Papers dedicated to archaeology in Geopolymer Proceedings

Brief summary of the papers dedicated to archaeology and published in the Geopolymer Proceedings : Geopolymer 2005 and Geeopolymer ‘99

Geopolymer 2005

Synthetic stone in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia

manufacture of synthetic lava and synthetic basalt and decipherment of the C-14 Irtysen Stele (2000 B.C.)

The C-14 Irtysen Stele dating 2.000 BC (Louvre Museum, Paris) states that sculptor Irtysen did not carve but rather cast synthetic stone statues in molds. Irtysen’s knowledge is connected with the making of synthetic basalt in Mesopotamia at the same epoch, around 2000 BC. The artist ground vitreous silicates to make geopolymer binders for the production of stone artefacts. Its feasibility is verified by the manufacture of synthetic lava and several aluminosilicate geopolymeric binders developed within the frame of the European research project GEOCISTEM. Compositionally, the Geocistem synthetic lavas and the Mesopotamian synthetic basalts are similar and were processed at the same temperature (1200°C).

Why Djoser’s blue Egyptian faience tiles are not blue?

Manufacturing Djoser’s faience tiles at temperatures as low as 250°C?

30,000 blue faience tiles were found in Djoser’s funerary complex at Saqqarah (3. dynasty). It is generally assumed that the tiles underwent a self-glazing process during firing in the range of 800-850°C or by dipping in a liquid glaze. It is striking to notice that in contrary to their labelling, numerous Djoser’s tiles are not blue but grey, black, blue-green and even brown as displayed in figure 1.

SEM microanalysis shows the presence of phosphorus in the glaze that suggests the use of the blue mineral turquoise (mafkat), an aluminium-copper phosphate, intensively extracted by pharaoh Djoser in the Sinai mines. Our aim was to replicate the self-glazing process with a soluble silicate binder (a geopolymer glaze) involving a synthetic turquoise (mafkat) mixture made of pure aluminium phosphate hydrate and copper phosphate hydrate. We were astonished to get a turquoise blue-self-glazed ceramic, stable and identical to Egyptian faience, at a temperature as low as 250°C. Post treatment at 350°C changes the blue colour into grey-black (chemical transformation of blue copper phosphate into black tenorite CuO) that remains stable up to 800°C, where it turns back to blue. Did Djoser’s ceramists use this low temperature process? Apparently yes, if we look at all the colours that we have replicated at self-glazing temperatures in the range of 250-350°C

Latest analysis on pyramid stones supporting Joseph Davidovits’ theory

A) PIXE, PIGE and NMR studies;
B) Microstructural investigations;
C) Synchrotron radiation;
D) The making of pyramid stones

The abstracts relate to the actual research being carried out by various teams of scientists. Any one of these researches relates to the artificial nature of the analysed pyramid stones. It is an ongoing research with papers already published or to be published in major international scientific journals. They will be posted in the NEWS as soon as they are published.

Geopolymer ‘99

Archaeological Analogues and long-term stability of geopolymeric materials

From the digging of ancient Roman ruins, one knows that approximately 95% of the concretes and mortars constituting the Roman buildings consist of a very simple lime cement, which hardened slowly through the precipitating action of carbon dioxide CO2, from the atmosphere. This is a very weak material that was used essentially in the making of foundations and in buildings for the populace. But for the building of their “ouvrages d’art”, the Roman architects did not hesitate to use more sophisticated and expensive ingredients. Conventional mineralogical analysis does not provide satisfactory explanation of the hardening mechanism. Yet, owing to the powerful MAS-NMR Spectroscopy investigation of these archaeological cements, one was able to distinguish two geopolymeric archaeological Roman cement analogues, dating to the 2nd. c. AD.

The Making of Etruscan Ceramic (Bucchero Nero) in VII-VIII Century B.C.

