How were megaliths moved?

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  • #26
Evo
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Many of the myths around the moving of large megaliths involve "music" or "maya" or some kind of energy.
Never heard of it. Can you post links to some of these ancient myths from a valid historical source?
 
  • #27
Mech_Engineer
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Are there not numerous cases of abadoned fractured megaliths along the known routes of transport and in the quarries for these stones? I would hazard that the quality and type of stone used would play a significant role if this technique was applied.

I think this is the most important thing to keep in mind. Some of the stones WERE too big to be moved (mainly due to structural integrity issues), and that's why they are still in the quarry.
 
  • #28
Ivan Seeking
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I really don't like the direction this is going.

I do know that there are ancient myths about moving stones with sound or music. For example, it is said that the walls of Jericho succumb to the sound of a trumpet and a war cry.

Since the notion of moving stones with sound could be formally evaluated, this is not a discussion that we want to have without a relevant, formal paper, to reference. Suffice it to say that at best, the intensity of the sound required would seem to be prohibitive.

It is not appropriate to introduce pseudoscientific concepts like "magical energy".
 
  • #29
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Your asking me for valid historical sources of a myth?? Its just a myth. Specifically it was the native Easter Islander's who had this story about the "Maya"
Magical energy would only be magic, if you didn't really understand the source of the energy.

I do not really understand how a formal paper could ever get written about such a concept, when the subject will not even be discussed because no formal paper has yet been written about it.

Seems to explain to me why we still do not really know how they did it.
 
  • #30
Ivan Seeking
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Your asking me for valid historical sources of a myth?? Its just a myth.

We still need sources for context. Otherwise anyone could claim whatever they wanted.

Specifically it was the native Easter Islander's who had this story about the "Maya"
Magical energy would only be magic, if you didn't really understand the source of the energy.

We still need a source. Your point about interpretations of myths is valid.

I do not really understand how a formal paper could ever get written about such a concept, when the subject will not even be discussed because no formal paper has yet been written about it.

Well, certainly not in regards to the original claim, but perhaps there is existing work in other areas that could be applied here, if one wanted to get serious, which I think is a waste of time.

Seems to explain to me why we still do not really know how they did it.

If you can posit a reasonable hypothesis for how this might be done, we have the Independent research forum.
https://www.physicsforums.com/forumdisplay.php?f=146
However, talk is cheap. This would require rigorous calculations, or proof of concept.
 
  • #31
Evo
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Your asking me for valid historical sources of a myth?? Its just a myth. Specifically it was the native Easter Islander's who had this story about the "Maya"
Odd, nothing is actually known of how the Easter Islanders moved the stones. Please post that link for me. Thanks.
 
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  • #32
CRGreathouse
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However, talk is cheap. This would require rigorous calculations, or proof of concept.

I'd sooner expect to see a back-of-the-envelope calculation showing that it couldn't be done for sufficiently large monoliths, where "sufficiently large" is small to rule out most monoliths of interest.
 
  • #33
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I just made a suggestion. Vibrating the stones would reduce friction, like a cellphone vibrating on a table. It just seems like a rather simple way to assist in moving large heavy objects. Is the suggestion of something, as of yet untested, that hard to swallow. It is a wonder how any new idea ever comes to light in such a system.

I bet Galileo heard, " Its a waste of time " more than once on his way to the top of the leaning tower.

I understand how there is much cracked pottery around, but I feel like I am up against someone acting as judge, jury and executioner. That isn't the kind of scientist I am.
I agree that talk is cheap. However, just because I made the suggestion I should not be delegated the sole responsibility of proving the suggestion. Your the physicists, you do the math.
 
  • #34
mgb_phys
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Vibrating the stones would reduce friction
Not really in this case. Vibrating the surface reduces static friction, it prevents the surface forming bonds, but that's more applicable in very smooth surfaces of the same material in close contact.
Your cell phone doesn't move because of the reduced friction - it's just the energy of the vibration motor.

Sorry about the reaction but 'vibrations' used in a non-technical way normally signals that words like 'crystals' and 'energies' are following - especially when things like moving stones are concerned.

Generally moving the stones isn't really much of a mystery, a lot of the sizes/masses are over estimated/exaggerated in popular accounts. The difficulty also assumes modern levels of control and safety margins. People today are also so used to wheels that they don't have a feel for how easy it is to drag a heavy mass on a lubricated smooth surface.
The techniques for positioning the slabs in their final place in a structure were undoubtably clever but persuading a lot of people to drag a rock for a few weeks weren't
 
  • #35
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My Napkin so far.

