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Tools                  2,000 BC
Africa
Southwest Asia
Egypt
Indus Valley
China
Europe
South America
Mesoamerica
North America
Other

Africa

 

Southwest Asia

 

Egypt

 …with the expressed intent of inspecting features I had identified on my previous trip, in 1986, I took some tools with me: a flat ground piece of steel (commonly known as a parallel in tool shops, it is about six inches long and a quarter-inch thick with edges ground flat within .0002 inch); an Interapid indicator; a wire contour gauge; a device that forms around shapes; and hard-forming wax. While there, I came across and was able to measure some artifacts produced by the ancient pyramid builders that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that highly advanced and sophisticated tools and methods had been employed by them. The first object I checked for close precision was the sarcophagus inside the second (Khafra's) pyramid on the Giza plateau. I climbed inside the box, and with a flashlight and the parallel was astounded to find the surface on the inside of the box perfectly smooth and perfectly flat. Placing the edge of the parallel against the surface, I lit my flashlight behind it. There was no light coming through the interface. No matter where I moved the parallel, vertically, horizontally, sliding it along as one would a gauge on a precision surface plate, I couldn't detect any deviation from a perfectly flat surface. A group of Spanish tourists found it extremely interesting too and gathered around me, as I was becoming quite animated at this point, exclaiming into my tape recorder, "Space-Age precision!" (65)

My mind was racing as I lowered my frame into the narrow confines of the entrance shaft and climbed outside. As I did so, my mind was reeling: the inside of a huge granite box finished off to a precision that we reserve for precision surface plates? How had they done this? It would be impossible to have done this by hand! I was even more impressed with other artifacts found at another site in the rock tunnels at the temple of Serapeum at Saqqara, the site of the step pyramid and Zoser's tomb. In these dark dusty tunnels are housed twenty-one huge basalt boxes. They weigh an estimated sixty-five tons each and are finished off to the same precision as the sarcophagus in the second pyramid. (65)

 

In 1995 I inspected the inside and outside surfaces of two boxes in the Serapeum with a six-inch precision straightedge that was accurate to .0002 inch. The artifacts I have measured in Egypt have the marks of careful and remarkable manufacturing methods. They are unmistakable and irrefutable in their precision, but origin or intent will always be open to speculation. The precision square I am using was calibrated to .00005 inch (that is, 5/100,000 of an inch) using a Jones & Lamson comparitor. The underside of the lid and the inside wall of the box are incredibly square. Finding that the squareness was achieved not just on one side of the box but on both raises the level of difficulty in accomplishing this feat.

Think of this as a geometric reality. In order for the lid to be perfectly square with the two inside walls, the inside walls would have to be perfectly parallel. Moreover, the topside of the box would need to establish a plane that is square to the sides. That makes finishing the inside exponentially more difficult. The manufacturers of these boxes in the Serapeum not only created inside surfaces that were flat when measured vertically and horizontally, but they also made sure that the surfaces they were creating were square and parallel to each other, with one surface, the top, having sides that are five feet and ten feet apart from each other. But without such parallelism and squareness of the top surface, the squareness noted on both sides would not exist.

As an engineer and craftsman who has worked in manufacturing for me than forty years and who has created precision artifacts in our modern world, in my opinion this accomplishment in prehistory is nothing short of amazing. Nobody does this kind of work unless there is a very high purpose for the artifact. Even the concept of this kind of precision does not occur to an artisan unless there is no other means of accomplishing what the artifact is intended to do. The only other reason that such precision would be created in an object is that the tools that are used to create it are so precise that they are incapable of producing anything less than precision. With either scenario, we are looking at a higher civilization in prehistory than what is currently accepted. The implications are staggering.

The boxes that are off the beaten tourist's path in the rock tunnels of Serapeum would be extremely difficult to produce today. Their smooth, flat surfaces, orthogonal perfection, and incredibly small inside corner radii that I have inspected with modern precision straightedges, squares, and radius gauges leave me in awe. Even though after contacting four precision granite manufacturers, I could not find one who could replace their perfection, I would not say that it would be impossible to make one today—-if we had a good reason to do so. (67)

According to traditional theory, the ancient Egyptians used hardened copper tools in quarrying and carving. Having worked with copper on numerous occasions, including the hardened variety, Dunn found this idea ridiculous. Certainly, copper can be hardened by striking it repeatedly or even by bending it. However, after a specific hardness has been reached, the copper begins to split and break apart. This is why, when working with copper, it has to be periodically annealed, or softened, to keep it in one piece. However, despite the strength of the hardened copper, it will not cut granite. The hardest copper alloy in existence today is beryllium copper. There is no evidence to suggest that the ancient Egyptians possessed it. If they did, it is still not hard enough to cut granite. According to traditional historians, copper was the only metal available at the time the Great Pyramid was built. Consequently, it would follow that all work sprang from the ability to use this basic metal. Dunn believes there is more to the metal story, that it may be an incorrect assumption to think that copper was the only metal available to the ancient Egyptians. A little-known fact about the pyramid builders is that they were iron makers as well. According to Ian Lawton and Chris Ogilvie-Herald's Giza: The Truth, in 1837, during the Howard Vyse excavations, an iron plate twelve by four inches and an eighth inch thick was discovered embedded in cement in one of the shafts leading into the king's chamber. The iron plate was embedded so deep in the masonry that it had to be removed by blasting the outer two tiers of stones. Upon removal, it was forwarded to the British Museum along with certificates of authenticity. (70)

