Peinture de Rekhmirê : Forêt à Bois en Cuivre

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[Serie] Les bâtisseurs de l'impossible
E06_"Puissants outils"

8. Peinture de Rekhmirê




Experiments in Egyptian Archaeology: Stoneworking Technology in Ancient Egypt

32. Ancient Egyptian craftworkers also employed two types of edged metal tools for drilling materials, and these were the bow-driven copper wood drill for drilling holes in furniture30 and the bow-driven, and also directly hand-operated, flatended copper tubular drill.31 This tube was employed for drilling not only deep holes in stone, but also shallow, tubular-shaped slots. An example of this practice, thought to be decorative, is a diorite bowl (MM 10959) belonging to Khaba of the Third Dynasty, which was supplied with a truly circular groove cut into the central section of the interior bottom surface.

32. Hard stone vessel manufacture accelerated during the Nagada II period, owing its expansion to the increased employment of the copper tubular drill for the initial hollowing of vessels’ interiors. The First and Second Dynasties saw the continuation of hard stone vessel production and, subsequently, in the Third and Fourth Dynasties, the tube was additionally in use for the hollowing of calcite and harder stone sarcophagi.

33. The bow-driven copper wood drill, illustrated in several tomb scenes,32 was in use for making rows of holes in chairs and beds for anchoring supporting lattices of leather thong or cord (Figure 2.12). In the tomb of Rekhmire at Thebes,33 both uses are illustrated. The wood drill was also used for piercing a woodworking joint to admit dowels (wooden pins) for securing and strengthening it.34 To rotate a wood drill, a bow’s string was given a single turn around a wooden shaft into which the drill was tightly fitted. The top of the shaft was rounded to fit snugly into a lubricated hemispherical-shaped bearing hole, which was chipped and smoothed into the underside of a capstone. The lubricant was possibly tallow. Ancient wood drills could be shaped like a slim, flat chisel (e.g. BM 6042–3). However, other drill blades were probably formed by beating the metal into a flat taper and then shaping it like an arrowhead35 Two wood drills were made for test (Figure 2.13), one with a sharpened, flat chisel-edge, the other supplied with an arrowhead-shaped cutting point. No Predynastic drills for perforating wood have ever been discovered.36

50. Enter the bow: a power transmission device It is thought that bow drilling in Egypt originated from the bow and arrow, which developed into the fire drill.81 The bow’s other uses as a rotational power transmission device included the turning of Predynastic and Dynastic tubular drills of reed, copper and bronze for making small and large holes in stone; the rotation of the Dynastic waisted wooden drill-stock for holding metallic wood drills, short fire drills and possibly flint or other stone borers; the Predynastic and Dynastic single copper and bronze drills for perforating stone beads; the New Kingdom simultaneous multiple bead drilling apparatus from Thebes, Upper Egypt. Good examples of single bronze bead drills, which were force-fitted into waisted, wooden shafts, were discovered by G.A. Reisner, who excavated them at Kerma in the Sudan.82