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Propping up Egypt’s oldest pyramid

September 1st, 2011 / By: / Projects

Pharaoh Djoser, a warrior who reigned in Egypt 4,700 years ago, commissioned the first pyramid in Memphis as a permanent resting place. However, an earthquake in 1992 shifted the multi-step pyramid sideways, destabilizing its roof. Peter James, a former Royal Navy lieutenant commander, adapted airbags used as explosive cushions by the British Army to a new application—holding up the shaky structure while carrying out repairs. James’s company, Cintec Intl. Ltd., Newport, South Wales, specializes in anchoring and reinforcement of large structures, and received a £1.8 million contract to carry out repairs on the Djoser pyramid. Instead of filling airbags with water (as was done to protect against improvised explosives in Afghanistan), Cintec filled bags with compressed air to prop up the crumbling roof during the renovation. (The Cintec team also helped repair Windsor Castle after it had been damaged by fire in 1993, as well as working on stabilizing Buckingham Palace and the White House, among other high-profile historic buildings.)

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