Making Egyptian Drill Holes: Lost Ancient High Technology

Making Egyptian Drill Holes: Lost Ancient High Technology

– Hello, Nikolay. – Hello. – You know, Nikolay, I’m full of grief. It often happens that on various
Internet forums and social networks I have to communicate with people
who do argue that ancient Egyptians had zero skills. Though all of us read about them
in schoolbooks and watched some films. In other words, ancient Egyptians allegedly
didn’t have tools and technologies necessary to create all those things which are shown to tourists
in Egypt nowadays. For even guides in the Museum
of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo say they don’t know how such impressive bores in granite
could be made. As far as I understand,
you do know how such bores can be made. And in your experiments you have proved that this can be done with tools which ancient Egyptians had at hand. That is, with an ordinary copper tube. Am I right? – Yes, sure. – But how? With a copper tube? – With a copper tube. – But copper is softer than granite. – It is softer. But it does not drill granite. – And what does? – Abrasive mineral. – Like, ordinary sand? – Yes, quartz sand which can be found
at a riverbank or somewhere else. Beside sand, they also used corundite or emery rock for this purpose. They knew how to mine and use it.
Corundite was even identified inside one of granite samples,
that is, in a bore. Also, today we know deposits
where Egyptians could mine it. – And is this tool made by you? – Yes. – Why is it shaped like that? Let’s look at its structure… I see this copper tube. – Yes, the copper tube
is the main component here. And the handle
is carved out of a sapling which I’ve chopped
in the nearest grove. I had no time
to look for something better. It is curved, but still it works. – And what is this? – It is a balance weight. Thus, if there is some obstacle
in the stone or something jams the balance weight helps
to grind this obstacle and works effectively. – What is it made of? – This time I’ve cast it of plaster. But it is also can be made of stone. The simplest balance weights
which we can see in Egyptian frescoes
are made of several separate weights. These may be either stones
or sacks with sand, for instance. Egyptians simply secured
those weights with ropes. It also works well I’ve tried this method and shared photos… So, in general,
everything here is authentic. – Just like in ancient times. So, you claim that we can drill a bore in a piece of granite using this stuff? – For sure. – Well then, let’s start our experiment. First, we have to secure
the piece of granite, because it is rather small. It’s not a granite slab
which could be just laid down and drilled. That’s why we have to hold it in place
somehow to prevent its displacement This cobblestone is rather small,
and the first question people ask is how can we drill a bore
in an uneven surface? What do we have to start with? But the method is as old as the hills. This plank will help us
to hold the drill bit, that is, the tube in place
and prevent its moving aside. Now we shall fix it and press down. After this we can drill without worrying
about of slipping or displacing our tool. Well, I think we may start. – So, we won’t use a laser? – A laser? I’m not sure… It’s hard to guess,
where it can be mounted here. Now I put some plasticine under the plank to prevent abrasive from leaking out. Clay would be
a more true choice in this case, but I had no time to look for it. Sometimes, we can see
that Egyptians gouged out a small pit in stone and then drilled in that point. And they didn’t use plasticine
or something because the pit itself held the drill bit and sand. Here, let’s make it like that… Let’s press it… Remove excessive plasticine and fix the plank with F-clamps. – These are not ancient Egyptian F-clamps. – Well, if we had a larger stone,
I would have taken a longer plank, laid it onto the stone,
and called somebody with ancient Egyptian feet
to stand on it… …to press and fix it. The drill bit eats into
the first millimeters faster, so, fefteen minutes is enough
to make a groove out of which the drill bit won’t jump. – And we won’t need the plank. – No, we won’t. But still we will
leave it in its place, just because here we have a groove and abrasive
is not leaking out of it. So, this is just more convenient. Also, I’ll make a plasticine bead,
a kind of a tray… …здесь у нас, куда мы будем засыпать абразив. – Everything is thought out. – If we had a larger stone, we would have piled sand into a cone shape
without any bead around it and poured water just right there. But here we shall make a bead
just like this and then fill it with water
just to make our task easier. Of course, we can pour water from above. But if we have a bucket – let’s use it. – Probably, we will do that. – Handymen. – Smartly done. – We need a laser. – It would be easier with a laser.
– Yes. Well, let’s pour sand right here. In fact, it is black carbolite with various admixtures. I think that natural corundite
would work better. Let’s put it here… and pour some water. – I hope the water is from the Nile? – Surely. It’s from my weekend house,
from a cask. There are even some gnatworms. So, everything is done right. – Indeed, the whole secret
is in gnatworms. – Right you are, they gnaw granite out. – Gnaw out, yeah. Now, let’s proceed
to the most interesting part. – Yes. – Show us your best stuff! – Let’s start. – Let’s position it into the place… Done. Speed up now. – Alex, the water is leaking out
too fast. Let’s stop. The water is leaking out. – Why? – Там I guess there is a leak
in plasticine under the plank. – Let’s look at it.
– See, I’m pouring water and it’s leaking out. – Well, let’s then open it
and have a look. – Let’s see, what we’ve got. About forty minutes of drilling. They couldn’t do that! Now I want to say a few words
about what we are doing all this for. For what purpose we are blistering
our palms for two days and sweating over
some strange experiment. The thing is that in recent years
a certain numerous people appeared in the Russian Internet
who pull the wool over others’ eyes in blogs and social networks. They argue that historians
allegedly fool us, that the history is all faked-up,
and that everything has been not in the way in which
it is said in schoolbooks. In particular, they argue
that the ancients were unskilled butterfingers,
nearly ‘talking monkeys’ who couldn’t make anything themselves. According to them, the truth is different,
and all great monuments in both Americas, Egypt, China,
and so on were created by aliens, Atlanteans, or some other
mysterious civilizations. Besides, people of this sort
