Category Archives: WORLD

The surprising truth about the construction of the Great Pyramids

The surprising truth about the construction of the Great Pyramids

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Burst out laughing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Generations misled

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mass grave of Viking army contained slaughtered children to help dead reach afterlife, experts believe

Mass grave of Viking army contained slaughtered children to help dead reach afterlife, experts believe

The grave of the four youngsters who may have been killed in a burial ritual  PIC CREDIT: UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL

The grave of the four youngsters who may have been killed in a burial ritual  PIC CREDIT: UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL 

A mass grave of Viking warriors found in Derbyshire was accompanied by slaughtered children in a burial ritual enacted to help the dead reach the afterlife, archaeologists believe.

Experts from the University of Bristol have reexamined a huge pit of bones uncovered in the 1970s and 80s in Repton.

Examinations at the time suggested the grave spanned centuries, but new radiocarbon analysis has revealed the skeletons actually belong to soldiers from the Great Viking Army, which drove Burgred, the king of Mercia into exile in 873AD.

The excavators also found four youngsters aged between eight and 18 buried together in a single grave with a sheep jaw at their feet, which they dated to the same period. At least two showed signs of traumatic injury suggesting they may have been sacrificed in a ritual to accompany the dead.

Bristol archaeologist Cat Jarman said: “The grave is very unusual. I don’t know of any examples of four young people buried in a single grave like this from anywhere else in England in this period.

“They are also placed in unusual positions – two of them back-to-back – and they have a sheep jaw placed at their feet.

“There are historical accounts from elsewhere in the Viking worlds suggesting human sacrifice may have formed part of Viking funeral.”

In the 10th century, an Arab Muslim writer named Ahmad ibn Fadlan described the funeral of  Swedish chieftain, in which a female servant volunteered to join him in the afterlife. She was given ‘intoxicating drinks’ before being stabbed to death and laid to rest by her master.

The Great Viking Army, which was known to the Anglo-Saxons as The Great Heathen Army, was a coalition of warriors from Denmark, Sweden, and Norway who came together to invade the four kingdoms of England in 865AD.

They landed in East Anglia where they made peace with Edmund the Martyr in return for horses, before marching north to take York the following year.

Over the next decade, the Viking army spread to Wessex, where they were paid to leave by Alfred the Great, before marching on London and Northumbria.

By 873AD they had reached Mercia and overwintered at Repton where they drove King Burgred out of the country and installed Cleowulf to govern the kingdom.

The grave contained the bodies of hundreds of men and women PIC CREDIT: UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL

The grave containing 300 people was first found by archaeologists Martin Biddle and Birthe Kjølbye-Biddle at St Wystan’s Church in Repton underneath a shallow mound in the vicarage garden.

Among the bones were Viking weapons and artifacts, including an ax, several knives, and five silver pennies dating to the period 872-875 AD. 80 percent of the remains were men, mostly aged 18 to 45, with several showing signs of violent injury.

Nearby a second double grave from the site contained two men, the older of whom was buried with Thor’s hammer pendant and a Viking sword. He had received numerous fatal injuries including a large cut to his left femur.

A boar’s tusk had been placed between his legs, and it has been suggested that the injury may have severed his penis or testicles, and the tust positioned to replace what he had lost in preparation for the afterworld.

The body of a warrior holding a Viking sword and wearing a Thor pendant was also found PIC CREDIT:UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL
The body of a warrior holding a Viking sword and wearing a Thor pendant was also found PIC CREDIT:UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL

But despite the evidence of Viking artifacts, initial radiocarbon dates suggested the bones spanned several centuries and so could not have been the remains of the army.

However, it turned out that the Viking’s high fish diet was responsible for the misleading results.

Mrs. Jarman added: “The previous radiocarbon dates from this site were all affected by something called marine reservoir effects, which is what made them seem too old.

“When we eat fish or other marine foods, we incorporate carbon into our bones that is much older than in terrestrial foods.”This confuses radiocarbon dates from archaeological bone material and we need to correct for it by estimating how much seafood each individual ate.”

