Experiments in Egyptian Archaeology: Stoneworking Technology in Ancient Egypt

By Denys A. Stocks | Go to book overview

10

ANCIENT TECHNICAL INTERRELATIONSHIPS

Interconnected tools and processes

The Predynastic Egyptian artisan inherited a long tradition of making tools from stone. Stone tools, particularly the ones made of flint, had evolved into different shapes and sizes, which reflected their use. Predynastic stone tools, such as hand-axes, borers, projectile points, knives, end- and side-scrapers, burins and serrated sickles, were used to work upon flesh, skins, wood, plants and stone before the introduction of cast copper tools, ca. 3600 BC.

It is likely that some of these stone tool designs were reproduced in copper at the beginning of the Nagada II period. Four important stone tools, the flint end-scraper, the denticulated flint sickle, the flint knife and the stone hand-axe were probably transformed into five copper tools, namely, the chisel, the adze, the saw, the knife and the axe: copper allowed improved performance and life, and some different uses for similar tool shapes. The copper chisel was driven into softer materials with a mallet or a stone hammer, a use possibly given to flint tools in certain circumstances, but the slim copper adze blade, similar to a chisel's shape, was hafted and swung against wood and soft limestone, causing it to remove thin shavings from these materials.

Two stone tools, the hand-axe and the flint knife, retained their basic shapes, purposes and names after being cast and beaten in copper, although the copper axe-head, used by Dynastic carpenters and boat builders, was fitted with a wooden handle to increase the force of a blow. The copper saw blade could be beaten thinly, then serrated, which saved sawing time and effort, an improvement upon the thicker, denticulated flint tools, initially in use for sawing woody plant stems, such as reeds.

In addition to being utilized for driving chisels, spherical and hemispherical stone hammers were also employed to beat copper and bronze to shape, and also stone artifacts; most stone hammers were directly wielded by the hand. The craft-worker must have possessed many different sizes and weights of stone hammers, and the supply and fitting of wooden handles to such a large number of them would not have been a feasible proposition. Some stone hammers, picks and axes were fitted with two sticks twisted around a waisted section, but these were used for quarrying and roughly dressing stone to shape.

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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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