Experiments in Egyptian Archaeology: Stoneworking Technology in Ancient Egypt

By Denys A. Stocks | Go to book overview

5

MAKING STONE VESSELS

Stone vessels by the thousand

The technology for hollowing stone vessels was fully established in the Predynastic period. During the Badarian and Nagada I periods, hard stone vessels were necessarily, and laboriously, hollowed with hand-held stone borers, used in conjunction with desert sand abrasive; in these periods, hand-held flint borers were probably in use for very soft stone (e.g. gypsum), without sand abrasive. G. Caton-Thompson and E.W. Gardner 1 found crescent-shaped chert tools (¼ to ¾ crescents) that were used to bore out the interiors of the gypsum vessels at an Old Kingdom workshop at Umm-es-Sawan in the Fayum (Figure 5.1, left); the crescents were frequently found caked in gypsum.

Some holes in soft limestone (e.g. MMA 14.7.146, from the mastaba of Perneb), probably bored with crescent-shaped flints, were discovered at Saqqara by C.M. Firth, J.E. Quibell and J.-P. Lauer. 2 Flint and chert crescents caused the striations in very soft stone to vary considerably in depth, width and direction, and a broken gypsum vessel in the Robert H. Lowie Museum, Berkeley, California (6-10016), illustrates these features. However, the tests on calcite showed that it is too hard effectively to be bored with flint or chert crescents (Figure 5.2), 3 and the additional experiments with the reed tubular drills suggest that these tools could have been in ancient use for drilling the stone vessels made from calcite, in

Figure 5.1 An Old Kingdom crescent-shaped flint borer, BM 59998 (left), probably used for hollowing gypsum vessels, and a striated figure-of-eight shaped quartzite borer from Abydos, BM 37278 (right), dated to the First Dynasty. (© Copyright The British Museum)

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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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