More solid than iron, diorite is one of the hardest stones on the planet. Yet, the people of Ancient Egypt managed to carve hieroglyphs into the stone’s sturdy surface with parallelism and accuracy. According to Johnson, “Vases were carved out of solid diorite, some with long thin necks and wide bodies.” In addition, Johnson expresses that “we have yet to re-invent the tool capable of making these vases from solid diorite.” Petrie further supports Johnson’s observations by expressing that “the methods employed by the Egyptians in cutting the hard stones, which they so frequently worked, have long remained undetermined.”
The Granite and Basalt Boxes
Located throughout the rock tunnels of the Serapeum at Saqqara, 20 boxes made of granite and basalt attest to the precision and accuracy of ancient Egypt’s engineering capabilities. In his book, Lost Technologies of Ancient Egypt: Advanced Engineering in the Temples of the Pharaohs, Christopher Dunn, an engineer who has written several books pertaining to the sophisticated construction of Egypt, confirms that the 70-ton boxes with their 20-ton lids were quarried at Aswan over 500 miles away and installed in arched crypts recessed into the walls of the labyrinth of underground tunnels. Scientists remain baffled by how these ancient builders pulled of the long-distance transport of the extremely heavy slabs of granite. The tools and methods that went into producing these boxes — with surfaces so flat and sides so squared and parallel that today’s builders would find it difficult to replicate — also remains a mystery.