accommodate such behaviour.