Putting the World in a Box

Work on the carved stone Time Capsule for the Earth Pyramid project has now entered a phase where surface detail is being applied to communicate a pictorial message to its eventual discoverers. Pictorial because the language of those future archaeologists can hardly be guessed at.

Revealing the continents of the Earth

The globe has now been revealed on five faces of the cube, giving the impression of a separate sphere within the cube. These are the Polar, African, Indonesian, Pacific and American reveals. Cartouches are being carved into the circular facets which frame the revealed sections of the Earth and these will indicate the location of other pyramids in those regions.

The Earth Pyramid time capsule. in the workshop
Colouring the globe within the faces of the Earth Pyramid time capsule.

The Millennium clock

As the work on the cube has progressed each new feature has given rise the the need for yet another as each detail serves a purpose and fits into the logic of the cube’s function. Some sections of the cube form have been delineated with deeply incised lines to give the appearance of segmentation which is a recurrent motif in this work. One new feature is the thousand-year-meter which is a small triangular opening onto a hypothetical dial marked with all the years of a millennium. Even with the dial’s 500mm diameter each year is necessarily a very tiny mark. The general theme of the work relates to time which is appropriate given that it will endure a millennium of time within the Earth Pyramid.

Earth Pyramid Time Capsule – the movie!

Progress on the Time Capsule Cube was recently the subject of a film made here at the workshop in Yorkshire. Simon, Liam and Steve Ward of the Earth Pyramid project used a combination of technical and creative skills to produce the short video which shows the cube as it nears completion.

Adding colour to the globe

Another change has been to colour the globe. The initial design was for a simple stone sphere. However it was felt that it would be a shame not to represent the beauty of the Earth which is, after all, far more than just a rock orbiting the sun. The continents and islands are carved into the stone sphere and the land masses and features given texture. The colouring is simple and, like any globe, is more like a map than a portrait of the Earth.

So what is the message on the cube surface?

The next blog will give full details with photos.

– Simon Tyson.

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The Earth, the Pyramid, and the Time Capsule

The Earth Pyramid time capsule is progressing well. Three of the five visible faces are nearing completion.

Lifting the lid on the time capsule

A newly added feature is that of two diagonally opposite recesses in two sides of the lid section. These allow a sure grip to remove the lid (which weighs about 30kg) either by one strong person or more easily by two. The lid locates onto an integral mortise and tenon feature on the top of the main cube section so it needs to be carefully lifted vertically about three inches before being removed – no easy task for one.

Earth Pyramid Time Capsule in the workshop
Handles on the lid allow for easier removal when opening.

The pyramid’s location marked in stone

The revealed sections of the Earth are equator-centric which has allowed me to make the location of the Earth Pyramid – Malaysia – central to one revealed quarter. An important factor considering that the time capsule will probably be rediscovered by people familiar with that part of the world.

Simon look at the Earth Pyramid Location on the Earth
The Earth Pyramid’s location in Malaysia is clearly visible on one side of the cube.

The sphere within the cube

As more detail is added to the Earth, it is becoming more defined, appearing more as a separate sphere, cradled within the cube form. Adding to this effect are the two distinct characters of the cube and sphere – the one being of a purely geometric form and design – the other being natural and irregular.

Earth features on the Time Capsule in the workshop
Earth features on the Time Capsule

The surface of the Earth is now being given detail including land masses and oceans which are delineated with a finely incised line. Three different textures have been applied to the surface – the land is generally mottled – the sea is rubbed to a fine finish – and the polar ice cap is provided with a somewhat rough surface. In addition an acrylic sealant has been applied to the land to enhance the stone’s natural colour in those areas. I have not gone so far as to colour the stone, as I think it is important that the work is finished as stone and nothing else. Prominent lakes and rivers are marked but no man made features.

Work on the time capsule continues…

With two faces of the cube still to be worked, there is plenty still to be done. Along with the lid section’s recessed grips, eight lifting hand positions are to be carved on the bottom edge of the block. This will allow four strong men to lift the stone should no other means be available at the time of its discovery.

