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Monday, August 05, 2013

High Technology - Ancient Egypt

Stoneware such as this has not been found from any later era in Egyptian history - it seems that the skills necessary were lost.
Some delicate vases are made of very brittle stone such as schist (like a flint) and yet are finished, turned and polished, to a flawless paper thin edge - an extraordinary feat of craftsmanship.

Egyptian Technology

The noria [water wheel] and the shadduf [lever with bucket] were used to raise water and the aqueduct to move it.

Copper pipes were formed by hammering sheet copper around a dowel and soldering the joint.

Basins were equipped with metal fittings, clay tiles were used as sewer pipes.

"In the Cairo Museum there is an Old Kingdom sarcophagus that was not finished. On the backside which would be the bottom, a thick layer was left, which the quarryers began to saw, and stopped before finishing because evidently part of the lid broke off. There is very clear evidence of sawing the granite visible on this piece. What was used to temper the saw I have no idea, unless it was sand, that derives from deteriorated quartz. That would be harder than granite, though granite contains quartz to some extent. So obviously in the Old Kingdom, the Egyptians were capable of sawing granite, however they did it."

There is obvious evidence for very high quality lathe work in hard stone (including granite!) (Cairo museum). 

Large holes were drilled in granite.

A hollow granite coffin (sarcophagus) was manufactured with precise flatness inside and out - almost impossible to re-create today, since no machines have been built to create these sorts of objects. (Technically possible with diamond tipped tools and large multi-axis machine tools, but even then it would be very time consuming and expensive...)  

Modern technicians are accustomed to more mundane operations. For example, the same thing built today would be done in pieces and fitted together. A construction from a single block is far too extravagant by today's standards).

Robert Francis - Photos and commentaries describing tube drilling, sawing and lathe work visible at Giza and in the Cairo Museum.

Published on Jul 31, 2013

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