are rather aggressive. They don’t read, don’t know, and don’t want to know anything. With this background they naturally
sell fictions to the audience. They show some impressive pictures,
tell some wondrous stories… But in my opinion all this
leads to destruction of the Russian education and science. So, when we (and me between others) first attempted to popularize science,
we found out that if something was written
in popular articles or even said in stand-ups,
it anyway failed to convince people. That is, people need some action, some material evidence
to see with their own eyes. Thus, we decided to shoot
a series of videos of practical experiments
in order to show these ancient technologies in process and prove that ancient people
could perform rather complicated technical tasks using such simple, even primitive tools, and there are enough archaeological evidence widely known. I often get messages like this:
“You are armchair scholars. In theory everything looks fine, but let’s see
what you can make in practice.” Here you are! We make this,
and you see the results. One of the frequently asked questions is “How it is possible to drill
overlapping bores?” It seems impossible.
If one bore is already drilled, the other one supposedly will be displaced, because the drill bit will creep away. In practice, there is nothing difficult. The method is known since Adam was a boy… … First, we put a template onto the point where
a bore shall be drilled. We drill a bore, then shift the template and drill another bore. And that’s the secret. In such a way we can drill as many bores as we need. Then we can beat out drill cores and get a bigger cavity
of some complex shape. We have drilled through about 48 mm, that is, we are slightly ahead of schedule… …and are worn out. – Close to that. – Thus, ancient Egyptians needed rest. So, Nikolay, let’s finish and see the result. So, what do we have here? Fifty millimeters. Forty nine point eight,
to be more specific. Good, but there should be
fifty millimeters exactly. Now, the most critical moment: we have to draw out the core
without damaging it. But it’s an easy task.
– With a small chisel. – Yes, we work with a chisel
in this way. – Wow! Just two knocks. – Just workmanship. – Great! We sat down to take a rest and discuss the fruit
of our righteous labor. Well, the fruit looks like that. First, we shall notice that it slightly broadens to the bottom. When discussing such granite cores
from ancient Egypt, it is widely stated that they broaden or, alternatively,
narrow to the bottom and that it is impossible
to get this shape using the method which
we have used a moment ago. It is stated than some high-tech tool
is needed for this purpose. – And why it is shaped like that? – Because the drill bit
is wobbling during drilling. And at the top it is wobbling heavier
because at the bottom it is thrusting… …against the material.
– Wobbling means traveling like that? – Yes, it is travelling and, thus,
grinding more granite at the top. That’s why the bore is V-shaped
in the cross-section. And this is our counter-argument to the frequent statement
that ancient Egyptians could not make things like that. In practice, there is nothing difficult. In this sample it is clearly seen that the core matches
its bore hole perfectly. And it is clearly seen that the
bore is broader at the top than at the bottom. Well, I hope the question is resolved. But I anticipate one more question – about sharpness of the cutting edge. Here is this cutting edge. – Yes, it is argued that
if one tries to drill granite with a copper tube,
it will go blunt very soon. But here we see quite the opposite
thing – can you show this? – Yes, the tube does not go blunt
but becomes sharper. – In other words, our drill bit is self-sharpening.
– Yes, it is a self-sharpening drill bit. I’m not sure if it is visible here,
but the wall thickness has decreased. When we measured it before start, it was one point eight millimeters. Let’s measure it once more. One point six. – So, it turns out that the tube
has become sharper. – Yes, one point six millimeters. That is, two-tenths of a millimeter
have gone at this depth. If we drilled deeper and the balance weight were lighter, the tube would become even sharper,
almost as sharp as a knife blade. In the Internet one can find pictures where a needle is stuck into
the cut left after tubular drilling. We also can stick a needle into our cut and get almost the same picture. – A certain narrowing. – Yes, the same narrowing is here. It is a little bit thinner
than in our samples, but… Here… and the same is here. Just the same narrowing to the bottom. – And here are those much spoken-about grooves. It is argued that grooves on ancient cores have a helical pitch of exactly two millimeters and that it means that the tool shall cut two millimeters with each revolution. – Well, first let’s see
what do we have here – two millimeters or not…
Let’s do it this way. If the grooves are more visible now? Put the ruler here and measure the pitch. – It varies. In one point I see fewer that two millimeters,
in other points it is only one millimeter. Actually, the pitch varies pretty much. – Naturally. In the same way it varies in Egypt. In cross-section, bores
can be either widening or narrowing to the bottom. At first, I experimented with
a drill bit with a longitudinal split. That is, I took a copper sheet, wrapped it around a metal tube
and fixed with hose clamps. There was a longitudinal split here. The major advantage of this split was
that it let the abrasive inside. May be that was why the grooves were more regular that time. In other words,
if a drill bit has a split, then it will unbend itself
during drilling because of its own wobbling
which is clearly seen in the video. The tube unbends itself gradually, and the bore becomes
bell-shaped in cross-section. Thus, if we drill with a split tube, then the bore will broaden to the bottom. But if we drill with
an unsplit tube like this one… – Then vice-versa. – Yes, the bore will narrow to the bottom. Because the tube will not unbend itself. One can measure the bore from inside
and see that it really narrows. – That’s all, I guess.
– Yes.

Danny Hutson

4 thoughts on “Making Egyptian Drill Holes: Lost Ancient High Technology

  1. The experimentalist Nikolay Vasiutin copies the ancient Egyptian technology of granite drilling: a copper tube and a grinding agent (corundum).
    Becom a patron:

  2. You definitely need two voices for such videos, with only one it's a bit uncomfortable to listen
    Very cool video anyway, thanks!

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