Ancient Machining - Chris Dunn - Photos, diagrams & technical discussion of ancient stone machining techniques.
The builders in ancient Egypt shaped many kinds of stone with consummate mastery. They were adept with the use of a variety of tools for manufacturing housewares, building stone and statuary; tube drills, straight saws, circular saws, lathes, and polishers. The marks left in the stone by these tools are the only available reliable source of information about these tools and how they were used. To date, no surviving examples of the actual tools used have been found. Neither have any written or pictorial records come to light which mention or describe their use.
There is legitimate debate about the nature of the tools and their developmental history. The marks left in stone have not yet been studied in enough detail, by modern experts in machining techniques, to answer conclusively some key questions:
what material were the cutting tips, surfaces or abrasives made of?
how may they have been manufactured?
what machinery was used to orient the cutting surface to the stone?
what pressure was used and how it was applied?
what standards of exactness were they capable of?
There has been much theorizing and debate but without rigorous studies followed up with the duplication of equivalent artifacts by the proposed method - no scientific proof exists for any of the theories.
The answers to these questions are consequential because they bear directly on the chronology and developmental history of the earliest dynastic and predynastic Egyptian cultures.