Posts Tagged ‘Egypt’

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A south Wales engineering company is using 21st Century technology, including air bags, to help preserve one of Egypt’s

Giant inflatable air bags are being used to make the 4,700 year old pyramid safe

most imposing landmarks, dating back to 2,700 BC.

The Pyramid of Djoser is Egypt’s oldest step-built pyramid. But it was at risk of collapse after an earthquake in 1992.

Newport specialist engineers Cintec, who have previously provided solutions to structural problems at landmarks such as the White House and Windsor Castle, were set the task of helping it last another 4,700 years.

The team has now completed phase one of the work at the site at Saqqara, south west of Cairo.

It involved using pressurised air-filled bags, in order to hold up the roof of the 60m high pyramid, while more permanent repairs are carried out.

However managing director of Cintec, Peter James, says this is just the first step in a project which has been complicated by the recent political upheaval in Egypt

Peter James, Cintec Engineering

We were all packed and ready to begin work in January, just when the Egyptian government began to fall,” said Mr James.

“We’ve had to sit on our hands for another four months before getting the go-ahead; all the while hearing stories of looting, and worrying about how much additional damage was going to be caused.”

“Fortunately, even though most of our computers and equipment were stolen, the pyramid itself wasn’t touched; which is just as well considering how unstable it was when we got in there.”

Mr James, who started his career as a buildings inspector for Cardiff Council, said, even with the amount of preparation they’d done, they still weren’t prepared for quite how badly damaged the supporting ceiling of the burial chamber really was.

“The earthquake had essentially shifted everything sideways, and an 8m section, in the shape of an inverted cup, had dropped out.”

“Until we got the scaffolding in place, we had no idea what was holding up the remaining 60m of stone.

“It was a lethal and massive game of Ker-Plunk; trying to hold everything up, without dislodging anything further.”

Inside the Step Pyramid

The air bag technology Cintec employed, was originally created by Mr James to aid in the safer disposal of IEDs in Afghanistan.

It works on the principal of surrounding an explosive with a bag, strong enough to withstand an explosion or collapse, but with such precise control over the pressure, that it only just kisses the surface of an object, without adding even greater forces to unstable materials.

However in the case of the Pyramid of Djoser, Mr James was forced to adapt his technology; substituting a water filling for compressed air.

“We’d originally planned to use our Water Wall system, but as soon as we got a good look at the chamber, it was clear that inflating the bags with water wasn’t going to work.”

Location map

The pyramid is at Saqqara, south of Cairo

The rocks in the ceiling were too jagged, and posed an unacceptable risk of deluging the 4,500-year old pyramid, which has been bone-dry since it was built.

“But also we hadn’t realised that there were secret tunnels running under the chamber’s floor, so I didn’t think it would be able to take the weight of water-filled supports.”

Knitted together

“So we used the delays to stress-test our system with a compressed air filling. We needed them to withstand 12 Kilonewtons per square inch, but they actually did better than we could possibly imagine, comfortably supporting 28!”

The step pyramid was built above the tomb of pharaoh Djoser, a warrior who reigned in the Old Kingdom in the third dynasty for 19 years. Mummified remains were excavated in the 1930s.

Eleven air pillars now hold up the pyramid’s roof, with another six, flatter, bespoke columns currently being manufactured to support the lower corners of the burial chamber.

Once stable, Mr James and his team will perform a permanent repair, threading the latest in thermo-dynamic steel rods diagonally through the steps of the pyramid, in such a way that the six levels will be knitted together without being visible.

The steel, which Cintec have previously used to improve the bomb-resistance of major landmark buildings around the world, is designed to expand and contract with the pyramid, under the extreme temperatures of the desert.

Their final task will be to reclaim as many of the fallen original rocks as possible, and re-point them with authentic 2,700 BC mortar.

“The really tricky parts are the visible bits of the pyramid.”

“Underneath the surface we’re able to use 21st Century technology to make it as strong as we know how to, but on the outside it needs to be 100% authentic.”

“That’s involved finding the strongest blend, by testing hundreds of combinations of mortar, all entirely made from components which would have been available to the ancient Egyptians.”

This article has been taken directly from BBC Wales News: 

For Further information on Cintec please contact Rob Petersen on or 02920549597






Cintec International’s head office in Newport, South Wales, is pleased to announce winning a three-year contract to strengthen the façade of the Confederation Building which overlooks St.John’s, in Newfoundland, Canada. This follows a contract to help preserve the World’s first Pyramid known as the Step Pyramid in Egypt, which has intrigued interest across the globe.

