View Full Version : Why not put limestone on the Pyramids again?

1kBR Kid
02-26-2003, 02:23 AM
It seems to make sense. Not only would they be restored to their original appearance, but erosion would be all but stopped. Only the limestone casing would wear away.

Has the Egyptian government ever proposed this? (in.....ahem.... **relatively** recent times)

Sock Munkey
02-26-2003, 03:02 AM
It would cost a lot because the pyramids are friggin huge.

1kBR Kid
02-26-2003, 03:10 AM
Is limestone that expensive?

Seems like in the long run it would save money, along with wear and tear on the Pyramids. Could bring more tourists as well.

I, Brian
02-26-2003, 03:18 AM
If I remember right, reclaiming the former glory of the pyramids isn't simply an issue of limestone - I'm under the impression that they were clad in white marble, with the upper point gilded with gold.

02-26-2003, 03:55 AM
Usually, old monuments are maintened in a state as authentic as possible. If it can be avoided, they aren't "restored" by adding new materials, replacing missing stones by new ones, etc...Most people in charge of monuments and archeologists are vehemently opposed to any attempt to restore them to their "original state" which anyway can only be guessed and not determined with certainty. That's why middle-age cathedrals aren't painted (though they originally were, and despite the fact that traces of the pigments used can be found and identified),ruined castles quite never rebuilt, etc...

I'm pretty certain that some people did think about restoring the pyramids, or adding a new nose to the Sphinx, etc..., but i'm pretty certain too that if such a project was planned on a so famous monument, it would cause a major uproar.

02-26-2003, 08:18 AM
it wouldn't wear and it's water-proof. Think of the skateboarding possibilities. Stonehenge could do with a bit of tidying up too. Also, would the French PLEASE get around to fixing the nose of the Sphinx?

02-26-2003, 09:55 AM
Mothchunks - lol! A nice fake stone pattern would rock!

02-26-2003, 10:02 AM
In Greece, they have no problem re-erecting ancient columns, even after significant earthquake damage. To the point of patching them with concrete even. Tourists like pretty columns more than just a pile of ruins. (It is true that they don't actually try to recreate the whole temple though.)

In Egypt, they have the picturesque pyramids already. Would adding a new shell get any more tourists than they already have? That's all that really matters in this context.

MC Master of Ceremonies
02-26-2003, 10:06 AM
Originally posted by 1kBR Kid
Is limestone that expensive?

Seems like in the long run it would save money, along with wear and tear on the Pyramids. Could bring more tourists as well.

Yes, Limestone is expensive, especially the high quality limestone.

Terminus Est
02-26-2003, 10:41 AM
Paying people to put the limestone back on the pyramids would also be expensive.

02-26-2003, 12:33 PM
Originally posted by Terminus Est
Paying people to put the limestone back on the pyramids would also be expensive.

You could let the tourists do that.
"Be a part of the Pyramids Restoration Project! Impress your envious neighbors by telling them you put limestone casing on the Pyramid! Purchase your limestone panels NOW!"

02-26-2003, 12:38 PM
I think they should coat the pyramids using those glass blocks. Not only would they restore a brilliant sheen, but the pyramids would be bulletproof.

02-26-2003, 02:56 PM
In recent years, in Egypt, Islamic fundamentalists have been arguing for the destruction of the pre-Moslem monuments. Cf. the Taliban. Any effort by the government to spend a huge sum restoring the "pagan temples" would cause severe political damage internally.

Doc Nickel
02-26-2003, 03:34 PM
Actually, the Taliban's destruction of the 11th century (as I recall) statues was due to the fact they were human representations, which according to their fundamentalist view, was blasphemous. Something about "Only Allah can create man" and so forth.

This extended to using images of people in paintings, mosaics and advertising, and to dolls and such. I believe photographs were okay, but I'm not sure.

02-26-2003, 03:36 PM
With archaeological sites, there's always a chance that you've missed something and you wouldn't want to risk covering up or destroying some aspect that you haven't noticed yet. Of course, from a close-up picture I saw of one of the pyramids, it looks like they're already so covered in graffiti that it wouldn't matter.

MC Master of Ceremonies
02-26-2003, 03:38 PM
The Koran forbids 'graven images' of people and animals, so does the Torah infact (if you ever visit an ultra-orthodox Jew's house you will notice taht the pictures on the wall are usually still life)and even a strict reading of the bibles.

