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Title: The Aswân Obelisk - With some remarks on the Ancient Engineering
Author: Engelbach, R. (Reginald)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    1. Preliminary remarks • 1

    2. Account of the clearance • 1, 2


    3. General description and dimensions • 3

    4. Removal of top layers of rock by burning and wedging • 4, 5

    5. Rough-dressing of north wall of north trench • 5

    6. Test-shafts • 6

    7. Cracks and fissures • 6, 7

    8. Rendering the face of the obelisk flat • 7

    9. Ancient guide-lines • 8

   10. Later scheme for a smaller obelisk • 8

   11. Comparison of later scheme with some known obelisks • 9


   12. Description • 11

   13. Dolerite “pounders” and their use • 12, 13

   14. Arrangement of workmen • 13, 14

   15. Time taken in making trench • 14, 15


   16. Description • 17

   17. Scales drawn on the rock • 18

   18. Discussion on their nature • 18, 19

   19. Traces of inscriptions • 20

   20. Bed from which an obelisk (?) has been removed • 20, 21


   21. Possible detachment by means of wedges • 23

   22. More probably completely undermined • 24

   23. Reduction of labour by using levers • 24, 25

   24. Sizes of ropes • 25

   25. Chisels used in cutting wedge-slots • 25, 26

   26. Suggestions by various authors on above subject • 26

   27. Probability of tempering copper • 27


   28. Egyptian accounts of expeditions • 29, 30

   29. Other accounts in later times • 30

   30. Was the obelisk placed on rollers? • 31

   31. Practical considerations • 31, 32

   32. Possible use of sleds in conjunction with rollers • 32

   33. Direction to be taken towards the Nile • 32

   34. Notes on transport-boats • 32, 33


   35. Paucity of ancient accounts • 35, 36

   36. Theory of direct raising • 36

   37. Theory of lowering off an embankment • 37

   38. Probable use of rollers and levers • 37, 38

   39. Use of capstans, gyns and blocks and tackles unlikely • 38

   40. Obelisk probably lowered into funnel above pedestal • 38–41

   41. Practical considerations • 41

   42. Calculations of weight and centre of gravity • 42

   43. Strains set up when obelisk is supported at its C. G. • 42, 43


   44. Pot containing ochre • 45

   45. Ostrakon from north trench • 45, 46

   46. Greek inscriptions from neighbouring rock-face • 46

   47. Need of further clearances • 47


   48–56. Works quoted in volume, and those dealing with removals of
          obelisks in modern times • 49–54



  1–5.—Plan of obelisk with sections • 3, 6–10, 19
  6.—Measuring(?)-lines on rock face • 12

  1.—View of obelisk from the east • 3
  2.—View of obelisk from the west • 3, 5, 7, 16

  1.—Bottom and side of trench • 12, 14
  2.—Wedge and chisel marks • 4, 12
  3.—Guide lines for a smaller obelisk • 4, 10, 12
  4.—Rough chisel-dressing on a half-finished sarcophagus.
     “El-Hammâmât”; Shellâl • 12

  1.—Hammer-dressing on the pyramidion • 14
  2.—Stone hammer from Saqqârah • 4
  3.—Construction of a sarcophagus lid by pounding • 13
  4.—Embankment to the east of the obelisk • 33

  1.—Obelisk from the north, shewing platform and upper
     quarry-face • 4, 16
  2.—Upper quarry-face and bed of a small obelisk • 16, 20
  3.—Bed of small obelisk from above • 20
  4.—Inscription on bed of small obelisk • 20

  1.—Markings on upper quarry-face • 16, 19
  2.—Section of above • 16, 19

  Sketch-plan of environs of obelisk • 31, 33

  Suggested platform for the erection of an obelisk • 40, 41

 [Illustration: _PLATE I_


 SCALE 1 : 100]





(1) The unfinished obelisk of Aswân lies in a quarry on the south-east
side of the mediæval Arab cemetery, being about twenty minutes walk
from the Cataract Hotel. It is approached by a small valley leading up
south-eastwards from the track of the old Barrage railway.

Up to the time of the visit of King Fuad—then Sultan—in the winter of
1920–21, only about 22 metres of the obelisk were exposed to view,
the remainder running down into a vast heap of blocks and chips. The
curious trench, made round the obelisk for the purpose of detaching it
from the rock, has long interested visitors, and His Majesty expressed
a desire that the whole obelisk be cleared in order to obtain, if
possible, new data as to ancient methods of quarrying, and to expose a
unique monument.

I wish to tender my thanks to Mr. Somers Clarke for his kindness
in putting his notes on the quarrying of granite at my disposal,
and for reading and criticising my MS. before sending it to press;
to Prof. Flinders Petrie for reading the proofs and giving many
valuable suggestions; to Mr. W. Golénischeff for the references on
the Anastasi papyrus and the Hammâmât inscriptions; to Mr. D. Watt,
Resident Engineer of the Aswân Barrage, for the loan of books on the
properties and working of granite and of surveying instruments from the
Barrage works; to the Geological and Chemical Departments (sections 13
and 44) for their report on specimens submitted to them, and to the
Survey Department for taking much trouble in preparing my plans for

Mr. A. M. MacGillivray, of Aswân, took the photographs shewn on plate
II and plate V, nos. 1 and 2, and has kindly permitted them to appear

(2) I began the work shortly after the departure of King Fuad, and
soon found that the excavation would be more extensive than I had at
first supposed; the length of the obelisk had reached 36 metres by
April 1921, and the chip-heap, covering the butt end of the obelisk,
began to shew signs of giving way. I had made arrangements, as regards
the angle of the chip-heap, supposing that the obelisk was not larger
than any of the known obelisks. Thirty-six metres was a surprise, so,
as Ramadan was approaching, I abandoned the work for the season and
applied for a further credit to make a complete clearance. This was
done in the winter of 1921–22 by Mahmûd Eff. Mohammad, Inspector of
Edfù, assisted by Mustafa Eff. Hasan, ‘chef de fouilles’ of the same
district. I visited the site from time to time whenever my {2} other
work permitted, but it was not till the end of the tourist season that
I had sufficient time to study the obelisk.

During the removal of the chip-heap, we found some hundreds of large
granite blocks thrown from a quarry above on to the obelisk; these had
to be cut into two, and sometimes into four, before our workmen could
handle them. At first we borrowed men from the Selugia quarries, but
afterwards we employed local stonemasons, who proved more satisfactory,
as they did not all want to be _raises_.

The total cost of the clearance was L. E. 75.

A word of explanation is, perhaps, needed on the system of weights and
measures used in this volume. It has been the custom of my Department
to insist on metric scales in all plans. In the text, however, I enter
somewhat deeply into the stresses and strains set up in the granite,
and since nearly all the English engineering text-books and tables use
the ton-inch units, I have adhered to the English system, reducing
the metric linear measures to inches in my calculations. The _tonne_
and the _kilogramme-per-square-centimetre_ still convey little to the
average English-speaking engineer, who has to have recourse to his
slide-rule before being able to realise the strains set up when they
are given in metric units.




(3) The obelisk is 41.75 metres long, lying with its point 18.5 degrees
north of east, and sloping down towards the butt at an angle of 11
degrees, making the base of the pyramidion 7.05 metres above the level
of the butt. When complete, the obelisk would have weighed 1168 tons

It is curious that, during all the years that this obelisk has been
known, those who were interested in the ancient methods of quarrying
have not taken the trouble to clear it. Nearly every work in which it
is mentioned dismisses it in a few sentences. Both Gorringe in his
_Egyptian Obelisks_ and Bædeker give its length as 95 feet and the
width at the butt as 11 feet 1.5 inches. How they arrived at the latter
figure passes my understanding, as it was buried under a chip-heap to a
depth of 7 metres. Perhaps the measurements were given by the original
writer, whoever he may have been, not as a fact, but as a prophecy.

The measurements of the obelisk are:

 Total length                41.75 metres.
 Base                         4.20 metres.
 Base of pyramidion           2.50 metres.
 Height of pyramidion         4.50 metres.
 Weight when finished      1168    English tons.

Round the obelisk, partly separating it from the surrounding rock,
is a narrow trench, whose depth averages about 2/3 that required to
disengage it to a square section.

Plate I is a plan, with sections, of the obelisk to a scale of 1/100,
and plate II, nos. 1 and 2, shews the obelisk viewed from the tip and
butt respectively; the trench around the obelisk can be seen in plate
II and in plate III, no. 1, and is discussed in chapter ii.

As to the date of this obelisk, I have found nothing which gives any
real clue to it. One Ṭḥutiy, in the reign of Ḥatshepsôwet, mentions an
obelisk of 108 cubits (56.7 metres) long, which is longer than that
of Aswân, even if we allow for the pedestal as having been included
in the measurement (see BREASTED, _Ancient Records_, II, p. 156,
and section 43 of this volume). Neither can the Aswân obelisk be an
abortive attempt to extract the obelisk, a part of which is now at
Constantinople, as the thickness of what is now the base is only 2.37
metres, whereas the Aswân obelisk measures 2.50 metres at the base of
the pyramidion. Unfortunately we are compelled to leave the question
of the date open, until we get some definite evidence, which may well
appear when the whole quarry is completely cleared. {4}

(4) There are abundant traces that the rock, from which the obelisk
was to be extracted, was reduced to an approximately correct level by
burning and wedging, the former being used wherever possible. In the
excavations, a large quantity of burnt and semi-burnt mud bricks were
noticed, while a considerable percentage of the chips round the obelisk
and other quarries had the pinkish-brown colour and crumbling texture
peculiar to burnt granite. Some large pieces of rock shew quite clearly
how the burning was done; it appears that a stack of dried reeds was
banked with brick, near a fissure if possible, and after firing, the
rock was easily hammered away. It is very likely that water was poured
on the hot stone to make it break up. This method of heating and
chilling is used on the granite in India at the present day. Traces
of burning are seen in the obelisk area at A and B on plate V, no. 1.
Such a vast amount of stone has been removed in the neighbourhood which
shews neither wedge nor chisel marks that, without the proof of the
burnt brick and stone, we should have been driven to the conclusion
that burning was the method employed[1].

Wedge-marks may be seen on plate III, no. 3, on the left of the
picture[2]. Typical examples are shewn on plate III, no. 2, and in
figure 1. In nearly every case I observed, a small trench had been cut
out by chisels along the proposed line of fracture, presumably to get
below the surface, which is often decomposed by exposure, and which
would crumble instead of tearing the stone apart. As to whether these
wedges were of wood, and made to expand by wetting, I am not certain,
but I believe that they were not, the reason being that the slots
always taper inwards, and it appears to me that a wetted wedge would
tend to spring out rather than exert a lateral force on the stone. In
the only case where I have seen wetted wedges used (experimentally on
limestone), the wedge-slots were cut with parallel walls.

 [Illustration: Fig. 1.—Typical wedge-slots.]

