Joseph Davidovits

French materials scientist who invented geopolymers

Joseph Davidovits (born 23 March 1935) is a French materials scientist known for the invention of geopolymer chemistry. He posited that the majority of structural blocks of the Great Pyramid of Giza are not carved stone but a form of limestone geopolymer concrete or man-made stone. He holds the Ordre national du Mérite.



The Pyramids: an Enigma Solved (1988)

  • The science that made the pyramids possible was chemistry, or, more precisely... alchemy. ...[T]he legendary Philosopher's Stone represents the last misinterpreted vestiges of the alchemical science that flourished during the Pyramid Age ...Technically alchemy encompasses historical chemical developments. ...There were great alchemical achievements during antiquity.
  • Temperatures can be raised with energy released during exothermic... reactions. Copper and lead are commonly located in close proximity... A mixture of ...malechite ...and ...galena ...heated to only to 700 °C ...automatically reaches a temperature, through a heat producing chemical reaction, that is close to that for extracting copper. The addition of a flux, which in Egypt was a native salt called natron (sodium carbonate), lowered the fusion point sufficiently for copper extraction. Silver can be smelted similarly.
  • Egyptian alchemists developed vibrant blue enamel... a by-product of copper smelting. ...[A]n experimenter mixed a powder of chrysocolla with natron and applied a flame. The... hard, glossy blue enamel... was ...applied to beads and pebbles.
  • The ancient Egyptians are well known for using minerals such as chrysocolla and lapis lazuli to produce enamels... They had a word for such products, ari-kat, meaning man-made or synthetic. ...[T]he highest spiritual influence was attributed to stone. ...carnelian and other red stones represented the blood of Isis ...Lapis lazuli was associated with daybreak. Chrysocolla was associated with ...the "First Time" event of Creation. ...[M]inerals and rocks had divine properties in a world where all of nature was revered.
  • All available stones... possessed sacred, eternal qualities. ...[A]ll living things perish ...the imposing rocks and cliffs stood eternally. ...[S]tone was symbolic of the eternal realm. ...[S]tone materials were devoted exclusively to religious monuments and sacred funerary paraphernalia. ...intended to survive for eternity.
  • When the Egyptian alchemists developed glassmaking during the New Kingdom, it was to carry on the old religious tradition of making synthetic stones.
  • [T]he priests of Khnum had long been adept at the art of making extraordinary cements. Cement found in... the Great Pyramid... is still in good condition. This ancient mortar is far superior to cements used in construction today. The modern portland cement used to repair ancient Egyptian monuments has cracked and degraded...
  • [T]he pyramid blocks are not natural stone; the blocks are actually exceptionally high-quality limestone concrete—synthetic stone—cast directly in place. The blocks consist of... ninety to ninety-five percent limestone rubble and five to ten percent cement. ...imitations of natural limestone, made in the age-old tradition of alchemical stonemaking. No stone cutting or heavy hauling was ever required...
  • I am a research scientist specializing in low-temperature mineral synthesis. In 1972 I founded the private research company CORDI (Coordination and Development of Innovation), and, in 1979, the Geopolymer Institute, both in France. At the Geopolymer Institute a new branch of chemistry that I named geopolymerization. I currently have more than twenty-five international patents for geopolymeric products and processes. My products are made... by large manufacturers. The products have many diverse applications.
  • Geopolymeric products range from advanced materials to simple, yet highly sophisticated cements. The geopolymeric cements are made with inorganic chemical reactions in which alumina and silica materials are integrated to form synthetic zeolites, secondary rock-forming minerals.
  • There is no way of distinguishing a synthetic zeolite from a natural one.
  • Geopolymers are revolutionary for the concrete industry. Any type of rock aggregate can be used, and concrete made with geopolymeric binder is practically indistinguishable from natural stone. ...This is unprecedented technology; no tremendous heat or pressure is required... Geopolymeric concrete sets rapidly at room temperatures to form synthetic stone, beautiful in appearance and abundant with unprecedented properties.
  • Advanced technology plays no part in the production of geopolymers. ...An individual of the stone age could produce geopolymers... [with] the knowledge that comes from intelligent, repeated observation and experimentation with substances found...
  • [S]uitable ingredients were available in... millions of tons. Mud from the Nile... contains alumina and is well suited for low-temperature mineral synthesis. The natron salt is extraordinarily abundant in the deserts and salt lakes.
  • Nile silt was used for making sun-dried mud bricks and various minerals were used to make enamels. Natron was a sacred product not only used for flux, but also for mummification and deification rites.

