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Creation 31(1):55, December 2008

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‘Seashells in the desert’


Compilation of images from stock.xchng and stockxpert Pyramids seashells

The massive limestone blocks of the Egyptian pyramids contain abundant fossil shells, most of them still beautifully intact, according to a recent mineralogical analysis.1

At the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), the fossil shells constitute ‘a proportion of up to 40% of the whole building stone rock’, explained Professor Ioannis Liritzis and his colleagues from the University of the Aegean and the University of Athens. The fossils were predominately nummulites (coin-shaped coiled fossils of shelled protozoa), but sand dollars, starfish and sea urchins were also detected.

This announcement has served to intensify the debate as to whether the pyramid blocks were carved out of natural stone or rather were cast as concrete—an idea proposed two decades ago by Joseph Davidovits, professor and director of France’s Geopolymer Institute. Davidovits had reproduced such ‘artificial limestone’ by grinding up various local rocks, with the mixture hardening within hours.2

But Liritzis and his team argue that their evidence shows that the building stones used in the constructions of the Giza pyramids, at least—along with the Sphinx and other Egyptian monuments—must have been carved, not cast. For example, X-ray diffraction and other analysis shows that the fossils are ‘largely undamaged’ and distributed throughout the stone ‘in accordance with their typical distribution at sea floors’. And there are no known references to moulds, buckets or other casting tools in early Egyptian texts, paintings or sculptures.

Robert Temple, co-director of the Project for Historical Dating and a visiting research fellow at universities in the US, Greece and Egypt, says both sides of the debate present worthy points.

‘There is no evidence known that suggests the ancient Egyptians had cranes. Without cranes, it is difficult to imagine how they could have lifted giant stones, some as heavy as 200 tonnes,’ Temple says, but he also agrees that the fossils should not be ignored.
‘Frankly, not many people pay attention to the shells, which I have always thought was a shame. “Seashells in the desert”—a good story.’

Actually, there are two key points we can note:

  1. Irrespective of whether the pyramid blocks were all carved from natural stone or some cast as concrete using ground-up rock, the presence of abundant marine fossils points to the raw building materials having been obtained post-Flood. (How else could you get ‘seashells in the desert’?) So the ancient Egyptian culture arose after the events of Genesis 6–9, not before. The ancestor of the Egyptians, Mizraim,3 appears in Genesis 10:6,13; the Egyptian name for Egypt is Misr to this day.4
  2. In the absence of definitive eyewitness evidence as to how the pyramids were actually constructed, people today can mostly only speculate. But whether the blocks were carved or cast or both, the ingenuity and engineering skills of ancient times ought not surprise us, as man has been intelligent from the very first—in stark contrast to evolutionary teaching, which says early man was ‘primitive’.

Posted on homepage: 12 April 2010

References and notes

  1. Viegas, J., Pyramids packed with fossil shells, ABC News in Science, , 28 April 2008. Return to text.
  2. More concrete support for pyramid theory, Creation 29(3):9, 2007. Return to text.
  3. Hebrew מצרים (mitsrayim), a dual form, possibly a reference to the Upper and Lower halves of Egypt. Return to text.
  4. See also: Walker, T., Cardno, S., and Sarfati, J., Timing is everything—a talk with field archaeologist David Down, Creation 27(3):30–35, 2005; ; Ashton, J. and Down, D., Unwrapping the Pharaohs, Master Books, USA, 2006. Return to text.

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