Earth Pyramid Time Capsule in the workshop
Can you find the secret elements built into the time capsule?

And the segmentation – a key feature in this design – where sections of the stone appear to be detachable and may or may not be so.

Then there are those secret elements. See if you can find them.

– Simon Tyson.


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How To Make a Time Capsule

One day Steve was rummaging around in the shed down at the Earth Pyramid Quarry when he stumbled upon two magnificent ancient Egyptian styled busts tucked away at the back of the shed. One was a copy of the famous bust of Nefertiti and the other of an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh. Where did these come from???

After some investigating, Steve tracked down the sculptor, who turned out to be a local stonemason by the name of Simon Tyson.

Ancient Egyptian Sculptures
Ancient Egyptian Sculptures found in a shed at the Earth Pyramid quarry

When Simon heard about the Earth Pyramid project he agreed to carve a stone time capsule to go inside the Earth Pyramid.

Here are some words from Simon on stone work and the Earth Pyramid Time Capsules:

These times of technology and automation are of no help when it comes to carving stone – it can only be done using the same methods as those used in ancient times – a mallet and chisel. Looking at tools excavated from archaeological sites in Egypt and elsewhere, they really were very similar to the modern versions – essentially, a lightweight wooden mallet to strike a metal chisel and cut away the stone.

Simon with the stone time capsule he is carving

My name is Simon Tyson and my job is stone carver and sculptor. I have been asked to carve a stone time capsule for the Earth Pyramid project in Malaysia. On completion it is to remain sealed inside this new Pyramid for centuries to come.

The style of my work is chiefly derived from the vast and ever-growing collection of works left to us from the Ancient World. Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek and Roman art provides an inexhaustible catalogue of standards and examples.

Some of my previous work includes a series of stone cubes carved to suggest mechanical devices – fused machinery – the inspiration being the ancient and encrusted Antikythera Mechanism discovered in the sea off the island of that name. My Earth Pyramid time capsule design owes much to these works – carved as they were from the same stone, they suggest a complex and forgotten purpose – a mysterious and intriguing ancient machine. Stone is essentially inert, but I think it can have uses far beyond that of a mere building material. A carving should have a function – or at least an apparent function.

At my workshop in East Yorkshire I have set up a large block of Tadcaster limestone. This is the cube – a time capsule in the making. The finished cube will be 500mm on a side. It will have an internal compartment to accommodate the most important asset of any time capsule – the data.

Stone Time Capsule
The full sized Time Capsule in progress

The cube actually comprises two stones – the main body of the cube and the lid. The two locate together using a mortise and tenon. The main cube block has a raised rim surrounding the internal compartment, while the underside of the lid has a recess cut into it which is a precise inversion of the raised rim. So the stone lid sits down on the block and a 500mm cube is formed.

Simon in the workshop with the stone time capsule he is carving

A feature carried over from my earlier cubes is the segmented detail, where lines are cut into the surface to give the appearance of a stone being an assemblage of smaller modules.

Stone prototype of the time capsule
A smaller prototype of the Earth Pyramid Time Capsule

A key part of the design of the Earth Pyramid time capsule is the Earth itself, revealed in deep circular recesses on five surfaces. This 500mm diameter sphere with have the continents and oceans outlined using a sinusoidal projection.

And a few secrets and surprises, the prerogative of the stonemason, some of which will only become apparent to the eventual discoverers of the cube on some distant day.

That day I keep in mind. Because that’s the day when my work will be examined – for accuracy and skill – for the degree of care taken – for my intentions and ideas. Because however the world may change, there are one or two professions which will always thrive – one of which is the stonemason. And on that far off day there will be another mason with his square and rule, looking at my work and shaking his head.

– Simon Tyson.

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The Earth Pyramid launch is an EPIC event

2015 was an incredible year for the Earth Pyramid and we will be explaining developments over a series of articles here on this blog.