 [1] In some cases a ferruginous (?) stratum in the granite has
 decomposed the rock with an appearance of its having been burnt. Long
 exposure of the rock also rots it to a considerable depth, but in the
 majority of cases where the rock has been removed without wedges or
 chisels, neither of the above causes can have anything to do with it.

 [2] An examination of the wedging-off of blocks in the
 quarries about Aswân shews that often the wedges have acted perfectly,
 but the block has not been removed. A crowbar acting in each slot would
 be ample to remove most of these. Can it be that the crowbar or jemmy
 of metal was not known?

Assuming, then, that hammered metal wedges were used and not wooden
wedges made to expand by the action of water, it remains to be seen
whether the plug-and-feather method, such as is used to-day, was
employed, or whether the metal wedges engaged with the stone without
the thin sheets of metal on either side which we now call ‘feathers’.
The advantages of the plug-and-feather method are that it reduces the
width of the slot at the top, leaving it wider below and hence to a
large extent preventing the sharp edge of the wedge from touching the
bottom of the wedge-slot, and that, since the faces of the feathers are
smooth, it tends to {5} obtain the maximum advantage of the lateral
force exerted by the wedge in the most evenly distributed way and with
a minimum of friction. Now nearly all the ancient wedge-slots appear
perfectly smooth inside—just as if they had been polished. This would
be a disadvantage in using feathers, as there would be a greater
tendency for them to jump out at the first blow. Nothing seems to
be gained by polishing. Personally I favour the assumption that the
Egyptians used the plug-and-feather, but the question is best left
open for the present for lack of conclusive evidence. Photographs of
two iron wedges from the Ramesseum are given in PETRIE, _Tools and
Weapons_, plate XIII, B 16, 17. They appear to date to about 800 B. C.
Feathers, of unknown date, but probably late, are given in the same
volume on plate XIII, B 22, 23. It is a bare possibility that the
smoothness of the sides of the wedge-slots is due to the fact that the
slots were made without chisels, such as by scraping the granite with
emery-stone, or that after they had been roughed-out by chisels they
were finished by this means.

Sometimes, along a crack, enormous wedges were used, the largest I
noticed being 0 m. 25 cent. long, spaced one metre apart. In any case
the largeness of the wedges leads us to suppose that the Egyptians must
have had large hammers. I do not think that the sledge-hammer, such as
we use to-day, was known to the Egyptians, though mallets were common.
I believe it likely that heavy rammers, used vertically by more than
one man, must have been used to make these wedges act. Mr. C. Firth
has pointed out to me a black granite hammer found at Saqqârah, now
in the Cairo Museum. Though this example is of the Old Kingdom, it
seems quite likely that a similar hammer was used for driving in the
wedges. A photograph of the hammer is shewn in plate IV, no. 2. To-day
the quarrymen use very small fat steel punches in conjunction with a
sledge-hammer. Some large wedge-marks are seen in plate III, no. 2, at
the top of the picture.

(5) It seems that the intention of the Egyptians was to leave the north
wall of the north trench at a level slightly above that of the obelisk.
The exceptions to this are the wedged-out block seen on plates I and
II, no. 2 at A, and the (now) entrance to the bottom of the north
trench at B. I believe these blocks to have been removed at a date
later than that of the obelisk; the block A has been wedged out by a
long channel instead of separate slots, while at B it is obvious that
stone has been removed for building, since the inner face has been
chisel-dressed. Near here, too, I found a block containing a ‘jumped’
hole blackened by gunpowder. Had the ancients wished to remove the
trench wall at B, there is a crack running along it parallel to the
ground, which would make its removal an easy matter by burning from
the outside[3]. It seems, therefore, that the north wall of the north
trench was intentionally left; the probable reasons are discussed in
section 23. It will be noticed, in plate II, that the top of this wall
has been roughly hammer-dressed near the butt, and to a certain extent
near the pyramidion. How far it was intended to reduce the south wall
of the south trench is not certain; it depends on the method to be
used in getting the obelisk out of the quarry, and is dealt with in
sections 21–23. There are indications that it was to be reduced to a
considerable extent. {6}

 [3] There is not a trace of burning within 6 feet of the

(6) At intervals in the trench around the obelisk there are traces of
squarish holes, generally going down to about the level at which the
bottom of the obelisk was to be. These are seen more clearly in the
south trench than in the north, and can in some cases be traced up the
side of the obelisk itself. Besides these there are the deep holes seen
at C and D on plate I. I believe that the holes C and D were made at
the very commencement of the work to study the quality of the granite.
The holes along the trench seem to have been made with the same
purpose, and as a means of setting out the perimeter of the obelisk.
There are indications that they were made when the removal of the top
layers of rock were still in progress.

(7) From the beginning of the work on this obelisk, cracks and fissures
seem to have given a great deal of trouble and anxiety. Though parting
fairly evenly under the action of wedges, the natural fissures of
granite are most erratic; a small crack at one level or position may,
in a couple of metres, become a fissure into which one can insert the
blade of a knife, and conversely, a fissure traceable for 5 metres will
suddenly disappear. Hence every fissure or crack, as it appeared, had
to be rigorously examined, to see its probable effect on the obelisk
when completed. The examination seems to have been made in three
ways, which I believe to have been of two dates. The original workers
method was to hammer out a depression by means of a spherical ball of
about 12 lbs. weight, of a very tough greenish-black stone (section
13), until the fissure either disappeared or became larger. These
examination hammerings can be seen in plate I at _j_, _k_, _n_, and
_p_, _n_ being also seen in the photos on plate II no. 2 and plate III
no. 1. In the depression, sometimes at one place and sometimes at two,
a small fillet was left at the level of the face of the obelisk, and
apparently polished; the object seems to have been to compare the state
at the surface with that at the bottom of the depression. The second
method was to chisel out a narrow channel right along the crack and
to polish it. In some cases, as at the end of fissure _i_ on plate I,
the three red lines, drawn to guide the stone-cutter, can be clearly
seen at the end of the channel. It seems likely that the channel method
was that used by the later workers who examined the obelisk as to
the possibility of extracting a smaller one from it, as the channels
are only found in the parts within the area of the smaller obelisk
(section 10). I think that the channels were cut over discolourations
and superficial flaws, recognised as such and left by the original
workmen. The statement made by Barber, in his _The Mechanical Triumphs
of the Ancient Egyptians_, that the grooves are made at some later
date with the intention of cutting up the obelisk, is impossible, as
two (_h_ and _i_, plate I) run transversely across the obelisk, where
all the wedging and cutting in the world would not part the stone. The
line of small punch-holes at H, however, was undoubtedly made in modern
or mediæval times to extract a block from the side of the obelisk,
and it is a marvel that the obelisk has not been used as a quarry
throughout the ages. The third method was to cut with a chisel oblong
holes, tapering sharply inwards, on the crack to be examined. It is
possible that this was the work of the original party, done in haste on
the occasion of an inspection. This method is seen at the base of the
pyramidion on plate I.

The most serious flaws in the obelisk are those lettered _a_, _b_,
_c_, _d_, _k_, _m_, _o_ and _p_; any one of these would give one
seriously to think as to the advisability of abandoning the work
forthwith. {7} Fissure _a_ meets fissure _b_ and settles, once and
for all, that the pyramidion must be set back at least half a metre.
Fissure _c_ is even more radical. Fissures _d_, _e_ and _f_ all seem to
have connection with one another and make a considerable reduction in
width necessary; those between _k_ and _m_ carry a similar warning on
the south side, while _m_ and _o_ necessitate shortening the obelisk
from the butt end. The last fissure completely separates the corner of
the obelisk from the rest.

It might well be asked: Why was the work continued so long after such
bad fissures had been discovered? The answer may be that none of these
fissures appeared to be serious, even a short distance above the
present level of the face of the obelisk. The north and south trenches
do not give evidence that the granite was in a bad state, except at
_ab_, _l_, _o_ and _p_.

It is likely that the black line π, drawn across the base of the
obelisk to shorten it by over 2 metres, was made by the original
workers; this is indicated by the fact that, below this line, the
hammer-dressing has been left in a rougher state than that on the
remainder of the face of the obelisk; further, the trench, which was
intended to separate the base of the obelisk, was abandoned earlier
than those on the north and south sides, probably as soon as the
fissures shewed themselves to be deep.

There is a curious fissure in the hole F on plate I which runs
downwards and slightly inwards to the obelisk. Like fissures _k_ to
_m_, it would of itself necessitate a reduction in the original width.
It appears, at first sight, that this is the beginning of undercutting
the obelisk, but it is not at the level at which this would be

(8) It would not be out of place, perhaps, to speculate for a moment
on the method of obtaining a flat surface along the upper face of the
obelisk. I think the method used was by means of boning rods—the method
used to-day. For the benefit of those not acquainted with their use, a
brief description will suffice. Boning rods are a set of equal, usually
T-shaped pieces of wood. One is held upright at each end of the surface
which it required to straighten. A man standing at either end, if he
sight along the top of these boning rods, can see if a third boning
rod, placed anywhere between them, is above or below the line joining
them. Thus the surface can be tested anywhere along the obelisk until
it is made to slope evenly down along its whole length.

Boning rods for dressing moderately large blocks of stone are shewn in
PETRIE, _Tools and Weapons_, plate XLIX, B 44–46. These measure only
about 3 inches high and their tops were connected by a cord. In the
case of an obelisk, the cord would be useless owing to the sag, so
it seems probable that the sighting method described above was that
employed by the ancient Egyptians.

In the setting out of the obelisk, no allowance is made for the slight
convexity or entasis, in a longitudinal and transverse sense, which
is to be observed in most of the known obelisks. If there was to be a
convexity, it was made at a later stage[4]. {8}

 [4] It will be noticed in plate I, nos. 2 and 3, that the slight
 convexity across the obelisk seen in some places, does not extend the
 whole length, neither is it even as regards either edge.

(9) When the face of the obelisk had been made fairly flat by
hammer-dressing, lines were scratched on it with a chisel, and filled
in with black paint. The remains of the lines for the original
scheme are clearly traceable. These are shewn on plate I, α and β.
How much reduction was allowed for as regards the final dressing and
polishing, we do not know; it was probably only the matter of a couple
of centimetres. At the west end of the south trench the reduction of
the side of the obelisk to the guide line has been begun. This can be
seen at J to K on plate I. It now forms a kind of bevel and, as far
as it extends, obliterates the vertical markings on the wall of the
trench. On the east end of the north trench the trench itself has been
moved inwards, from G to H, to be nearer the guide-line. The reason
may either be that the workers found themselves too far from the
guide-line, or that the guide-line was changed during the progress of
the work, perhaps through fear of a fissure.