Source: dailymail

Six skeletons with signs of cancer found in an ancient Egyptian cemetery

Six skeletons with signs of cancer found in an ancient Egyptian cemetery

Bones with cancer signs found in an ancient Egyptian cemetery reveal that the frequently devastating disease is now much more prevalent than it was in people living near the Dakhleh Oasis.

Scientists analysed ancient remains for lesions that some cancers leave on bone, and used these marks to roughly diagnose each case. One woman in her 20s suffered from cancer that had spread to her skull (arrows point to lesions). She may have had HPV
Scientists analysed ancient remains for lesions that some cancers leave on bone, and used these marks to roughly diagnose each case. One woman in her 20s suffered from cancer that had spread to her skull (arrows point to lesions). She may have had HPV

Of the 1,087 skeletons buried between 1,500 and 3,000 years ago, only six were found with cancer — two younger women with cervical cancer, and a man with testicular cancer, all of which were associated with HPV ; and an older mummified man with colorectal cancer, an older woman with metastatic carcinoma, and a leukaemic infant.

That’s a rate of 5 cases in 1,000 – compared to today, where the cancer rate in Western societies approaches 500 per 1,000 people – a lifetime cancer risk 100 times greater than what it was in the ancient Dakhleh in Egypt’s Western Desert.

Because soft tissue doesn’t often survive millennia, the researchers looked for the traces cancer leaves on bone.Lesions found on the skeletons were consistent with carcinoma, and, although it’s difficult to diagnose based simply on bones, the researchers were able to determine the most likely types based on the distribution and types of legion, as well as the age and sex of the person.Three of them – two women and a man – fell outside the normal age range, dying in their 20s and 30s.

“When the Dakhleh cases were first presented at professional meetings a common comment against accepting the diagnosis of cancer was that ‘their ages were too young’!” the researchers, anthropologist El Molto of The University of Western Ontario and Ontario physician Peter Sheldrick, wrote in their paper.

But the 25-30-year-old male was likely afflicted with testicular cancer, since that age is the highest risk group, and the two young women were most likely afflicted by cervical cancer.

Both of these types of cancer are linked with HPV, recent research has found (although its implication in testicular cancer is rare) – and HPV has been around for a very long time, much longer than the age of the bones.And all strains of the virus evolved in Africa.

“The two female and the male burials from Dakhleh, all young adults, could have respectively developed cancer of the uterine cervix and testicular cancer,” Molto and Sheldrick wrote.

“We know from current cancer epidemiology research that both types of cancers peak in the young adult cohorts and the HPV risk factor would have likely been present the paleoecology of ancient Dakhleh.

“Interestingly, the older male mummy had soft tissue preserved, including a tumour. This meant that a full autopsy and tissue analysis could be performed, positively identifying rectal adenocarcinoma.The older woman most likely had ovarian, breast, or colorectal cancer; and the child, in whom almost every single bone showed signs of a systemic disease, probably had acute leukaemia, given its prevalence among that age group.

There are some caveats guiding estimates of the prevalence of cancer in ancient Egypt.

Firstly, the average lifespan was shorter – only 7.7 percent of the ancient Dakhlans were estimated to be over 60 years of age, the researchers said.Given that a quarter of new cancer cases are diagnosed between the ages of 65 and 74, according to the US National Cancer Council, this shorter lifespan could impact lifetime cancer risk.

Another factor that could affect results is the relative lack of soft tissue. Cancer doesn’t always leave a mark on bones, so there could have been some cases among the 1,087 skeletons that the researchers missed.

Even accounting for these caveats, however, Molto and Sheldrick believe that the prevalence of cancer was still at least 50 times lower in ancient Dakhleh.

“In our opinion, it is doubtful that even if the ancient Dakhlans had the same life expectancy as modern western societies the rate of cancer would have been equivalent,” they wrote in their paper.

“The carcinogenic load in their past environments would have been considerably less carcinogenic than modern western societies.”

Source: dailymail

Traces of York’s First Railway Station Uncovered

Traces of York’s First Railway Station Uncovered

A fragment of the old York station.
A fragment of the old York station. 