At the 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1984 Symposia on Archaeometry, one of us (J.D.) showed the possibility of fabricating ceramics by Low Temperature Geopolymeric Setting (LTGS) between 50°C and 500°C. The results obtained with LTGS have been surprising and very interesting from the archaeological point of view, e.g. the fabrication of ceramic whose surface is covered by an intense black color, identical in appearance to numerous European ceramics especially the Etruscan pottery of the Bucchero Nero type (630 B.C.) and Impasto marrone (650 B.C.). The Etruscan civilization florished in Italy before the creation of the Roman Empire (Tarquinia, Cerveteri, Orvieto, Veio, Chiusi).

Long-Lasting Roman Cements and Concretes

Concrete experts talk today about how to make concrete durable. Many ancient Roman concrete buildings are still in use after more than 2000 years. Our recent linguistical study and new translation of Latin author Vitruvius book De Architectura (1st Century B.C.) states that the magnificent quality of Roman concrete resulted from the extensive use of artificial pozzolanic mortars and concretes. Technical keywords related to these high-performance cements have not been properly understood before recent linguistic studies and the development of geopolymeric cements shed new light and new interpretation on these texts. A short visit to three ancient Roman sites located in Rome, Italy, (Coloseo, Pantheon), Trier, Germany (Thermal baths),Cagliari-Nora, Italy (Thermal baths) illustrates three different long-lasting Roman concretes.

Egyptian Made-Made Stone Statues in 2000 B.C.: Deciphering the Irtysen Stele (Louvre C14)

Ancient Egypt’s legendary reputation as master of the stone arts spans almost the entire history of civilization. During this era, stone artefacts (hard stone vessels, statues) made of metamorphic schist, diorite and basalt were produced. Smooth and glossy, these stone artefacts – between 4.000 and 5.000 years old – bear no trace of tool marks. The evidence presented here, however, demonstrates that the ancient artists knew how to convert ores and minerals into a mineral binder for producing stone artefacts, such as statues that were not carved but rather cast in molds, synthetic stone statues. The first evidence comes from a new deciphering of the C-14 Irtysen Stele (dating 2.000 BC, Louvre Museum, Paris). The stele is the autobiography of the sculptor Irtysen who lived under one of the Mentuhotep Pharaohs, 11th. Dynasty. The stele C-14 of the Louvre has been often studied. Yet many of its expressions pertain to the domain of stone technology and have been tentatively translated in the past with terms differing so widely that the translators were obviously not able to understand the described technology. According to sculptor Irtysen, cast man-made stone was a secret knowledge.

Construction of the Egyptian Great Pyramids (2500 B.C.) with Agglomerated Stone. Update of the latest Research

Update of the latest research.
From a geological point of view, the Giza Plateau is an outcrop of the Middle Eocene Mokkatam Formation. Yet, the outcrop that dips into the wadi, where the quarries are located and also the trench around the Sphinx and the Sphinx body, consist of softer thickly bedded marly nummulite limestone layers with a relative high amount of clay. The amount of water-sensitive parts, expressed as weight percent of stone, is strikingly very high, ranging between 5.5% to 29%. It is obvious that the builders took advantage of the thickly bedded softer limestones. The disaggregated muddy material was ready for geopolymeric re-agglomeration. Perhaps the biggest surprise encountered in this study deals with the hieroglyphic verbs for to build, namely khusi (Gardiner’s list A34). The sign khusi represents a man pounding or packing material in a mold. This is one of the oldest Egyptian hieroglyphs.

The construction method of Kheops Great Pyramid.
Based on selected texts, illustrations and also physical, geological and architectural facts, Prof. Demortier demonstrates in this paper that the construction with blocks extracted, hewn and transported was an impossible task, whereas the method of molding stone blocks explains all the procedure. In the light of this analysis he proposes several evidences supporting Davidovits’ theories, such as new physico-chemical analysis on small fragments of Kheops pyramid. He also provides a model describing how molds were assembled and used in the production of individual blocks. He finally proposes some simple tests to continue this study.

Plus other hieroglyphic texts, analysis, experimentations, etc.
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Joseph Davidovits’ books

A list of books written by Joseph Davidovits are available in its personnal web site