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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

Mechanical and Technical Processes. Materials 145
buildings, but had the disadvantage of being useless for archi-
traves of more than about 3 yards span. By the Eleventh
Dynasty limestone began to 'give way to the Silsila sandstone
for buildings because, though softer and less pleasing to the eye,
it could provide architraves spanning 8 yards or more without
giving way. In the Old Kingdom granite had to be used for
spanning large spaces; it was used for statues, gateways,
sarcophagi, vases, &c., much less commonly for entire buildings;
and the same applies to quartzite and alabaster. In the Old
Kingdom basalt was much used for pavements and linings of
limestone buildings.
Other rocks worked by the ancient Egyptians were the por-
phyritic rocks, schists, and other igneous rocks from the Wady
el-Hammamat; diorite, the ancient quarries of which were
re-discovered in 1931 about 50 miles west of Tushka, in the
Western Nubian Desert. Many other rare stones are found in
the watershed between the Nile and the Red Sea, some of which
are mentioned on page 155.
It has often been asserted that the Egyptians tempered copper
to a hardness unknown nowadays. Of this there is no proof.
Copper can be brought, if not previously annealed, to the
temper of mild steel, by heating, chilling and hammering. To
use copper on stone in the form of a chisel is a very wasteful
process, even in working soft limestones like those from Tura;
and the expenditure of copper in the construction of a pyramid
must have been immense. To cut a stone like diorite is almost
an impossibility. The Egyptian method of making, let us
say, a granite colossus, was somewhat as follows. The block was
detached from the parent mass first by pounding with balls or
hammers, made of some hard, resilient stone such as dolerite,
held in the hand, and then by the use of wedges. In this con-
nexion it must be remembered that the pounding-ball does not
pound or bruise away the stone any more than does the blunt-
pointed pick of the modern mason. It jars of! pieces of stone