I have quite a fascination of history, especially prehistoric stuff that's been built yet cannot be explained by the modern world.
The Great Pyramid of Giza draws millions of tourists each year, and due to their immense size and complexity, one shouldn’t be surprise. The Khufu pyramid, the largest of the three, is at its base approximately 755 feet and originally soared to a height of about 481 feet. Despite its popularity, no one really knows how these pyramids were built. The Khufu pyramid was made with more than 2 million slabs of limestone, and weigh on average of about 2.5 tons each, the largest of them weighing in at 80 tons.
Due to the immense stone slabs used to construct these pyramids, the question that commonly arises is how they moved them. Moving 2 million slabs of immense limestone is an enormous feat to accomplish! There are many different theories as to how they accomplished this, ranging from men dragging them to where they belong to aliens building and moving them with technology much more advanced than we have presently. The great Pyramids of Giza isn’t the only structure where we can presume a lot of heavy lifting was involved, and here is a short list of some these structures…
- Stonehenge – the largest of these stones weigh more than 40 tons each.
- Moai of Easter Island – the tallest Moai weighs over 80 tons.
- Sacsayhuaman – a walled complex made of lime-stone near the city Cuzco, some of the stones weigh about 140 tons
- Stone of the South – weighing in at more than 1000 tons, it was quarried to be included in the Temple of Jupiter, but never made it
All of these stone are remarkably large, and the list above is by no means exhaustive. There are many such ancient stone structures that would be incredibly hard to build even with modern equipment due to the monstrous stones that were used, and perhaps among the greatest mysteries surrounding these stones how they got there!
As was mentioned earlier, there are many theories as to how the ancients moved massive stones commonly seen in various structures around the world. One such theory is the use of levitation, in one form or another. Levitation sounds a bit fictitious at first, and rightfully so, since most people think of levitation as some form of sorcery or supernatural power, or as some sort of futuristic science used in flying saucers. This article will explore the feasibility that man used some form of levitation unknown to modern science to help build various stone structures.
This article has three main parts. The first part explores modern methods of levitation and attempt to apply and explore the feasibility of ancient man having used these methods to help in their construction of great stone structures. The second part explores the legends and myths of levitation and how these may have some basis of truth. The third explores the possibility of supernatural levitation.
Types of Modern Levitation
To understand acoustic levitation, one must realize what sound is. When a bell is struck, it causes its metal walls to vibrate in and out. This will cause waves in the air similar to waves in a pond when we throw a stone into it. As the side of the bell wall moves out, it compresses the air and increases pressure, and thus is called a compression. And when the bell’s wall moves back in, it is termed a refraction and decreases pressure.
Acoustic levitation, as the term implies, is levitation using sound as a force. It is a quite complicated process, and it can’t be achieved by just any sound frequency. However, it is possible and can be used to levitate small things, like microchips & liquid drops, with the use of an acoustic levitator.
What is an acoustic levitator?
An acoustic levitator typically consists of a transducer and a reflector. The transducer produces the sound and the reflector reflects the sound back. When a sound wave bounces back from the reflector, the interaction of the refraction and compression will cause interference. If a compression meets another compression they will amplify each other, and if a compression meets a refraction the two will cancel each other out.
If the transducer and reflector are the correct distance apart, it produces a standing wave that basically appears to be vibrating without moving. A standing air wave has pockets of decreased pressure and pockets of increased pressure, called nodes and antinodes respectively. The nodes are what makes acoustic levitation possible, since it is where the object will levitate. When the standing wave is parallel to the force of gravity, certain parts of the wave will have constant upward pressure and downward pressure (i.e. antinodes), and in between these parts is where a small object can be levitated.
As mentioned before, acoustic levitation cannot be achieved using just any sound frequency, and this is because most waves don’t create enough pressure to lift objects off the ground. Making sound louder does not change this. A sound wave doesn’t change its basic wave form simply because it’s amplified. Because of this, it also doesn’t make it physically more powerful. For levitation to be achieved it has to be extremely intense, such as ultrasound.
What is acoustic levitation used for?
