Raising the Djed
Copyright © 2006 Tasker. Presented with permission.
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The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 assert the right of
Steven Tasker to be identified as the author of this publication.
The following are excerpts from the e-Book by Steven Tasker.
Speculations regarding the technical abilities of our ancestors
abound but one burning question shrouded in mystery stands out from
our past, ‘How did the Egyptians raise the pyramid stones that were
the backbone of its construction?’ If this knowledge was lost with
the decline of the ancient world, all we can do is wonder and
investigate the how and the why! Secrets locked in the past.
The work and dedication of countless scholars, especially the
archaeological fraternity, have been invaluable to modern science.
However, if the solution to the
mystery of the pyramids was dependent on academic qualifications, it
could be argued that surely it should have been solved years ago.
Scholars maintain that the Egyptians left no written records
relating to the construction of the pyramids.
The theory proposed in this work is based on man’s ability to learn
and adapt known technology of the time, with basic materials and a
large dose of ingenuity.
I was taught that man evolved from prehistoric caves, learnt how to
make fire, hunt for food then progressed to domesticate animals and
ultimately farming. To me this represented a learning curve, that
our ancestors were perhaps less intelligent than ourselves at the
beginning of this time line. Intelligence in general terms is a
mental capability that, among other things, involves the ability to
reason, plan, solve problems, it also reflects a broader and deeper
capability for comprehending our surroundings "catching on," "making
sense" of things, or "figuring out" what to do, think abstractly,
comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and most of all learn from
experience’. When modern man fails to answer a mystery, it can be
said that this knowledge has surpassed modern man, perhaps
indicating that modern man is not so intelligent after all. Perhaps
we have all made erroneous assumptions regarding our ancestors which
have, in turn lead us to this dead end of being unable to solve the
mystery. Answers to these questions are sometimes more complex than
we can imagine, but holding on to established theories as the truth
regardless of other possible hypotheses or explanations would no
doubt hold back man’s progress. People look at the same evidence and
interpret it differently, that’s just human nature. We all have our
unique perspective, and see and interpret according to it. The
building blocks of history are built on the interpretations of our
peers of archaeological artefacts and ancient texts left by our
ancestors. We depend on this information to help know our place in
the universe, to understand where we have come from, where we are
going and how are we going to get there. A significant percentage of
what we know of our past is based on theory and conjecture, or
educated guesses. Often, it is the simplest answer that’s the
hardest to accept. If we fail to answer these and many other secrets
of the past we are doing a disservice not only to our ancestors but
also to ourselves, and to the generations to come. So, this
inevitably raises the question ‘Why have I written this book when
the bookshelves of our libraries groan under the weight of pyramid
theories?’ Well that’s a story in itself. I intend to demonstrate
through an analysis of current interpretation that the ancients did
leave clues within the stories of myth that they told, and the
hieroglyphic symbols they left behind. The analysis will be
accompanied with models specifically built to test this theory. In
this model building process, one can see the concept in action, and
the associated problems that have to be overcome during pyramid
construction. It is argued in this work that the ancient Egyptians
possessed a construction technique unknown to modern man. They also
had the ability to quarry and process stone at an alarming rate.
I do not regard myself as a free thinker or believe that aliens or
giants raised the pyramid stones. I am just an average guy who
challenges widely held ideas and theories and suggests an
alternative interpretation based on common sense. The Egyptians
built it; all we have to do is figure out is how. “It’s that easy,
but where do you start?” Unless stated otherwise, all images have
been provided by the author.
The story starts in the summer of 2004, when my wife and I toured
an ancient Greek temple site named Olympia. This site marked the
origin of the Olympic Games. Our guide, a young girl studying at
university, told us stories of the ancient Greeks, and spoke of
mysteries and the gods. Being a good orator, she held our attention
with her tails of mystery and myth but some of her explanations led
me to question her knowledge. This was the first time I had ever
questioned the viewpoint of an
academic. I was intrigued with the ancient buildings that surrounded
the area, and the techniques that were used to construct such
massive monuments at
a time when no motorized mechanical machines existed.
How did they build such monumental structures like the temples of
Olympia or in-fact the Parthenon without the aid of computer models
and electronic communications, not to mention the logistical
problems of labour, food and transport? I started to investigate the
possible ways in which these buildings could have been constructed.
