The disc of Sabu is a dome shaped and perforated plate that was installed inside a counterflow chemical reactions unit that would become on Sneferu's reign a Solvay-like tower for the manufacturing of Sodium Carbonate Na2CO3, the purest mineral form of natron, the salt used by ancient Egyptians for the mummification process.
A metasiltstone schist artifact from the first Dynasty
The disc of Sabu was discovered in the tomb of prince Sabu (around 3100-3000 BC), pharaoh Anedjib’s son, by Walter Bryan Emery, a British Egyptologist who devoted his career to the excavation of archaeological sites along the Nile Valley. Anedjib was the fifth pharaoh of the first dynasty of Ancient Egypt.
The disc is made of metamorphic siltstone, a very fragile material that is actually a schist stone, and had been entirely carved from a single block. The disc of Sabu has a maximum diameter of 61 cm (24.01 inches) and a maximum height of 10.6 cm (4.17 inches) ; in the middle it has a hole of about 8 cm in diameter (3.15 inches).
From Wikipedia : "Possible uses: mixing tool for mixing grains, with meat and water, and perhaps fruits and other. Other uses attempted - no further use, when inventor died. Tool used during large gatherings. Not a very successful design, buried with inventor. Sentimental value."
Other explanations include : "incense holder", "lotus flower shape vase" or "piece of a steam machine or turbine"...
Many theories have been written about the Disc of Sabu, but the disc was not a part of any machinery involving rotating pieces of equipment or any steam machine.
Left and right : the Meidum Pyramid, built by pharaoh Sneferu. Center : the Red Pyramid at Dashur, by the same king. What is remarkable in the Meidum pyramid is that it shows a perfect split of the Red Pyramid layout in 2 completely independent parts. Sneferu's pyramids were built to achieve the manufacturing of the purest mineral form of sodium carbonate, Na2CO3 also known as natron.
To understand the disc of Sabu, you first need to figure out the Red Pyramid of pharaoh Sneferu
The Red Pyramid is the one telling us that the all thing was about sodium carbonate chemical manufacturing. The ammonia smell of this pyramid and the layout of its chambers tell us that it was operated exactly the same way as for the 1800s European Sodium Carbonate plants did, with 3 adjoining and successive chambers, separated by 2 low ceiling corridors and ended by an exhaust conduct.
The Meidum pyramid wasn't a functional pyramid, but was used as a scale model, a mockup of the Red Pyramid, and served to make fine adjustments of the 2 big layouts of its operating process.
1/ The limestone kiln layout (red) for lime and CO2 production
The red layout indicates the "energy circuit", from the limestone kiln that was operated inside what is called today "the burial chamber", to the descending passage and the exit of the pyramid. Lime and CO2 were used inside the 2 chemical reaction chambers, through a Solvay-like process.
2/ The 2 chemical reaction chambers layout (green)
The green layout shows the 2 chemical reacting chambers and the start of the descending passage, where the natron was separated from the steam getting out of the pyramid.
The Red Pyramid is in some way, the most important of all pyramids, because it tells us what was the real goal of the 3 pyramids of Sneferu and the real function of the Great Pyramid of Khufu, his son.
For details about the natron manufacturing in the Red Pyramid, please visit this page of the blog:
On the left is the lower part of the Red Pyramid descending passage (looking up) and showing only the natural color of the stone blocks. On the right is the same passage (looking down), above the lower section, and showing red and yellow deposits. Where the ceiling has been recently damaged, we can see the natural color of the stone. Red and yellows really are deposits, they are not the natural color of the blocks : some activity inside the pyramid, after the passage was built, was responsible for their presence.
The red deposits on the Red Pyramid descending passage and the ferrite iron of the disc
The schist material contains a mineral with a very high concentration of iron : the ferrite. It is possible that the red deposits that are still visible inside the descending passage of the Red Pyramid (mostly on the ceiling), are coming from this ferrite mineral. The heat coming from the limestone kiln CO2 would have extract ferrite iron from the disc of Sabu and it would have then deposit itself in the passage, where it would have rust and turn red.
It is still unclear to me where the yellow deposits we can also find in the passage are coming from.
Water, heat and cold insensibility : the metamorphic schist resistance properties
The disc of Sabu is made of a very particular stone that gives to it properties perfectly fit for the job : the metamorphic schist. The disc would have been placed inside counterflow chemical reaction towers or units (the Abu Gorab stone basins) and submitted to very harsh conditions : the disc would have been in contact with very concentrated brine (50% salt solution or more) and saturated with ammonia NH3, with very hot CO2 gas. Also, as we can see on the Abu Gorab 3 holes cracked stone basins, the different units, stacked or lined up, would have been cool down and subject to high levels of thermal stress.