Though acoustic levitation does work, it is very limited when applying it in real world uses. Presently, it can only be used to levitate small objects such as small drops of water or micro memory chips. It is most commonly used by chemists to avoid chemical reaction with the container it is in. Also it can be used in the manufacturing of small electronics.
Because of the size limitation and complexity (acoustic levitators are computerized) of acoustic levitation, it definitely isn’t the method used by the ancients to lift 1 ton stone slabs. That aside, it does show that sound is a force, and can be used to manipulate something physical.
Compared to acoustic levitation, electrostatic levitation is relatively simple process and quite demonstrable by the average person. There’s no fancy equipment needed, all one needs is a plastic bag, a balloon, and a cotton cloth.
A Simple Electrostatic Experiment
Both the plastic bag and the balloon are to be rubbed with the cotton cloth, to charge up both items. By simply tossing up the plastic bag and making sure the balloon is underneath, if done correctly and under the right circumstances, the balloon will repel the plastic upward, thus defying gravity.
It must be noted, however, that it doesn’t always work. The success of this simple experiment depends largely on the humidity in the air, and if the charges of both items are positive or negative. In high humidity air, the electrostatic force is negated and little levitation can be achieved. If both the balloon and plastic end up being of opposite charge they will end up being attracted to each other instead of being repelled.
If the experiment does work, what is happening is that when the cotton came in contact with the two objects (plastic bag & balloon), the atoms start playing a tug-a-war game with each other’s electrons, and since different materials cling to their electrons better than others, one material will end up being slightly positive and the other slightly negative. Since all of nature seeks equality, if two objects have extra electrons and thus are negatively charged or vice versa, they end up repelling each other.
Is Electrostatic Levitation Useable?
Could an electrostatic force be powerful enough to levitate an object that weighs several tons? Several problems occur with this hypothetical idea. First of all, with an object this heavy, one would have to add a lot of electrons to have enough force to counteract with gravity. Then, because the earth’s static is neutral, you’d either have to charge up the whole earth or than place something underneath with the same charge to levitate off of.
The only remotely feasible way to do this is to create a statically charged track and place the rock on a statically charged platform. This is theoretically possible, but once one takes into consideration the energy it would take to charge up a track like this, and the fact that its productivity depends largely on the humidity in the air, it would be much more practical to pull the stone slab with a horse and cart.
Of all the forms of levitation discussed in this article, magnetic levitation is by far the most common form used today. These uses include magnetically levitated trains, magnetic bearings, and 3d cell culture (chemists and biologist sometimes need to experiment in a 3d environment).
Future technologies may include magnetically launched rockets, flying cars, and even floating cities! Although the prospect of levitating an entire city sounds admittedly close to science fiction and will probably never be accomplished, magnetism is nevertheless a powerful force.
What are Ferromagnets and How Are They Made?
Most magnets that are used today are made of ferromagnetic material, which are the strongest type of magnetism. Ferromagnetic materials consist of magnetic domains which are essentially individual magnets, and the magnetic domains’ north and south poles are normally strewn in a haphazard way so that no net magnetic field results. However, if most of these poles align in the same direction, a net magnetic field occurs and this is essentially what a magnet is.
We can create a magnet quite easily by rubbing a needle with an existing magnet. If done correctly, the magnetic pull of the existing magnets will align the domains’ poles and thus the needle will have a magnetic field. The needle’s magnetic field will not last long because materials that are easily magnetized do not hold their magnetism for very long. Generally the harder it is to magnetize a material the longer the magnetism will last.
There are also other ways to magnetize a ferromagnetic material. Depending on how strong the magnetic field is and how easily the material is magnetized sometimes it’s enough to simply place it within the magnetic field. Strangely enough, one can also magnetize materials by physically striking them, which jolts the domains to align along the north & south pole. Probably the most common method of magnetization for today’s typical “fridge magnets” is by sending an electrical current through the magnet.
How are Naturally Occurring Lodestone Formed?
It is interesting to note that scientists theorize that naturally occurring lodestone (polarized magnetite) are also formed through electricity. One theory is that naturally occurring magnetite rock were magnetized by lightning strikes sending an electrical current through it. A single bolt of lightning has ample amount of charge to polarize the domains of even a large chunk.
