The Schist Disk
Today we will be delving into the ‘mystery’ of the Schist Disc, also often called the Egyptian Tri-Lobed Disc or the Disc of Sabu. This item from history has almost as many theories as to its intended purpose as it is years old. We will look at some of them and I will hit you with what I think.
The Schist Disc is 610 mm in diameter and 106mm in height with three lobes bent vertically with a curved triangular shape. It has hole in the centre.
It is known as the Schist disc as it is made of Schist stone. This material is a meta-silicone extremely brittle sedimentary rock. It is not an uncommon material for the construction of vases and bowls in ancient Egypt. The consensus is that it is very delicate and difficult to work with and would require an expert hand. We have plenty of examples of vessels made of Schist with intricate hieroglyphic carvings through Egyptian antiquity.
Famed archaeologist Walter B.Emery discovered the disc on 10 January 1936 in the tomb of Sabu (around 3100–3000 BC) (hence the variant of the name), son of the Pharaoh Adjib. We know a little of Adjib none of it overly impressive.
What was it used for?
The more common, ‘mainstream’ beliefs include:
· A Mixing tool for mixing grains, with meat and water, and perhaps fruits.
· Water pump
· Ancient ‘lazy Susan’ for food distribution.
· Rope making/storing.
It is hard to argue with these, although long term use as a water-pump of mixing tool may be problematic due to the fragile nature of the stone.
But these theories are no fun — so let’s look at some fun stuff.
It was an ancient wheel
Now the first time we see a wheel depicted in Egypt was around the time the Hyksos invaded in 1640B.C and it is from a frieze from 1500B.C. Thus, if it was a wheel, it would be history redefining as it shows the use of the wheel around 1500 years earlier than orthodox history contends. There is a second, large problem. The material used would not hold up to the rigour that a wheel would have had to undergo.
It is a fly wheel of a hyperdrive system
I cannot say much on this one. The theory goes that this is a stone ‘reproduction’ or ‘model’ of a metallic fly-wheel that was used by ancient aliens in a interstellar machine. Erich von Däniken popularised this theory — I am no engineer, but it is a very cool thought?
When spun, using the center hole as a turning point, mounted in an axel, a hypnotic resonance could be produced inducing out of body meditative and hypnotic experiences. There is no evidence for this and no test, it is just a theory. It is based around the stone used and the speed spun.
Propulsion device for a watercraft
This sounds ok in theory; the shape looks about right and I have seen experiments online with replicas pushing water. But a stone object for this purpose seems counter intuitive.
This is my favourite.
YouTuber Jahannah James talks about her experience in the Cairo Museum and her guide Youseff who told her a story about his father Abdel Hakim who was part of a team who in the late 1970’s early 1980’s made a replica of the disc for experimentation. They used a wooden pole and spun the disc. They sent sound waves at the disc which resonated and created an infinity shaped energy field. The experimenters threw water and other objects into the field where they would hover in place. This is a wild story and there are no papers or recordings of the alleged experimentation.
However, there is a real phenomenon called Acoustic levitation which is a is a method for suspending matter in air against gravity using acoustic radiation pressure from high intensity sound waves. This is factual and while fairly recent (not 5000 years old) has been well researched. So, it is not beyond the realm of possibility.
What I think
Based on the fact that we have other similar (not as unique but similar) bowls from Egyptian antiquity such as the Metasiltstone bowl from the 3rd dynasty which is a semi-cylindrical 300 mm long vessel from Saqqara, manufactured from alabaster.
Along with the Genesis bowl from the 4th dynasty.
I believe that the Schists Disc is a religious use vessel. Incense in large bundles was placed in the center hole and offerings to the Gods were placed around the incense. The shape is reaching toward the place of the gods and ushering forth the offerings. Religion was part of life for the Pharaoh's, the fact this was in a tomb adds weight to my belief. It was there so the Pharaoh's son could make offerings in the afterlife.
I would love to hear what you think so let me know — not theory is too strange!
Hassaan, Galal Ali (2016). Mechanical Engineering in Ancient Egypt, Part XIII: Stone Vessels (Predynastic to Old Kingdom Periods). International Journal of Recent Engineering Science (IJRES), volume19 April 2016 14 retrieved from https://scholar.cu.edu.eg/?q=galal/files/me_part_xiii_ijres.pdf