Stone Quarrying

The History and Daily Life in ancient Egypt for Kids - Stone Quarrying

The Civilization, Culture & History of Ancient Egypt and facts about Stone Quarrying & Egyptian quarries

Ancient Egyptians - Stone Quarrying
A comprehensive guide and fact sheet about quarrying and the ancient Egyptian quarries. Discover fascinating facts and information about ancient Egypt and Stone Quarrying.

Map and the Locations and types of stone quarries

The Methods of stone extraction

The purpose of the ancient Egyptian stone quarries

The tools used in the rock quarries

The workers in the rock quarries

Transportation methods from the rock quarries

Working conditions in the stone quarries

An overview of the quarrying and quarries of ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptians - Stone Quarrying
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Ancient Egyptian Daily Life

Stone Quarrying
Definition: A quarry, or 'stone pit' is a surface excavation for extracting stone. The ancient Egyptian Quarries were used for extracting building materials required for their extensive building projects. The different types of Egyptian Stone that was quarried included limestone, sandstone and granite. The stone was used to build the massive monuments in ancient Egypt such as tombs, temples, obelisks and the great pyramids including  the
Great Pyramid of Cheops at Giza.

Stone Quarrying - Working in the Quarries
Working in an ancient Egyptian quarry was hard labor with no modern tools, explosives or equipment to help. The Ancient Egyptians built the Great Pyramids with massive limestone and granite blocks, weighs many tons that were cut by hand from the desert quarries. The conditions were primitive and the shelters were basic. The quarries were in hot desert areas that were often cold at night. Water and food was scarce. Quarrying was expensive and the overseers were responsible to meet the demands and targets of the pharaoh. The work was also dangerous, men frequently sustained injuries in accidents and there were also the scorpions and snakes to consider. Ancient Egyptians were conscripted to work in the quarries, it was unpaid work, often far away from home.

Stone Quarry at Tura

Stone Quarry at Tura

Stone Quarrying
Learn about ancient Egyptian quarries the fast and easy way via the Stone Quarrying Fact sheet.

Ancient Egypt - Stone Quarrying Fact Sheet

Fact 1 on Stone Quarrying: The stone found in ancient Egypt included limestone, sandstone, greywacke, flint (chert), basalt, granite, obsidian, tuff, quartzite, steatite and marble  - refer to map below.

Fact 2 on Stone Quarrying: 80% of the ancient Egyptian quarry sites were located in the Nile valley.

Fact 3 on Stone Quarrying: The ancient Egyptians fiercely fought their enemies to retain their territories as they needed to keep control of their stone quarries in the desert areas.

Fact 4 on Stone Quarrying: The most ancient buildings in Egypt were constructed of limestone, hewn from the mountains bordering the valley of the Nile to both the east and the west of Egypt.

Fact 5 on Stone Quarrying: The ancient Egyptians were often conscripted by the pharaoh to perform work in the quarries. This was not full time work, it fitted in with the slowest periods of agricultural calendar.

Fact 6 on Stone Quarrying: The kings and Pharaohsof ancient Egypt were entitled to employ as many of their subjects as they wanted in forced labor, conscription. The ancient Egyptians therefore worked in the quarries and on constructing the pyramids, temples, obelisks and tombs in ancient Egypt without pay.

Fact 7 on Stone Quarrying: Prisoners of war were also ordered to work in the quarries.

Fact 8 on Stone Quarrying: Pharaoh Ramses IV conscripted nearly 10,000 men for a quarrying expedition to obtain stone from Wadi Hammamat, near Koptos in Upper Egypt.

Fact 9 on Stone Quarrying: The expeditions to the quarries required immense organisation requiring transportation and food supplies - a logistic nightmare!

Fact 10 on Stone Quarrying: The workers included manual workers and those skilled or experienced in mining, quarrying, stone cutting, engineering and engraving.

Fact 11 on Stone Quarrying: The quarry workers were accompanied by government officials, administrators, scribes, soldiers, priests, architects and engineers.

Fact 12 on Stone Quarrying: Boys under 14 years old were also conscripted to work in the quarries. Diodorus wrote "The boys there who have not yet come to maturity, entering through the tunnels into the galleries formed by the removal of the rock, laboriously gather up the rock...piece by piece and carry it out into the open to the place outside the entrance..."