Another interesting theory is that when a piece of magnetite is heated and turned into magma, its magnetic domains are more pliable. Due to the earth’s magnetic field, the domains naturally would face north and south.
Both of these theories of natural magnetization can be seamlessly applied to the worldwide Biblical flood and the resulting ice age. Due to the Bible saying that “all the fountains of the great deep” broke up, it is obvious that geologic activity had occurred during the flood, such as underwater lava flows and erupting volcanos. The resulting volcanic dust in the atmosphere would’ve reflected sunlight back into space, resulting in a global cooling.
Theoretically, the geologic activity wouldn’t have quit immediately after the flood, but gradually calmed down over the course of several centuries. Due to the long term geologic activity, the oceans warmed and thus precipitation also likely increased for several centuries after the flood, and where there is rain there’s generally lightning. These conditions would have been perfect for either melting lodestone and thus polarizing them, or sending an electrical charge through them and aligning the magnetic domains.
How does the fact that magnetite could have been polarized by the biblical flood have to do with levitating massive stone slabs in ancient times? If magnets were created by the biblical flood, they would also have been much stronger back then to, and gradually have lost their magnetism over time.
What is Diamagnetism?
Before expanding this hypothetical idea any further, it is important to explain diamagnetism first. A diamagnetic material is repelled by any external magnetic force, regardless of what pole it is. Although to most people this sounds strange, it is, in fact, all around us. All materials have diamagnetic properties, however, ferromagnetic properties in some materials such as magnetite is considerably stronger than its diamagnetic properties.
Perhaps there most common diamagnetic material is water. The reason why most people don’t’ realize this is because it is an extremely weak diamagnet. A very strong neodymium magnet is needed to see any effect with the naked eye. Nonetheless, scientists have succeeded in levitating a frog due to the repelling effect magnets have on water. Of course, the magnetic field used was around 20 times more powerful than any magnets commercially available today. So please don’t try levitating yourself by placing magnets on the floor, because it won’t work!
Pyrolytic graphite is a much more powerful diamagnetic material, and much more demonstrable for the average person. The diagram below will explain the basic setup, and by placing the pyrolytic graphite slab on top, it can easily be levitated.
Could the Ancients Have Used Magnetic Levitation?
Although pyrolytic graphite is quite easy to levitate due to its diamagnetic properties, huge slabs of stone aren’t. The Egyptian pyramids are mainly made of limestone, which is of course diamagnetic, but the blocks probably couldn’t have been levitated with magnetite due to its sheer weight. That is, its gravitational properties are considerably more powerful than its diamagnetism.
What is perhaps feasible is that an extremely strong diamagnetic material was placed underneath the slab of stone, thus levitating the stone off of a magnetic track laid out underneath. Pyrolytic graphite is not naturally occurring, it must be produced. Most naturally occurring diamagnets are not strong enough to be of any use. Since pyrolytic graphite is the strongest diamagnet known to science today, it is possible that there is a way to create even stronger diamagnets. Perhaps the ancients have found a way of doing this.
Another possibility is that the ancients levitated magnets on top of magnets, and placed the stone slab on top of the raised magnetic platform. The magnetic platform would have consisted of magnetite stones. The magnetite stones could have been oriented so that the poles were parallel to each other, and cemented together to create a large stone slab.
Both theories are understandably debatable since many questions and issues arise. For example, in order for the theoretical magnetic platform to work, all the magnetic lodestone would have to be equal in strength, or then it created an imbalance and the stone slab would topple off. Also, if a diamagnetic material was used to levitate heavy stones, when did the method disappear for creating such a material?
Nevertheless, a magnetic force is very powerful. If they can be used to levitate trains nowadays, it should be considered a possibility that the ancients used this powerful force in there building of stone structures.
We have now explored three methods of levitation known to science today. Both acoustic and electrostatic levitation aren’t useable when levitating large slabs of limestone. Magnetic levitation is the only method that is strong enough to lift heavy objects. Now we will explore history, and investigate how certain stories and myths could have been real accounts of levitation.
Al-Masudi’s Account of Levitation in Egypt
Al-Masudi was a prominent Arab historian and geographer who lived in the late AD 800s to the mid-900s. He traveled for most of his life and explored much of what was known as the known world at that time. From his travels he compiled a comprehensive history/geography encyclopedia of sorts called The Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems.