Geopolymer Chemistry and Applications (2008)

2nd edition
  • How should we consider geopolymers? ...a new material, a new binder or a new cement for concrete? Geopolymers are all of these. They are new materials for coatings and adhesives, new binders for fiber composites, waste encapsulation and new cement for concrete. The properties and uses are being explored in... inorganic... physical... [and] colloid chemistr[ies], mineralogy, geology, and... engineering process technologies. The ...potential applications... fire resistant materials, decorative stone artifacts, thermal insulation, low-tech building materials, low energy ceramic tiles, refractory items, thermal shock refractories, foundry applications, cements and concretes, composites for infrastructures repair and strengthening, composites for infrastructure repair and strengthening, high-tech composites for aircraft interior and automobile, high-tech resin systems, radioactive and toxic waste containment, arts and decoration... archaeology and history of sciences.
  • [T]he real breakthrough took place when, in 1978-1980, we developed... a metakaolin-based geopolymeric liquid binder comprising soluble alkali-silicate... the first mineral resin ever manufactured. ...The commercial product ...GeopolymiteTM, was a good fire resistant alternative to organic resin.
  • In... 1983, with Joseph Sawyer as head of Lone Star's research laboratory... I started to develop early high-strength geopolymeric binders and cements based on based on both geopolymeric and hydraulic cement chemistries. Within one month Lone Star Industries Inc. formed the development company, PYRAMENT... exclusively dedicated to... this new class of cement. ...It was discovered that the addition of ground blast furnace slag, which is a latent hydraulic cementitious product, to the poly(sialate) type of geopolymer, accelerates the setting time and... improves compressive and flexural strength. The first Davidovits and Sawyer patent was filed in... 1984... The corresponding European patent... in 1985... and these... disclose our preliminary finding...of 1983. Geopolymer cements are acid-resistant cementitious materials with zeolitic properties that can be applied to long-term containment of hazardous and toxic wastes.
  • Major efforts were dedicated to greenhouse CO2 mitigation with the development of low CO2 geopolymer cements. My research... started in 1990 at Penn-State University... The production of 1 tonne of kaolin based-geopolymeric cement generates 0.180 tonnes of CO2, from combustion carbon-fuel, compared with... Portland cement... six times less. Fly ash based-geopolymeric cement... up to nine times less than Portland...
  • Polymer science... form[s]... one of the major areas of materials science. ...Inorganic chemistry concerns basic molecules such as halogens, metals, metalloids, and minerals. ...[M]ost of the raw materials for geopolymer synthesis are rock-forming minerals. ...There are numerous reasons for being interested in mineral polymers, more specifically in geopolymers. One is to get fire and heat properties that cannot be covered by organic materials. Another is the bridge... between polymer science and ceramics.
  • In 1975-1976, when I first presented the concept of mineral polymer, scientists who could not imagine that polymers existed outside... of organic polymers very often fustigated my research and new terminology.
  • [I]n the... early stage of polymer chemistry the question was raised on the ability of Si to generate chains... analogous to the carbon aliphatic compounds. ...Alfred Stock (1912) isolated the Silane compound SiH4, the chemical structure ...equivalent of methane (CH4). ...F. S. Kipping published his results on the preparation of the ...siloxane group (also called siloxo) Si-O-Si ...from the condensation of two silanol groups and formation of water ...The ...reaction yielded mineral polymers known as silicones. ...Very soon after this became evident that the silicone bridge -Si-O-Si- had something in common with the ...structure of quartz (Almeningen et. al., 1963).
    • Ref: "The Molecular Structure of Disiloxane, (SiH3)2O" (1963) A. Almenningen, O. Bastiansen, V. Ewing, Kenneth Hedberg, & M. Trætteberg, Acta Chemica Scandinavica Vol. 17, pp. 2455-2460.

"Building the Pyramids of Egypt with Artificial Stones" (2008)