Scholars admit, voiced by Manolis Korres (The stones of the
Parthenon, Melissa 2000 page 7) ‘that even with today’s high powered
electric and petrol engines, and the use of powered tools and modern
machinery, it would be impossible to construct a replica of the
So ‘How did they do it?’ After considerable thought and discussions,
I proposed a little ramp theory and a new method of construction.
The basic idea indicates that the grooves in the column drums at
most temple sites are an aid to construction. In the diagram below is a single column drum protected by quarter
round battens cut to match the shape of an inverted cypress tree.
The tapering of the column is a direct effect of using a tree to
protect the groove. You can now roll the drums without chipping or
damaging the stone. The grooves in the drum can be pre-cut to
support the batten, or left smooth and cut later, depending on the
weight and spacing between the columns.
Pictured above is a hypothetical set up of the construction site.
The idea is simple. Drums are arranged into a square base and
successive drums are rolled into position using small platforms
between each drum. The battens that protect the drum also act as
support for the platforms. In this scenario, drums are rolled in an
To gain height, small ramps are positioned between each drum. The
pusher has a small area to rest on the top of each drum. The pusher
goes up the ramp and then rests, and proceeds up to the next ramp
and then takes another rest. In this way, the construction workers
make what initially looks like a daunting task, simple. Finally, all
the column stones to complete the structure are pulled up in a
designated order, with the highest placed stones being brought up
first and so on. You now lower the drums down the little ramps,
assembling the temple from the top down. You may think that I am way
off topic talking about the ancient Greeks. However, the general
consensus of opinion is that the Greeks obtained their technical
ability from the Egyptians and according to George Sarton, (A
History of Science Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1952) Sarton
points out that ‘the Greeks did not suddenly “invent” science: “the
Greek ‘miracle’ was prepared by millennia of work in Egypt,
Mesopotamia, and possibly other regions’. Since my hypothesis
started at the ancient site of Olympia, it is only fitting for this
work to begin here.
What the Egyptians Knew
I wondered whether this hypothesis of the ‘little ramp theory’
had its roots set back further in time, and whether it could be
adapted to other buildings. Could the hypothesis hold true for
support both the construction of temples in Greece and of the
pyramids in Egypt? To begin the investigation, it may be pertinent
to mention reverse engineering, a common way of developing a
hypothesis to explain the construction of a particular thing. There
are countless mysteries the solution for which there may be many
However, if because of an erroneous hypothesis, or because of the
perspective of the researcher, these clues are not fully understood
or not recognized, the enigma and the mystery will remain.
Conversely, if the hypothesis is correct, it should solve some, if
not all, the secrets.
Clearly, stability and having stable platform from which to work
were absolutely necessary. The Egyptians knew the value of kinetic
energy and the value of increasing the pressure to a cutting tool.
You can see evidence of this in the picture above. The efficiency
of the drill was reinforced by the addition of the weights, probably
in the form of sand which was placed in leather bags and steadied
with string on the rod of the drill. There is also evidence that the
Egyptians used lathes
and drills, as seen in the Cairo museum (top right).
Pictured left is a painting from the 5th dynasty tomb of Ty at
Saqqara. It shows two carpenters using a bow drill on a piece of
wooden furniture. The man on the right is pushing the drill onto the
wood with a capstone, while the other is rotating the drill by
moving the bow backwards and forwards. The bow can also be used to
operate a cutting wheel.
Bows and arrows have been present in Egyptian culture since
predynastic times. The ancient bow evolved from the ability to make
fire, and by rubbing two sticks by hand. A natural progression of
this would be to rotate the sticks by another method; evolution
involves a continuous process of adaptation. This art of making fire
from our natural surroundings is still practiced today.
An example can be seen with The Society of Primitive Technology,
Rexburg USA an organization dedicated to the research, practice, and
teaching of primitive technology, it promotes the practice and
teaching of indigenous life skills. The components of the bow drill
consist of the spindle, the hearthboard, the bow and the bearing
block. Downward pressure is applied by pushing down on the bearing
block. The spindle is rotated by pushing the bow backwards and
forwards. In the photo above, notice the left thumb is used to push
down on the string to separate the string as the spindle is
rotating. This keeps the strings from abrading each other. Also in
the photo, the right wrist is locked into the shin of the right leg
to stabilize the rotating spindle. (Maintaining stability is an
important point which will be discussed later.)
