Scie et Sarcophage : Représentation

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Experiments in Egyptian Archaeology: Stoneworking Technology in Ancient Egypt
129. While the small-scale Manchester tests established the initial sawing and drilling data, it is now instructive to see how the large-scale tests proceeded in Aswan. In March 1999, an opportunity arose to saw and drill the rose granite in a quarry located on the edge of the southern Egyptian town of Aswan. Several Egyptian quarry workers operated a 1.8 m-long copper saw and an 8 cm-diameter copper drill-tube, which was taken to Egypt with its driving bow. These sawing and drilling experiments were undertaken to test two theoretical propositions59: that two- and three-worker teams were required to drive large ancient saws (Figure 4.19) and tubular drills (Figure 4.20) respectively. The saw and the drill-tube were tested upon the rose granite under realistic ancient conditions, and the results compared with those obtained from the previous experiments conducted with the much smaller reconstructed copper saws and drills in Manchester.60 Each Aswan tool used locally obtained sand as the cutting abrasive.

The unused 1.8 m-long copper saw blade, stood on its edge, measured 15 cm in depth, 6 mm in thickness and weighed 14.5 kg. The quarry workers had previously, and unnecessarily, fitted a heavy wooden frame to this saw blade, as well as notching it numerous times along the cutting edge with an electric abrasive wheel; no doubt, they understandably were influenced by modern working practices. Nevertheless, for comparison with a completely flat edge acting on dry sand abrasive, it was decided to test the notched edge with very wet, fluid sand along a granite block’s width of 75 cm, its surface initially pounded flat along the line of sawing.