This compilation consists of 30 volumes, and according to multiple sources, one of these volumes contains a story of levitation. To expand, a story of levitating the limestone slabs of the Egyptian pyramids. The story roughly goes as follows:
“In carrying on the work, leaves of papyrus, or paper, inscribed with certain characters, were placed under the stones prepared in the quarries; and upon being struck, the blocks were moved at each time the distance of a bowshot (which would be a little over 200 feet), and so by degrees arrived at the pyramids.”
Other sources of Masudi’s story say that the block would move along a stone-paved path that was lined with metal rods. This sounds strikingly similar to what I proposed in part one with magnetically levitating with magnetite stones arranged so that the poles align, thus emitting a net field of magnetic energy. Of the character-inscribed paper I have no clue as to what that was.
However, if the story really does exist within these 30 volumes of history, it is truly intriguing indeed. This isn’t the only account of levitating large stones. In the following is the story of levitation deep within the Himalayans…
Levitation in the Tibetan Himalayans
This story also comes from a book, The Bridge to Infinity, where author Bruce Cathie relates a story he says he found in a German magazine. The story goes that a Dr. Jarl, a Swedish doctor studying at Oxford, became friends with a Tibetan student.
Several years later, in 1939, this Dr. Jarl traveled to Egypt. While there, a messenger from this Tibetan student came to him and urgently told him to come with him to meet a high Lama (A priest in Lamaism). The doctor went with him and arrived at a monastery deep in the Himalayan mountain, where his Tibetan friend held a high position.
While there, he was once taken to a meadow nearby which to the north-west were some cliffs. On one of these was a platform about 250 meters high, which was in front of what looked like a cave entrance. Here, the monks were building a rock wall.
There was also a slab of rocks in the middle of the meadow, and it had a shallow bowl-shaped cavity in its center about 15 centimeters deep and 1 meter in diameter. A large slab of rock about 1 meter wide and 1 and a half meters in length was maneuvered into the cavity by Yak oxen. Surrounding the slab at a distance of 63 meters there were placed 13 drums and 6 trumpets.
If I understand correctly these instrument were placed within a 90 degree arc. Behind each instrument their sat a monk and upon signal they all started playing. It made a terrible sound but after about 4 minutes, the stone block started swaying. Eventually, the stone lifted off the ground and traveled in the direction of the platform on the cliff. After three minutes the stone rested on the platform.
The levitation didn’t go perfectly though, because the article reports that some of the stone slabs split and had to be pulled away. Yet, the monks were able to get about 6 blocks per hours up to the platform. When Dr. Jarl told what he had seen to others, the general opinion was that he suffered from mass psychosis, and so he made two videos of the spectacle.
According to the article, Dr. Jarl worked for the English Society. This society confiscated the two videos and declared them classified. They told the doctor that they wouldn’t release the videos until 1990. If the reported videos did exist, they never were released.
Apart from the fact that this story comes from a book whose author had translated from German magazine article which in turn told about a doctor who took a trip deep into the Himalayan mountains, this story is quite a fascinating one.
However, a healthy amount of skepticism is due to the above story. To me, the fact that the story of Tibetan monks went through quite a few channels is hard for me to ignore. Typically the more channels a story of any kind goes through the more distorted it becomes, until finally, the end story is completely different from the original.
As for Al-masudi’s story, a fair amount of skepticism can be applied here to. Al-masudi’s historical volumes, for example, are originally written in Arabic, and to date, the only English translations that exist are of the first volume by Aloys Springer and a very limited translation by Paul Lunde and Caroline Stone, whose translations focuses almost entirely on the sections about Abbasid history.
The point is that I’ve personally searched through the English translation of the 1st volume and didn’t find anything about the proposed story, and it quite obviously wouldn’t be in the sections of Abbasid history, which is a period of history in modern-day Iraq. So one has to wonder where the story is within these volumes, and if it even exists within the text or whether it was entirely made up.
