Title page


For the harvesting flint sickles were used. The body was made of wood (IX, 22), usually in two pieces joined together, owing to the difficulty of getting a single block suitable for carving the form. In a groove along the inside the flint saws were inserted and held in by a black cement, apparently made of fine mud and glue. This exactly agrees with the finest examples of the hieroglyph ma, in which the small teeth of the sickle are shown. The actual employment of the flint saws which are so often found, formed of long flakes serrated at the edge, is now placed beyond doubt by finding this example of the flint in its setting. The high polish on these flint saws agrees with their use in cutting straw.

After the threshing and winnowing the grain had to be scraped up on the threshing floor; and for this wooden scoops were used (IX, 11 ), which are either right-handed (as in the drawing) or left-handed. One of each occurs in the XIIth dynasty, and four left to one right in the XVIIIth.

Throw sticks were used in hunting, as we see in the paintings ; both the asymmetric (IX, 30), which was broken and bound up with thread anciently, and symmetric (IX, 31). Wooden hooks, carved out of bent-grain pieces, were made as now-a-days (IX, 16), probably for shadoof hooks, &c.

54. Hitherto we have not known of any ancient Egyptian implements for fire, nor - I believe - how fire was obtained by them. One of the most precious objects therefore is a fire-stick (IX, 6) on which a stick has been rotated to grind fire, as in India, and even in Bosnia, down to the present time This throws light on the many examples of bow-drills that are found, two at Kahun of the XIIth dynasty, and three at Gurob of the XVIIIth dynasty. To a people accustomed to drill with a bow, as we see in the early Egyptian paintings, it is certain that the use of it to rotate the fire-stick must have been known. A spike of the wood best suited for the rubbing, would be fitted into the drills we find, and twirled by the bow, with the advantage of being able to make friction by a heavy pressure on the drill socket. This again will explain the use of the very common blocks of hard stone with highly polished holes in them, as they would serve for pressing on the top of a plain fire-stick, while it was twirled by the bow-string. The fire-sticks are not likely to be often found, as wood was so valuable in Egypt that they would be burnt up when no longer useful.

55. The metal-worker's skill is shown not only by the forms and fine finish of the bronze implements found, but also in a caster's shop which I cleared out. Here we had left five moulds for bronze casting, two in one block. These were made from pieces of large conical pans of earthenware, 1¾ inches thick, and over 2 feet diameter. The pieces were trimmed square, 9 x 6, 7½ x 3½, and 6 x 2½ inches in size. On the face of the block the mould was cut out, and lined with a coat of fine ash and clay to give it a smooth face. There is no sign of another half to the mould, nor of any ducts; so the casting was basin-ways. The forms are for a flat chisel 6 x 2 inches; a similar chisel, with two lugs at the narrow end , another 6 x 1 inches; a knife 6 x 1 inches, the casting of which was doubtless to be hammered out thin to a much larger size, like the lumpy piece (XVII, 1); and a small hatchet 3.2 x 2, which mould may well have served for the hatchet (XVII, 9) which was found a few doors off. Other possessions of this founder were also left in his room : a socket-head of a drill or fire-stick ; a stem of another drill ; two pieces of sandstone whetstone; a thin finger-form basalt whetstone; a horn haft, made by softening and flattening the horn, so as to leave a slit for the tang of a knife, after which two holes were pierced for riveting, one near each edge so as to hold the blade as firmly as possible, and the whole surface was rasped partly into shape in Egyptian style, i.e., not by gradual rounding, but by successive truncations. Same shaped pieces of wood of unknown use, a spindle whorl with a sign cut on it, five flint flakes, some half-calcined gypsum, and bits of blue glaze, were also in this room.

A curious implement was made of shell (VIII, 10) serrated at the edge, with a hole cut in the upper part through which rush binding was passed to serve for a handle. What material this could cut is difficult to imagine, possibly it was a fruit scoop for melons.

56. For the toilet the objects were much like those of later times. Bronze mirrors were used, over 8 inches across; and a massive ivory handle of the lotus flower form, 6½ inches high, shows the luxury of even such an obscure town. Another handle is of polished black basalt . The pieces of ivory carving (VIII, 11, 12) have apparently come from some toilet boxes. Combs were made of wood (VIII, 25, 30, 31) generally with a higher back than the later forms. Some beautiful spoons of wood were in use; one (VIII, 17) with a duck's head with red ivory bin, and the bowl carved as a shell. Another exquisite lion's-head handle was found, but the bowl having been supported by a figure was broken away ; this, with an amethyst scarab, was found in a hole in the floor of a room in rank A, and is now in the Bulak Museum. Kohl pots were always of


home - previous page - next page