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150 Mechanical and Technical Processes. Materials
the fact that in the majorit7 of the great blocks used in pyramids
and mastabas, the joints between the blocks are neither vertical
to the ground nor at right angles to the line of the building. In
other words, the joints (or 'rising joints' as they are now called)
are askew in every sense, but in good masonry the fit is perfect
from front to back. We have to face the fact that block A
had to fit block 9 block B had to fit block C, and so on
(Figs. 26-28). If we assume that two blocks were brought up
to the course and laboriously fitted one to another, we have to
believe that they were lowered on to the course and tested
against each other several times. In the absence of pulleys,
however, the lowering of the blocks on to the course would
involve raising it again to correct any errors, an impossibly long
process when levers alone were used. The only explanation
which meets the case in a general way is that the blocks were
lined up elsewhere than on the course, and that parallel planes
were cut between each pair, and that they were then pushed
together and perhaps a saw-cut made between each pair to
make the joint perfect. The problem is indeed a perplexing one!
Several other points can be noticed in the best masonry with
large blocks. One is the very fine top-surface of each course,
those of the pyramids being almost dead flat. It is also clear
that mortar was put into each joint. With such a fine fit and
with blocks of great sizes, the use of mortar would seem super-
fluous, but a consideration of the laying of the blocks opens
up a new vista of inquiry. Once off its sled on to the course
there is no conceivable method by which a block of several tons
could have been pushed *home' against its neighbour, unless
it were, so to speak, floating on a thin bed of wet, viscid
mortar. I believe that this is the explanation of the mortar and
the almost perfect smoothness of the tops.
The remains of unfinished temples and walls show that the
front surfaces of the building were finished last, when the
mason's square was of necessity used in making the corners