Even if the story is within the text, there’s still the possibility that the story is pure legend wrought about by the imagination of curious minds trying to explain the unknown. Throughout the course of history, if there’s something mysterious about a place or event, the human imagination tends to take great leaps and bound to explain the seemingly inexplicable. The story of the coral castle is one such incident…
The Legend of the Coral Castle
This legend is really a tragic love story about a Latvian man named Edward Leedskalnin, who was planning to marry Agnes Skuvst. The day before the wedding, she left him since she thought he was too old for her. A broken-hearted Ed then emigrated to America, and eventually made his home in Florida. Here he battled with tuberculosis, and claimed to have healed through the use of magnets.
After he overcame his tuberculosis, he started building a monument in honor of his “sweet sixteen”. Ed was only about 5 feet tall and weighed only 100 lbs, yet the monument he created consisted of huge slabs of stones weighing several tons, some weighing more than the largest block on the Egyptian pyramids.
The weight of all the stones of the coral castle combined would be well over a thousand tons. How someone so small could build something like this entirely on his own is amazing indeed. Add to this the fact that he worked only at night, and allegedly told no one exactly how he did it, adds to the mysticism. Was he hiding something?
According to the legend, two teenagers had secretly witnessed him working on the castle, and reported that this Ed could levitate huge slabs of stone as if they were hydrogen balloons. This is seemingly confirmed by the main entrance, which is at the rear of the castle. It consisted of a large rock gate, which when unlocked, could be opened with the gentlest push, almost as if the door itself defied gravity.
When Ed was confronted about how he moved the large slabs of Oolite limestone, he sometimes gave the vague answer “I have found the secrets of the pyramids”. Supposedly he never shared this “secret” with anybody and took it with him to the grave.
There were left some clues as to how he did it. On the second floor there is a door with strange inscriptions on it. Many believe it to be some type of hint that he left so people can figure out how he quarried and moved the massive stone blocks. Also many of the stones were carved into strange masonic symbols, and it is reported that Ed was involved with the Masons. This brings the question whether or not he used some occult practice. Some go as far as to say that a mechanical contraption found there was the remains of a motor powered by magnets only.
Strangely, he originally started building the castle in Florida City, Florida, and simply named it Ed’s Place. However, over a span of 3 years, he moved it 10 miles away to where it now sits, at Leisure City, Florida. There, he renamed it Rock Gate and continued to work on the castle until his death, in 1951. It wasn’t until after he died that the place got its current name, Coral Castle.
The Actual Story of the Coral Castle!
So, is the legend surrounding the Coral Castle true? The short answer is, “No!”. All the mysteries in the above article have quite a boring answer. First of all, the reason why he worked at night is not because he was hiding some secret levitation method, but because in Florida, it gets hot, and it is considerably more comfortable to work during the night than during the day.
The two teens were caught spying on Ed by a policeman, and upon questioning, came up with quite a wild story. The policeman knew Ed, had seen his method of moving the massive stones, and ended up letting them go.
What was Ed’s method of lifting and transporting the rocks? It wasn’t some sort of antigravity machine, but an apparatus originating from Latvia called a Block & Tackle. It basically consists of three poles forming a tripod and some pulleys and chains (see right). Sounds hardly like a levitating device.
As was standard practice in those days, he also cut the stones using a chain with a cutting edge. The door to the castle is also a marvelous piece of engineering, but building something similar doesn’t involve defying any laws of physics, it simply involves finding the center of gravity.
The magnetic motor was just a generator that powered some lights. How many lights could it power? Two! Of the inscriptions on the second floor door, it’s actually Ed’s immigration number. It was a common practice in that area to prevent the number from ever getting lost.
Last but not least, why did this Ed not disprove this rumor in the first place? Well, to a certain extent, he was telling the truth. The method he was using to move the rocks may well have been used to build the Egyptian pyramids.
Secondly, since people were starting to come see his amazing creation, he charged 10 cents a person. This turned out to be a great money-maker, and he probably the nurtured the mystique surrounding his castle to his last day.
This particular story, although quite laughable, holds a valuable lesson for researchers. Please, don’t believe everything you read and hear. It is important to take everything with a grain of salt, and if possible, to double check the facts.