Before the original workers abandoned their work they seem to have made
several attempts to set out a slightly reduced obelisk, which would
avoid all serious cracks by reducing the length and thickness of the
original design. This is seen in the lines γ δ ε ζ and the transverse
lines ι κ λ μ. The last four lines are so faint that they can only be
seen just after sunrise or before sunset, and it is not clear with
which of the longitudinal lines they connect. On the south side the
lines are quite clear, but on the north side there seem to have been
more lines even than those shewn on plate I. These lines γ δ ε ζ, do
not lie at equal distances from either of the two centre lines η and θ.

There is no doubt in my mind that the original obelisk was to have had
a straight-edged pyramidion, as the rough edge of the boundary trench
lies evenly on either side of the centre line η.

(10) The outline for another, and most probably later, obelisk is set
out on a new centre line θ, and keeps closely to the north edge of the
original design, avoiding the series of fissures on the south. Just
before sunset, the tentative outlines for the curved pyramidion can be
traced; plate III, no. 3, taken at that time, shews these lines. In
this, the right-hand curve appears to engage with a line to the north
of that engaged by the curve next to it; this is only an effect of
light and they really engage as shewn on plate I.

I have outlined the original design and the later scheme, in red.
Though the lines setting out these obelisks are easily traceable, the
colouring is mine, and is only intended to shew up the lines more
clearly. Since there are some actual red lines on the obelisk, another
colour would have been preferable; considerations of cost in printing
have limited the plate to two colours. In outlining the later design
in red, I have chosen the larger pyramidion, as the shape decided
on. There is no proof of this, but the proportions are, to me, more
effective, and there is no reason for abandoning the odd metre of
difference, as the stone here is perfectly sound.

Taking the longer pyramidion, we have the following dimensions for the

 Total length        32.10
 Pyramidion height    5.31
 Pyramidion base      2.02
 Obelisk base         3.15 {9}

(11) I had intended to give a diagram of the better-known obelisks
superimposed. I found it, however, almost impossible to get the sides
of the obelisks distinct one from another without making the scale
inconveniently large. I give, therefore, a table shewing the principal
dimensions of ten examples. Those marked with an asterisk are scaled
off photographs, making slight allowances for foreshortening.

 ║                      │   BASE   │PYRAMIDION │PYRAMIDION │ TOTAL  │TAPER │  WEIGHT   ║
 ║      OBELISK.        │(METRES). │  BASE.    │  HEIGHT.  │HEIGHT. │ 1 IN │ (IN TONS  ║
 ║                      │          │           │           │        │      │  ENGLISH) ║
 ║Aswân                 │   4.20   │   2.50    │   4.50    │ 41.75  │ 24.3 │ 1168      ║
 ║Aswân (later project) │   3.15   │   2.02    │   5.31    │ 32.10  │ 23.7 │  507      ║
 ║Lateran               │   2.87   │   1.90*   │   4.50*   │ 32.15  │ 30.7 │  455[5]   ║
 ║Ḥatshepsôwet          │   2.40   │   1.78    │   2.96    │ 29.50  │ 42.8 │  323      ║
 ║Vatican               │   2.69   │   1.80    │   1.34    │ 25.31  │ 26.9 │  331      ║
 ║Paris                 │   2.42   │   1.54    │   1.94    │ 22.84  │ 23.7 │  227      ║
 ║London and New York   │   2.37   │   1.63*   │   1.65*   │ 21.18  │ 30.5 │  193[6]   ║
 ║Maṭarieh              │   1.90   │   1.23*   │   2.00*   │ 20.42  │ 27.5 │  121[5]   ║
 ║Tuthmôsis I^{st}      │   2.15   │   1.40*   │   2.39*   │ 19.60  │ 24.2 │  143      ║
 ║[5] After Gorringe.]                                                                 ║
 ║                                                                                     ║
 ║[6] Average, after Gorringe.]                                                        ║

It will be seen how close the measurements of the Aswân modified scheme
are to those of the Lateran obelisk. Except for the height and base, I
have had to scale the latter off a photograph, so the resemblance may
be even closer.

It is also perhaps more than a coincidence that the base of the later
project is the same as that of the obelisk fragment before Pylon VII
at Karnak, namely 3.15 metres. Legrain, writing in the _Annales du
Service_, vol. V, pp. 11 and 12, remarks, about this Pylon VII obelisk:
“L’obélisque d’Hatshopsitou mesure 29 m. 50 cent. de hauteur et 2 m.
40 cent. à la base. Si nous admettons des proportions semblables pour
deux monuments contemporains, la base de l’obélisque de Thoutmôsis III
au VII^e pylône étant 3 m. 15 cent.–3 m. 10 cent., nous arrivons au
chiffre approximatif de 37 m. 77 cent. comme hauteur de l’obélisque
de Thoutmôsis III dont nous avons retrouvé les fragments cette année
devant la face sud du VII^e pylône. (Footnote): J’ai pris comme base
de ce calcul hypothétique (29.50 × 3.15)/2.46 en comptant sur la plus
grande largeur de la base, qui, dans l’antiquité, se voyait le mieux.”
This year, a fragment of the companion (or perhaps the same) obelisk
has been found, which just reaches up to the wording of the Horus name
of the king—that is to within a couple of metres of the base of the
pyramidion. Although only one edge remains, I found that, by measuring
from the centre of the vertical lines flanking the inscription, that
the distance to the edge was 1.04 metre, making the width here 2.08
metres, which is almost exactly that of the outline on the Aswân
obelisk. Legrain, in estimating the height of the obelisk before Pylon
VII, assumes that the taper was the same as that of the obelisks of
Ḥatshepsôwet, but, from the table above, it will be seen that the taper
of her obelisks is exceptionally small, so his estimate is likely to
err on the large side. The outline on the Aswân {10} obelisk may
therefore be either for what is now the Lateran obelisk, or those of
Pylon VII; there is no evidence to shew for which it was intended.

It is likely that the later scheme was, in its turn, abandoned from
fear that the granite was not sound, especially near fissure _p_. In
any case, the reduction of the large obelisk to obtain a smaller one
would be a piece of work almost comparable to starting the work over
again on a new site, where the rock was likely to be of better quality.




(12) The trench surrounding the obelisk, by means of which it was
intended to separate it from the surrounding rock, is of most peculiar
form, the effect being a series of parallel and equidistant vertical
cuts, as if it had been made by a gigantic cheese-scoop. Plate III,
no. 1, shews the structure of the sides and bottom of the trench. Its
width averages 75 cent., and its depth about two-thirds that necessary
to extract an obelisk of square section. Down the division between each
concave “cut” a red line was drawn, it appears, by a plumb-bob with its
string dipped in ochre (section 44). These lines are not continuous,
but have been projected down from time to time as the level of the work
became lower. The average distance between the vertical red lines is
29.9 cm., there being very little variation between examples. These
appear to be feet, and the unit the double-foot. This is discussed in
section 18.

It will be noticed in plate III, no. 1, that distinct horizontal marks
are visible along the wall parallel to the bottom of the trench; these
shew how uniformly the work was kept at the same level. The aspect of
the bottom of the trench is so well shewn as not to need a description.
When the whole trench is examined, the divisions _across_ the bottom of
the trench seem to run in pairs; it is difficult to define where the
resemblance between each pair lies, but it is very clear, and I noticed
it almost as soon as I began work. A clearer feature is the division
between the depressions at the bottom of the trench separating each
into a north and a south half, shewing that the work was done from each
side of the trench alternately.

At irregular intervals, and not parallel either to the top of the
obelisk or to each other, are red and black lines. They occur all over
the walls of both trenches and on the sides of the obelisk itself. On
plate I, no. 6, I give a diagram of the lines on the rock face U V,
where they are clearest and most numerous. The only explanation I can
give for them is that they are merely lines from which to measure from
time to time the depth to which the trench had reached.

A feature of the surrounding trench is that there are no
corners—everything is rounded; neither are there any traces of the
marks of wedges, which are quite unmistakable (see plate III, no.
2); besides, it is not practicable to use a wedge unless one has to
remove a part from the side of the parent rock. Chisels also leave sure
traces; examples of fine pointing are seen in plate III, no. 2, and
rough dressing on plate III, no. 4 (which was taken in the quarries of
Shellâl). There are no traces of chisel-work in the trench at all, and
not a trace of any copper implement was found during the clearance of
the obelisk. We are therefore forced to the conclusion that the large
balls of tough greenish-black stone, found in such profusion round
the obelisk and all quarry work at Aswân, must have been the tools
employed. {12}

(13) These stones, which I propose to call ‘pounders’, are nearly
spherical, and vary between 8 and 13 inches in diameter, their weights
ranging between 9 and 15 pounds. On assembling a large number of them
and examining them closely, it is seen that nearly every one of them
has one, and often several, brownish-red stains, which are never seen
on the inside when a ball is broken. The balls are of almost natural
formation, and shaped by the action of water during the ages, the
stains being at the part where the block touched the parent rock before
being washed out. The stains are caused by fissures in the original
rock, which allowed the water to enter, decomposing the surfaces. They
consist of ferric oxides from the ferrous silicates.

I have buried some hundreds of these pounders under the west
retaining-wall and elsewhere, as even their weight did not prevent them
from being carried off freely by souvenir-hunters.

Mr. C. Firth has given me some stone chisels from the district of Wady
Alaqi, in Nubia, for comparison with the pounders used on the obelisk.
He tells me that rounded stones of similar appearance to the pounders
may be seen in large numbers in the wadys of the Eastern Desert both
above and below Aswân.

I took some pieces of pounders, together with the chisels, to the
Geological Museum, Cairo, where they were examined by Mr. W. F. Hume
and Hassan Eff. Sadek, who have kindly furnished me with the following

‘It has been concluded (as the results of the examination supported
by specific gravity determinations made in the Government Analytical
Laboratory), that the stone from which the chisels were made was a
diorite, the specific gravity varying from 2.75 to 2.87. The pounders,
on the other hand, are composed of dolerite, which is a more basic rock
than the diorite, with a specific gravity of 2.93 to 3.05. Though rocks
of this nature are present in the Aswân Cataract region (see J. BALL,
_First or Aswan Cataract_, pp. 79 and 86), it is quite conceivable that
the material for these implements has come from other localities. Rocks
of this type abound in the Second Cataract at Wady Halfa and have been
used as pounders in many gold-mining localities of the Eastern Desert,
such as the Baramia Mine where they are of wide distribution.’

My own examination of the Aswân quarries has not revealed stone of
precisely the same quality as that of the pounders, and in so far tends
to support the idea that the material for chisels and pounders is
derived from some other region.

The wear on the pounders is not distributed evenly over the whole
surface—which would be expected if they had been used entirely by
hand—but appears in patches, shewing that the pounders were used in
one position until the bruising surface in use had become flat, and
therefore useless. When a pounder is newly used, the bruising surface
nearly always is found at a point directly opposite to the stain,
possibly as there is always a slight flattening there.

