Sunday, May 12, 2013

An engineer's opinion

Cintec International in Newport, South Wales, U.K., has undertaken several projects to strengthen and restore ancient Egyptian monuments, including the Red Pyramid and the Bent Pyramid south of Cairo. Structural engineer Peter James, tasked with securing the Bent Pyramid's "cladding" (the smooth exterior facing), has arrived at a new theory of how it crumbled: thermal movement. With temperatures fluctuating from an average of 3°C (37⁰F) at night to an average of 40°C (104°F) during the day, the daily expansion and contraction of the limestone would explain the blocks grinding down, shifting, and detaching. "Multiply this endless movement by the number of days that the pyramid has been erected and you have the reason why all the outer casing has moved to the extremities, where it has buckled or displaced against blocks moving in the opposite direction and then fallen off." As construction techniques became more refined, the voids between the stones disappeared and the pyramids were less able to absorb the ebbs and flows. This would explain why the ancient Egyptians began building their tombs underground in the Valley of the Kings. But it also puts a stop to the long-held belief that the outer casing of the pyramids was looted for the limestone. Opportunists would have carried away the stone blocks only after they had fallen from the structure naturally.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You may add your comments here.