As a Christian who believes in the 6-day biblical creation account, I also can’t overlook the fact that some of these stories of levitation may come from supernatural powers. There are several occasions of levitation within the scriptures. The most well-known, perhaps, is when Jesus ascended to heaven. The KJV Bible doesn’t call it levitate because the word wasn’t “invented” yet, but by strict dictionary definition, the phenomenon of a person or thing rising into the air by apparently supernatural means, the ascension of Jesus can indeed be called levitation .
There are other Biblical miracles that can be called levitation. Moses parting the Red sea could debatably be called levitation. On the Sea of Galilee, Jesus walking on water can be considered levitation, since he defied the law of gravity. All three of the aforemention instance were apparently supernatural, because they really were!
So it stands to reason that since supernatural levitation exists, it is possible that Satan could have use his powers to aid humans in building these great structures, since almost all of these structures were built to honor a god or deity other than the Christian God. Here is a short list…
- The Pyramids – Most believe that these were built as burial mounds for the Egyptian pharaohs, which were worshiped as human-gods. There is still disagreement on the basic theological principles, although some state that it was a “Resurrection machine.”
- Stonehenge – Most scholars believe that it was used as a solar calendar, but there has recently been found human bones in various states of cremation at the site, suggesting pagan practices.
- Moai of Easter Island – almost all the Moai face inland. Archeologists think that these statues were erected to watch over the villagers. They may also have been used as a repository for sacred spirit.
- Stone of the South – Quarried to be included in the nearby temple of Jupiter, it never was included in its construction, hence it’s called one of the Forgotten Stones of Baalbeck. Jupiter was worshiped by the romans as the god of the sky, and was considered the king of gods.
- Sacsayhuaman – this walled fortress is said to be a part of an even grander construction. Many scholars claim the Incan city of Cuzco was said to have once been constructed in the shape of a puma. Sacsayhuaman is said to be its head. What’s the significance of the puma? Along with the snake and the condor, it was sacred to the Incas. Puma was the symbol of strength, condor was the symbol of flight, and snake was the symbol of speed. All three of these animals were worshiped by the Incas.
Because of the nature of the aforementioned stone structures, it does not take a huge leap of logic to think of why Satan would aid in any one of these. He had ample reasons. My strong suspicion is that if one would search further, the same pattern would emerge.
Was Levitation Really Used by the Ancients?
So did the ancients use some mysterious form of levitation to build monumental stone structures like the pyramids? Perhaps they did. There are stories and legends that report the use of levitation, and simple backyard experiments prove that we can levitate through the application of scientific knowledge.
However, we should not ignore that Satan could have lent a hand in these constructions, since almost all of them have some sort of pagan background. It could even be and smidgen of both science and occult. Satan could have given the scientific knowledge to man in order to construct such things. Nobody knows, and as of now, we can only speculate.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Ethan Blaze
Ethan Blaze (author) on February 26, 2020:
Correct me if i'm wrong, but from your comment I gather you're a naturalist. Basically you think everything can be explained by the laws of the universe. I'm also assuming you believe in evolution, and that early man had the stereotypical "cave man intelligence". That's why you believe that levitation is unlikely, whether by science or otherwise.
I, on the other hand, believe that the supernatural does exist. I believe that ancient mankind was just as smart as we are presently, if not smarter. As you can see, we have different ways of looking at the universe, and therefore levitation seems more plausible to me than to you.
Other cultures and religions have their own myths and legends, and most of them have at least some truth. The myths of levitation further back my thesis.
You say their gods aren't real? In a sense, I agree with you. The one true God is the Biblical God. He created the fallen angel Satan, who is very powerful. He will do anything to prevent people from entering God's Kingdom, including creating false gods. It would be naive to say that Satan would not use his own powers and demons to make the pagan gods appear to have powers themselves.
Again, with a naturalistic worldview, to you my answer will seem controversial at best. I close this answer with a question to you. What proof do you have that the supernatural does not exist?
Andrew Witthoft from International on February 25, 2020:
I'd say your thesis is misleading. There has been a lot of research done concerning the construction of the Pyramids, Stonehenge etc. You are right we don't know exactly how they were built, but there are far more likely explanations than levitation.
And if you view the world through a Christian philosophy, what explanation can you give to these other cultures and religions also having supernatural biblical powers that allow them to levitate objects, and yet their gods are not real?