Experiments in Egyptian Archaeology: Stoneworking Technology in Ancient Egypt
64. In order to test some realistic working procedures, a bas-relief of the uas-sceptre and one of the ankh symbol were carved into a soft limestone (Figures 2.54, 2.55), similar to that used to face the Great Pyramid, with copper and bronze chisels. Low, or bas, relief means that figures and hieroglyphs were carved so as to stand up from the background. Incised, or sunken relief (enCreux), involved the cutting of figures and hieroglyphs into a stone’s surface. Incised reliefs were often cut into outside walls, where oblique morning and evening sunshine illuminated the carvings; bas-relief was popular for the inside decoration of tombs, but this type of realistic carving took more time to accomplish. The experimental copper and bronze chisels were utilized as scrapers, in addition to flint ones, for executing sharp corners, and the combined use of metal and flint tools would have been common in ancient times. The test bas-relief was smoothed with coarse and smooth sandstone rubbers. The tests revealed that the only other stones indigenous to Egypt that metal chisels were effectively able to cut were gypsum and steatite. All other stones caused varying degrees of unacceptable damage and loss of metal to the copper and bronze chisels.