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158   Mechanical and Technical Processes. Materials
the gas during fermentation. They were then inscribed with
the quality and place of origin of the contents, and the name
of the chief of the vineyard.
Palm wine was known in the Old Kingdom. This appears to
have been made by tapping the body of the tree near the head
and permitting the liquid to run out and afterwards ferment,
while date wine was known in the same period.
The process of distillation was unknown until late times;
the first mention of it is by Aristotle in the fourth century B.C.
Sugar from the sugar-cane was just known by Roman times,
the cane being a native of the Far East. Sweetening in Egyptian
times was by honey extractions from grapes or dates.
The cultivation of the cereals, wheat, barley and spelt, being
the staple industry of the country, one would expect that we
should have a vast mass of information about the making of bread
and cakes. Indeed, from the Old Kingdom onwards we have
the names and can see the shapes of scores of types of these, yet
their actual nature is rarely revealed. The corn was cut with
a wooden sickle into which saw-edged flints were inserted,
specimens of which have recently been found in the First
Dynasty tomb of Hemaka at Saqqara; and this primitive form
of implement is known to have been used as late as the time
of Sheshonq. Mills seem to have been unknown in ancient
Egypt. In the Middle and New Kingdoms we find representa-
tions of great mortars in which one or two men are 'pounding
the corn' with heavy pestles. The flour was next rubbed finer
between two stones. In the tomb of Tut'ankhamun a model
grinder was actually found. In the Old Kingdom the lower and
larger stone was placed on the ground sloping towards the front,
so that the finely ground flour ran down into a little hollow
there; and the woman who ground the flour knelt before it.
During the Middle Kingdom a table hollowed out in front of
the rock took the place of the lower stone; the woman could
then stand and her work was thus made lighter. After the