I realize that we’ve been a little light on posts about the intersection of Egyptology and automobiles lately, and I regret that and sincerely apologize. As a way to make up for it, let’s talk a bit about an ancient Egyptian artifact that’s both one of the strangest and the one perhaps most suited to be a wheel option on a 1980s Saab. It’s called the Sabu Disc, or sometimes just the Tri-Lobed Disc.
The artifact is really, really old, even in the context of ancient Egypt. It dates from the First Dynasty, which would put it around the same era as the famous Narmer Palette, making it around 5000 years old.
Just to compare, the famous artifacts from King Tutankhamun’s tomb are from Egypt’s 18th Dynasty, and are about about 1,600 years newer than the Sabu Disc. It’s old.
The disc is also an absolute mystery, for a number of reasons. First, it’s made of a mineral called schist, which is brittle and difficult to work, and would be incredibly challenging to carve or bend into the elegant, flowing shapes seen on the disc.
Then there’s the question of just what the hell this thing is. It’s been speculated to be an incense burner, perhaps, or some three-sectioned offering plate, perhaps an oil lamp, but there are many, many stranger ideas floating out there, from an ancient steam turbine impeller to a rotor for a water pump to any number of mystical uses, or perhaps an alien fidget spinner. No one really knows.
Personally, I don’t think it was part of a machine or pump, not because I don’t adore the idea of ancient complex machinery, but more because the way the “vanes” are positioned, I don’t think it would work particularly well to impel or pump anything. Also, the delicate nature of the material makes me inclined to think it had a less demanding, maybe ornamental or ceremonial use.
There are plenty of bonkers theories out there, you can Google all you want. What I really want to note is just how well the Sabu Disc would have fit in as a wheel design for 1980s to 1990s Saabs.
Here, look at the wheels you could get on, say, your Saab 99 or 900:
Now, look how the Sabu Disc would look as wheels on a Saab:
I mean, I think that works! If there’s any other ancient Egyptian artifact that works as well as a wheel design for a late-20th century Scandinavian car, I haven’t seen it yet.
NOTE: After I wrote this, I found this link. It’s not just me who thinks this! Holy crap! I love the internet.