A leaf is then placed underneath the notch to catch the char
dust. A consistent sawing motion is used to create char build-up in
the notch. Once the spindle on the hearthboard begins to smoke, the
char dust ignites into an ember.
glowing ember is then transferred from the leaf to the tinder
bundle, and animal down is placed in the tinder bundle (see photo at
left). This helps to extend the fire of the ember. The tinder bundle
is then blown into in order to ignite the ember. One of the
problems inherent in the bow drill friction fire method is when
trying to start a fire with a bow drill. First, the cord is not
wrapped tightly enough around the spindle so that the cord slips and
the spindle stop’s spinning.
Increased rubbing also weakens the cord away or the spindle then
slides out of the socket and propelled by the increasing tension in
the string, it flies through the air. The ancient Egyptians came up
with a solution. They placed an extra long cord on the bow and
either tied the middle of the cord around the spindle or passed the
cord through a hole drilled in the middle of the spindle. Next, they
wrapped the extra length of cord around the spindle. This made
slippage of the cord impossible and it prevented the spindle from
flipping into someone's eye. This non-slip connection between the
cord and spindle may also allow the use of a thinner, weaker cord.
Pictures courtesy of Dick Baugh primitive ways.
A natural progression for the bow drill is to fit a cutting bit
to the tip. Again, the ancient Egyptians came up with this idea
themselves. Denys Stocks, an Egyptologist who has studied and tested
ancient Egyptian tools for more than two decades, in his book
(Experiments in Egyptian Archaeology Publisher, Routledge 2003 )
Stocks experimented with copper tools that the ancients used.
A copper tube can be fixed to the tip of the shaft. This
transforms the rotating shaft into a drill. Stocks found that the
bow drill relied on the quartzite in sand to do the actual cutting.
It was found that this tubular copper drill was able to cut at a
ratio of three to one (i.e., one inch in depth of stone cut would
wear out three inches of copper tube). As the drill increased in
size, so the dimensions of bow had to increase accordingly. However,
there must come a point when the bow becomes ineffective and
difficult to hold.
The reader is probably wondering what bow drills have got to do with
building the pyramids. Please stay with me and hopefully all will
become clear. So, the
Egyptians possessed this early drilling machine. However, was
anything written in the ancient texts that is pertinent to this
The Djed - Introduction
It is in man’s nature to show off the symbols of his
power and the means by which the power is achieved. For example, the
symbols of a gun or a hammer and sickle on a flag represent man’s
struggle towards progress.
If you were to show an image of a gun to our ancestors,
I suspect that he would have no idea what its real function was. Our
ancestors could interpret it as some type of cart or chariot. Have
the Egyptians left clues in the hieroglyphic symbols that we just
cannot see? I carefully observed and researched the pharaoh’s temple
and burial chambers. Could the answers lie there?
The photos below show funerary furniture depicting the Djed, ankh,
sceptre and Tyet symbols from the tomb of Tutankhamen, now exhibited
at the Cairo museum.
At this time, I had no idea what the symbols meant, so
I used the Internet to research the specific meaning of each symbol.
The ankh “looped cross” is said by scholars to represent the breath
of life, but its true meaning remains a mystery to Egyptologists.
Some have speculated that it represents a stylized womb. Sir Alan
Gardiner (Egyptian Grammar Oxford University Press June 1957)
speculated that it represents a sandal strap, with the loop going
around the ankle. However, no single hypothesis has yet been widely
accepted. The ‘Was’ or sceptre pictured either side of the ankh was
carried by deities as a sign of their power. It is also depicted
being carried by kings and later by people of lesser stature in
mortuary scenes. Notwithstanding this, no real explanation has been
given of its original function.
Regarding the tyet or tiet symbol, its exact origin is
unknown. In many respects, it resembles an ankh except that its arms
curve down. Its meaning is also reminiscent of the ankh; it is often
translated to mean welfare or life. As early as the Third Dynasty,
the tiet is used as decoration when it appears with the djed column,
and later with the ‘was’ scepter. The tiet is associated with Isis
and is often called "the knot of Isis" or "the blood of Isis." It
seems to be called "the knot of Isis" because it resembles a knot
used to secure garments that the gods wore. Thus, once again there
are no real answers regarding the original form or function.
Lastly, the question arises concerning the djed symbol
right, and pictured left and next to the tyet, ‘What could it
possibly represent, and why is it next to the tyet?’ Why do both
symbols sit on quarter round shaped bowls? The djed is one of the
most recognizable symbols of ancient Egypt. I decided to concentrate
my initial analysis there.
