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Al-Aziz Othman and the Missing Stones

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Steve Brabin
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Username: steve_b

Post Number: 22
Registered: 09-2002
Posted From: 62.7.33.4
Posted on Sunday, September 29, 2002 - 10:12 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Al-Aziz Othman and the Missing Stones

The following quote is re-posted from a previous posting by JD Degreef

"When king Al-Aziz Othman, son of [Saladdin] succeeded his father, he let himself be persuaded by some people from his Court, who were devoid of good sense, to demolish the pyramids. One started with the red pyramid, which is the third of the great pyramids, and the smallest. So the sultan sent sappers, miners and quarrymen, lead by some of the main officers and the first emirs of his Court and ordered them to destroy it. To carry out the orders they had received, they put up their camp near the pyramid. They brought there a large number of workmen from all around, and supported them at great cost. They stayed there for eight whole months [...], extracting one or two blocks each day, with a lot of difficulties and having exhausted their strength. Some pushed from above with levers while other workers pulled down with ropes and cables. When one of these stones would tumble down, it would make a lot of noise, which was heard from afar and shook the earth and caused the mountains to quake. In falling it would bury itself in the sand. It was then necessary to use great efforts to pull it out. Afterwards, grooves were chiselled into which wedges were driven to divide the blocks into several fragments. Then each piece was loaded on a wagon to pull it to the foot of the nearby mountain where it was thrown down.[...] This happened in the year 593 (i.e. 1196 A.D.)." (transl. SACY, Description de l'Egypte IX, 468).

A bit of research into the king Al-Aziz Othman shows him to have ruled between 1193-1198A.D., and that as part of the Ayyubid Dynasty was integral is the Jihad wars against the Crusaders in the middle East around that time. an excellent reference source for this, and all other state leaders can be found here.

http://homepages.tesco.net/~plk33/plk33/HistoryFiles.htm

It is clear from this brief history, and the quote above that Al-Aziz must have commanded a large amount of power an influence in the region and was able to lay his hands on vast recourses when required. The above quote is factual proof that in 1196 one of the most powerful leaders in the world at that time decided to try to dismantle the third pyramid at Giza.

The obvious approach for me with this fact was to look at the third pyramid and look for any obvious signs of decay that are not present on the other pyramids, and the massive gash that appears down the southern face of the third pyramid immediately draws attention to itself. It is clearly the result of some dismantling process, and not of natural erosion, and so the question is whether this gash is the result of the work of Al-Aziz.

The number of stones missing from the pyramid can be counted, and to facilitate this I studied a photograph of the gash, marking on the layers and stones with red dots as shown on the accompanying photograph.

pyramid

There are about 22 layers missing in the gash, with a width of four or five stones, and working from the angle of the pyramid, and an approximation of the overlap of each stone above the previous, it can be deduced that there are between 400 and 500 stones missing from this section of the third pyramid.

The historical report posted by JD above indicates that "the sultan sent sappers, miners and quarrymen" and " a large number of workmen, supported at great cost" who stayed there for 8 whole months, and with considerable effort managed to remove 1 or two stones a day. Which means that at the most, they extracted 487 stones, and with an average of say 1.5 stones a day would have extracted about 365 stones.

The two sets of figures tie in with each other very nicely, and I would propose that the work of Al-Aziz is most probably the visible scar that can still be seen on the pyramid today.

However- you would not expect me to stop there !

If you take an overall look at the three pyramids in the Giza complex, there are a vast number of casing stones which are simply not present on the three pyramids. The approximate numbers work out like this :

Great Pyramid missing casing stones : 49,500
Second Pyramid missing casing stones: 42,000
Third pyramid missing casing stones: 9,500

Approximate total number of missing casing stones: 100,000

We know from historical records that it takes a vast number of people and money to remove about 400 stones from a pyramid over the space of 8 months. The reason clearly being the superb construction techniques, the precision of the alignment of the stones next to each other, and the fixing cement that was used between them, rendering destruction rather difficult.

Keep the same vast numbers of workmen and money pouring into the removal of the stones project, and you will be able to remove around 600 stones a year from a pyramid (disregarding that the higher up you work, the harder the job, so in fact the figure is probably a bit lower)

To remove the missing casing stones from the three pyramids would take this vast amount of workmen over 170 years of solid work.

So the removal of the casing stones from the pyramids would not have been a casual act which would have gone unnoticed by the local population. The fact the Al-Aziz's work is so well documented would make one presume that IF all these stones had been removed , that the history books of Egypt would have clear documentation of the vast amount of work and money that had poured into the area.