Grossly underestimated dimensions of monolith based on human figures in photos.
20m x 4m x 4m =
Found this online:
My 1967 edition of Baumeister and Marks "Standard Handbook for Mechanical Engineers" lists average density (Lb per cu ft) values ranging from 82 for Sandstone to 107 for Greenstone, Hornblend. Other values given are 95 for Limestone, Marble, Quartz and 96 for Basalt, Granite, Gneiss.
And this:
82 pound/cubic foot = 1.313 513 991 1 tonne/cubic meter = 420 metric tonnes or 462 tons
95 pound/cubic foot = 1.521 754 014 1 tonne/cubic meter = 487 metric tonnes or 536 tons

So a rough estimate of the minimum weight of the rock is 462 tons. Heavier than two locomotives.

in rock, sound can travel anywhere from 4800 to 9200 m/s, so a rough estimate gives
So in the horizontal the travel distance for a wave in the rock would be 4m, @ 4800m/s gives a fundamental 1200 Hz standing wave frequency up to 2300 Hz for 9200m/s

As to how much energy you could put in, where it would come from, wether it would decrease static and kinetic coeficient of friction and wether it would destroy the rock, I do not know how to estimate that.
 
  • #36
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How come I can't find the Tibetan sound stone levitation on YouTube? According to the following website, the film was to be released by 1990.

Reference: http://www.crystalinks.com/levitationtibet.html

By the way, to not bump the other thread about superhuman strength, I here briefly mention that the references for my storys there was not to remember other than old paper magazines, TV and daily news paper sources back then last century, except for the frensh fingerjumper that I'm almost sure was of a translated Readers Digest (already then old, probably from fifties or sixties). The cliffjumper and windowwasher is findable on internet.
 
  • #37
Ivan Seeking
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As to how much energy you could put in, where it would come from, wether it would decrease static and kinetic coeficient of friction and wether it would destroy the rock, I do not know how to estimate that.

That is why, as I pointed out, any rigorous derivation relating to such a claim would require a professional reference. Even if it could be shown that such a thing is possible [not saying it is] it would not be a trivial calculation. Most any trivial approach to the problem suggests that the claim is ludicrous.
 
  • #38
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Some kind of sonic vibration to move a 500 ton stone?
I don't buy it.
Unless, of course, it's the vibration of 500 slaves moving that stone. Very common in that day, you know.
 
  • #39
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Some kind of sonic vibration to move a 500 ton stone?
I don't buy it.
Unless, of course, it's the vibration of 500 slaves moving that stone. Very common in that day, you know.

There is no evidence that the inhabitants of Easter island or the Egyptians used slaves. They had a large work force consisting of free laborers, mainly farmers, during the lapse between harvest and the next planting.
Egyptians and Easter islanders, knew that friction could be reduced by putting the stones (or statues) over sleds made with tree trunks. This is likely the reason why the natives exterminated all trees in the island (see Jared Diamond's "Collapse").
 
  • #40
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There is no evidence that the inhabitants of Easter island or the Egyptians used slaves. They had a large work force consisting of free laborers, mainly farmers, during the lapse between harvest and the next planting.
Egyptians and Easter islanders, knew that friction could be reduced by putting the stones (or statues) over sleds made with tree trunks. This is likely the reason why the natives exterminated all trees in the island (see Jared Diamond's "Collapse").

Would it not still require massive slave labor to do this?
 
  • #41
mgb_phys
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Would it not still require massive slave labor to do this?
Massive non-slave labor is easier.
Egypt didn't (largely) use slaves for the pyramids and definitely didn't for the later valley of the kings tombs.
 
  • #42
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Would it not still require massive slave labor to do this?

Slaves mean defeated in war. Easter island had not enough inhabitants to justify wars between different communities and was too far away from other populated island to encourage war against foreigners.
So, probably no slaves.
 
  • #43
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  • #44
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here is a quote from a will hart article regarding the use of manpower to move large stones:

In fact, Lehner set up an experiment to see if it was possible to quarry, move and lift an obelisk weighing one-tenth of what the largest Egyptian obelisks weighed. It was filmed by NOVA and was an utter failure. The team's master stonemason could not quarry the 35-ton obelisk so a bulldozer was called in. They could not move it, a truck was called in. These failures represent a turning a point in the long-standing debate. Lehner actually confirmed what a Japanese team funded by Nissan had already learned in 1979, it is not possible to duplicate what the ancients did using primitive tools and methods.

Team Nissan was trying to prove something and they were very confident. But when they could not begin to excavate the blocks of stone they planned on using for their small scale-model of the Great Pyramid with ancient tools they turned to jackhammers. When they tried to ferry the blocks they quarried across the river on a primitive barge, the stones sank. When a boat got them across the river they discovered that the sledges sank in the sand. They called trucks in to move the blocks to the site. Once at the site they could not manipulate the blocks into place and found, to their ultimate embarrassment, that they could not bring the four walls together into an apex despite the deployment of helicopters.
 