In very many cases the pounder had been broken by the great force of
the blows delivered with it. I cannot believe that a man, using one of
these by hand, could break it, as the only way I succeeded in doing so
was by hurling one down from a height of about 30 feet on to a pile of
others, and then only after repeated attempts.

It has long been known that the face of the granite was dressed by
means of these pounders, but I have not heard of their use being
suggested for excavating a trench in it.

There are many examples of monuments, partly pounded out, now lying
in the quarries of {13} Aswân and Shellâl. Plate IV, no. 3, shews an
example where, apparently, the lid of a sarcophagus is being shaped by
this means.

To ascertain how much headway can be made by hand on this kind of work,
I tried, on the bottom of the trench, to see how much I could remove by
hand pounding. I found that, after an hour’s hard work, I had extracted
about five millimetres off the surface of the foot × half-trench-width
area. With practice I could perhaps have done more. I noticed that,
if I threw the pounder down and caught it on the rebound, the granite
broke up at a much greater rate; but to do this as a regular thing
would certainly result in an accident, as occasionally the pounder
rebounds at very unexpected angles. I am certain that they were not
used entirely by hand in the regular work of cutting out the trench, as
the work would go very slowly indeed, and, which is more to the point,
it would not have the same regular appearance that it has. There is
no doubt that very powerful blows were struck vertically downwards,
sometimes with such force as to split the dolerite pounders into

The only conclusion I can come to is that the pounders were attached to
rammers, and worked on the principle of the modern _mindâlah_, as the
Egyptians call it, and with which they are very familiar. By this means
two or more men could work from the top of the trench, while the third,
working below, held the bottom of the rammer and directed the blows.

As to how the rammers were attached to the pounders—if such were indeed
used—I am uncertain. It may have been done by having the base of the
rammer made slightly concave, possibly bound with metal to prevent
splaying, the pounder being held up in its place by a metal (iron?)
ring, sufficiently large to expose enough bruising surface, but not
large enough to let the pounder slip through or to scrape against
the side of the trench. The ring would be held up by two metal bands
or hide thongs attached to the body of the rammer. Another method of
attaching the pounders would be by a leather strap, with a hole just
small enough to keep the ball from slipping through.

(14) It might well be asked why they did not make flat surfaces for the
rammer to bear on, and with some more convenient means of attachment.
The explanation is that once the bruising part of the pounder had worn
flat, it was of no further use, and a new part had to be selected;
besides, the spherical pounders are of natural occurrence, and their
great toughness would make any shaping a difficult process. There are
signs that the local basalt, and even the granite, were sometimes
used, apparently without much success, as they are far inferior
to the dolerite in toughness. Since the pounders were imported, a
certain economy was essential in making the maximum use of them before

 [7] Hand pounding also must have been largely used for the face
 dressing, for examination of fissures, and possibly for undercutting.
 Some quite small hand-pounders were also found; these had no stain on

The pounding out of the trench has considerable advantages over other
possible methods; these may be summed up as follows:

 (_a_) It is eminently suited to unskilled labour.

 (_b_) The tools are durable, not easily lost and not liable to be
 stolen. {14}

 (_c_) Simultaneous rhythmic labour—so popular with the ancient and
 modern Egyptian—could be organized.

The bottom of the trench gives a certain amount of information as to
how the labour was arranged. To work the maximum number of men, with
the minimum chances of one interfering with the other, seems to me to
be for each man to have two ‘feet’ marked out for him along the trench.
Squatting with his back to the obelisk, he worked on, say, the right
‘foot’ of his task, putting his ‘spoil’ on to the left ‘foot’. (Handing
it up would be a great waste of time, and not removing it constantly
would reduce the bruising force of the blows almost to nil.) Each
man during the spell, be it of days or weeks, sits with his back to
the obelisk and works on his right ‘foot’. The next spell is on the
same ‘foot’ but each man works _facing_ the obelisk, and the process
is repeated in exactly the same way for the two halves of the left
‘foot’ of their tasks. A glance at plate III, no. 1, will shew how
likely this arrangement is, as there is just room for a man to squat
comfortably, and there is always the space of a ‘foot’ between him and
his neighbour. The men at the top of the trench, if rammers were used,
would be rather crowded, but not impossibly so.

The average width of the trench is about 0 m. 75 cent.; the work may
have been measured taking into account a minimum width, but this is
not necessarily the case, as in certain places, the width of the
trench gets smaller and smaller as it gets deeper, and then suddenly
opens out again. In any case I imagine that the workmen would find it
false economy to narrow the trench too much, as the cramped position
would make the work go more slowly. I suggest that the reason for the
occasional narrowings is that one party knew that their spell was
coming to an end at a certain level, and finished it quickly, knowing
that someone else had to continue the deepening.

It will be noticed that the top-dressing, as seen at the pyramidion,
plate IV, no. 1, and the butt-end of the obelisk, is less regular than
the pounding work in the trench; it seems that, with more space at
their disposal, the workmen were given an area to pound, and left to
arrange their method of doing it.

(15) As to the time which would have been taken to complete the trench,
it is interesting to get a rough approximation.

Assuming that, with rammers, the men can extract 8 millimetres in an
hour in each quarter of their double-foot task, then the time taken
to complete the trench, with an extra metre for undercutting, will be
that of working it at its deepest part, that is to a depth of 4.2 + 1.0
metre, and will equal (4 × 5.2)/(.008 × 12 × 30) months of twelve hours
per diem = 7.22 months.

Before leaving the subject of time taken, we might apply this
calculation to the obelisk of Ḥatshepsôwet, assuming that it was
detached in much the same way. Here the deepest part of the trench
is 2.40 + .75 metre[8]; then the time taken would have been: (4
× 3.15)/(.008 × 12 × 30) = 4.4 months. {15}

 [8] Since the obelisk is smaller.

It is recorded by the queen that “they are of one block of enduring
granite, without seam or joining. My Majesty exacted work thereon from
the year 15, the first of Machir (6^{th} month), until the year 16,
the last of Mesore (12^{th} month), making seven months of exaction in
the mountain.” Allowing for undercutting and a certain amount of top
clearance, our calculation seems within the bounds of reason.

During the work of trench-pounding, the top-dressing, embankment
preparing, and clearing for the exit of the obelisk would be carried on.




(16) At the south-west corner of the obelisk there is a kind of
platform, sloping down southwards towards a vertical face of rock.
Plate II, no. 2, shews the obelisk with the platform at the right, and
plate V, nos. 1 and 2 shews the rock face viewed from below the north
side of the obelisk, and from directly opposite it. A detailed drawing
of the markings on the quarry-face is given on plate VI.

The rock face is crossed by three black lines, lettered _a_, _b_, and
_c_, and one red line _d_. It will be seen that the structure of the
face below the line _c_ is similar to that of the side of the obelisk
trench; the intervals, too, between the vertical markings are almost
exactly the same, namely 29.8 cm. on the quarry-face against 29.9 on
the trench.

It appears that, above the line _c_, the vertical markings made by the
pounding have been hammered out to a certain extent, as if to use the
upper half as a kind of blackboard.

There is no doubt that some monument has been removed from before this
quarry-face, and it is rather tempting to see, in the lines _a_ and
_c_, the levels of the top and bottom faces of an obelisk, the line _b_
being a centre line. If this is so, the taper is 1 in 17.5, which is
sharper than the known large obelisks (see section 11). Unfortunately,
the method of detaching the monument, whatever it may have been, is
no longer traceable, as a large stratum of granite has been removed,
almost certainly by burning, perhaps to make a control platform,
destroying all traces of the original bed of the monument.

Line _c_ is very nearly level, and both _b_ and _c_ are divided into
‘feet’ by short vertical black lines each in the _middle_ of the
pounded grooves. The reason for this is not clear to me.

The red line _d_ is separated from the black line _c_ by one double
obelisk-foot; that is the distances between the lines varies between
59.7 and 60 centimetres. The vertical red lines are not very accurately
drawn, but the average distance between successive lines is equal to
the double-foot. The horizontal red lines above line _d_ convey no
meaning to me, neither do the eyes or the _nefer_ on lines _b_ and _c_.

Down the centres of the red squares, above the line _c_, run a series
of curious chains in red—now very faint—all of which cut the line
_d_, and some the line _c_. The horizontal lines on these chains are
nearly the same distance apart. Those above the line _d_ are much more
irregular, and look like two different measures superimposed, the lower
series being similar to the chains between _c_ and _d_; they are,
however, so faint that it is only at _e_ that the beginning of the
joining of the horizontal members can be determined.

I have numbered the spaces between the vertical divisions I–XIII; below
is a table giving the levels in metres of each horizontal line in every
chain, taking the level of line _d_ as unity. {18} I have not taken
any measurement nearer than half a centimetre, as the lines are thicker
in some places than that, and I cannot be sure of a greater accuracy
owing to the faintness of the lines.


