Skip to main content

Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

See other formats

122    Mechanical and Technical Processes. Materials
entitled Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries (Edward
Arnold and Co., London), which met a long-felt want. This
not only contains an immense amount of original research but
incorporates much material on the working of stone from our
volume on Masonry and gives an abundance of references. A
very large portion of the material in this chapter has been drawn
from the two last-mentioned works.
The earliest Egyptian civilization at present known is that
whose remains were recently discovered at the villages of Abu
Ghalib and Beni Salama, known as 'Merimda'. The site lies
some fifty miles north of Cairo at the western edge of the
Delta. Its flint implements resemble very strongly those of the
neolithic period long known in the Egyptian deserts. Houses
were built up with lumps of mud, shaped by hand, in the form
of beehives, with low narrow doors. Metal seems to have been
completely unknown, but a basalt vase of rather crude form
(Fig. I, ) shows that the Merimda people were at any rate
attempting to gain mastery over hard rocks. The pottery is
very rough but of a fair diversity of forms, and was made
entirely without a potter's wheel (Fig. I, a-c). Glazing and
glass were unknown, and no baskets, matting, or linen have
been found. Skins, possibly roughly tanned, were used as gar-
ments, and corn had been cultivated and stored in granaries in
the settlements. The next oldest known evidence comes from
the cemeteries on the eastern desert edge near the markaz town
of El-Badari, in Upper Egypt. This culture is now known as
the Badarian. No direct connexion with the Merimda culture
can be noticed, except in its flint implements, but it is closely
connected with a somewhat similar civilization from the Faiyum.
The Badarian civilization is directly followed by a series of what
are known as predynastic cultures, which, in turn, develop
without break into those of the protodynastic and dynastic
periods. The crafts had made considerable progress by Badarian
times. Wonderfully fine burnished pottery, with a surface