  • #45
Evo
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There are a number of successful experiments proving that megaliths could be cut moved and oplaced using relatively small groups of people and rather quickly.

Here is one such successful experiment done on Easter Island.

The second experiment resulted in two quite successful pulls, one of 40 m and another of 70 m. Pulls were limited only by the available rail material laid out on the ground in the direction of travel and/or by rock outcroppings that impeded movement. Between pulls, the rails were repositioned. Coefficient of friction was established at 0.2, which surprised us with its low value, and about half that once sliding commenced. Sliding was greatly enhanced by lubricity of the de-barked eucalyptus.

The third experiment was conducted with the statue face down, base first on the same transport sledge. To support the head and neck, the statue was raised slightly by placing a “triple stack” of lashed logs laterally across the sledge and lashed in place at the statue’s upper torso level (Figs. 4, 5). The slight concavity in the upper torso of the moai was located at exactly the required point and the statue quite naturally accepted this lateral beam. The statue was then pulled 50 m, 30 of which were along a road-path and 20m up an 8% grade ramp to the replica platform where it was to be erected. No rollers were used on the ramp. Instead, individual “rungs” of a “canoe ladder” were spaced up the ramp then lubricated with water/banana stump liquid. The 20 m distance was covered in an astonishing 15 seconds. The statue was then positioned for the raising experiment that followed.

People, Food and Work
Computer modeling suggested that 55-70 people (or 48 average) were required to pull the average statue of 12 m tons over Path 1, and that their collective food requirement would have totaled 201,600 calories per day from agricultural staples such as sweet potatoes and bananas. Our experiment demonstrated that 40 people were fully capable of pulling a 10 m ton statue.

It is estimated that 65% of males and females between the ages of 10 and 65 are available for the average extended family “work force” in contemporary Polynesia. Our hypothesis was that males performed the actual work, while females and children provided support. In fact, however, during the experiment women made up the larger part of the pull crews, while males only were allowed by the Rapa Nui crew chiefs to perform the heavy and far more dangerous tasks of levering in proximity to the statue. The pull crews generated a great deal of excitement, camaraderie and shared purpose during the transport experiment, and this sort of community participation was certainly required and valued in prehistory, part of the euphoria of the statue cult experience.

The wood sledge served as an efficient gantry on which the pukao was neatly balanced and against which workmen levered without damaging the statue. Only 20 expert individuals were required to erect the statue over 3 days. Just as a master carver and apprentice were preferable to a large gang of workmen in the quarry, large crowds of willing workers were neither necessary nor safe while erecting a moai on image ahu. Substantial unskilled labor was required to collect, transport, stack, move and restack large rocks used during raising.

It is fair to say that our manpower estimate remains viable, with an optimum actual task involvement of 55-70 people. Our hypothesis that 5 m of ground would be covered with each discrete pull was low, and a total of 5-7 days for moving the average statue some 15 km over Path 1 is reasonable. The estimated size of the average Rapa Nui chiefdom thus remains at 8.7 extended families or 395 to 435 people. The estimated resources of approximately 50 acres of agricultural crops were required to support this effort, or double the extended family norm for East Polynesia, with supplementary marine resources required as per oral traditions.

http://www.eisp.org/544/
 
  • #46
Borek
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Worth of remembering that our current attempts - no matter how educated guesses we did - are probably just a good starting point for fine tuning, which will increase the efficiency. And our ancestors were probably much better at fine tuning with whatever lied around than we are - just a matter of personal experience.
 
  • #47
turbo
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Worth of remembering that our current attempts - no matter how educated guesses we did - are probably just a good starting point for fine tuning, which will increase the efficiency. And our ancestors were probably much better at fine tuning with whatever lied around than we are - just a matter of personal experience.
A very good point, and you don't have to go back all that far to see the evidence of that. When I was a kid, our nearest neighbor was a cabinet-maker/carpenter. He had no power in his shop, and did everything with hand-tools. If you saw some of the stuff that he made, you'd wonder how he pulled off some of it. He didn't have treadle-powered saws, lathes, drills, etc, like you see on the Yankee Workshop show. Just really simple stuff like planes, drawshaves, hand-saws, brace and bits. He had oil-stones to sharpen his tools, and a water-cooled treadle-powered rotating stone for coarse sharpening jobs, like axes.

His oldest son became a carpenter, too, but his Skil-Saws, electric drills, etc were un-welcome in the old guy's shop. He always said he'd rather take a few extra hours to build something so he wouldn't have to listen to all that racket.
 

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