Re: Information & Power /Alexandria library

Anders Sandberg (
07 May 1999 16:43:32 +0200

Dwayne <> writes:

> Anders Sandberg wrote:
> > Dwayne <> writes:
> >
> > > The lower courses of the Temple of Jupiter at Baalbeck are,
> > > according to the quotes I have seen, too massive to be moved using
> > > currently available technology. Now, these may be quotes from
> > > engineers who have vested interests, or they might be correct.
> >
> > A quick look at the some websites mentions a 1000 ton carved stone in
> > the quarry, and the Trilithon of three 800 ton stones. This is
> > definitely in the range of modern technology (the "turtle" they move
> > the space shuttle on can carry much more).
> Sue, it can carry it, but do we have the technology to lift such objects?
> The quote I saw said that modern engineers could not transport such an
> object, I'm assuming that means lift and move.

Let's see what AltaVista and the web brings up. On they move around stuff weighing several hundred tons and obviously need to get it on and off the crawlers. Mobile tower cranes can lift at least 300 tons, combine four and you can lift even the quarry stone. Hydraulic cranes can apparently lift up to 500 tons.

Aha, here is an interesting piece:\enr\nsc\nsc1296.htm They mention the Svanen, a Danish crane system for bridge building that can lift 8,200 tonnes. That is eight Trilithons (if the measures are not confused; why can't everybody use SI! :-). They use it in this case to move precast concrete spans a 7,500 tonnes, which are also moved overland from a casting years to the building area.

> > BTW, what would the vested interests of the engineers have been?
> What makes you think they had one?

You wrote so in your original mail: "Now, these may be quotes from engineers who have vested interests"

> > Maybe the claim is simply a misunderstanding: the engineer was
> > referring to a disbelief in how the ancients could have done it, and
> > then it was repeated too much to become a claim about current
> > inability. It fits into the "lost golden age"-meme receptors fairly
> > well.
> Maybe we lack the technology to move 1,000 ton blocks of stone great
> distances?

As seen above, clearly not.

> Your reply fits into the "modern man can do anything the ancients could,
> and better!"-meme receptors fairly well :-)

Sure. But what I was thinking of was the spreadability of a meme: something that fits in with the schemas many people have (and the golden age idea is *very* firmly entrenched in western civilization) will spread much further than something that doesn't - regardless of the validity. Actually the "modernity is better than the past" meme is fairly weak compared to the golden age meme when it comes to popular views, so two equivalent statements about the engineers of the past ("they could do it, we can", "they could do it, we can't") would spread at different rates. My guess is that the claim the ancients had wonderful stuff we have lost would spread much further without being true, simply because it fits with cultural schemata, gives a certain thrill ("wow! I wonder *how* they did it?") and it suits some other meme systems well.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
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