Video from the Geopolymer Institute YouTube channel and Joseph Davidovits
  • [T]here is one theory that is never taught by Egyptology, but which is obvious. I call it Theorem Number One. The stone has a religious meaning. Stone is used only for tombs, pyramids and temples. Stone is never used for secular constructions, never for palaces, garrison, houses that are made out of wood, clay, brick, never in stone, except during the Greek period... and during the Roman occupation. So never, during the genuine Egyptian civilization, was the use of stone permitted for secular constructions.
  • [A]t the roots of Egyptian civilization we have two geneses. two genitors, two ways of creating man. The oldest is the one of the god Khnum. The youngest is the one of the god Amun. We have two antagonistic religions... and two different technological civilizations that will support these religions.
  • The god Khnum is depicted... on his potter wheel... creating the body of the Pharaoh and his ka and his eternal soul by petrifying, by using clay. ...[H]e kneads humanity and the gods with clay and silt. ...[T]his is the Genesis that we are accustomed to read in the Bible, and it is also the type of Genesis that is depicted in the Quran. ...The ka is the soul in eternal stone.
  • For the god Khnum creation is the divine incarnation in the agglomeration of stone.
  • [W]e discover that for Cheops, for the builder of the most impressive monument of antiquity, its actual name is Knum Kufu: may the god Khnum protect Cheops. ...The pyramids must have been done within the technology associated with Khnum, which is agglomeration.
  • [F]or the god Amun it is different. "A mountain of mud began to rise up from the shadow's waters, the mountain of mud swelled up, casting out bubbles and took the form of the first god Amun. And Amun pulled out (carved) the limbs and all the parts of his body, and these parts of the body of Amum were transformed into men, animals, and all creation..." This is different...
  • [F]or god Amun in the creation, he carves mankind and the other gods in his body, the mountain. The creation is the divine incarnation in carved stone.
  • Ramesses II had his temple at Abu Simbel dug out, in the body of Amun, in the hill of sandstone, and we understand that the temples in Thebes, in Karnak, in Luxor were made of carved stone... cut very carefully in the body of Amum, and we understand why the obelisks out of granite have been called "the finger of Amun."
  • [W]e have two civilizations, one in the north that flourished during the Old Kingdom, god Khnum, agglomerated stone, [and] that in the south that flourished under the New Kingdom, god Amun, and carved stone.
  • Egyptology has never found any text proving that the pyramids were built with carving stones that were hoisted on sledges and ramps. ...[T]hey say there is no text because it is a sacred system that should not be revealed ...We are ...dealing with ...texts that are describing technological information...
  • [I]t is very difficult to translate a technical text... if you are not aware of the signification of the keywords. ...[I]magine that I got a text from Egypt that has been translated... [as] "make fluid stone with ashes insect in glass water"... what we have in reality is the description of, to make cement with fly ashes and water glass.
  • So we have the text, and the first one is the... renowned... Famine Stele at Sehel... engraved in 2000 BC... a copy of more ancient texts dating to the time of the pyramids. ...We have the Pharaoh Djoser, the builder of the first pyramid, that is worshiping the god Khnum.
  • The Famine Stele is... a list... 1/3... dedicated to the lists of minerals that will be used to make the pyramid.
  • In antique text what is very difficult to translate are verbs. ...[T]he verb iri-kat... means to create, to manufacture. This is the verb that is used to depict the god Khnum when he is making, when he is creating, manufacturing the ka, that is the soul of the pharaoh in eternal stone.
  • [W]e find this verb iri-kat in the Famine Stele... where... Khnum is providing the minerals to Pharaoh Djoser to build his first pyramid. ...[Y]ou see iri-kat, to manufacture, and the real translation is "since creation, you are the first one who manufactures them (the minerals) to build the temples".
  • The second verb is... khusi that means to erect, to build, to construct, and you see that the verb has a determinative that is a man pounding something in a mold. So this is the making of agglomerated stone. This is the making of bricks, and this is the making of stone.
  • Khusi-to build in reagglomerated stone, and this is what we get as sentence in the Famine Stele: "with these products (that are depicted in the... columns in hieroglyphs) they have built the pyramid (the royal tomb)." Which pyramid? It is the first... of Djoser... built by Imhotep... It is the first pyramid, the step pyramid at Saqqara... made of small limestone bricks... manufactured like crude clay bricks. They took the molds, made the bricks, transported them, and laid down the pyramid. ...[T]hey used the same technology ...previously... in the monuments and... the enclosure of Khasekhemwy, the pharaoh just before... Djoser.
  • So it started with the first pyramid in small bricks. They mastered their technology, improved the dimension of the blocks and they ended with the first pyramid of Sneferu that is the rhomboidal, where the blocks are still... transported to the site, but... are becoming too big, and for the Red Pyramid of Sneferu... they are cast, they are pound[ed] on site. We then arrive to the Giza Plateau where this technology was used for the Cheops, Chephren and Mykerinos pyramids.
  • [W]e observe a dramatical stop of the technology. ...[T]he variation of the pyramids' volume with time... from the invention by Djoser to the Cheops pyramid, that is ...within 60 years, we have an increase in the volumes ...optimum by Cheops and Chephren, and then a dramatic plunge... of the volume Mykerinos, and the others are ridiculously small. What happened?
  • [W]e can interpret... two elements... of the industrial activities. First, we may suppose that there had been exhaustion in the Sinai mines. Some minerals are used to make artificial stones, and we have texts... that show... the Sinai mines were very heavily exploited, and afterwards, no longer. Or the manufacture or lime-ash generated an ecological disaster. This is the lime... in the reaction... [with] the Natron (sodium carbonate) [in water] to... produce the caustic soda that will start the geopolymeric reaction.
  • [L]ime is very important and it has been shown by [(1990) Professor D.D.] Klemm: " the VI. Dynasty lime disappears nearly within the mortars. May this be interpreted as a variation in the accessibility of fuel [of wood] and consequently of economic potential and crisis?" ...He was talking about the regular lime that is calcined from limestone in a kiln. ...[W]e have not found any remains of kilns... to manufacture the pyramids of Cheops and Chephren. We need... 150,000 tons of lime, which means that we should have found remains of kilns. We did not... which means that the technology was different. ...[I]t was the one of ashes that contains lime... The ecological disaster came from the over-exploitation of wood... proven by the fact that just after the Great Pyramids, one gets frescoes... describing famines...
  • [P]lants were supplying a lot of chemicals during antiquity and even during our Middle Ages in Europe. ...If we look... at the results of the burning of wood or plants, ...we get plenty of SiO2... plenty of CaO (calcium oxide) in beech, oak, acacia, palm trees. Plenty of alkali (K2O) in fern and bulrush... which means I am claiming... [the Egyptians] used the plants and the woods in the manufacture of these ashes... the sources of their chemicals.
  • [I]f they over exploited the palm trees in the production of the ashes... then they got into an ecological disaster because... [i]f there is no more palm trees, there is no more agriculture, and... the end of the pyramid construction. ...[T]his technology, even though it was a sacred one, was dangerous.
  • Just after, what we have is the starting of making a small pyramid in carved stone. ...We have here the pyramid of Ouserkaf (2460 B.C.)... just after the pyramid of Giza. It is just a heap of small stones... this one is totally destroyed and ...[the Pyramid of Djoser (2650 B.C.)] is still there. ...[T]his is big difference between a building made out of agglomerated stone and a small building made out of carved stone. ...It is no longer this very powerful and important technology...
  • So we started with mud bricks that were used in the enclosures during the 2nd Dynasty. They did not have stone [working, hard metal] tools so... they used mud bricks. Then... the invention of the first limestone bricks by agglomeration. The technology improved into bigger and bigger... limestone blocks, and then suddenly, 800 years later, they had bronze tools to cut the stone. No! They returned to pyramids made of mud brick. So this is something Egyptology is not capable of explaining. It is something that geopolymeric technology is capable of explaining, essentially because here we had a stop of the use of this technology to make stone.
  • They turned back to mud because mud bricks is also a replica of incarnation, in the materials that belong to the Khnum divinity.
  • What about the Cheops pyramid? ...We have the core, this is the mass, more than 2 million tons ...made of ...reagglomerated limestone. But the ...inner is made of granite ...carved stone. Why? Cheops... is Khnum Kufu... agglomerated stone. However, Pharaoh is the king of the two countries. ...[T]he pyramids must be the representation of Egypt,... which means ...the replication of agglomerated stone for the northern part ....and in the south, natural granite that is the carving technology. So we have agglomerated limestone for the core, and the King's chamber is made of split granite that is dressed [cut] ...not carved granite.
  • For Chefren, same problem, the core is made of agglomerated stone, but this time... the granite... more easily ...was only for the casing of the first and second steps that is made of ...blocks of granite that are split into two and are incorporated into ...the natural step.
  • Mykerinos has a core... of agglomerated limestone and the first steps were covered with a casing... also made of split granite, not dressed [not cut].