Primitive tools discovered through archaeological excavation are considered contemporaneous with the artifacts of the same period. Yet during this period in Egyptian history, these artifacts were produced in prolific numbers with no tools surviving to explain their creation According to Dunn, the tools found cannot be explained in simple term and do not fully represent the "state of the art" evident in the artifacts. The tools displayed by Egyptologists as instruments for the creation of many of these incredible artifacts are physically incapable of reproducing them. (70)

Mehler's observations at Sakkara appear to confirm the ancient tradition that the tunnels were carved as channels for flowing water: It appeared to us that the water was channeled from the west, the direction of the ancient Ur Nil, not the current river about eight to ten miles to the east of Sakkara. The downward sloping of the ground was from west to east, and the tunnels seemed to be coming from the west also. The tunnels and channels we observed were in different layers of bedrock under the surface, cut in rectangular, smooth-sided, serpentine passages going, apparently, for miles under and through the limestone bedrock. These passages all seemed man-made, not natural formations. The only way these tunnels could have been carved is with machine tools, not with copper chisels and "stone pounders." (70)

Indus Valley

 

China

 Hundreds of skilled, fulltime craftsmen probably resided at Zhengzhou. In one area thousands of pieces of animal and human bone were recovered, much of it already fashioned into fish hooks, awls, axes, and hairpins. In another area were more than a dozen pottery kilns, each surrounded by masses of broken and over-fired pottery. But the Zhengzhou craftsmen really displayed their skill in working bronze. Large areas were given over to workshops for casting fish hooks, axes, projectile points, and various ornaments. But the use of bronze seems to have been mainly a stylistic phenomenon rather I than a great technological advance. (49)

Europe

 But in the second millennium BC iron was so rare that it was used for jewellery. Rings made from meteoric iron survive, from both Knossos and Mycenae. (135)

A carpenter's kit has been discovered which resembles in the very shape of the tools a kit of today, except that it is in bronze...(135)

In fact, the ability to grind concave lenses had been demonstrated even in Minoan times, circa 1500 BC, since the crystal eye in the famous Bull's Head Rhyton found at Knossos is a 'convex meniscus lens', which means that it is convex on the top and concave underneath. (139)

It seems to me remarkable that a pottery fragment which appears to show a person looking through a telescope has been on view in such an intensely public place as the Acropolis Museum, which is visited by millions of people every year, and nobody seems ever to have 'noticed' it. But it is not only the person with the telescope which has not been 'noticed' at Athens. The Athens Archaeological Museum has several rock crystal lenses on public display in one of the most commonly visited rooms, the Mycenaean Room, and yet nobody has 'noticed' them either. These objects date from the 16th to the 13th century BC. It must only be that people see what they expect to see and are blind to what they are convinced cannot exist it is what I call 'consensus blindness'. (139)

2000 BC Bronze artefacts appear in Scotland (160)

South America

 Pottery has been found in numerous archaeological sites in Ecuador, Columbia, and Venezuela that date to between 3,300 and 2,100 BC, but it apparently was not used in Peru--the center of later civilizations--until shortly after 2000 BC.(27)

Mesoamerica

 Each village, or each extended family, may have had a specialist who did pressure flaking of stone, leather-working, or a similar craft, and individual villages may have concentrated on specialties like salt production, feather-weaving, shell-working, grinding stone manufacture, and the like. (51)

Rubber held an important place in later Mesoamerican cultures. In addition to balls, it was formed into figurines, burned in ritual offerings, used in medicinal preparations, and formed into bands for hafting stone axes. Its most important use, however, was for the ball game played in formal courts of various dimensions. When dry, however, natural latex is brittle and does not bounce; to retain its elastic properties it must be chemically altered. Spanish chroniclers reported that this was done by mixing latex with the sap of morning glories, a practice still used in Chiapas. Analysis of one of the rubber balls from El Manati suggests that this method was used by the Olmecs before 1500 BC. (159)

...the Olmecs have a reasonable claim to having initiated the ball game and to having been the first to use rubber in a ritual context. (159)

North America

 Between 9,000 and 2,500 years ago Desert West cultures worked out a marvelous array of subsistence technologies and strategies, and the aridity of the environment has preserved artifacts so well that we can reconstruct their way of life in considerable detail. Wooden clubs, twined basketry, grinding stones atlatl points, and many other items have been found.(26)

The Koster site, in the Illinois River Valley, was first occupied at about 7,500 BC, and people lived at this site many times, at least until about 2,500 BC. These people slowly improved their technologies, adding new varieties of stone tools, more permanent forms of housing made of clay, poles, and thatch, rare implements of copper for which they traded with neighboring groups, and various other tools.(26)

...the mining on Isle Royale in Lake Superior and the upper peninsular of Michigan in America shows that mining and the fashioning of copper tools and weapons around the mines was carried on from 5000 to 1000 BC. (135)

Other