Vitrification of stones in antiquity. Did An Ancient Advanced Technology Existed 5000 Years Ago Or Even Before That?

This post examines the chemistry of vitrification
to determine if there is a link between the vitrified stones that are found in Iron Age Scottish hillforts and in the ancient megalithic
stone work of South America.

The vitrified stones in the walls of the hillforts
in Scotland appear haphazard and look like
they were the result of accidental or intentional
fires rather than the deliberate application
of heat technology. The stones are fused with
evidence that gas bubbles formed within the
melted rock, and the vitrified walls have
a coarse appearance that is not aesthetically
Part of the vitrified wall at Sainte-Suzanne

Theories Of Melting The Rocks To Combine These Structures

There is no lime or cement in these structures, all of them are reinforced to some extent by the fusion of the built rocks. In extreme heat conditions, this merger was not as complete in another fortress or even on the same fortress wall. In some cases, the stone is partially melted and calcinated. Otherwise, the adjacent edges are joined and glued tightly. In most cases, the pieces of stone are wrapped in a coating such as glass enamel and held together.

Though it is not clear why or how the walls were subjected to vitrification. Some historians have argued that it was done to strengthen the wall, but in contrast the heating actually weakens the structure. 

By contrast, the vitrification of the megaliths

in South America seem to have been made using

well-established technology. Weathering has

crumbled away parts of the vitrified crust

in some stones, revealing a rougher surface

underneath. Many stones have retained their

sheen for hundreds or perhaps thousands of

Source image: Wikimedia
Source image: Wikimedia
Source image: Wikimedia

A high temperature is required to melt stone.

Lava from volcanoes is produced at temperatures

of about 1200 degrees Celsius. After cooling,

lava can vitrify to form glasslike substances,

such as black obsidian. Ordinary wood fires

usually are not hot enough to melt stones.

A study of the Dun Deardail hillfort in Scotland

found that the tops of the stone walls were

the most heavily vitrified. This can be explained

if ashes of a burning superstructure on top

of the wall fell on the rocks during a fire.

This will become clear when we take a look

at Iron Age fort construction and vitrification

with wood ashes.
Reconstructed Iron Age fort of Biskupin Poland: Wikipedia
The Iron Age fort of Biskupin in Poland was

occupied from about 800 to 475 BC. Its reconstruction

helps to visualize the typical features of

Iron Age forts. The ramparts or defensive

walls of Iron Age forts were thick to be able

to hold wooden watch towers with thatched

roofs to protect the guards from the rain

and cold. The thick walls allowed defenders

to climb on top and fight the enemy with slings,

arrows and other projectiles. The Scottish

forts were constructed with wooden beams and

drystone instead of the packed dirt of the

Polish forts.

For defense, the forts were surrounded by

moats and fortified with stockade fences.

When the wooden structures and thatched roofs

on top of the ramparts caught fire, the hot

ashes dropped on the stones of the wall and

acted as a flux that lowered the melting point

of the rock wall to cause vitrification.

Ash glazes are ceramic glazes made of the

ash of wood or straw. A wood fire can provide

the chemical components for vitrification,

particularly when burning timbers and a thatch

roof fall on top of the stone ramparts. Wood

ash contains 25 to 45 percent of calcium carbonate,

about 10 percent of potash, and less than

one percent phosphate and other trace elements.

Potash is mainly potassium carbonate. Ash

glazing began initially by accident around

1500 BC in China during the Shang Dynasty

as ash from the burnt wood in the kiln landed

on pots. Around 1000 BC, the Chinese started

adding the ash before the pot went into the kiln.

Ash glaze was the first glaze used in East

Asia, and contained only ash, clay, and water.

In Korea, a traditional ash glaze is still

used today for Onggi pots used for cooking

and for fermenting foods such as kimchi. The

glaze consists of finely ground wood ash and

leaf mold made into a thin slurry that is

applied to the pots by dipping. After the

pots are fired in a kiln they come out with

a lustrous vitrified sheen from the wood ash

glaze. This traditional glazing technology

provides the basis for the hypothesis that

the vitrification of the Scottish forthills

was caused by accumulation of wood ashes on

top of the stone walls when the fort was on


One Possible Explanation of Vitrification Of Megaliths in South America

We now take a look at the vitrified megaliths of South America. Graham Hancock's web site has an article by Jan Peter de Jong and Christopher Jordan that describes the vitrified stonework in the Inca vestiges of Peru. The article mentions that a small stone sample from the Peruvian site called Tetecaca was tested and
that the main body of the stone shows the spectral composition of limestone with high levels of calcium, carbon, oxygen and minor trace elements.

This is expected since the
Sacsayahuaman archaeological park is on a karst landscape of limestone bedrock.

The vitrified surface of the stone shows a very different spectrum of elements compared to the limestone body. The main difference is that silicon is the predominant component and oxygen, aluminum and magnesium are also significantly higher than the body of the stone. Calcium and carbon are much lower thanthe body sample. The silicon, aluminum and magnesium seem to indicate that a material was added to the surface of the stone.

We should keep in mind that oxygen, silicon and
aluminum are the three most common elements
of the Earth's crust and that they are the constituents of clay minerals which are hydrous
aluminum phyllosilicates with molecular formulas
containing 3 atoms of silicon or aluminum for every 4 atoms of oxygen.

The chemical decomposition of limestone with heat and the reaction of the resultant compounds with water and carbon dioxide in the air can shed some light on the process of vitrification.

Limestone is basically calcium carbonate, which decomposes at a temperature of 825 degrees
Celsius into calcium oxide and carbon dioxide.

Calcium oxide is commonly called quicklime,and it reacts with water to form calcium hydroxide and heat. Calcium hydroxide, also called slaked lime, is a component of bricklayer's mortar and it turns back into limestone by reacting with carbon dioxide in the air. From these reactions, it is clear that a cycle of heating and cooling limestone can change the characteristics of the surface.

Let us say that a slab of limestone is heated so that quicklime forms on its surface. Afte the slab cools down, the surface may be covered with a layer of moist clay that will integrate the aluminosilicates of the clay with the quicklime in a thin layer that hardens into a type of Portland cement, which is basically
a mixture of quicklime, silica and alumina.

Variations of this procedure may have been
used for vitrification of some South American limestone surfaces.
Sacsayahuaman. Source image: Pinterest

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