Completed in 1960 at a cost of $9 million, the building houses all departments, boards and commissions of the Provincial Government of Newfoundland with over 1,200 personnel located in it.

The contract has been awarded to Cintec’s Canadian Division under the direction of Robert Lloyd-Rees Chief Operating Officer by The Limen Group based in Toronto, ON The Masonry Contactor. Robert says of the contract win; “We are thrilled to have been awarded this prestigious three-year contract after a competitive tender process. Worth more than $500,000, the work will help to strengthen and preserve one of Canada’s best known regional seats of Government “.

He concludes: “test anchors have already been installed to ensure that Cintec’s anchoring system is compatible with the structure of the building .The work will start once the weather improves.”

Peter James, Managing Director of Cintec, adds; “This new contract demonstrates, once again how versatile and sustainable our anchoring system is. Every project we undertake around the World has different requirements and we produce a tailor-made solution which satisfies our client’s specific needs. Robert and his team are to be congratulated on yet another very important contract.”




For further information, please contact:

Rob Petersen: Managing Director, Petersens:

Cerys Palmer: Senior PR Account Manager, Petersens:

+4402920 549597

Pyramid of Djoser (Step Pyramid)

A Newport-based structural engineering company has recently secured a contract to save the first pyramid ever built in Egypt.  Cintec has been enlisted by the High Council of Egyptian Antiquities to preserve the pyramid of Djoser, otherwise known as the Step Pyramid, which was built in the 27th century BC for the burial of Pharaoh Djoser by the mystical architect Inhoptep. A major earthquake in 1992 compounded the results of many other seismic events over the eons and has caused serious faults in this famous archeological structure. Partial collapse of the burial chamber ceiling as a direct result of the earthquake could ultimately lead the collapse of the pyramid’s central chamber if action is not imminently taken.

Cintec, a structural repair and reinforcement systems company with headquarters in Wales, has an extensive track record in preserving historical landmarks across the world.  The company has maintained structures including, the Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Iron Bridge Gorge and countless Castles and Churches in the UK in addition to The White House complex Washington DC and the Chicago Board of Trade Building in the USA, the Canadian Parliament Building, Thirteen historic mosques and buildings in Cairo, A pharonic temple Hibis in the Western Desert, and the Red Pyramid near Giza in Egypt, the European Parliament building in the centre of Athens, using its highly advanced and innovative engineering systems.   Such systems include stainless steel structural reinforcement anchors, which are surrounded with a special fabric sock and inserted into the body of the structure to be secured. The anchor is then inflated with a sympathetic micro grout designed for the purpose using a combination of pressure and vacuum to completely fill the assembly.

To support the partial collapse of the damaged ceiling, Cintec are using another technology it has developed, known as Waterwall.

Example of Air Bag

This recent development uses both Water and air technology, to mitigate the effects of improvised explosive devices in particular dirty bombs, provides anti-ram barriers and effective mobile barriers for instant relief from flooding.  Cintec’s team of experienced engineers will use a combination of these methods in order to temporarily secure the damaged ceiling while permanently repairing and protecting the Step Pyramid from further damage without altering the structure’s outer appearance. The overall value of the project is £16 million Egyptian Pounds.

Peter James, Managing Director of Cintec says:

‘We are extremely pleased to have been appointed for this project and are always looking for new methods to support and maintain historical landmarks across the globe.  We recognise the importance of both historical and religious structures to their culture’s and hope to continue to develop advanced reinforcement systems that will preserve archeological structures for future generations.  The Step Pyramid project is of particular importance to us as the entire structure could be destroyed at any point due to the damage on the ceiling and roof caused by the earthquake.  We aim to work as efficiently as possible on this project without comprising the design or strength of the structure.’

The reinforcement company is familiar with working under great pressure and was recently called upon by the Indian Government to strengthen the Mangi Bridge in Dehli before the beginning of the Commonwealth Games.  Not only did the Cintec team deliver ergonomically sound results, but they also managed to complete the project five days ahead of schedule.   Cintec is currently awaiting decisions on further projects throughout the UK, Europe and the rest of the world, amounting to over 10 million pounds.


Just some of our coverage:

BBC Wales News

ITV Wales News

The Daily Mail (online edition)

Wales Online

The Independent

The Independent 6th January 2011

For further information contact:

Rob Petersen, Managing Director

Petersens Ltd.


Becci Gould, Account Executive