February 18, 2012

Ancient Egyptian Crafts Part 2/4

Crafts and Craftsmen in Ancient Egypt
Next to this pair are two men engaged in chasing and carving metal, one of whom is named as the draughtsman of the god Amun Pasinisu, also called Parennefer. He chases and inscription on a libation vessel, while his friend works on a golden sphinx using a stone hammer and metal chisel. Further along metal vessel are being manufactured: the smaller of the two is supported on a rod-anvil, while the smith heats a partially worked vessel in a small furnace. This process was required to keep the metal supple, as copper and bronze become brittle when beaten. He holds the, metal with a pair of tongs, whilst blowing through a tube to raise the temperature in the furnace.

Craftsmen in ancient egypt
The lower register is damaged, but enough remains to show that, on the left , bronze lamp stands are in the process of manufacture. One of the smiths heats a small piece of metal in a fire on the ground, again raising the temperature by means of a blow -pipe. Behind him two men appear to be beating a metal sheet over a concave form, possibly the preliminary shaping of a vessel. In the centre of the register is an elaborate furnace in which metal is smelted from the ingots shown above, probably copper and tin combined to make bronze. The furnace is aerated by four men operating foot bellows. These were presumably made of leather. The men hold ropes in their hands, on which they pull to reflate the bellows after they have trodden out the air .... ancient Egyptian crafts.

The molten metal from the furnace would probably have been used for casting, although this process is not shown in the scene. Copper and bronze were used for casting tools,  weapons in ancient Egypt and decorative objectives, using moulds cut out of stone or fashions from pottery. Cast metal was also used for figure statuettes, although not commonly until the Late Period. The British Museum's bronze statuette of Tuthmosis IV is a rare example from the Eighteenth Dynasty. The technique used for casting these figures was the lost-wax process. This method could be used to make either solid cast or hollow figurines, the latter representing a way of economizing on the valuable metal.
Weapons  in Ancient Egypt
On the far right of the lower register is a group of stone-workers engaged in the manufacture of beads and vessels. In order to make beads, suitable pieces of coloured or semi-precious stone were broken up and roughly shaped by rolling or bruising. They were then smoothed by rubbing them together. The next phase was to bore holes through the beads for stringing. This was achieved using a bow-drill. The drill point of metal, stone or through reed was attached to a stick. This was rotated using the string of the bow as the operator moved it backwards a forwards. Many beads were drilled from both sides. If one whole began to wander off true, another was begun from the other side to meet it.

For this reason ancient beads rarely have straight holes running through them. The drill bit was aided by an abrasive material such as emery or fine quartz, which is shown on the table next to the drill worker. To speed up production several bits were operated by the same drill-one reason, no doubt, why the line of the bore ran out of true so frequently. Once the beads were made they could be polished or glazed as required. They were then handed over to craftsmen - ancient Egyptian crafts who made them into simple stings of beads, elaborate collars or amuletic nets and plaques to be placed on mummies.

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