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134 Mechanical and Technical Processes. Materials
glass objects, such as vases, having been made by winding drawn
rods of glass round a sandy clay core, reheating, rolling and
polishing, or by casting. Beads were made by winding thin
glass threads round a copper wire, which was later withdrawn,
while pieces for inlay, mosaics, and so on, were made by flattening
the rods into strips and subsequently cutting them up. The
advent of glass largely displaced the use of hard stones for inlay
in jewellery. The colouring matters were generally manganese,
copper, cobalt, and iron compounds.
Gold occurs in Egypt in the Eastern Desert south of the
Qena-Quseir road as far up country as Merowe in the Sudan,
and was used from the predynastic period. Expeditions were sent
out from early times in search of it. It is found in the quartz-
veins running through the granite, and the ancient workings are
enormous, their galleries having been pounded by balls of dolerite
for hundreds of yards into the living rock. It was also imported
from Asia and elsewhere. The process of making gold leaf was
known, but ancient specimens are as thick as 0*004 to *36
inches, more than a thousand times as thick as that which we use
to-day. The foil was used for plating all kinds of objects. By
the New Kingdom, an immense quantity of gold was available,
at any rate to the royalty and nobility. The gold coffin of
Tut'ankhamun weighs 300 Ibs. avoirdupois. Even in the times
of Shesonq of the Twenty-second Dynasty, the weight of gold
and silver dedicated to the temple runs into more than a score
of tons! Many of the gold ores contain such a large proportion
of silver that the lighter colour is perceptible. This alloy, much
used in Egypt, is known as electrum.
Silver ores do not occur in Egypt except in conjunction with
gold ores. The chemical knowledge of the Egyptians was not
sufficient to separate the two. Silver was rarer than gold in
Egypt and was used for the same purposes. The source of the
ancient supply is unknown.
Generally speaking the tools of the Old Kingdom and earlier