 │             │                             SPACE (Plate VI).                                │
 │             │  I. │ II. │III. │ IV. │ V.  │ VI. │VII. │VIII.│ IX. │ X.  │ XI. │XII. │XIII. │
 │             │  ″  │ .05 │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ .02 │ .02 │ .05 │ ″   │ ″    │
 │             │  ″  │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ .13 │ .12 │ .12 │ .15 │ ″   │ .12  │
 │             │  ″  │ .15 │ ″   │ ″   │ .17 │ .19 │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ .20 │ .21  │
 │             │  ″  │ .27 │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ .28 │ .27 │ .26 │ .30 │ .31 │ .30  │
 │             │  ″  │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ .30 │ .30 │ ″   │ .33 │ .37 │ ″   │ .35 │ .35 │ .36  │
 │             │  ″  │ .41 │ .44 │ ″   │ .48 │ .45 │ ″   │ .40 │ .44 │ .40 │ .42 │ .38 │ ″    │
 │             │  ″  │ .52 │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ .47 │ .50 │ .48 │ .50 │ .46 │ ″    │
 │Upper series │  ″  │ .58 │ .55 │ ″   │ ″   │ .59 │ ″   │ .55 │ .56 │ .55 │ .58 │ .53 │ ″    │
 │             │  ″  │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ .62 │ ″   │ ″   │ .62 │ ″   │ .63 │ ″   │ .60 │ ″    │
 │             │  ″  │ .67 │ .655│ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ .68 │ ″    │
 │             │  ″  │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ .70 │ .72 │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″    │
 │             │  ″  │ .74 │ ″   │ ″   │ .73 │ ″   │ ″   │ .77 │ .74 │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″    │
 │             │  ″  │ .82 │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ .84 │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″    │
 │             │  ″  │ .89 │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ .92 │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″    │
 │             │  ″  │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ .71 │ (?) │ (?) │ (?)  │
 │             │  ″  │ ″   │ ″   │ ″   │ .78 │ (?) │ ″   │ ″   │ (?) │ .78 │ (?) │ (?) │ (?)  │
 │             │  ″  │ ″   │ ″   │ .83 │ .84 │ .82 │ ″   │ (?) │ (?) │ .85 │ (?) │ (?) │ .81  │
 │             │ .88 │ .895│ .83 │ .89 │ .91 │ .89 │ ″   │ .91 │ .86 │ .92 │ .87 │ .89 │ .88  │
 │             │ .95 │ (?) │ .94 │ .95 │ .97 │ .95 │ (?) │ .97 │ (?) │ .99 │ .94 │ .96 │ .98  │
 │             │1.03 │1.045│1.02 │1.01 │1.03 │1.00 │1.03 │1.03 │1.02 │1.04 │1.00 │1.03 │1.03  │
 │             │1.09 │1.10 │1.09 │1.07 │1.10 │1.07 │1.11 │1.08 │1.08 │1.11 │1.07 │1.11 │1.10  │
 │Lower series │1.15 │1.16 │1.13 │1.15 │1.17 │1.14 │1.18 │1.15 │1.15 │1.17 │1.14 │1.17 │1.17  │
 │             │1.22 │1.22 │1.215│1.21 │1.24 │1.21 │1.25 │1.23 │1.22 │1.24 │1.21 │1.24 │1.24  │
 │             │1.275│1.29 │1.28 │1.28 │1.30 │1.28 │1.32 │1.30 │1.29 │1.31 │1.28 │1.32 │1.31  │
 │             │1.35 │1.37 │1.35 │1.35 │1.375│1.35 │1.39 │1.36 │1.36 │1.38 │1.35 │1.39 │1.38  │
 │             │1.42 │1.425│1.42 │1.42 │1.45 │1.42 │1.47 │1.44 │1.43 │1.45 │ (?) │1.46 │1.47  │
 │             │1.49 │1.50 │1.495│1.49 │1.52 │1.50 │ (?) │──── │──── │──── │     │──── │────  │
 │             │1.57 │1.57 │1.565│1.56 │──── │──── │     │  ″  │  ″  │  ″  │  ″  │  ″  │  ″   │
 │             │1.64 │1.645│1.64 │──── │  ″  │  ″  │  ″  │  ″  │  ″  │  ″  │  ″  │  ″  │  ″   │
 │             │──── │ ────│──── │  ″  │  ″  │  ″  │  ″  │  ″  │  ″  │  ″  │  ″  │  ″  │  ″   │
 │Sure         │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │      │
 │ intervals   │ 11  │ 11  │ 11  │ 11  │ 11  │ 10  │  6  │  8  │  8  │ 11  │  7  │  8  │  9   │
 │Total length │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │     │      │
 │ of intervals│ .76 │ .75 │ .76 │ .73 │ .74 │ .68 │ .44 │ .53 │ .57 │ .74 │ .48 │ .57 │ .66  │
 │Unit         │.069 │ .068│ .069│ .066│ .067│ .068│ .073│ .066│ .071│ .067│ .069│ .071│ .073 │
 │                                                                                            │
 │                           Average unit for lower series .0690 m.                           │

(18) It is noteworthy, in the lower series, that the horizontal lines
on the chains are stepped-up as we proceed towards the right; the upper
series do not shew this peculiarity. Another point is that in only one
case does one of the marks coincide with the red line _c_, and never
at all with the black line _b_; had this not been so one would imagine
that two sets of measures were being compared. {19}

If we multiply up the unit of .069 metre we get:

 .069 × .25 = .01725
 .069 × .5  = .0345
 .069 × 1   = .069
 .069 × 2   = .138
 .069 × 3   = .207
 .069 × 4   = .276
 .069 × 5   = .345
 .069 × 6   = .414
 .069 × 7   = .483
 .069 × 8   = .552
 .069 × 9   = .621
 .069 × 10  = .690
 .069 × 11  = .759
 .069 × 12  = .828

It will be seen from this that the unit, if it is a unit, is not a
factor of the royal Egyptian cubit of .525 m., nor of the small cubit
of .45 m., neither is it connected with the Egyptian finger of .0187 m.
Further, it bears no relation to the obelisk single- or double-foot.
Since we have no information as to whether this unit of .069 metre is a
sixth, eighth, tenth or twelfth of a foot or cubit, it is rather unwise
to try to reconcile it with the known Egyptian units, as, even during
the same reign, the influx of foreign measures and the variations of
the native measures would enable us to find an equivalent to almost any
unit that could be imagined.

I am aware that DECOURDEMANCHE, in the _Annales du Service_, volume
XII, page 215, gives the measure .06925 as a palm of the “lapidary”
cubit of .4155 m., but I place very little reliance on this cubit, as
it only explains the dimensions of one tomb measured by Amélineau at
Abydos, and this tomb can be equally well rendered in the royal cubit

The relation of the obelisk foot to the royal Egyptian cubit is seen in
the following table:

 Finger                    (1)   .0187
 Palm (also = 3 inches)    (4)   .075
 _Common foot_            (16)   .300
 Common cubit             (24)   .450
 Royal cubit              (28)   .525

It will be noticed that the actual measurements of the obelisks, both
the original and the later project, very largely depend on the royal
Egyptian cubit of .525 metre. The height of the large obelisk does
not. Probably the order was for as large an obelisk as possible. The
dimensions of even royal cubits are:

 Base of large obelisk                       8
 Base to black line π                        4
 Base of later project                       6
 Height of pyramidion of later project      10

Most of the remaining measurements, except the base of the pyramidion
of the later project, depend on the rock rather than on the wish of the
designers. Since the obelisk is still in a rough state I cannot give
many accurate measurements from which the cubit can be found precisely.
The two most accurate measurements are the base of the original obelisk
and the base {20} of the later project. The former measures 4.20 or 8
cubits of .525 m., and the latter measures 3.15 or 6 cubits of .525 m.

As to the explanation of the scales on the quarry-face, though much is
still obscure to me, I believe the lower series of vertical scales are
the records of the work of the last shift employed in cutting out the
trench by which the monument was removed, and the semi-effaced series
on a higher level the records of preceding shifts. It seems likely that
the red chains are fortuitous, and do not represent any particular
unit, but marked the position of the tip of a 3‐cubit rod, when
standing on the bottom of the trench, thus recording the depth reached
by each party of workmen at definite intervals of time, possibly after
every two days’ pounding.

(19) At the top, and to the right of the upper series of scales, are
very faint traces of script. They seem to have been placed against each
scale, but very few can now be seen. I have tried to photograph them
with special panchromatic plates, but without success; the most I have
been able to do is to examine them in various lights, when dry and when
wetted, and to make hand copies. These are shewn in figures 2 to 4,
and are from divisions VIII, IX and XII respectively. Figure 5 is an
extra group of signs to the _left_ of the scale in division VIII. The
inscriptions are all in red paint and are too fragmentary to translate.

 [Illustration: Fig. 2.]

 [Illustration: Fig. 3.]

 [Illustration: Fig. 4.]

 [Illustration: Fig. 5.]

It is within the bounds of possibility that the inscriptions originally
gave some information as to the party who were working that particular
double-foot division of the trench.

At the extreme left of the quarry-face, in the position indicated
on plate VI, there is an inscription of two lines in the hieratic
character. It is very faint indeed and I have not succeeded in
deciphering it. The fact that it is in black paint on very dark red
weathered granite has made it very difficult to photograph. It appears
to begin with a date, and to have a number in the middle, but there is
no name of a king.

(20) At the top of the upper quarry-face there is what seems to be the
bed from which a monument, very probably a small obelisk, of 7 metres
long has been extracted. The bottom of the trench can still be traced
where the work has been divided up into grooves of similar width to
those in the obelisk trench. Here the feet have become irregular, but
the double-foot is of great regularity and measures 59.8 centimetres.
Plate V, no. 2, shews the bed at the top of the rock face and no.
3 the same seen from above. It will be noticed that, in this case,
the undercutting has been done by pounding, but with less regularity
than in the obelisk trench, shewing that it was done by hand. The
obelisk seems to have been snapped off, or more likely it broke off of
itself. It is hardly justifiable to deduce how the large obelisks were
extracted from such a small example. In all probability the principle
was the same, but the details very different. This is discussed in
sections 21–23. {21}

At the west end of the ridge from which the monument has been removed,
there is a short inscription in red paint. A photograph of this is
given in plate V, no. 4. It seems to begin with the words [glyphs]
. . . . . “the work (of) . . . . . ”. The remainder is illegible
to me, though the signs are quite clear. They resemble some of the
quarry-signs I have seen at Maʿallah and elsewhere.




(21) Having examined, as far as possible, the methods by which the
obelisk was separated from the surrounding rock, we will consider
by what means the obelisk was detached from its bed and got into a
position in which it could be handled and transported.

It might be remarked that this particular obelisk has _not_ been
transported; there is no doubt, however, that the man responsible for
the work had quite definite ideas as to how he was going to perform
the feat. Although it is the largest obelisk known (_pace_ the phantom
108 cubit obelisk of Ḥatshepsôwet), the old engineers have actually
moved even heavier and more unmanageable blocks: the colossus of the
Ramesseum and the colossi of Amenophis III at Thebes. If we can solve
the ancient method of dealing with this particular obelisk, we can the
more easily understand how the others were dealt with.

There seem to be two methods by which the obelisk could be detached
from its bed; the snapping off of such an obelisk in the manner
mentioned in section 19 being out of the question.

(1) By undercutting the obelisk from both sides to a certain extent,
say a quarter of the breadth from each side, and either detaching
it by a series of very large wedge-slots (as was done all over the
quarries for medium-sized blocks), _or_, if the Egyptians used wooden
wedges, expanded by the action of water, by one long wedge channel on
each side of the obelisk. These could be wetted by flooding the trench
with water, but before this could be done, the trench would have to
be divided into compartments by, say, mud-brick walls to prevent the
water running down to the deep end, leaving the pyramidion end dry. In
this case a large allowance would have to be made in case the granite
did not break evenly across between the wedge-channels. The great
objection to this method is the risk of the obelisk breaking across
owing to uneven strains set up by the wedges; it will be seen, in
section 43, that the obelisk can only just support its own weight when
in a horizontal position. If this method were employed, before the
obelisk could be moved, it had to be raised off its bed to pass ropes
round it. This could be effected by levering from both sides of the
obelisk—using the outer trench wall as fulcra—and gradually rocking the
obelisk higher by packing below it at each tilt. Assuming that only
half a metre was undercut from both sides, it would require 30 12‐inch
tree-trunks going down three feet into the trench (properly packed),
and projecting 18 feet above the trench, being used vertically, with 70
men pulling on ropes attached to the top of each lever. The strain set
up would be about 1000 pounds per square inch, which is well within
the {24} powers of ordinary coniferous wood as cypress. (I assume that
a man pulls 100 pounds.) The more undercutting performed, the less
force would be required to rock the obelisk. Since the obelisk would
have to be tilted from both sides, a good deal of rock would have to be
removed from the south side of it before the levers could be used.