Left: 18th Dynasty ankh from the reign of
Amenhotep II made of Wood
Right: Ankh with Dejed and Scepter
Left: Djed Pillar showing the rings of a papyrus column
Right: A Tyet Knot from the Tomb of Tutankhamun.
The Egyptian pharaohs carried a talisman called a Djed, which
represented power and stability. As I mentioned it is the most
recognizable symbol of ancient Egypt.
It is often depicted standing
on a square base. Some show the pillar portrayed with human arms
holding the ankh and a flail. Some scholars have suggested that the djed represents fertility or the more widely accepted view is that
the djed represents strength and stability.
The ceremony of "Raising the Dejed"
The djed was a popular amulet and all of its meanings are
represented in (Laurie Schneider Adams, Jacques Szaluta
Psychoanalysis and the Humanities Psychology Press UK 1996). The
ceremony of ‘Raising the Djed’ (pictured above) was an important
Egyptian festival. The Djed was considered necessary to help
transform human flesh into the spiritual form assumed by the
deceased in eternity. In order to protect and transform the flesh
into the spiritual form, a pyramid is needed.
The question then
arises ‘How can the djed protect and transform?’
I studied the picture of the djed (above) for about three hours. I
asked myself ‘Could the crook fit over the small protrusion at the
top of the djed?’ This idea led me to imagine the column in three
dimensions, like some type of round post.
The four cross bars would now look like spools. Then, so to
speak, the penny dropped! I view the Djed as a capstan, a tall
capstan with three roped spools, two for power and one for rewinding
the ropes. It would be similar to a winch or windlass but would have
the ability to act as a primitive slip clutch. To operate a
conventional capstan, capstan bars or long poles are inserted in
holes over the wasp or waisted drum. Sailors would rotate the
mechanism by walking around the capstan pushing on the levers. A
rope wrapped tightly around the centre of the capstan would draw the
ship to the dockside or pull huge loads onboard. A capstan would
provide the necessary sustained torque to haul up the anchor. Thus,
the spools replaced the levers. Rotating the capstan or djed is now
dependent on the amount of men pulling on the spooled ropes rather
than the number of men walking around the mechanism. Cheop’s solar
boat was buried next to the great pyramid. It was discovered after
the Second World War. Egyptian life revolved around the sea and the
Nile River. The use of ropes and rigging would be second nature to
the inhabitants. The Djed represents an adaptation of well known and
commonly used technology.
I decided to build a model of the Djed. The dimensions and
precise shape of the Djed were taken from my imagination. If I was
to be taken seriously, the model would have to work. I visited my
local wood supplier and purchased a newel post, a length of wood
found at the top or bottom of a staircase that held the hand rails
in position. The newel post was the size I required for what I
envisaged, the construction of a quarter scale model. Three spools
were fashioned out of a sheet of MDF fibreboard. I then attached
sash ropes to the top and bottom spools and wound them in a
clockwise direction, and wound the centre spool rope in an
The flared base of the Djed was constructed from 2 mm plywood and
several tins of car body filler. To rotate the mechanism one would
need some type of pivot or bearing underneath the flared base. This
was made from a mold, I used a cereal bowl and, once again, copious
quantities of car body filler.
The pivot base was made from gypsum plaster. To make this, I
fashioned a box roughly 6 inches high and 12 inches square. I then
poured in the plaster and set in the wet plaster a reverse mold of
the Djed base.
The inverted Djed column (pictured left) resembles the stone
columns at Karnack Temple.
Could the mysterious shaped columns at Karnack represent other parts
of the machine? A questionable point but certainly a question worthy
of further investigation.
I tested the Djed model which was able to pull 120 pounds up a 10
degree slope. The two pullers required very little effort to raise
the bricks. The first photograph shows the Djed balanced by the hand
the second person rewinds the mechanism by walking backwards. The
third person tightens the tow rope against the
base of the Djed. In the second photograph, the Djed is at the start
of its first rotation. As the workers pull the ropes, the sledge
laden with bricks ascends.
The djed, therefore, represents a simple vertical rotating second
class lever, made of wood revolving in a stone pivot, similar to the
bow drill but obviously on a much larger scale. The djed probably
started life as a very large drill. It was stated earlier that
as the drill increased in size so too did the bow. The circumference
of the drill shaft and the length of the bow string limited the
number of rotations it could turn. To increase the number of
rotations acting on the drill bit, the bow would be removed and
separate roped spools added (see diagram below). This act of
separating the ropes also protects them from the effects of abrading
each other, as noted earlier. The number of rotations is now
dependent on the length of the rope wrapped around the drill shaft.