During Construction Work on A New Housing Development in York’s historic English city, crews uncovered the remains of the very first railway station in the city.

According to Minster FM, a team from LS Archaeology, along with workers from Squibb Demolition, oversaw excavation of a layer of the site containing remnants of the historic structure, including platforms, train turntables, auxiliary buildings, and drainage systems.

The station was built in the 1840s, mostly from wood. The more durable remains were buried and preserved beneath more recent development.

Although the structure represented the vision of the 19th-century architect George Townsend Andrews, a man named George Hudson was the primary force behind the establishment of the station.

Known as “The Railway King,” Hudson was pivotal in framing and developing York as a transportation hub.

In 1833, Hudson became the largest shareholder in a railway line that would link his city to Leeds and Selby.

With this influence, he was able to route the line heading from Newcastle to London so that it passed through York.

Passengers would no longer simply bypass the walled city—a boon for its economic prospects.

By 1837, Hudson had become the chairman of the York & North Midland Railway Company, and within seven years, he controlled more than 1,000 miles of tracks.

The station eventually became obsolete; a new station was built around 1877.

One of the more pristine artifacts unearthed at the site, a train turntable, used to rotate entire locomotives and cars to go back the way they came or shuffle them off in another direction, will be included in the final landscaping of the new development.

Source: minsterfm

A 4,000-Year-Old skeleton discovered in Northern England

A 4,000-Year-Old skeleton discovered in Northern England

Workers uncovered the remains while converting a former stable block
Workers uncovered the remains while converting a former stable block

Builders working on a hotel in rural Northumberland have discovered human remains thought to be about 4,000 years old. 

The Tankerville Arms in Wooler was undergoing renovation work when they unearthed a Bronze Age stone burial chamber – or cist.

A digger driver was laying drainage pipes when he struck the stone made coffin before moving the cover slab back to see the hollow inside.

 Human remains thought to be about 4,000 years old have been discovered by builders working on a hotel in rural Northumberland. The Tankerville Arms in Wooler was undergoing renovation work when they unearthed a Bronze Age stone burial chamber - or cist
Human remains thought to be about 4,000 years old have been discovered by builders working on a hotel in rural Northumberland. The Tankerville Arms in Wooler was undergoing renovation work when they unearthed a Bronze Age stone burial chamber – or cist

Inside were human remains in a crouched burial position with a small, ‘beautifully fashioned flint knife’ found by the legs of the skeleton.

Archaeologists are examining it to find out the sex of the single skeleton and whether other remains lie around the site.

The team, from Northumberland County Council’s current estimates, suggest the cist dates from some time between 2,200BC and 1,750BC.   

Local archaeologist Roger Miket said the cist is formed of four upright stones with the cover slab on top.’ 

‘It may have been a woman because they were buried on their right side with their head to the west, although we can’t be certain until further analysis is done.

‘It also seems to have been charred so that is an interesting insight into the burial process, he said.

‘Of course, we have no idea of their religious beliefs but we have the symbols which give us some idea of what they thought so we know they believed in the afterlife. 

He said that the knife would have been a precious item at the time of the burial and was included in the grave for use in the afterlife.

Charlotte Lowery, the hotel manager said: ‘It’s been a very exciting few days here. It’s an amazing discovery. 

‘We’re having six self-contained holiday cottages built and the builders were just laying the last drain and came across a very flat, large stone and it became apparent it shouldn’t have been there.’ 

Northumbria has numerous archaeologically important sites from prehistoric cup and ring motifs, henges and hillforts including Ad Gedfrin, the palace of the ancient kings. 

Archaeologists are examining it to find out the sex of the single skeleton and whether other remains lie around the site. The team, from Northumberland County Council's current estimates suggest the cist dates from some time between 2,200BC and 1,750BC
Archaeologists are examining it to find out the sex of the single skeleton and whether other remains lie around the site. The team, from Northumberland County Council’s current estimates suggest the cist dates from some time between 2,200BC and 1,750BC

Source: bbc