Well, guess what... the disc of Sabu is made of a metamorphic stone, a schist stone similar to the kind used for a slate roof. Schist is completely waterproof and insensible to cold or hot temperatures.
Metamorphic schist isn't sensible to fire or frost damaging. These properties explain why, in many regions of the world, this material is used to cover house's roofs : slates are made of metamorphic schist.
If the Red Pyramid has a nearly identical layout than a European Sodium Carbonate production plant in the early 1800s, the Bent Pyramid, just next to the Red one, already starts to show imprints for towers of chemical reactions like the ones used nowadays with the Solvay process.
The Sodium Carbonate manufacturing by the Solvay process in Europe (1861 to nowdays)
That Solvay process was invented in Belgium in 1861. In Europe, the industrial chemistry started with the glass industry, and the ones who mastered the glass manufacturing process, in the first place, were the Egyptians, 5000 years ago. That is 500 years before Sneferu's reign and the Great Pyramid.
Schist discs like the disc of Sabu (First Dynasty) were used inside Solvay-like towers as dome shaped and perforated plates for counterflow chemical reactions, probably until way after the end of the Fourth Dynasty.
The counterflow chemical principle is the key of the disc of Sabu original function
The Solvay process used in the Sodium Carbonate manufacturing, is based on the counter current principle : the saturated ammonia gas NH3 brine, slowly passes through the carbonating tower, from top to bottom, while carbon dioxide CO2 is injected at the bottom of the tower and forced to top. Brine and CO2 are both passing through the perforations of the mushroom shaped plates, counterflow.
One disc for 2 possibilities of counterflow chemical reactions
Other the years, probably dozen of discs, identical or similar to the schist disc of Sabu, would have been crafted. There could have been 2 major uses for such discs :
1/ The ammonia saturation of the brine
The 50% salt concentration brine had first to be saturated with NH3, ammonia gas. The brine was poured on the top dome shaped side of the disc and the NH3 was injected at the bottom of the unit or the tower so that the liquid and the ascending gas would react through this counterflow design.
Typically, this is the saturation tower of the Solvay process.
2/ The carbonation of the ammoniated brine
Once the brine is saturated, the same process takes place, but this time this is the ammonia saturated brine that is gonna be reacting with an ascending flow of high temperature CO2 coming from the limestone kiln.
Typically, this is the carbonation tower of the Solvay process.
A lot of mythological explanations exist about the Djed pillars, but they were actually very real : they were counterflow chemical reaction towers and maybe most of them were Solvay towers for the Sodium Carbonate production.
Djed pillars are counterflow chemical reaction towers
The Solvay process for Sodium Carbonate production is pretty complicated and involves a few items you can't miss : a limestone kiln (like the one that was operated inside the "burial chamber" of the Red Pyramid) and Solvay towers.
These towers are extremely important because the Solvay process is based on chemical reactions that demand a lot of transfers between liquids and gases.
While the liquids are dripping down the towers, gases are injected counterflow from the bottom of the towers and are forced to maximum chemical exchanges by dome shaped structures, or diaphragms, piled up inside the towers.
The disc of Sabu was fully protected inside staked casing units that were forming Solvay towers.
On the left drawing, the liquid is poured inside the tower from a point near the top (P), while the gas is injected at the bottom of the tower (C). This is a Solvay tower, so the liquid is an ammonia saturated salt brine solution, and the gas is CO2 coming from a limestone kiln. The result is the carbonation of the ammoniated brine and the reaction takes place onto the dome shaped and perforated plates. The disc of Sabu is one of this plates. Each segment of the tower is cooled down by water pipes (B).
If most of the counterflow towers had been destroyed, there is one place in Egypt where some of these elements can still be found, and they are the stone basins of the Sun Temple of Nyuserre at Abu Gorab, near Memphis.
This Sun Temple had been built for King Nyuserre Ini, the sixth ruler of the Fifth Dynasty during the Old Kingdom period.
The steam machine theory of Gizo Vashakidze, Institute of Applied Ecology, Tbilisi State University, Georgia.
This theory actually got very close to decipher the disc of Sabu. The author understood very well that the disc was designed to deal with hot gases and liquids. Unfortunately, he thought of a steam machine, because he made a model that shows very interesting properties regarding of steam dispersal from a pan of hot water.
Extract from his work : "The appearance of the disc of Sabu has generated quire a different idea in me. According to its shape I have supposed that this thing was created by ancient Egyptians for the contact of air and water. To substantiate this idea I have made the dummy of this disc. I erected the vertical axis where the disc dummy was put and made the disc to move vertically with the help of ropes, up and down. Then I poured hot water in the vessel below."