The highlight of 2015 was the launch of EPIC (Earth Pyramid Incubation Centre) at the Learning Beyond Boundaries conference at the Matrix International Schools in Seremban, Malaysia. Attended by the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister the event launched both the opening of the amazing Matrix International School complex and its partnership with the Earth Pyramid through EPIC.

The Earth Pyramid offices will be located in the new Matrix complex and construction of the Earth Pyramid will take place in within the surrounding land.

office with deslks and chairs
Earth Pyramid offices at the Matrix International school complex, Malaysia
Model of the Earth Pyramid site at Sendeyan
Sendeyan where the Earth Pyramid will be constructed.
Stage at Matrix International Schools and the Earth Pyramid Incubation Centre.
The stage set up for the launch of Matrix International Schools and the Earth Pyramid Incubation Centre.

The conference that preceded the launch gave us the opportunity talk about the Earth Pyramid and explain it’s relevance to pushing the boundaries of global education. Notable speeches from Matrix Education CEO Felix Lee, Head of Matrix Primary / Earth Pyramid Education officer Charline Evans and Adventurer Tori James captivated the delegates’ at the event that turned out to be a great triumph.

Conference speakers Charline Evans and Tori James sitting in the front row
Conference speakers Charline Evans and Tori James.

Plenty has happened since the conference and we will be updating you with more information soon.

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Earth Pyramid Master Plan Now Complete

The first draft of the master plan for the Earth Pyramid site in Malaysia has now been completed by the design engineering company Arup.

Earth Pyramid Generic Site Masterplan Isometric

This 30 acre site will provide a beautiful landscape in which to view the Earth Pyramid and a great space where education surrounding global citizenship can be explored and promoted.

Earth Pyramid Generic Site Masterplan

Excitement surrounding the upcoming conference at Matrix Schools to Launch EPIC (the Earth Pyramid Incubation Centre) is starting to build and the release of this plan only adds to the momentum the project is developing.

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An EPIC site for the Earth Pyramid has been found!

The location for the Earth Pyramid’s construction has now been finalised.

The Earth Pyramid idea started seven years ago with the aim of creating a focal point for the promotion of global citizenship and a hope of connecting a generation of the world’s children. We are pleased to announce that the Earth Pyramid has now linked with Matrix Global Schools who have created an exciting new concept in education that complements the project’s aims. At their state of the art facility in Malaysia Matrix has developed EPIC (Earth Pyramid Incubation Centre) where children from around the world will be encouraged to submit ideas on how we can nurture the theory of global citizenship. The Earth Pyramid will create the focal point for global participation and the funds raised by the venture will be used to promote, develop and implement these ideas through EPIC.

On the 26th-28th of July 2015 a conference is being held at Matrix Global Schools will site to Launch EPIC and details of the event can be viewed in the Earth Pyramid launch flyer below.

Matrix Flier
Click to load the flier

Over the next few weeks we will be releasing further details of this new development and will introduce you to the people / organisations who are driving the Earth Pyramids success.

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Stone, Stone Everywhere!!

Over the past couple of weeks we have had our first stone facing block and the first time capsule block delivered to there respective sites. Our facing block turned out to be a lot bigger than we thought. When it was picked up by the transporter and weighed it came in at 13,000 kilograms. Just a bit bigger than the 8,500 kg we thought it was! It has now been delivered to our site in Bradford UK and we will start the carving process over the next few weeks.

Carving the stone using ancient techniques

We intend to carve the whole block by hand and we are currently looking into the techniques that have been used for thousands of years. Looking at this first block it really makes you appreciate the work that must have gone into all the blocks that have made up pyramids around the world and we intend to fully document this process so we can see exactly how much effort it takes.

The Earth Pyramid's uncarved casing stone
The uncarved block, weighing in at 13 tonnes!
Plan of the pyramid casing stones
The design plan for the casing stone

The time capsule and the master mason

Our time capsule blocks (one for the box and one for the lid) has been picked up by Simon Tyson, our master stone mason who will be carving our first time capsule. Simon is currently working on the final design and as soon as its ready we will show it to you.