Increasing the length of the rope also increases the circumference
of the spool when it is fully rewound. In my experiments this had a
variable gearing effect with a ratio of approximately 4 to 1;
producing torsion and rotation about an axis, or in layman’s terms
torque. These ropes will now be referred to as power ropes. It is
uncontroversial for us to accept that the Egyptians had the means
and the know how to rotate a shaft. Coincidentally, the top view of
the djed pictured below is similar to the hieroglyph Ra.
To convert this rotating shaft into a winch would only need a
second rope (known as a tow rope) to be wrapped tightly around the
base of the revolving shaft. Control of the tow rope would be
essential. If the shaft was unaltered, that is if it remained
straight in profile, the ability to predict the ropes course up and
down the shaft whilst being drawn in on the tow would be unknown. If
the tow rope traveled too far up the shaft the weight of the stone
acting on the rotating lever would be too great and ultimately it
would be pulled from its bearing; if it traveled too far down, it
would be entangled against the base pivot stone and the shaft.
Again, this would be most undesirable.
Control was regained by adding the flared base. As with a modern
winch, this flared base kept the rope at a constant height. With the
tow rope at a constant height, the pressure needed to keep the shaft
in a vertical position would decrease and be easier to control. In
summary, the djed is a vertical static winch that draws a line
towards itself. It is said that a picture can speak a thousand
words. In the above illustration, the Djed is in the bottom left and
sits in what has been described by historians as altar stones. It
can be added that at this point in my research I had no precise idea
where the djed was positioned on the pyramid step. I did realize,
however, that the crook was a tool that kept the djed in balance. I
also wondered whether there were any other symbols that could have
been used as tools. In my mind’s eye, I could see the djed
positioned at varying heights along the horizontal step. Perhaps the
position of the alter stone was the ‘base’ described by Herodotus.
It is submitted that the ancient Egyptians balanced the Djed with a
crook on the level above the base. This upper level can be described
as rows. The only problem with the theory of a static winch is that
the line or load to be lifted would be drawn up a single ramp
towards the djed. This necessitates the need for
a second djed winch to operate in the opposite direction and thus
requires a second ramp. This raises the question ’What did the
ancient Egyptians construct the ramps with?’ It is submitted that
the answer is relatively straightforward and obvious. The Egyptians
used stone in all kinds of elaborate ways they cut statues and
obelisks directly from the bedrock. So the natural progression for a
race of people with this ability would be to use stone for building
a ramp. Why import sand and rubble when it was possible to use the
natural talents of the mason, thereby saving time and effort.
The stones pictured at the Sun Temple of
possibly removable pivot or altar stones.
If there were many machines, they would have required many pivot
stones. It is my belief that the stones pictured in the photograph
(above) at the Sun Temple of Niuserre were removable pivot or altar
stones. The small holes surrounding the ratchet mechanism were
probably for lubrication. The Djed column would have rested in this
stone. A hole drilled into the stone can clearly be seen on
observation of the left hand side of the first stone in the picture.
A rope placed through this hole would have given the mechanism the
ability to be pulled to any location.
Further investigation has confirmed that all of the pivot stones at
Abusir, of which nine are visible, all have a similar large hole.
The djed winch has been described as the backbone of Osiris. If the
djed winch sat in the above pivots, would it not have been prudent
for the ancient Egyptians to store them in the “Place of Osiris”?
The base of the Djed would need to have had some type of break. The
picture (at right) shows a simple form of break ratchet.
This would have allowed the mechanism to revolve freely one way
but not the other. This ratchet acted on the round protrusions
carved onto the perimeter of the pivot stone. If the rising stone
started to slip backwards down the ramp, the djed would have tipped
and the breaking mechanism would have automatically stopped the
stone. A controlled descent of the stone could have then been
achieved by releasing tension on the tow rope.
View Flash demo of the operation of the Djed:
E-Book "Raising the Djed" by Steven Tasker proposes possible
answers to these questions:
- What did the ancient Egyptians construct the ramps with?
- What was the purpose of the Ankh?
- How the ramps were used?
- Why the sides of the Great Pyramid are concave?
- What was the purpose of the "air shafts" and shafts' "doors"?
- Role of the Anti-Room, King's Chamber and the Grand Gallery
Raising the Djed
(an e-book in PDF format)
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