Are their any such factual accounts? Does the fact that so many stones are missing look in the slightest bit unusual to anyone else? Are there any known buildings that contain around 100,000 pieces of stolen granite blocks of which anyone is aware? (not hearsay evidence, or the odd block in a museum in Scotland). If anyone replies to this post regarding the Mosque that was apparently built with these blocks, could you post details of where the Mosque is, so that I can research it.

Steve B






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J.D. Degreef
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Username: jd_degreef

Post Number: 68
Registered: 02-2000
Posted From: 80.236.140.10
Posted on Sunday, September 29, 2002 - 01:09 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Steve,
Did you notice the almost vertical wall limiting the gash in its deeper portion, so that the removed area is prismatic, with a depth of about 1-2 stones at the top and ??? at the bottom ?
Most of the limestone casings were Tura limestone, not granite. They're said to have been used to rebuild Cairo after an earthquake during the 12th century, and (among others ?) for the Citadel and the Mosque of Saladdin. On occasion blocks with hieroglyphic inscriptions are seen in Old Cairo. I remember an article with a block from Thutmosis III's reign, near or in one of the mediaeval gates of the city. I suppose it came from Heliopolis or Memphis.

JD
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George B. Johnson
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Username: george

Post Number: 15
Registered: 09-1998
Posted From: 63.149.20.221
Posted on Sunday, September 29, 2002 - 09:54 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

One of the primary uses for Tura limestone blocks after the Greek/Roman period was to be burned for the production of lime mortar. The burning of blocks continued until the beginning ot the 20th Century. So thousands of blocks no longer exist.
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Su Bayfield
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Username: su_bayfield

Post Number: 5
Registered: 10-2002
Posted From: 62.64.238.216
Posted on Saturday, October 05, 2002 - 12:08 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Is there any evidence that Menkaure's pyramid ever had a white limestone casing? Presumably the upper parts must have had some sort of casing blocks if it's true that the casing was begun from the top downwards. Why was is called the Red Pyramid in the time of Al-Aziz Othman? I've also heard it referred to as the Coloured Pyramid.

Miroslav Verner states in 'The Pyramids' that Muhammed Ali Pasha removed some of the granite blocks from the casing of Menkaure's pyramid to build the arsenal in Alexandria in 1837.
Su
http://www.egyptsites.co.uk
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J.D. Degreef
Senior Member
Username: jd_degreef

Post Number: 130
Registered: 02-2000
Posted From: 213.177.133.171
Posted on Sunday, October 06, 2002 - 01:36 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi Su,
Fragments of limestone casing blocks were indeed found in the debris at the base of Menkaure's pyramid, as they were around the two others (Ali HASSAN in the 1960s, SCA cleaning around Menkaure's pyramid a month or two ago).
The casing wasn't placed from the top downwards, it was probably polished in that direction.
Some of the blocks thus found around the three pyramids were painted red. What one would need to check is which part of the blocks was thus painted. In Userkaf's sun temple a casing block was found, with the upper surface entirely painted*. Apparently this was part of a technique used to control the perfect smoothening of the surface. So the pyramids may have been painted red ; or covered with red paint to control the work, and this paint was expected to be quickly washed off by the rain ; or only the invisible parts of the casing blocks were painted ?

JD

*H. RICKE, Beiträge 8 Das Sonnenheiligtum des Königs Userkaf, vol. II. Chapter by Gerhard HAENY, Die Steinbruch- und Baumarken, p. 40.
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Ronnie Lyons
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Username: ronlyons

Post Number: 243
Registered: 01-2001
Posted From: 66.57.138.29
Posted on Monday, October 07, 2002 - 11:03 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I work for a painting company, giving paint estimates, and can tell you that Red walls are the most 'unforgiving' in that, if you paint a wall Red, you can see all the imperfections in it, lots of wavy areas, places that aren't perfectly smooth, etc. We always advise people against it. Maybe that's why they used Red in particular, like you said to make sure it was flat? Makes sense to me.
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Su Bayfield
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Username: su_bayfield

Post Number: 10
Registered: 10-2002
Posted From: 62.64.207.54
Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2002 - 05:23 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

JD

Thanks for your reply. I guess this was a misunderstanding on my part. What I actually read was '...this provides clear evidence that the final touches were not put on the walls until the very end of construction and that the finishing proceeded from the top down...'* In my ignorance of pyramid construction, I took this to mean the casing rather than the smoothing. Thanks for clarifying that. It's also very interesting about the red paint, which I hadn't heard before, but it would certainly make sense - especially with what Ronnie says about red paint. I still have a lot to learn about pyramids (not really my subject!)

* from Miroslav Verner, 'The Pyramids'
Su
www.egyptsites.co.uk

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