(22) (2) By completely undercutting the obelisk. In spite of the
slowness of the work I am convinced that the obelisk was completely
undercut, most likely by hand pounding, since the expenditure of copper
chisels would be terrific, and the idea, in this kind of work, seems
to be to economise as much as possible on copper. It would be packed
by wooden blocks or stone as near the centre as is consistent with
stability, and in as few places as possible. Ropes would then be passed
round the obelisk, each going several times round and being brought
forward from below to anchorages in front. It is here that the details
of this method assume such great importance; it must be remembered
that, if the obelisk weighs 1170 tons (allowing a margin for the
roughness of the undercutting below), and lies on its side on a hard
bed, then the horizontal pull by ropes necessary to turn it over on to
a new face will be half the weight of the obelisk, _i. e._ 585 tons.
This would need 13,000 men, if a man pulls 100 pounds. I do not see how
such a number could possibly be put on to this work. Figure 6 shews the
obelisk supported on its packing, the section here being at the centre
of gravity, and the outer edge of the packing being 1 metre from the
centre of the obelisk on each side. To pull it over by horizontal ropes
would need 8000 men, which still seems more than is practicable. It
is possible to reduce the number of men required to turn the obelisk
over by means of levers working off the north wall of the north trench,
which seems to have been deliberately left for that purpose (cf.
section 5).

 [Illustration: Fig. 6.]

(23) By using, say, 30 21‐foot levers with a mechanical advantage of
six to one, as described in the last section, the obelisk can be made
to turn slightly about N (see fig. 6) so that the packing P can be
removed and perhaps replaced by sand.

About N the moment of the force at the bottom of the lever is to that
of the weight of the obelisk acting at its centre as 7 : 2 (by scaling
off the figure), so that the moment at the top of the lever to that of
the weight will be 42 : 2, or 21 : 1. Let the number of men per lever
be _n_. {25}

Then 30 × 21 × 100 × _n_ = 1170 × 2240, which gives the number of men
as 42, or 1260 men in all[9].

I have taken the amount of undercutting in figure 2 as .75 m. at the
centre of gravity; it would increase as far as 1.00 metre at the butt.

As soon as the sand had replaced the packing, the rock A⁠B would be
removed by burning and wedging until it sloped down as much as possible
from the level of the bed of the obelisk. I had not sufficient funds
at my disposal to examine the levels of the rock to the centre of the
valley, so I have to be rather vague as to what distance the obelisk
was rolled out[10]. The obelisk would then, when the sand flowed out or
was removed, take up a position as shewn in the dotted section.

 [9] The check the stress in the levers. Referring to figure 6,
 (Stress) (Section modulus) = Sum of moments on one side of fulchrum,
 _i. e._ (s × .0982 × (25)^3) = (1170 × 2240 × 216)/(30 × 21) = 586
 pounds per square inch, which is well within the powers of any wood.

 [10] It will be seen that, if the obelisk lies at too low a level
 to be rolled _downwards_ to the valley, it can be raised by tilting
 backwards and forwards by means of levers acting from the north and
 south trenches alternately, as mentioned in section 21. If the butt
 were raised even a metre above its present level, it would enormously
 reduce the quantity of rock to be removed before the obelisk could be
 rolled out.

Then, about Q, the moment of the horizontal force of the ropes round
the obelisk to the moment of the weight will be, from the figure, as 9
to 2, so if _n_ be the total number of men required to pull the obelisk
over, then (_n_ × 100) = (2 × 1170 × 2240)/9 which gives 5824 men as
against the 8000 men which would be required if the levers were not
used. It is an enormous number, but I do not see how they could manage
with less.

A bank of sand just in front of the lower edge of the obelisk would
make the second turn an easy matter, and if from thence the obelisk is
rolled downwards on soft sand, I think that the 5824 men will still be
ample, as the sand can be undercut in front of the edge and so make the
rolling approximate to that of a cylinder.

(24) As to the size of the ropes required for the rolling out of the
obelisk, all we can do is to obtain a very rough idea as to it. If they
spread the men out slightly fanwise, I do not see how they could have
used more than 40 ropes. The strain per rope will be, as we have seen,
(2/9 × 1170/40) = 6.5 tons per rope.

The rope used was probably the very best palm-rope, newly made. The
safe load which can be put on coir rope, which is of about the same
strength, is given by the formula: Load in cwts = (Circumference in
inches)^2 divided by 4 (_Military Engineering_, 1913, Part III A,
p. 49). Substituting, we have (6.5 × 20 × 4) = C^2 which gives a
circumference of 22.8 inches and a diameter of 7 ⁠¼ inches. If such a
rope were used it would require handling loops on it.

(25) Before leaving the work at the quarry, it remains to be seen how
the chiselling of the wedge-slots was done. The apparent impossibility
of cutting granite with a copper chisel has struck every student of
this question. Many suggestions, some of them grotesque, have been
put forward to explain how it might have been performed. Gorringe, in
his _Egyptian Obelisks_, {26} boldly assumes the knowledge of steel.
To my mind, the reasons against this are, _first_: the knowledge of
steel would have soon resulted in its use being widespread for daggers,
swords and, above all, razors; _secondly_, it would have had a special
name, since its properties are so different from iron. Now all the
ancient names for metals have been accounted for, none of which could
be applied to mean steel. If we translate _Benipet_ as ‘steel’, then we
have no word for iron.

Gorringe’s assertion that iron and steel tools would have disappeared
by oxydisation in a few centuries is not borne out by excavations. We
know, from the scanty mentions of iron, that it was not very generally
used, but quite a number of iron tools of late Egyptian date are now
known, and I have myself taken out an iron bill-hook from the filling
of a Roman or Ptolemaic grave which was hardly rusted at all, and in
the Cairo Museum there is an iron fork of Coptic date from a depth of
5 metres in the _sabâkh_ of Tell Edfù which is almost like new. If
the ground is dry and free from certain chemicals, objects such as
iron, wood, linen, papyrus, etc., will keep indefinitely, whereas, in
unsuitable ground, even copper will disappear and leave no traces,
except, perhaps, a blue stain. If steel had been in anything like
common use, we should surely have found examples, either in graves or
in town sites like Kahûn or Tell el-ʿAmarna. PETRIE, in _Tools and
Weapons_, pl. VI, 187, cites a halberd of _iron_ dated to Ramesses III;
had steel been known, we should have expected it to be of that rather
than iron. An examination of such broken iron tools as can be spared
might give us definite information one way or the other, as steel,
though it may lose its temper, will not turn into iron, however long it
is left, and should be easily recognized by a micro-photograph.

On the rocks of the Wady Hammâmât, the following inscription is to
be seen, together with others having the same title (GOLÉNISCHEFF,
_Hammamat_, II, no. 3, and COUYAT et MONTET, _Les inscriptions
hiéroglyphiques et hiératiques du Ouâdi Hammâmât_, in _Mémoires de
l’Institut français du Caire_, vol. XXXIV, p. 54) : ([glyph])

 [Illustration: Hieroglyphs, etc.

 May Amûn give life (to) the worker of iron tools, _Ptaḥi_, son of the
 worker of iron, _Ken_, etc.]

The determinative [glyph], sometimes written [glyph], seems to suggest
iron tools in general, and we are hardly justified in deducing from
this that the chisels for cutting granite were necessarily of iron; it
is very likely, however, that the wedges were of iron.

(26) The suggestion, put forward by Donaldson, that the Egyptians
softened the granite by chemical means before using the chisels on it,
is not worthy of serious notice, as a glance at the tool marks shews
that the granite was quite hard, and behaved in exactly the same way
as it does under modern tools. His other suggestion, that the granite
was first pounded to render it more workable, cannot be accepted as the
explanation, as how did they pound the bottom of the wedge-slots?

A far more reasonable suggestion is that the granite was cut by chisels
of dolerite or similar {27} basic rocks. Mr. Firth tells me that,
except for the grinding of the cutting-edge, they occur naturally in
the Wady Alaqi. A series of trials with such a chisel left me entirely
unconvinced, the more so since many of the old chisel-marks shew that a
narrow-edged tool had been used.

From my own experiments, I can believe that the Egyptians _could_ have
cut granite with a copper chisel, but more time is spent sharpening
the tool than in cutting the stone, and the expenditure of metal would
be appalling in any but the smallest works, but I cannot admit that
copper tools, as we know them, could have ever been used to cut hard
quartzite, which gave the Egyptians no special trouble, if we judge by
the huge chambers which they cut, polished and transported, as in the
case of the burial chamber in the Hawara Pyramid.

It has also been suggested that the copper chisels were fed with emery,
but anyone who has handled a chisel will appreciate the impossibility
of feeding the tool with emery; on the other hand, emery may well have
formed the basis of the polishing process, and have been regularly used
in stone drilling and sawing.

(27) How, then are we to explain this problem? Much as I hate to
admit it, I am driven to the conclusion that the ancient Egyptians
possessed some simple method of tempering copper to the hardness of
modern tool-steel[11]; even now copper with 2 % of alloy may, by heavy
hammering, be brought to the hardness of mild steel. This has been
suggested by many writers, and examples of tools are known—Wilkinson
quotes one in volume II, p. 255—where the malletted end of the chisel
was worn by the blows, but where the point was sharp; of course that
might be explained by the fact that it had just been re-sharpened,
but I have myself seen a chisel where the cutting-edge was chipped in
the same manner as a modern steel tool instead of being burred. I was
unable to purchase this specimen, but I tried the point with a knife,
and was able to scratch it as I could any other piece of copper; the
temper, therefore, must have been temporary (cf. WILKINSON, _Manners
and Customs_, vol. II, p. 255, and PETRIE, _Arts and Crafts_, p. 100).

 [11] There has lately been a rumour that a method has been discovered
 in America for tempering copper, and that a company is being formed
 for its exploitation; if this is true, it will relieve archæologists
 considerably, who have been at their wits’ end for a good explanation
 for the last 50 years.

If this is the true solution, it is probable that the knowledge died
out when the use of iron and steel became general, as its value in not
producing sparks could hardly have been foreseen. It is not surprising
therefore that the knowledge died out when it was no longer a necessity.

It might be remarked that instead of having a method of greatly
hardening copper, the Egyptians might have been able to temper iron.
The experiments on iron and its properties during the last century
have been innumerable and, had there been a method, apart from the
introduction of carbon, of tempering iron to a very great hardness,
I think that it would certainly have been discovered by now. In our
present state of knowledge, it is best to leave the subject as an open




(28) Before entering into the question of the transport of obelisks, it
may be as well to give extracts from ancient writers. They throw very
little light on the problem, the Roman and Greek writers only giving
what seems to be third-rate hearsay information, while the Ancient
Egyptians usually confine themselves to statistics as to the numbers of
men employed.

