Experiments in Egyptian Archaeology: Stoneworking Technology in Ancient Egypt

By Denys A. Stocks | Go to book overview

1

CRAFTWORKING

Industry's driving force

Craftworking: mind over matter

Extant in papyri, writing boards and ostraca, and originally composed in the Middle Kingdom, is the text of The Satire on the Trades: The Instruction of Dua-Khety. 1 The story contains the teaching and advice that Dua-Khety gives to his son Pepy regarding the scribal profession and literature. Dua Khety emphasizes the attractiveness of the office of scribe by describing the uncomfortable and tiring occupations of the stoneworker, the coppersmith, the carpenter, the jeweller, the reed-cutter, the potter, the bricklayer, the furnace-tender, and several other workers. Ironically, craftworkers had already established a comprehensive set of working practices during the Predynastic period, well before the introduction of the office of scribe. In any event, some of the scribe's work depended upon Egypt's industrial output in many areas, which in turn relied upon the skills of different types of craftworker.

What exactly is craftworking? What human abilities are brought into play? The most important is verbal and non-verbal communication, such as a description, a sketch, or a demonstration of an idea or a new skill. In the separate society of the craftworker there exists, certainly in recent times, a relationship between artisans engaged in similar work. There is support for the fellow worker, expressed in the form of cooperation and admiration for competent handicraft; 2 this relationship must have existed in ancient times. The association between craftworkers and their apprentices is even more remarkable. A worker responsible for training a young person will assume the rôle of a mentor quite willingly. In fact, a keen apprentice will eventually be shown all of the craftworker's skills over an extended period of time. 3

Jacob Bronowski, the physicist, identified a significant factor affecting the development of craftworking. He stated that although an object and a law of nature are both concealed in the raw material, a person in one age could never identically copy a creation or a discovery made by someone else in another age. 4

This fundamental truth faces anyone who attempts to place herself or himself in the position of an ancient craftworker. Ancient workers lived in a different environment, and developed their collective skills over millennia: the last

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Experiments in Egyptian Archaeology: Stoneworking Technology in Ancient Egypt
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Tables xi
  • List of Figures xiii
  • Foreword xxi
  • Acknowledgements xxiii
  • Predynastic and Dynastic Chronology xxvii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Craftworking 7
  • 2 - The Cutting Edge 25
  • 3 - A Flint for All Seasons 74
  • 4 - The Abrasive Technologists 103
  • 5 - Making Stone Vessels 139
  • 6 - The Development of Stone Sarcophagus Manufacture 169
  • 7 - Master Masonry Fitters 179
  • Part III - Industrial Revolution in Ancient Egypt 201
  • 8 - Theban Mass-Production Tools 203
  • 9 - By-Products from a Bygone Age 225
  • 10 - Ancient Technical Interrelationships 234
  • Glossary of Technical Terms 240
  • Bibliography 249
  • Figure Sources 256
  • Index 258
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