If you want to have a look at his work, please click here
The upside down position of the disc of Sabu inside the counterflow reaction chambers
In some way, the steam machine of Gizo Vashakidze is emphasizing the fact that the disc of Sabu was indeed designed to deal with ascending steam or other kind of hot gases.
But we can also find other experiments showing that the disc was also designed to deal with liquid, poured on its dome shaped face. For that, you need to watch the following video, here. The experiment consist of placing the disc in a water flow on both sides and see what happens to the rotating speed of the disc (actually, a 3-D printed copy of the disc, of course).
The result is simple and obvious : it is rotating, but you would have put anything, it would have rotate the same way. You would have put a perfect ball or a book, it would have rotate. The interesting thing about this experiment is that when you put the disc with the 3 lobes on top it is rotating 60 rpm, and when you put the disc with the dome face on top, it is rotating 94 rpm. That is a 56% increase. And that increase tells us that the disc was indeed, designed to receive poured liquid on its dome shaped face.
The disc of Sabu was put upside down inside the counterflow chemical reaction chambers (or towers).
The disc of Sabu was most certainly present inside some, or all of the Abu Gorab stone basins. The 2 lateral holes of the 3 hole basins were probably used to cool down the unit by water pipe.
The segmentation of the Solvay towers in identical units and the stone basins of the Abu Gorab "Solar Temple"
The stone basins on the left, with a single hole, look like they were filled with liquid and the ones on the right, with 3 holes, where probably cooled down by a pipe passing through the 2 lateral holes. Most of these basins show horizontal fractures passing through these 2 lateral holes, most probably resulting of the thermal stress induced by the cooling process. Please note that the central hole is nearly everytime free of any fracture, like the one we see here.
It is still unclear to me though, if the segments were stacked vertically to form a tower or if they were aligned horizontally around the "altar".
I didn't find any mention of the dimensions of the square parts of the stone basins, neither the dimensions of the central part of the altar. It looks like there could have been a tower in this location, but without accurate dimensions, there can't be any strong belief of this.
The known part of the Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza, was designed to produce cold inside the Queen's chamber. The temperature could have been as low as 5°C or 10°C (41°F or 50°F), by an evaporative cooling process inside taking place in the horizontal passage. The cold was used to cool down counterflow chemical reactions, most probably very similar to the modern ammonia Solvay process used for Sodium Carbonate manufacturing (the purest mineral form of natron, the salt used for the mummification).
A scene from the Hall of Osiris at Abydos, which shows the raising of the djed pillars ceremony. By showing their ability to perform chemistry craft, pharaohs were getting their legitimacy to reign. That was perceived as the expression of magical powers directly given by the gods.
The mastering of the chemistry craft as a civilization foundation
I suspect that mastering the chemistry craft by the pharaohs was a fundamental leverage of their legitimacy to reign.
The disc of Sabu found in 1936 was dated from the First Dynasty. It is unclear to me at that time if any clue of chemistry manufacturing could or had already been discovered before that period, but it is possible that chemistry craft was even the origin of the First Dynasty.
The mastering of the chemistry craft was probably the real secret and foundation of the entire ancient Egyptian civilization.
The pharaohs legitimacy to reign because of chemistry performances
Chemistry wasn't hidden from the people, on the contrary it would have been presented to them in what we could describe today as genuine shows. People would believe that those performances were coming from the gods, because it would have look like it was magical.
Pharaohs were given their magical power directly from the gods.
Those chemistry performances would have take place in the numerous temples there are all over Egypt. I can only assume that failure to perform such chemistry craft, could be enough to end kingdoms.
All the parts of the theory (reverse chronological order) : https://www.milleetunetasses.com/blog/
The Dendera Light Bulbs : the complete description of the cold production and its use in Solvay towers
The Disc of Sabu : a counterflow chemical reaction perforated plate used in Solvay towers
The Scarab Amulets : the complete description of the grand gallery's operating cycle
The Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza
The sarcophagus : a bio-sand filter for the production of drinking water
The horizontal passage : an evaporative cooling unit
The grand gallery : the heart of the operating cycle of the pyramid, with the wooden scarab
The shut-down of the pyramid : the grotto and the draining of the inclined well
The pyramids of Sneferu
Sneferu : the revolutionary quest for immortality
The Bent Pyramid : the chemical sand filter and the last trials before the Great Pyramid
Abstract (english) : "The Khufu's Great Pyramid Air Processing Unit"
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