Saving the Pyramids; BOOKS A New Book by Respected Engineer Peter James Sheds Light on How the Pyramids Were Built - and How They Are Being Preserved by Welsh Company Cintec, Writes Jenny White

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), June 2, 2018 | Go to article overview

Saving the Pyramids; BOOKS A New Book by Respected Engineer Peter James Sheds Light on How the Pyramids Were Built - and How They Are Being Preserved by Welsh Company Cintec, Writes Jenny White


AUTHOR'S NOTES ONE of many exciting revelations in Peter James' new book, Saving the Pyramids, is the vital role a Welsh company is playing in restoration and preservation of these iconic monuments.

James' Newport-based company, Cintec, has projects and products in more than a thousand historic structures worldwide. From the UK's royal palaces, cathedrals and churches to the White House complex, temples in India and the Walling Wall in Israel, Cintec is taking Welsh expertise and specialist equipment worldwide.

Saving the Pyramids, published by the University of Wales Press, takes a long and detailed look at the process of saving the pyramids, and what this work has revealed about the way they were constructed.

After 14 years working on the historic buildings and temples of Egypt, most recently the world's oldest pyramid, James is in a unique position to decode the historic construction from a builder's perspective - at times against many long-held assumptions.

One of these is that the pyramids were built using long external ramps: Peter makes a convincing argument for the pyramids actually having been built using internal ramps.

He also tackles the common belief that the blocks that are visible on the elevations of the pyramids are present throughout the pyramids - something that would require an unfeasible quantity of stone blocks to be made and placed within an improbably short timescale.

"A total of 2.6 million stone blocks would be needed to support this theory," he says. "The builders would have to excavate the stone from the quarries, shape them, transport them and erect them. It is generally known that the Great Pyramid at Giza was built in a period of 20 to 25 years. This would mean that the blocks would have to be laid in place up to a height 146 metres in that period. This would mean that a block would have to be positioned every six minutes, night and day, for twenty or so years - an impossible task."

He also describes how different the pyramids would have looked when built, due to the addition of a reflective white Tura limestone outer casing.

"The outer casing was added to provide a mirror finish to the completed pyramid that reflected the clouds and the movement of the sun," he says. "This would have been an impressive sight at that time."

However, this external casing is no longer in place and while archaeologists have stated that the outer casing limestone was taken off the pyramids by the locals and used to build structures in and around Cairo, James argues that the outer casing was only taken after it fell off due to the thermal expansion of the blockwork.

"This happened because they were built without any expansion joints," he says. "They were not stolen until they fell off the pyramid."

There are more than a hundred known pyramids in Egypt, of which seven very large pyramids make up the period called the Old Kingdom. Generally it is accepted that these were built by a small number of pharaohs, the very first being the Step Pyramid, built by the Pharaoh Djoser some 4,700 years ago - the first high-rise structure in the world.

James outlines how his examination of the structures has revealed the way in which building techniques evolved over time. …

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