Joseph Davidovits (born 1935) is a French materials scientist known for the invention of geopolymer chemistry. He posited that the blocks of the Great Pyramid are not carved stone but mostly a form of limestone concrete or man-made stone. He holds the Ordre National du Mérite, is the author and co-author of hundreds of scientific papers and conferences reports, and holds more than fifty patents.
Davidovits obtained a Diplôme d'Ingénieur in chemical engineering from Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Chimie, Rennes, France in 1958, and a Dr. rer. nat. in macromolecular chemistry (PhD) from University of Mainz, Germany in 1960. Between 1962 to 1972, he researched in organic polymers for the textile industry in France. In 1964, he received Annual Award from the French Textile Chemical Society for his work on linear organic polymers.
In the aftermath of various catastrophic fires in 1970 in France involving flammable organic plastics, he decided to carry out research into new heat-resistant materials in 1972. The French private research company Cordi (SA) (called later Cordi-Géopolymère SARL), a family owned company, was also created. All publications related to the research from 1972 to 1979 on alumino-silicate solid-state chemistry are pertaining to the patent literature.
The geopolymer concept was created and published in 1979, together with the foundation of the non-profit organization Geopolymer Institute. In 1983, he was appointed as the Adjunct Professor of Chemistry at Barry University, Miami, Florida, and there he founded the Institute for Applied Archaeological Sciences (IAPAS) to study worthwhile ancient technology and advance the clarity of ancient history. Between 1983 and 1989, in collaboration with Lone Star Industries of the United States, a geopolymer cement called PYRAMENT and associated cement blends were developed.
The National Association for Science, Technology and Society (NASTS) and the Federation of Materials Societies, USA, awarded him the Gold Ribbon Award in 1994.
He is the president of Geopolymer Institute, chair of the annual conference Geopolymer Camp, and an active member of several scientific societies including American Chemical Society, American Ceramic Society, American Concrete Institute, New York Academy of Sciences and International Association of Egyptologists.
Davidovits was not convinced that the ancient Egyptians possessed the tools or technology to carve and haul the huge (2.5 to 15 ton) limestone blocks that made up the Great Pyramid. Davidovits suggested that the blocks were molded in place by using a form of limestone concrete. According to his theory, a soft limestone with a high kaolinite content was quarried in the wadi on the south of the Giza plateau. It was then dissolved in large, Nile-fed pools until it became a watery slurry. Lime (found in the ash of ancient cooking fires) and natron (also used by Egyptians in mummification) was mixed in. The pools were then left to evaporate, leaving behind a moist, clay-like mixture. This wet "concrete" would be carried to the construction site where it would be packed into reusable wooden molds. In the next few days the mixture would undergo a chemical hydration reaction similar to the setting of cement.
Using Davidovits' theory, no large gangs would be needed to haul blocks and no huge and unwieldy ramps would be needed to transport the blocks up the side of the pyramid. No chiseling or carving with soft bronze tools would be required to dress their surfaces and new blocks could be cast in place, on top of and pressed against the old blocks. This would account for the unerring precision of the joints of the casing stones (the blocks of the core show tools marks and were cut with much lower tolerances). Proof-of-concept experiments using similar compounds were carried out at Davidovits' geopolymer institute in northern France. It was found that a crew of ten, working with simple hand tools, could build a structure of fourteen, 1.3 to 4.5 ton blocks in a couple of days. According to Davidovits the architects possessed at least two concrete formulas: one for the large structural blocks and another for the white casing stones. He argues earlier pyramids, brick structures, and stone vases were built using similar techniques.
Although his ideas are not accepted by mainstream Egyptologists, in December 2006 Michel Barsoum, Adrish Ganguly, and Gilles Hug published a peer-reviewed paper in the Journal of the American Ceramic Society stating that parts of the pyramid were cast with a type of limestone concrete. However, Dipayan Jana, a petrographer, made a presentation to the ICMA (International Cement Microscopy Association) in 2007 and gave a paper in which he concludes "we are far from accepting even as a remote possibility of a 'manmade' origin of pyramid stones."
Summary of evidence
Davidovits cites primarily evidence related to his profession as a materials scientist, re-interpreting the observations of conventional Egyptology within this light. Briefly, his points include:
- The thin layer of 'mortar' found at the top of casing blocks is actually the result of settling and water percolating to the top of the block while drying; the layer found would be too weak to bind the massive blocks together
- The humidity inside the pyramids is much higher than would be expected in a desert environment; this is caused by the moisture released into the halls and galleries while the blocks cure
- The arrangement of fossils within the blocks is jumbled, rather than stratified, pointing to the blocks being crushed, then poured while casting rather than deposited in layers as would conventional sedimentary rock
- Certain blocks have elongated air pockets, caused by the cement hardening while air bubbles were in the process of rising to the top
- Ancient descriptions of the pyramids being built featured the use of short blocks of wood, conventionally seen as levers or cranes; Davidovits suggests their use as frames to mold the blocks
- Lines were also found on the blocks; the lines are wavy (characteristic of most types of concrete) and not horizontal (characteristic of natural limestone)
- Davidovits, Joseph; Margie Morris (1988). The Pyramids: An Enigma Solved. New York: Dorset Press.
- Davidovits, Joseph (1983). Alchemy and the Pyramids. Saint Quentin, France: Geopolymer Institute.
- Davidovits, Joseph (2002). Ils ont Bâti les Pyramides: Les Prouesses Technologiques des Anciens Egyptiens. Paris: J.-C. Godefroy.
- Davidovits, Joseph (2005). La Bible avait raison, Tome 1: L’archéologie révèle l’existence des Hébreux en Égypte. Paris: J.-C. Godefroy.
- Davidovits, Joseph (2006). La Bible avait raison, Tome 2: sur les traces de Moïse et de l’Exode. Paris: J.-C. Godefroy.
- Davidovits, Joseph (2006). La nouvelle histoire des pyramides. Paris: J.-C. Godefroy.
- Davidovits, Joseph (2008). Geopolymer Chemistry and Applications. Saint Quentin, France: Geopolymer Institute.
- Davidovits, Joseph (2009). De cette fresque naquit la Bible. Paris: J.-C. Godefroy.
- Davidovits, Joseph (2009). Why the Pharaohs Built the Pyramids with Fake Stones. Saint Quentin, France: Geopolymer Institute.
- Davidovits, Joseph (1994). "GEOPOLYMERS: Inorganic polymeric new materials". Journal of Materials Education 16 (2,3): 91–138.
- "Extended Biography".
- yubanet.com "Concrete Blocks Used in Great Pyramids Construction" Drexel University
- http://www.cmc-concrete.com/CMC%20Seminars/2007%20ICMA%20Pyramid.pdf The Egyptian Pyramid Enigma - large pdf file
- http://www.cmc-concrete.com/CMC%20Publications/2007,%20The%20Great%20Pyramid%20Debate,%2029th%20ICMA.pdf The Great Pyramid Debate: Evidence from Detailed Petrographic Examinations of Casing Stones from the Great Pyramid of Khufu, a Natural Limestone from Tura, and a Man-Made (Geopolymeric) Limestone, Proceedings of the 29th Conference on Cement Microscopy, International Cement Microscopy Association, Quebec City, Canada, May 2007 - another large pdf file
- Are Pyramids Made Out of Concrete?
- Concrete Blocks Used in Great Pyramids Construction
- The Surprising Truth Behind the Construction of the Great Pyramids