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The use of machines rather than hand tools to produce goods is thought of as having started in the 1700s and 1800s in Europe, as opposed to in much earlier times. However, there was more, perhaps much more use of machinery in the past than is commonly believed.
Recently, some new evidence has appeared that the feat of building the Egyptian pyramids was accomplished largely with machine tools. While one could argue that each block was cut simply with bronze chisels, many of the blocks seem to have been cut with circular saws, perhaps of a type that was turned by a hand crank and not a more sophisticated source of power.
Even though the great pyramid took twenty years to build, the cutting of more than two million large blocks into such precise shapes seems more likely to have been done with saws than with chisels. It would arguably not have been possible to complete the task in only twenty years without the use of more advanced tools.
Egyptologist Brian Foerster has made it his life’s work to study the use of machine tools in ancient Egypt. The use of technology such as tube drills for cutting holes into rock is well argued for. Many such perfect circular holes are found in stones made of Basalt, which is said to be too hard for simple bronze hand tools to cut.
The distances that very large stones were moved, up to 500 miles from where they were cut, also seems unfeasible unless the Egyptians had more technology than is commonly believed. Many large stone objects that are thought of as having non-mechanical purposes curiously resemble gears and other mechanical components. Could the ancient Egyptians have made large gears out of stone, and, if so, for what purpose?
There is also some evidence of even more advanced technology such aircraft and electric lighting. Electric lighting is not as difficult to believe as it might sound. Electric batteries were actually occasionally constructed in the ancient world, that is not disputed. What the electricity was used for is not known. Perhaps, lighting could be imagined. Brian Foerster’s book, “Lost Ancient Technology of Egypt”, discusses the subject in more detail.