|51||THE STONE IMPLEMENTS OF KAHUN.|
THE STONE IMPLEMENTS OF KAHUN.By F. C. J. SPURRELL, F.G.S.
84. The stone implements brought by Mr. Petrie from Kahun and proved to be of the date of the XIIth dynasty are an unique collection, and form the first standpoint for a definite knowledge of the subject, in Egyptian history. All are domestic or trade implements. There are amongst them no ceremonial objects specially formed to take a part in religious rites during life or for sepulture merely; and no doubt is experienced when examining them that the style of chipping is of one and the same period. They form a reliable means for establishing a knowledge of the height at which the art then stood when it is considered how numerous are the individual objects from which a conclusion can be drawn, for in this matter any portion of a knife or tool stands for a whole one. [In making the drawings care has been taken to map out the flaking as accurately as possible with a view to displaying the style, but it must be remembered that the equal thickness of the lines is not intended to indicate that the delicacy of working was alike in all, for some are much finer and smoother than others.] Of course these implements do not represent work of the stone age properly considered. Some of their forms have influenced, as might be expected, similar tools in copper, but so have the metallic forms influenced those in stone ; and while at the date 2600 B.C. some stone implements may not yet have been superseded, on the other hand others had entirely given place to those of copper.
The flint employed in the fashioning of the implements is truly flint; it is as much flint as that found in the cliffs of England and France, although geologically it is not of the same age. It is as well perhaps to state that there is no reason for giving the flint commonly used in Egypt in ancient times any special or distinctive name, such as pyromachous silex or cherty flint, as has been the custom hitherto ; nor are the irregularly coloured stones known as Egyptian Jasper anything more than old river pebbles of flint, rolled and subsequently infiltrated with oxides of iron. As the flint is commonly found in tabular masses from which could be selected pieces more than a foot across and an inch or less in thickness much labour was saved thereby in the process of blocking out, preliminary to the fashioning of long thin blades; while very large and thick masses abound either in the rock or as rolled pebbles) suitable for coarse work and for procuring cores from which flakes of great length could be struck at any moment as required. The flint usually employed was more or less opaque but was apparently more obedient to the operator's will than the translucent and clearer varieties. It was apparently less given to rippling and abrupt change in the direction of the line of separation than in the horny varieties. The edges of the flakes also are tougher and do not splinter so easily. The perfect ability to strike off long, thin, flat flakes extended from the prehistoric ages to Roman times. From deposits of all these ages cores and flakes having an exact similarity of form are gathered. At Kahun most of the carefully formed flakes have been struck off a core by repeated blows, which under a lens are seen to have crushed the end which came in contact with the hammer, rarely however leaving a clear portion of the upper or striking surface attached to the flake by which one can measure the angle it made with the flake intended to be separated. The angles which have been measured reached from 28° to 48°, the latter in one case only. The amount of wind in the flakes was usually very slight.
85. The implements under consideration consist chiefly of the blades of axes, adzes and knives; there are also minor tools and flakes trimmed and serrated.
In the flint axes, the flaking is mostly very bold. and although not neat, is of the kind which comes of that perfect mastery of the material which enables the operator, in roughing out an implement to perfect it at once, leaving it suitable to the work the tool is intended to perform. It should be noted that the time expended is commensurate with the life of the blade; for it is clear, from the portions of hatchets found in the diggings, and miscellaneous gatherings, that the axes very quickly broke up. Some were comparatively slowly consumed until nothing but that which lay within the socket was left, when the cords could be cut and another fitted to the handle. On the other hand large detached portions shew that the whole cutting edge, consisting perhaps of half the blade was sometimes knocked off at the first blow delivered by the workman. In experimenting on the amount and kind of fastening which these blades required, it appeared that although tightness of fit was an advantage, a cord two or three feet in length held the blade in the socket firmly enough for
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