Cancer in Norway and the Concrete Pyramid Theory Resurfaces

Physorg.Com has an interesting story concerning two skeletons found in a viking ship burial discovered in Norway in the early 1900’s (the ship burial dates to 843). Recent DNA and x-ray evidence indicates that one of individuals had cancer:

“We see here the first known case of cancer in this country,” Holck said.
Holck said the cancer could have been breast or uterine cancer and appeared to have spread to the point where the woman had little chance to live.
“Even today she would have had little chance of recovery,” he said.
The tests on the bodies also indicated the women were likely stronger than modern women and that both lived hard lives.
Aftenposten said the tests’ results also offered contradictory evidence to a previous claim that one of the women was likely the paternal grandmother of Norway’s first king, Harald Harfagre.

In other news, the Boston Globe reports on the resurrection of the Great Pyramids were built using concrete theory:

A handful of determined materials scientists are carrying out experiments with crushed limestone and natural binding chemicals – stuff that would have been readily available to ancient Egyptians – designed to show that blocks on the upper reaches of the pyramids may have been cast in place from a slurry poured into wooden molds.

*snip*

Now a scale-model pyramid is rising in Hobbs’s sixth-floor lab, a construction made of quarried limestone as well as concrete-like blocks cast from crushed limestone sludge fortified with dollops of kaolinite clay, silica, and natural desert salts – called natron – like those used by ancient Egyptians to mummify corpses.

The article provides an interesting overview of the theory and is somewhat credulous of the claims. Especially with stuff like this:

Ancient drawings and hieroglyphics are cryptic on the subject of pyramid construction. Theories as to how the Egyptians might have built the huge monuments to dead pharaohs depend heavily on conjecture based on remnants of rubble ramps, as well as evidence that nearby limestone quarries contained roughly as much stone as is present in the pyramids.

Which ignores all the tools found and the cutmarks on the stone, as well as, other evidence of quarrying. There is also a “Big Science” angle. Here is Hobbs:

“The degree of hostility aimed at experimentation is disturbing,” he said. “Too many big egos and too many published works may be riding on the idea that every pyramid block was carved, not cast.”

To which critics respond:

Nearly every prominent Egyptologist is adamant that the pyramids are made solely of giant blocks cut with crude copper or stone tools. They note that proponents of the concrete theory are chemists or materials specialists with little experience at ancient digs – lab researchers, not shovel-wielding field archeologists.

A valid criticism in my book, since if you are going to do experimental archaeology you have to a good grasp on what you are trying to recreate…
I have written about this theory in a previous post.

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6 Responses

  1. I’ve got a really simple answer- cast a block of fake rock. Compare and contrast in whatever ways possible, from density to surface mineralogy to actual limestone block. Then go to the pyramids and survey them.
    Shouldn’t take more than a week or two.
    Of course I don’t expect people to hurry forwards with the money to pay for it.

  2. Here is my take on the concrete story, including excerpts and links to various articles, most notably a convincing debunking by Jana et al. 2007.

  3. They note that proponents of the concrete theory are chemists or materials specialists with little experience at ancient digs – lab researchers, not shovel-wielding field archeologists.
    Nor, I might note, are they shovel-wielding concrete workers. For materials specialists they don’t seem to actually know much about the material they are discussing.

  4. Thanks Ellery, thats very useful.

  5. In addition to the Jana et al. 2007 conference paper, there is another new study in news that used petrography, analysis, and the distribution of fossil seashells to debunk the concrete hypothesis — see here.

  6. In addition to the Jana et al. 2007 conference paper, there is another new study in news that used petrography, analysis, and the distribution of fossil seashells to debunk the concrete hypothesis — see here.

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