, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 897–907 | Cite as

Hidden Geology in Ancient Egypt

  • Kholoud Mohamed AbdelMaksoudEmail author
  • Mahmoud A. Emam
Original Article


The ancient Egyptians had an advanced scientific knowledge and their sciences, texts, and archeological remains reflect the breadth of that knowledge. Although geology is now recognized as the youngest of the major branches of the professional sciences, this paper addresses the use of geology by ancient Egyptians in building their civilization and the advanced knowledge of geology that they applied in building pyramids, extracting ores, and in quarrying. This includes a knowledge of crystallography employed in building pyramids and establishing obelisks; petrological knowledge is indicated in their selection of rock types with respect to character and durability; quarrying expertise is evident in their means of extraction of rocks for building; mineralogical knowledge is evident from their use of minerals, as well as the use of metals in reshaping and molding monuments. Knowledge of gemology and mining geology is evident from their use of gems and semi-precious stones, and their knowledge of how to prospect for and extract them. Their achievements in field geology include making the first geological map in the world. Knowledge of this history is useful to inform inventory-based geoconservation and around 7000 years of its history has left Egypt, replete with related geo-sites, classic sites illustrating geological principles, and examples of historical geological exploitation, geological controversy, and geoconservation. Archeologists have used geology as a science to explain some issues in the ancient history, but have never recognized the degree to which geology was used by the ancient Egyptians themselves. This article discusses the evidence from ancient Egypt that, far from being a recent science, geology was widely used in ancient Egypt.


Geology Geo-archeology Ancient Egypt Quarrying Mining Geoheritage Geoconservation 



The authors thank Dr. Debra Haneman for her critical view of the manuscript and encouragement, and hearty thanks to Prof Abd el-Maksoud for his fruitful advising and valuable comments. The authors are most grateful also for the assistance of Prof. Moheb Shaban and Prof. Abd el-Mohsen for their scientific support. Last but not least, I indebted to my colleague Shiren for our field trips, also we are deeply thankful to Dr. Judith for reviewing the article.


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Copyright information

© The European Association for Conservation of the Geological Heritage 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kholoud Mohamed AbdelMaksoud
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mahmoud A. Emam
    • 2
  1. 1.Natural Resources Department, Institute of African Research and StudiesCairo UniversityCairoEgypt
  2. 2.History Department, Institute of African Studies and ResearchCairo UniversityCairoEgypt

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