The Curious Case of Polygonal Masonry

or… the mystery of the many-sided megalithic materials

Sacsayhuaman, Peru

All around the world, on every continent except for Antarctica, there exists examples of ancient stonework which exhibit the same construction technique, whereby individual stone blocks are oddly shaped, incredibly large, and held together by their construction alone – ie, there is no mortar used. Known as Polygonal Masonry, and falling under the broader categories of “Cyclopean” and “Megalithic”, the shaping and fitting of the blocks is intricate and extremely precise, fitting together in often astounding ways and so completely accurately that it is not possible to slide a proverbial sheet of paper between.

Archaeologists will tell you that these walls were made by whoever the leading civilisation was in the area – in Italy they’re the product of the Romans; in Greece they’re the Ancient Greeks; in Egypt the dynastic Egyptians; in Mexico & Peru they’re the Aztecs and Inca, and so on. To support this, they often point to the existence of other constructions in the area which they have definitively dated as evidence of their assertions.

Megalithic construction at Machu Picchu, clearly showing cruder, later masonry on top.

As every First Year archeology student knows, archaeology is all about layers and the lower or deeper the layer, the older it must be. However, the polygonal walls are, more often than not, beneath these structures and have never provided dating evidence of their own. There is also the fact that the confirmed Roman / Greek / Egyptian / Incan / etc buildings are almost always of a completely different construction method and design to what they are above, yet that usually doesn’t concern the experts.

Furthermore, the blocks are invariably much larger than the other, obviously later, masonry, and weigh far in excess of what would have been possible to move given the technology available at the supposed time of their construction. Indeed, some are so massive that it would be impossible to move even with today’s advanced machinery.

Chisel (27.3.12) and mallet (24.1.76).
Egyptian Stone Mason’s Chisel, ca. 2,051–2,000BCE.
Image credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Most of the claimed builders of these walls did not possess the technology to even quarry blocks of this size and precision. Mainstream academia will happily explain that these were cut using copper and stone tools, as this is the only evidence that they do actually have of the construction methods used during these periods. To their minds it is obvious fact that, because they only have evidence for copper and stone tools, then these must have been used. The problem with this is that copper is a relatively soft metal which is incapable of being used on very hard material such as granite. They then argue that it is perfectly possible to quarry limestone, and even granite, by skilled quarrymen identifying the exact grain of the rock and using wedges, sand and water to split the rock exactly where it is needed. However, that doesn’t explain how polygonal blocks were then crafted into their unique, form-fitting shapes, nor how they were transported often hundreds of miles from the quarries.

And then there is the fact that, whilst the best and most extensive examples are to be found in Mesoamerica and northern South America, examples of polygonal masonry can be found on every continent of the world (except for Antarctica, but then who knows what lies beneath the ice?) Mainstream academia will tell you that these walls were all constructed at a time when there was no global trade, or even contact of any kind between the continents. They seem perfectly happy to suggest that each and every one of these sites is just an amazing coincidence; that, somehow, the construction, quarrying, shaping and transportation techniques were all developed by each civilisation completely independently of each other.

Cuzco, Peru

Even if each example of polygonal masonry was individually and coincidentally developed, we still have absolutely no idea as to how and why it was. The why is possibly easier to imagine, as it has been suggested that such jointing is an excellent way to earthquake-proof your construction. However, that still leaves us with no idea as to how they were constructed. Even today, with our modern tools such as computer controlled routers and lasers, it would be a truly monumental undertaking (pardon the pun). The precision required to engineer thousands of stone blocks, each with a unique shape, and each only being able to be fitted into the wall in just that one, exact position, would cause engineers and surveyors to laugh in the face of any architect who would suggest such a construction technique, pointing out that it would be prohibitively expensive.

So where does that leave us? To my mind, the inescapable conclusion is that there was a global civilisation at some point in the distant past that had the technology to easily manipulate massive stone blocks, to transport them with ease, and to shape them in such a complicated and intricate way as to be cheap, easy and worth the effort.

Göbekli Tepe.
Image credit: Teomancimit / CC BY-SA (

Where this civilisation fits into the established timeline of human history is another matter, of course. Mainstream academia insists that there were no such ancient civilisations, that civilisation started approximately 5,200 years ago, around 3,200BCE, in Mesopotamia, and that they are able to trace the development from then all the way to modern day without there being a shred of evidence for such an advanced civilisation. However, recent discoveries at Göbekli Tepe in modern-day Turkey have already proven that we don’t have a complete understanding of the development of the human species as this site has been definitively dated back to approximately 10,000BCE.

Artist’s impression of an asteroid hitting the Earth.
Image credit: State Farm / CC BY 2.0.

Interestingly, there is growing evidence that a global cataclysm about 12,800 years ago, the Younger Dryas Impact, caused a mass extinction event across the northern hemisphere when a 4km wide comet impacted the Earth. If there was an advanced human civilisation on Earth before that, would we necessarily have much evidence of its existence if it was, quite literally, wiped off the face of the planet and the remnants of the human race forced to revert back to a more primitive existence?

But, that’s a subject for a different article…

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