Fact 13 on Stone Quarrying: The tools used in the quarries included stone hammers and chisels. Picks that were carved from the horns of gazelles and used for finer work. The earliest quarries were mined with stone but as technology increased they had use of some metals such as bronze and iron.

Ancient Egypt - Stone Quarrying Fact Sheet

Stone Quarrying
Discover fast, interesting fun facts about quarrying and quarries for kids with some amazing, cool and quick information about ancient Egypt and Egyptians. Ideal for children, homework, schools, teachers and kids of all ages! Find fascinating fun facts about quarrying and quarries for kids and the history, culture and civilisation of the ancient Egyptians and ancient Egypt. Interesting, fun facts about quarrying and quarries for research, schools, students and kids of all ages.

Stone Quarrying
Learn about ancient Egyptian quarries the fast and easy way via the Stone Quarrying Fact sheet.

Ancient Egypt - Stone Quarrying Fact Sheet

Fact 14 on Stone Quarrying: The movements of the earth in combination with erosion processes brought the deeply buried sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic Egyptian stones and rocks to the surface over 550 million years ago.

Fact 15 on Stone Quarrying: The extraction of stone in the quarries was achieved by three basic methods:

 Levering
Splitting
Channelling

Fact 16 on Stone Quarrying: Methods of rock extraction: Levering was the simplest method of extracting stone by expanding natural cracks fractures by inserting levers and other tools.

Fact 17 on Stone Quarrying: Methods of rock extraction: Splitting was hard work and required the workers to create fractures in the stone by inserting wedges and then hammering.

Fact 18 on Stone Quarrying: Methods of rock extraction: Channelling or (carving) required the quarry workers to make channels in the rock or stone by a carving method chiselling grooves, using their stone tools.

Fact 19 on Stone Quarrying: Transportation: Small blocks of stone were loaded on rafts or boats and transported on the Nile river from the ancient Egyptian quarries to their destinations.

Fact 20 on Stone Quarrying: Transportation: Large stones were dragged by men overland using great sleds. The desert sands were moistened with water to ease this process.

Transporting stone
 

Fact 21 on Stone Quarrying: The amazing Colossi of Memnon (see picture below) were two gigantic statues each built from a single piece of stone each that were orientated towards the sunrise at winter solstice. It is estimated that they weigh over 1000 tons each. The statues are made from blocks of quartzite sandstone which was quarried at el-Gabal el Ahmar (near modern-day Cairo).  These enormous statues were transported 420 miles over land as they were too heavy to transport upstream on the Nile.

Ancient Egypt - Stone Quarrying Fact Sheet

Statues Memnon - Thebes during the flood

Statues Memnon - Thebes during the flood

Stone Quarrying - The Location of ancient Egyptian Quarries
The following chart provides details of the location of many of the ancient Egyptian quarries, together with the types of stone that were subject to quarrying.

Ancient Egyptian Quarries

Location - Type of Stone quarried

Bersha, near el-Tureh (Tura) - Limestone

El-Tureh (Tura), opposite Giza - Limestone

Gebelein, south of Luxor - Limestone

Qurna, near Thebes - Limestone

Ibhet, south of Aswan - Black granite

Aswan - Red & Black granite and Sandstone

Gebel Ahmar, Cairo  - Sandstone

Gebel el-Qatrani, Faiyum - Basalt

Gebel Manzal el-Seyl - Tuff

Silsileh - Limestone

Wadi Hammamat, near Koptos  - Graywacke, balsalt

Western Desert - Limestone and Carnelian

Wadi el-Hudi, south of Thebes. - Amethyst

Nubia - Large variety of stone

Widan el-Faras, Faiyum - Balsalt and Gypsum

El-Amarna - Alabaster

Koptos - Slate

Muqattam hills near Memphis - Limestone

Stone Quarrying
Learning about the ancient Egyptians their quarries and quarrying inspires everyone to visit historical sites and undertake Egypt Travel and Tours to experience the wonders of this magical land at first hand. Many people choose to experience a tour of Egypt on a Nile Cruise stopping at the famous destinations and sites of Egypt such as the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx. The information and facts about stone quarries and quarrying will provide you with a great insight into Egypt and the legacy of the ancient Egyptians.

Stone Quarrying

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