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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

CHAPTER 5
MECHANICAL AND TECHNICAL
PROCESSES. MATERIALS
THE 'Legacy of Egypt*, as applied to Mechanical and Technical
Processes, should strictly mean such processes as have passed
directly into medieval and modern Europe almost unchanged.
Stone building certainly seems to have originated in Egypt,
but the methods of construction used then have no connexion
whatever with those of the Greek or Roman architects,
Mathematics, Astronomy, Art, Science, and Literature can be
shown to have left a more or less direct and definite legacy, but
to trace the practical means of their expression—which is the
aim of this chapter—is a complicated task. Herodotus, who
visited Egypt about 450 B.C., is astounded (Book II, 35) at
the extraordinary difference between the manner in which the
Egyptians did the everyday things of life, and that adopted
by his own countrymen, and this difference appears to apply
even more to the mechanical and technical processes, of which
he speaks little except as regards weaving. Glass-making seerns
undoubtedly to have originated in Egypt, but blown glass,
which is the basis of most medieval and modern glass-work,
definitely did not originate among the Egyptians. The tire-
ferine process of casting seems to be the only exception.
The method which I propose to adopt in the following pages
is to describe briefly the rise of the crafts as civilization pro-
gressed in early Egypt, and discuss how the technical and
mechanical processes were carried out during the whole of
Egyptian history (for there was little radical progress from the
Third Dynasty until nearly Ptolemaic times); and from this
survey perhaps an estimate can be formed of our debt to
Egyptian craftsmanship.
The literature dealing with the mechanical and technical