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Mechanical and Technical Processes. Materials 127
suddenly into existence. Saqqara was certainly the home of fine
masonry, since limestone of such good and tractable quality
occurs nowhere else than in the Muqattam-Tura-Ma'sara hills
immediately across the Nile. To discuss the artistic forms,
seemingly of mushroom growth, observed in the Saqqara
masonry is somewhat outside the range of the present chapter.
It is enough to point out that all the forms observed, with the
exception of the mass of the pyramid itself, are' derived from
brickwork and plants. The panelling of the temenos wall is a
direct copy of the brick panelling of the mast abas known for
some centuries before. The ribbed columns seem to have
their origin in bundles of reeds tied together, the roofs imitate
undressed logs, while reed mats form the motif of the panel-
ling of the underground galleries, and so on. It is in the
quality of the masonry that progress can be observed from the
Saqqara blocks to those of the Fourth Dynasty pyramids and
mastabas which followed them. Shorn of details, the Saqqara
blocks are small, and their joints, though fine as far as the eye
can see, only remain so fcr a very short distance from the
facing; within the wall the masonry is poor (Fig. 3). The
progress in megalithic masonry is seen in the perfect joints
between the immense casing blocks weighing 10 tons or more
of the Great and other Pyramids (Fig. 4). The methods by
which stone buildings were constructed will be discussed later.
In the earliest predynastic times (Merimda and perhaps
Badari) rectangular mud-bricks do not seem to have been known.
As I have already said houses of beehive type were made by
building up, spirally, lumps of wet clay moulded in the hand.
By late predynastic times, however, the rectangular mud-brick
is found. The method used thenceforward has hardly differed
until modern times. The clay was sometimes, although not
always, mixed with chopped straw or dung and put into moulds
open at the top and bottom and fitted with a handle (see
Fig. 14, e, facing p. 137); the mould was lifted off the tacky clay,