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136 Mechanical and Technical Processes. Materials
Pyramid by Vyse, the piece of a pickaxe of the Sixth Dynasty
from. Abusir, the fragments of the same date from Abydos, and
the spear-head of the Twelfth Dynasty from Nubia are very
doubtful, in spite of very definite assertions to the contrary on
the part of their finders. The assignment to the time of
Tuthmosis III of a very large number of iron weapons found
by Petrie in the mounds of Gerar in Palestine, depends almost
entirely on the dates of the levels in the mound, an extremely
dangerous procedure unless objects of indisputable date are
also constantly found. Tut'ankhamun had an iron dagger,
which it has not yet been possible to examine chemically, also
an udjat eye, a model head-rest, and some extremely light
blades in wooden handles. The shaping of these specimens
reveals clearly the lack of mastery over the material. The
Cairo Museum does not possess, other than these, a specimen of
iron of a date prior to the Twenty-fifth Dynasty. Iron is stated
in the Book of the Dead to be the necessary material for certain
amulets, but until the Twenty-fifth Dynasty it seems to have
been a rarity only obtained from meteorites, though perhaps
occasionally imported as well. The commonest iron ore in
Egypt was haematite, which was made into beads, amulets, and
so on, from predynastic times.
Tin, derived from an unknown source outside Egypt, was
used in forming bronze and as a colouring agent. Lead was
known from predynastic times, being easily reduced from its
metal-like ore, galena, which, together with malachite, a green
ore of copper, was commonly used as eye-paint in Egypt.
Antimony, which does not occur in Egypt, was known as a
rare metal for beads in the Twenty-second Dynasty.
The papyrus plant (Cyperuspapyrus) was used by the Egyptians
fot baskets, rope, matting, brushes, and above all for writing
material. The ancient method of making sheets of papyrus,
wrongly described by Pliny, seems to have been as follows: fresh
green stems of the plant were cut into suitable lengths and the