Quotes about Davidovits

  • Based on the present scientific proof of the absence of a "geopolymeric" signature or any "synthetic" composition in the same Lauer casing stone, originally used as a "smoking gun" to support the concrete-pyramid hypothesis, the proposed geopolymer hypotheses of Davidovits and others, or any "new" hypothesis for that matter really has no practical credibility (let alone their astounding extension to both core and casing blocks, and granite/granodiorite/basalt/travertine/quartzite blocks, columns, pavements, and other architectural artifacts associated with the Great Pyramids) unless detailed and systematic research is done by a diverse group of scientists on actual pyramid samples of known provenances. A valid hypothesis must rest upon a reliable set of unquestionable data.
    • "The Great Pyramid Debate" Dipayan Jana, Proceedings of the Twenty-ninth Conference on Cement Microscopy, Quebec City, PQ, Canada (May 20-24, 2007) p. 209.
  • Despite much reported evidence of the use of zeolitic (geopolymeric) chemistry in the ancient technologies, its promising future in the modern cast-stone technology and as innovative building materials for sustainable development, there is no evidence of use of geopolymeric cement in the pyramid stones. Based on unassailable field evidence in favor of a geologic origin for the pyramid stones, and equally convincing results of the present laboratory studies confirming the "geologic" origin of the casing stone samples from the Great Pyramid of Khufu (originally used as evidence for a man-made origin), ...the Egyptian pyramids stand as testament to the unprecedented accuracy, craftsmanship, and engineering skills of the Old Kingdom (2500 BC) stone masons!
    • "The Great Pyramid Debate" Dipayan Jana, Proceedings of the Twenty-ninth Conference on Cement Microscopy, Quebec City, PQ, Canada (May 20-24, 2007) p. 209.

See also

Wikipedia has an article about: