Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Were the Caesars Astronauts?

More than 21.000 cubic meters of solid rock, in individual blocks weighing each up to six tons, making up a total mass of 50.000 tons. It’s not possible to penetrate even a sharp razor blade between the massive blocks, perfectly fit with one another. After millennia, the monument reaching for the skies still preserve its simple and elegant forms that would be mirrored in so many places around the world.

As the old saying go, “man fears time. But time fears the Pont Du Gard“.

Because we are not talking about the Great Pyramid, but about the bridge built by the Romans around the beginning of the Christian Era.

pontdugardseta21
The Pont du Gard. The arrow points to mere human beings. [photo by Jack Johanson]

CLEOPATRA

Let us locate ourselves, as even a couple of thousand years are more than enough for our mundane perspective to get completely lost. First, a name: Cleopatra, the “last Queen of Egypt”, and indeed the last representative of the pharaohs, which is relevant since we just mentioned the Great Pyramid.

Cleopatra3After the assassination of Julius Caesar, with whom she had a son, the exuberant Queen (or not so much) involved herself with Mark Antony. The romance did not please the rest of the Romans at all, specially the idea of her son becoming the one and true Emperor.

Senate did what Senate does and declared war, they attacked the Egyptian forces in 31 BC, Mark Antony lost the battle and soon afterwards Egypt was invaded. The famous couple committed suicide, and their dramatic story would be told by one chap named William Shakespeare.

This all sound very dramatic indeed, very… Shakespeare. But those essential facts did happen, they are historical fact. And fact is, human beings fought those battles. Many died. Some survived. And those that survived, well, they wanted a nice retirement. For those that were Roman, they got it.

One of their favorite retirement destinations became the town of Nimes (Nemausus to them), on what is today the south of France. The emblem of Nimes was a crocodile on a palm tree — the crocodile represented Egypt, the palm tree the victory.

Nimes grew and became on the biggest cities in the world at the time. And being inhabited by Romans, including those rich, one thing was essential. Water. They bathed daily.

THE NIMES AQUEDUCT

A few more years passed, and we are now in the middle of the first century A.D., shortly after someone called Jesus created some stir but was quickly silenced more to the East. It was around then that one of the most amazing feats of ancient engineering would be completed.

With 50 km in length, the Nimes aqueduct transported 100 liters of water per second, going down just 34 cm for each kilometer. This translates into approximately 20.000 cubic meters of water hauled daily, falling just 17 meters over 50 km.

Most of the aqueduct was just over or under the surface, but on a special segment they built what time my be just beginning to fear. Crossing a river known today as Gardon, they built the Pont Du Gard.

With 49 meters in height and up to 275 meters in length, the bridge is made of three levels, with the upper one conducting the aqueduct. We already mentioned its total weight and volume, but let’s repeat that each block have up to six tons. They all fit perfectly, without any mortar or concrete.

blocogardnum32 Pont Du Gard was built around 40 AD, on a project that took around 15 years. There’s no reasonable doubt that it was built by the Romans. Beside the obvious archeological evidence, many blocks still have the inscriptions made by the builders. Mainly codes to help they place the blocks on their exact order and location, as each block was unique and carved to fit the next one.

Such indications of the logistical process of construction are also visible on the many protruding blocks along the structure. Marks on them make clear that temporary supporting structures were fixed on them during the construction.

No aliens after all. Just Romans who wanted to take a nice bath after conquering Egypt. Very mundane, but this shouldn’t diminish the beauty and human ingenuity that the Pont Du Gard so clearly demonstrates. Those that doubt the human capacity are just speaking about their own limitations.

Pont Du Gard is a World Heritage site recognized by UNESCO, and anyone visiting the south of France should visit it — perhaps even try jumping in the river. That may not be that ingenious, but sure as hell, it’s human, and I’m sure Romans may have tried it too.

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Posted in Aliens,Fortean,Skepticism | 4 comments

4 Comments so far

  1. A-J February 6th, 2008 5:44 am

    I usually enjoy your articles and look forward to new ones, however, here your knowledge of Roman history is rather lacking.

    Cleopatra and Mark Antony make much more than a Shakespear play. Antony did not commit suicide: Cleopatra killed him. She offered his murder to Octavian (the co-dictator of Rome and victor over Antony). He accused her of assassinating the co-dictator and she had to commit suicide. In Roman tradition, this was an admission of guilt. Egypt had been, until then, a protectorate of Rome, now it became a province. With all this in hand, Octavian returned to Rome and founded the Empire. He, as Augustus, was the first emperor. Cleopatra’s brat had no chance of ever taking over the reigns of Rome: he was illigitemate at best and, everybody knew, not Caesar’s son.

    But more to the point of the aqueduct, what most distinguished Roman engineering from Egyptian engineering, was the fact that Romans used cement. No wonder those blocks are still holding. Then again, recent studies have shown that the pyramids are also made of cement…

  2. Mori February 6th, 2008 1:11 pm

    Hi AJ,

    Pont Du Gard in particular used no mortar, no cement, this is clear from multiple references.

    And the theory that the pyramids were built using concrete… may be interesting, but it’s not very plausible (I’ll post about it soon).

    As for Mark Antony and Cleopatra, well, those may be different versions. I should have pointed to them. Dramatic nonetheless.

    Cheers

  3. Tom October 12th, 2008 9:44 am

    I went to (the?) Pont du Gard a couple of years back. It’s incredible. :)

  4. Cathy C July 19th, 2010 2:05 pm

    The Romans knew how to build an arch, and they were excellent architects. The fact that it stands today is testament to their techniques. It was not uncommon for ancient builders to forgo cement, although they were capable of making it. They could pay many laborers to simply cut stone to exacting standards.They knew how to measure and check measurements by pre-assembling each arch in a wooden frame. Any block that failed the test was discarded for one that fit correctly. Dummies, they were not!

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