When I was researching for my book, The Giza Power Plant, I had my first encounter with Ramses the Great. This was at the open air museum at Memphis. It was in 1986 and my interest was mostly engineering and the pyramids, so I was not necessarily interested in statues or visiting the temples in the south. It struck me as peculiar at the time, though, that while looking down the length of the 300 ton Ramses statue I noticed that the nostrils were identically shaped and symmetrical. The significance of this feature gained more prominence when I eventually visited the temples in 2004 and became fascinated with the three-dimensional perfection of the Ramses statues at Luxor. This fascination prompted me to gather digital images so that I could examine some of the features of Ramses in the computer. What I discovered was remarkable in that the images revealed a much higher level of manufacturing technology than what has been discussed previously.
In gathering the images of Ramses, it was important that the camera was oriented along the central axis of the head. This way the distribution of material on the left and right side was equal. In order to compare one side of the face to the other, a copy of the image was made, flipped horizontally and made 50% transparent. Then the reverse image was positioned over the original to compare the two sides. The results are remarkable. The stunning implications are analogous to looking through the static interference pattern of time and confusion and seeing the elegance and precision that is normally built into a Lexus in a place where only the most rudimentary techniques of manufacturing are thought to have existed. The techniques that the ancient Egyptians are supposed to have used—those taught us in school—would not produce the precision of a Model T Ford, let alone a Lexus or a Porsche.
We know that the ancient Egyptians used a grid in their designs, and that such a method or technique for design is intuitively self-evident. It does not require a quantum leap of an artisan’s imagination to arrive at what is today a common design method. In fact, it is used now not just for design, but also for describing organizational and conceptual methodology. Grids, graphs, and charts are used to convey information and to plot and organize work.
With this in mind, therefore, I took the photograph of Ramses and laid a grid over it. Of course, my first task was to establish the size and number of the cells used in the grid. I assumed that the features of the face would lead me to the answer, and studied which features were most prominent. After musing over this puzzle for a while, I took a chance on a grid that was based on the dimensions of the mouth. It seemed to me that the mouth had something to tell us due to its unnaturally upturned shape, so I placed a grid with cell dimensions that were the same height and half the width of the dimensions of the mouth. It was then a simple matter to generate circles based on the geometry of the facial features. I didn’t expect, though, that they would line up with grid lines in so many locations. In fact, I was astounded by this discovery. Going through my mind was: “Okay—now when does this cease to be a coincidence and become a reflection of truth?”
Plumbing the grid for further information, I discovered that Ramses’ mouth had the same proportions as a classic 3-4-5 right triangle. The idea that the ancient Egyptians had known about the Pythagorean triangle before Pythagoras, and they may have even taught Pythagoras its concepts, has been discussed by scholars, though not without controversy. Ramses presented me with a grid based on the Pythagorean triangle, whether it was the ancient Egyptians’ intentions or not. As we can see in figure 5, the Pythagorean grid allows us to analyze the face as it has never been analyzed before.
The Ramses geometry and precision and the discovery of tool marks on some of the statues are discussed at greater length in Lost Technologies of Ancient Egypt. Small seemingly insignificant mistakes made by ancient tools bring to light information from which a precise controlled method of manufacture can be discerned.
Other remarkable features of machining on granite are also examined, but probably the most stunning example of ancient machining lies on a wind-swept hill 5 miles from the Giza Plateau. Abu Roash has recently been advertised as the “Lost Pyramid” by Zahi Hawass, the secretary general of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, even though it has been well known and written about for many years. I wasn’t expecting much when I first visited the site in February 2006, but what I found was a piece of granite so remarkable that I returned to that site 3 more times to show witnesses in order to explain its unique features. Those who accompanied me on different occasions were David Childress, Judd Peck, Edward Malkowski, Dr. Arlan Andrews and Dr. Randall Ashton. Edward Malkowski immediately dubbed the stone the new rose-red Rosetta Stone. Mechanical engineer Arlan Andrews independently came to the same conclusion.