King Menthuḥotpe IV sent an expedition of 10,000 men to the Wady
Hammâmât quarries to bring in a sarcophagus, and records that it took
3,000 sailors from the Delta nomes to remove the lid, measuring 4
by 8 by 2 cubits, from there _to Egypt_. This seems to shew that a
pressed gang of the amphibious Delta inhabitants from the lakes had
been taken out to the quarries. At any rate we are told that “not a man
perished, not a troop was missing, not an ass died and not a workman
was enfeebled” (BREASTED, _Ancient Records_, I, 215). This was more
fortunate than the expedition of Ramesses IV quoted below, but it gives
no details of the various kinds of artisan employed.

In the reign of Amenemḥêt III, an official, also called Amenemḥêt,
was sent to the same place to obtain 10 statues of 5 cubits high. The
personnel consisted of (BREASTED, _A. R._, I, 313):

 Necropolis soldiers     20
 Sailors                 30
 Quarrymen               30
 Troops                2000

Under Ramesses IV, a large expedition was again sent to the Wady
Hammâmât for monumental stone. It numbered 8362 persons. Breasted sums
up the personnel as follows (_A. R._, III, 224):

 High Priest of Amûn, Ramesses-nakhl, Director    1
 Civil and military officers of rank              9
 Subordinate officers                           362
 Trained artificers and artists                  10
 Quarrymen and stone-cutters                    130
 Gendarmes                                       50
 Slaves                                        2000
 Infantry                                      5000
 Men from Ayan                                  800
 Dead (excluded from total)                     900


From this it will be seen that larger parties than our estimate of 5725
were sent much further afield than Aswân, which itself was a garrison
town. It seems to have been the custom to use troops on this unpleasant
kind of fatigue, if captives or pressed gangs were not available in
sufficient numbers.

The only record that we have on the transport of an obelisk is a
passage from the Papyrus Anastasi I (GARDINER, _Egyptian Hieratic
Texts_, Part I, p. 17*, § XIII), in which one scribe called Ḥori writes
to another called Amenemope, accusing him of being unable to calculate
the number of men required to transport an obelisk of given dimensions.
He says: “An obelisk has been newly made . . . . . of 110 cubits in
length of shaft; its pedestal 10 cubits square, the block of its base
making 7 cubits in every direction; it goes in a slope (?) towards the
summit (?), one cubit one finger, its pyramidion one cubit in height
its point measuring two fingers. Add them together (?) so as to make
them into a list (??), so that thou mayest appoint every man needed to
drag it . . . ”

Here the obelisk is very long and thin and has an impossibly short
pyramidion, but in any case such a problem can only be solved by
one who has had previous experience, not only of the friction to be
overcome in the transport of large blocks, but of the nature of the
ground to be traversed. The figures given are only sufficient to
determine the weight of the obelisk.

(29) The largest transportation on land, of which a scene has come down
to us, is that of the winged bull of Nineveh. This is published in
LAYARD, _Discoveries_, pls. X–XVII. The bull is drawn by men pulling on
four cables, and a line of men keeps on placing rollers under the front
of the sleds on which the colossus is attached. Behind it men assist
the overcoming of the initial friction with large handspikes.

Another scene, this time from Egypt, is the transport of a statue of
one called Dḥutḥotpe (LEPSIUS, _Denkmäler_, II, 134, and BREASTED,
_Ancient Records_, I, 309–312). The method used here is that of a sled,
whose runners are wetted or greased, pulled on sleepers. Though the
statue was only about 22 feet high and weighed some 60 tons, it appears
to have required 172 men to move it; we can therefore safely rule this
method out as applying to a 1170‐ton obelisk. If a sled was used, it
must have been in conjunction with rollers.

Greek and Roman writers throw very little light on ancient methods
of transportation. Herodotus, in book II, chap. 175, remarks: But of
these, that which I not the least, rather the most admire, is this:
he (King Amasis) brought a building of one stone from the city of
Elephantine, and 2000 men, who were appointed to convey it, were
occupied three whole years in its transport, and these men were all
pilots. The length of this chamber, outside, is 21 cubits, the breadth
14, and the height 8. This is the measure of the outside of the
one-stoned chamber. But inside the length is 18 cubits 20 digits, and
the width 12 cubits, and the height 5 cubits.

Gorringe, in his _Egyptian Obelisks_, gives an almost complete
collection of the accounts of transportation, erection, etc., by
ancient authors. Many of these accounts are so vague or improbable as
to be hardly worth including here. {31}

(30) Having discussed the possible methods of removing the obelisk from
the quarry, the next thing to be considered is whether it was rolled
over and over down to the river bank, or whether it was pulled along on

The first way is not without its advantages, as it is almost
fool-proof. The width of the embankment or track, of which there are
many about the quarries, need only be about one-third the length of the
obelisk, and the tendency for the obelisk to roll in a circle would be
to a large extent neutralized if it were of soft sand, where the heavy
end would sink in to a greater depth than the point end. However, the
turning would be a most laborious process, and the general progress
very slow and requiring an enormous number of men. It is obvious that
the obelisk was brought into the temple precincts lengthways, so if it
was moved a little that way it is quite possible that the greater part
of its journey on land was so made.

(31) Plate VII gives a rough plan of the quarry in which the obelisk
lies. It is accurate as regards the obelisk, embankments and the rock
faces A, B and C. It will be seen that the rock at B, which is also
shewn on plate III, no. 2, has been partly cut away, presumably to
let the point of the obelisk pass out of the quarry. It may be only a
coincidence, but, strangely enough, the distance A C (from both ends
of which rock has been removed), is almost exactly the length of the
obelisk. My opinion is that the obelisk was only rolled sideways for
a very short distance until it was very little higher than the level
of the floor of the valley, and was then put on to rollers running on
heavy baulks of limber, the process being:

 (1) Track prepared before the obelisk has reached its lowest level.

 (2) Track and rollers covered over with soft sand, the line of the
 track being marked by sighting poles.

 (3) Obelisk rolled down on to the sand above the track.

 (4) Sand dug away from under the obelisk. In the end, I think that
 this way would be quicker than levering the obelisk up by horizontal
 levers—but that is still a possibility.

It has been doubted that the Egyptians knew rollers, but without them
I do not see how a thousand-ton block can be transported. After all,
the Assyrians were familiar with them in the 8^{th} century B. C. at
latest (section 29), and there was extensive communication between them
and the Egyptians for centuries before that. Are we to assume that the
discovery was made between the probable 15^{th} century of our obelisk
and the 8^{th}?

The Luxor obelisk, in the course of its removal to Paris, was dragged
along a specially prepared wooden track after it had been mounted on a
wooden ‘cradle’, the track being well greased. The pulling was done by
capstans and blocks and tackles. It was found that a pull of 94 tons
was required to pull the obelisk up the slope leading to the pedestal.
This was with a 227‐ton obelisk. Since friction with average-sized
blocks is about proportional to the weight, to pull the Aswân obelisk
would need (1168/227 × 94) = 485 tons, which would require about 11,000
men. I cannot believe that all these could have been arranged so as to
pull the obelisk up an embankment (see sections 35 and 37). {32}

The great advantage of rollers is that comparatively little space is
required and a minimum of pulling force; its disadvantages are that
there is always a risk of the rollers becoming jammed, and that, even
on a slight incline, the obelisk is liable to get out of control.

As to the sizes of the rollers required, I can only say that the top
of the fallen obelisk of Ḥatshepsôwet now rests on 20 cent. diameter
pitch-pine rollers, spaced one metre apart, and there is not the
faintest sign of crushing. The worst stress with the Aswân obelisk
might rise to 11 times as much as the example cited.

(32) The obelisks of Ḥatshepsôwet were mounted on sleds, perhaps to
make an easier running surface; it would also serve to damp any shocks
and to distribute the upward pressure of the rollers evenly along the
under surface of the obelisk. The method of attachment is shewn in
figure 7 (from NAVILLE, _The Temple of Deir el Bahari_, Part VI, pl.
CLIV), but is rather vague. I cannot say whether the Aswân obelisk was
to have been mounted in this way or not; if it were, then it would be
put on its sledge at the same time as it was put on the rollers, as
explained in the last section.

 [Illustration: Fig. 7.—Ḥatshepsôwet’s obelisk on sled.]

(33) Once on its rollers, there is a fairly level and straight track
from the mouth of the valley running along the course of the old
barrage railway (pl. VII), joining the two large embankments D⁠E
and F⁠G, which feed the quarries on the south of the obelisk and on
the high desert respectively. Plate IV, no. 4, gives a view of the
embankment F⁠G looking down to Aswân town. It joins the course the
obelisk would take at A. The modern town north of the station prevents
us determining exactly where these embankments gave on to the river

(34) On the details of the boats, on which we know the obelisks were
transported, I can offer no opinion of value, as I am not familiar with
boat design, particularly that of the “queen-truss” type which seems
to have been so popular with the Egyptians. I will content myself,
therefore, with citing certain accounts and giving sundry references,
which may prove of use to those who intend to pursue this matter

The only scene we have of water transportation is that of the temple of
Dêr el-Baḥari, published by Naville and entitled _The Temple of Deir
el Bahari_, Part VI, plate CLIV, where there is a picture of the boat
containing _two_ 30‐metre obelisks placed butt to butt[12]. The boat
used here must have been at least 82 metres long. He mentions also the
boat used to carry the two obelisks of Tuthmôsis I, which measured 63
metres by 21 wide (BREASTED, _Ancient Records_, II, 105). Both this
boat and that of Ḥatshepsôwet are spoken of as the “August” boat. {33}

 [12] It has been suggested that the two obelisks shewn butt to butt
 in the Dêr el-Baḥari sculpture were not the Karnak pair, but those
 erected before the Dêr el-Baḥari temple. Excavation has not confirmed
 this. The subject is discussed by Breasted in _Ancient Records_, II,
 p. 135, note _e_.

Another great boat was made by one Uni, in the VI^{th} dynasty, for
the transport of stone from Aswân. This measured 60 cubits (31 metres)
in length by 30 in width, and took only 17 days to construct (_Ancient
Records_, I, 322).

The construction of ancient boats is discussed in _Ancient Egypt_,
1920, Part 1 ff. by Mr. Somers Clarke, and a detailed description of
Ḥatshepsôwet’s boat is given by Naville, in his work cited above, on
pages 2 to 4. Boats are also described in WILKINSON, _Manners and
Customs_, vol. I, p. 276, and vol. II, pp. 211, 212.

To me, the only practicable way of loading such an obelisk on to a
boat, would be by building an embankment round and over the boat,
pulling the obelisk into a position above it, and then digging the boat
and channel clear again. We can hardly believe that the obelisk was
hauled in over the gunwale! In moving the Luxor obelisk to Paris, and
the Alexandria obelisk to New York, in the one case the whole prow of
the barge was removed, and in the other a port was cut in the bows of
the steamer through which the obelisk was introduced (see sections 53
and 54).

