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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

Mechanical and Technical Processes. Materials 147
however, where a metal pick in chipping away certain parts
would be likely to damage others (for example, the eyes, if they
were to be subsequently inlaid, and the corners of the hiero-
glyphs). Drills of tubular form were next brought into use; if
small they were presumably made to revolve by means of a
bow; if large they were rotated by hand and loaded with large
weights. Although no tubular drills have been found, the eyes
of several statues show traces of them, of graduated sizes, and
the bottoms of the holes prove that the metal must have been
of extraordinary thinness. The nature of the abrasive is a matter
for speculation; indeed, the whole technique is still imperfectly
understood, and a great deal of practical experiment would be
necessary before any further assertions could be justifiably made.
For the final process, the cutting out of corners, a pointed tool
would have to be used, and it would be during this process that
the expenditure of metal would be enormous. That this was so
can be inferred from the fact that drilling was always carried as
far as possible for economy's sake. We are equally short of in-
formation on the method and the material used for bringing the
stone to the wonderful polish which many monuments exhibit.
The ancient Egyptians could saw the hard stones, at any rate
granite and basalt (Fig. 23). Here again the nature of the
abrasive is quite unknown and the technique in general more
than doubtful. Cases are known of a saw-cut over a yard long,
implying the use of a saw nearly 2 yards long!
The Djoser architects had discovered, we do not know how,
that Tura limestone was unsuitable for free-standing columns
if they had to support a roof of any great weight; secondly they
had also realized that this limestone could not provide archi-
traves to span a space of more than about 3 yards if roof-slabs of
stone had to be laid over them. Hence the extreme narrowness
of the passages and chambers of the Djoser masonry. The
pyramid builders acted on this knowledge and, if they wished
to span large spaces, used granite from Aswan. Such roofs can