Stone Time Capsule block

Locally quarried stone

The limestone blocks come from the Tadcaster quarry in north Yorkshire Uk. They provide all the stone used in the renovation of York Minster and this particular stone is only found in one other place in northern Europe.

On our next blog we will have some exiting news so make sure you keep an eye out for it!!

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First Pyramid Block From the Quarry

After a great deal of effort we are pleased to announce that we have finally acquired our first block for carving a facing stone for the pyramid. It comes from The Mone Brothers Quarry in Leeds and as you can see by the picture we really have our work cut out for us!

First block for the casing stone for the Earth Pyramid at the quarry
Figure 1 Earth Pyramid block with quarry owner Kevin Mone

The huge chunk of rock currently weighs approximately 8.5 tonnes which means around 4 tonnes will need to be carved off to create the facing stone. We intend to carve the whole block by hand using only hand tools and techniques developed thousands of years ago.

The block will be delivered to our test site over the next few weeks and we will keep you up to date with our progress.

See our YouTube Channel for more videos of our progress.

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Sled Theory Test Is Another Success!!

In late 2014 we succeeded in demonstrating that one man could move a one tonne block using a theory developed by the Indiana State University.  

Just before Christmas 2014 we carried out another test on moving large stones based on research from the team at Amsterdam University. Their theory involved pulling a sled across damp sand that had been compacted.

Djehutihotep's sled
A scene from the tomb of Djehutihotep depicting water being poured over the sand in front of the sled

Evidence for such a technique can be found in ancient Egyptian tomb reliefs, such as this one from the tomb of Djehutihotep from around 1900 BC, which shows a man at the front of the sled pouring water onto the path of the sled.

Pyramid block on sled
Figure 1: Sled and test equipment ready for the first pull

It rained the night before the test so the sand was ready to go when we arrived and all in all things went very well.  As we expected, the sled was a great deal harder to pull than it was using the theory from Indiana State University but it did pull smoothly and the dampened, compacted sand definitely had a bearing on this.

We sent our results off to Amsterdam University and they confirmed our results did match their theoretical predictions.  We did have a couple of results that didn’t quite add up so we intend to revisit the test at some point in 2015 to double check our results.

Close up of the sled showing 'bow wave'
Figure 2: Slight “Bow Wave” created during the pulling test

One interesting thing we did learn whilst researching for this test was that in ancient Egypt roads were created out of the waste limestone and a local clay called Tafla was mixed in. When dampened this mixture would have created a very slick surface ideal for pulling heavy weights.  As we now have the sled ready to go we will hopefully be giving this theory a go in the near future (albeit using a local clay).  It will be interesting to see how it compares to our past tests.

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Rolling Stone Theory Test a Success!!

We are pleased to announce that the first theory tested at the Earth Pyramid test site has been a great success! The theory conceived by a team from Indiana State University (ISU) involved attaching poles to the faces of a stone block and rolling it rather than most theories that involve dragging.

Testing the Indiana State University's theory of rolling large blocks
Click to view the full video on our YouTube channel

The whole test day went very well and the theory from ISU worked better than anyone of us could have imagined. We did have some trouble pulling the block with a rope as ISU did in the original test but we went back a few days later with better equipment and managed to gather some good data.

We used a 1 tonne block for this first test but over the coming months we intend to up scale the test and use a 2.5 tonne block.

We are now focussing our attention on the theory from Amsterdam University. Their theory involves dragging the block on a sled across sand that has been watered. In theory this wetting will compact the sand, making it easier to drag the sled.

We have based the design of our sled on the Schist sled but will modify it to suit our needs.

A sled made of cedar from Lisht
A sled made of cedar from Lisht

Weather permitting the test will be carried out before Christmas and we are looking forward to comparing the readings with the ISU test data.

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