I, Brian
02-26-2003, 03:49 PM
...which is why Protestant churches generally just have a cross at the alter, rather than a crucified Jesus, as like in Catholic chruches.

MC Master of Ceremonies
02-26-2003, 03:56 PM
Well the iconoclasts were regarded as heretics, but IIRC Muslims and ultra-orthodox Jews all get their iconoclasm from the same passages in the bible.

02-26-2003, 04:50 PM
Originally posted by Mothchunks
Stonehenge could do with a bit of tidying up too.

The monument already has been tidied up, and fairly recently at that: in the spring of 1958, as part of the last major set of excavations there. Mainly a matter of stones being re-erected.
There are also cases like Newgrange, one of the neolithic tombs overlooking the Boyne valley and possibly the best known archeaological site in Ireland. It was originally a low earthen mound, with some sort of stone facade and a tunnel made up of large stones leading to a central chamber. Over time the mound spread and the facade was scattered. Between 1962 and 1975, a team led by Michael O'Kelly excavated the mound to the extent that they completely exposed the passageway, which they then dismantled. On finishing, the monument was restored by rebuilding the passageway, covering it with a layer of concrete to mechanically protect it and then reheaping the mound. The controversial aspect was their rebuilding of the facade. In effect, O'Kelly did put the equivalent of the limestone back on. It's certainly impressive, but many people also feel it's too steep to accurately reflect what the builders would have done. Basically a wall that steep with earth behind it, without the modern internal strengthening the reconstruction has, would have fallen over in decades. Of course, the original facade did fall over, but it's at best uncertain whether it happened that quickly or over thousands of years. Whatever the truth, what tourists see today is at least partly O'Kelly's best guess. Though a guess defended by him in his (recommended) book on the excavations and explained by the guides showing visitors round.

Bottom line ? Historic sites have changed to greater degrees than people seem to expect. Attitudes change and a policy of nonintervention in one time and place may not translate to another site at a later date.

Will Repair
02-26-2003, 05:02 PM
Did a little searching. The blocks on the largest pyramid were (average) 2.75 tons each. Found a quote for Egyptian limestone at $130 per ton. Can't find how many blocks would be required.

Problems would be the cost of labor and pollution. Slave labor is not as cheap as it used to be. The pyramids are no longer in the desert but on the outskirts of Cario and already subject to the wrath of air polution.Muslims and ultra-orthodox Jews all get their iconoclasm from the same passages in the bible. Wrong scripture for both religions.The Koran forbids 'graven images' of people and animalsCouldn't find either words in a search of the Koran so I'll say it is Koran which forbids worship of idols and Hadith which forbids images. The rational for the later being that images are the first step towards idol worship.

MC Master of Ceremonies
02-26-2003, 06:34 PM
Acidkid, I am referring to a passage in the Old testament:

Exodus 20:4 "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven . . . earth . . . water." (See also Lev. 26:1, Deut. 27:15)

Which is obviously part of the Tanuch and the Qu'ran too (your search probably only covered the Sura).

And yes I know that the Bible only properly refers to the Christian Bible, but I was referring to a passage that appears in a part of the bible that is common to all three religions.

Rodd Hill
02-26-2003, 07:24 PM
One of the most basic precepts of conservation of any historic structure is minimal intervention; in this case, can the cultural significance of the earlier appearance of the pyramids at Giza be illustrated without subjecting the actual historic fabric to further degredation through use?

For example showing the original limestone/gold-leaf-topped version on a computer model or even a real scale model?

The biggest threat to the Giza complex is urban sprawl; the original context of the monuments is already badly compromised by modern incursions within a few hundred metres. In 1995, UNESCO managed to convince the Egyptian government to abandon building a road through part of the site.

Essentially, only intervene in the monument's fabric as much as is necessary to preserve it; the continuum of Conservation Intervention runs something like this:

Do Nothing (Low negative impact on Heritage Character)




Replace (High negative impact on Heritage Character)

Sam Stone
02-27-2003, 12:01 AM
I think they should do what they did with Stonehenge and just build exact replicas a few miles away. (-:

And put the world's largest razor blade where the King's chamber would be...

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