Pliny, in his _Natural History_, book XXXVI, chap. 14, gives an
account of how King Ptolemy Philadelphus had an obelisk transported
to Alexandria. He tells us, apropos of the loading on to the boat: “A
canal was dug from the River Nile to the spot where the obelisk lay;
and two broad vessels, loaded with blocks of similar stone a foot
square—the cargo of each amounting to double the size, and consequently
double the weight of the obelisk—were put beneath it; the extremities
of the obelisk remaining supported by the opposite sides of the canal.
The blocks of stone were removed and the vessels, being thus gradually
lightened, received their burden.” If this was so or not, it certainly
was _not_ the method by which the obelisks were brought from the Aswân
quarries to the bank. No trace of a canal of this sort is to be seen,
though there are plenty of traces of enormous embankments.




(35) The only reference the Egyptians have left us actually referring
to the erection of a monument is that given in the Papyrus Anastasi I
(for publication, see section 28). The monument to be erected is in
this case a colossus. The text gives (§ XIV): “It is said to thee:
_Empty the magazine that has been loaded with sand under the monument_
of thy Lord which has been brought from the Red Mountain. It makes 30
cubits stretched on the ground, and 20 cubits in breadth . . . . . -ed
with 100 (??) chambers filled with sand from the river-bank. The
. . . . . of its (?) chambers have a breadth of 44 (?) cubits and a
height of 50 cubits, all of them . . . . . in their . . . . . . . . .
Thou art commanded to find out what is before the Pharaoh (??). How
many men will it take to demolish (_ḫm_—also “remove” or “overturn”) it
in six hours—if (?) apt are their (?) minds (?), but small their desire
to demolish it without there coming a pause when thou givest a rest to
the soldiers, that they may take their meal—so that the monument may be
established in its place?”

Here the technical details are extremely obscure, as there are many
unknown words in the text.

In the same papyrus (§ XII), there is a reference to an embankment,
which may well have been intended for the erection of a monument,
perhaps an obelisk, as the problem immediately following concerns the
transport of an obelisk from the quarry. The scribe Ḥori puts the
problem: “There is made a ramp of 730 cubits, with a breadth of 55
cubits, consisting of 120 compartments (?) filled with reeds and beams
with a height of 60 cubits at its summit, its middle of 30 cubits, its
batter (?) 15 cubits, its base (?) of 5 cubits. The quantity of bricks
needed for it is asked of the commander of the army . . . . . . .
Answer us as to the quantity of bricks needed. Behold its measurements
(??) are before thee; each one of its compartments (?) is of 30 cubits
long and 7 cubits broad.”

Since the words translated by “compartment” and “base” are very
doubtful in meaning, it is difficult to obtain any definite idea as to
the internal construction of the ramp. Borchardt supposes the words
“the middle” to mean the space filled with rubbish in the inside of the
embankment as a means of economising the bricks.

The ‘compartments’ may refer to the longitudinal divisions in the
middle of the embankment, which can still be seen in the construction
ramp inside the South Ptolemaic (?) pylon at Karnak. Choisy, in his
_L’Art de bâtir chez les Égyptiens_, p. 86, gives rather a good
little sketch of this, apparently made when the ramp was newly
cleared. Borchardt, on the other hand, imagines the compartments to be
transverse divisions. It is certain, however, that there is a mistake
in the measurements given in the Anastasi papyrus, as it seems quite
impossible to {36} divide up the embankment according to the data, even
if we take ‘compartments’ to mean the sections or towers into which
nearly all brick enclosure walls and embankments were divided (see
SOMERS CLARKE, _J. Eg. Arch._, vol. VII, p. 77).

It seems to me that Borchardt is right as to the embankment being, as
it were, a brick box filled with earth; otherwise there is a great
redundance of data. Obviously, the only measurements necessary for an
embankment (built of plain brickwork or in towers like the great temple
walls), if solid, are: Horizontal length of ramp (L); highest part
(H); width at top (W); and the batter (B). Then the number of bricks
required will be, to a close approximation: ½ L⁠H (W + B) divided by
the volume of one brick, plus a factor for waste bricks.

It may be remarked that if the Aswân obelisk were pulled up an
embankment of the slope given here, it would need (neglecting friction)
over 2000 men.

Classical authors tell us next to nothing; as an example I give Pliny’s
account of an erection done by the Egyptians. In his _Natural History_,
book XXXVI, chap. 14, he tells us: “Rhamsesis, who was reigning at
the time of the capture of Troy, erected one 140 cubits high (73
metres). Having left the spot where the palace of Mnevis stood, this
monarch erected another obelisk 120 cubits (63 metres) in height,
but of prodigious thickness, the sides being no less than 11 cubits
in breadth (5.77 metres). It is said that 120,000 men were employed
upon this work, and that the king, when it was on the point of being
elevated, being apprehensive that the machinery employed might not
prove sufficiently strong for the weight, and with a view of increasing
the peril that might be entailed by the want of precaution on the part
of the workmen, had his own son fastened to the summit, in order that
the safety of the prince might at the same time ensure the safety of
the mass of stone . . . . . ”

(36) Mediæval and modern writers have speculated freely on the ancient
method of erecting obelisks, their ideas ranging from fairly sound
theories to the assertion constantly made to me by the less responsible
spiritualists, that it was done by _levitation_!

Of modern theories two seem to be popular; the first suggests that the
obelisk was laid flat, with one side of its base just above the notch,
which in nearly all cases runs along one side of the pedestal, and that
it was gradually levered up, and at the same time banked from below,
being assisted when it had become sufficiently high by pulling with
head-ropes, and similarly checked by ropes when on the point of tilting
over on to its base. This with slight modifications, was the method
used for the erection of the obelisk of Seringapatam, and is described
by Gorringe in his _Egyptian Obelisks_ (p. 157), and by Commander
Barber, in _The Mechanical Triumphs of the Ancient Egyptians_ on page
102. It must be remembered, however, that the whole obelisk weighs only
about 35 tons. To assert that this method was that to be used for the
Aswân obelisk is not justifiable. The reasons against this method may
be summed up as follows:

 (1) It would be almost impossible to lever up a large obelisk, close
 to a pylon, on an ever-increasing earth slope, and it could not be
 ‘rocked’ up as it would slip out of the notch.

 (2) Pulling by head-ropes, with or without the aid of a strut or
 ‘raising-lever’, would be useless until the obelisk was almost
 upright, even if it was done from a high embankment. {37}

 (3) It would not explain how Ḥatshepsôwet’s obelisks were introduced
 into the middle of the court of Tuthmôsis I^{st}.

 (4) Ropes would almost surely be inadequate to stop the obelisk from
 rocking out of control after it had passed its dead centre. The New
 York obelisk, when being pulled into a horizontal position about a
 specially made trunnion, supposed to be at its centre of gravity, took
 charge, snapped the cables and escaped breaking by a miracle.

 (5) Ḥatshepsôwet’s standing obelisk has (apparently) jumped forward
 nearly a foot in front of its notch. It can be seen, if one pulls
 upright a foot-long alabaster obelisk (sold at the Cairo fancy-shops)
 with cotton threads that it is impossible to make it jump forward
 after passing its dead-centre. What it does, if the pulling is not
 very even and square, is to pivot on one of its corners at the
 beginning or end of its first rock, with what would be disastrous
 results in a large obelisk.

(37) The more usual explanation as to how the erecting was performed is
that the obelisk was pulled on rollers up a long inclined embankment
until it was at a height well above the centre of gravity of the
obelisk. Having been rolled up base foremost, it was tilted over the
end of the embankment, and the earth gradually cut away from below
it until it settled down on to its pedestal, leaning against the
embankment; from thence it was pulled upright (see PETRIE, _Arts and
Crafts of Ancient Egypt_, p. 77, quoted in section 55).

This seems a far more probable method than the last, but from a
practical point of view it leaves a good deal unexplained. Anyone
who has seen, in _sabâkh_ work or elsewhere, earth being cut from
under a stone, or even being itself undercut, knows the way it has of
slipping sideways or any way but the expected—generally on the heads
of one’s workmen. With, say, a 500‐ton obelisk, the undercutting would
be a somewhat delicate business to make it settle down true on to the

The tendency to rock and pivot when being finally pulled upright is not
dealt with. Whatever method the Egyptians used, it was _sure_, and did
not depend on the skill of the men with the hoe and basket.

Before describing the method which I believe was used, it would be well
to consider what means the Egyptians had at their disposal.

(38) Levers must have surely been familiar to the Egyptians; the
constant import of tree-trunks from Syria would furnish them with
the material, and a hundred occurrences in every-day life, such as
extracting a stone with the point of a hoe would suggest to them the
application. The occurrence of a lever in the filling of a tomb at
El-Bersheh is published by M. Daressy in _Annales du Service_, vol. I,
p. 28, where he remarks: “On a retrouvé une branche d’acacia taillée en
biseau à une extrémité qui avait dû servir de ciseau et de levier pour
soulever le couvercle”.

In several of the temples in the Theban area and—Dr. Reisner informs
me—in the temple of the third pyramid at Gizeh, one may see large
blocks, undercut at various points along their length as if to take the
point of a lever. {38}

Rollers, too they must have known, even if they did not get the idea
from the Assyrians. We know that they used sleds running on sleepers—at
Lahun pyramid the tracks have actually been found—and it is incredible
that the greater ease in pulling, when a small sled ran over a stick,
should escape their notice. It might be asked why the statue of
Dḥutḥotpe was _not_ pulled along on rollers, instead of on a sled only
(cf. section 29). The reason seems to be that, given a moderate sized
block and plenty of men, the progress would be quicker, as the sled
does not need the constant adjustment and attention which is required
by rollers. As we have already remarked, the friction renders the use
of sleds alone impossible for a large obelisk (cf. section 31), so,
since it appears that obelisks must have been brought into the temple
precincts endways, there is no other means we know of other than

Several pieces of wood, which were probably used as rollers, were found
in the débris round the Lahûn Pyramid, and are published in BRUNTON,
_Lahun I, the Treasure_, plate XX. They vary from a foot to about 8
inches in length, having diameters from 2 to 3 inches. The ends of
all the examples are rounded. It is strange that, in the quarry and
chip-heap cleared at El-Lahûn, so few workmen’s tools were found with
the exception of wooden mallets and sleepers.

Dr. G. A. Reisner, in reply to my question as to whether any rollers
had been found in the course of his excavations, has kindly sent me the
following note. “At Nuri (Ethiopia) we found two short thick granite
rollers in the chamber of Pyramid VIII, where there was a granite
coffin, weighing 7–8 tons, which may have been used for moving the
coffin from the foot of the stairs through rooms A and B to its place
in C. We actually used these rollers in moving the coffin out.” He
gives the date of these rollers as about 550 B. C.

(39) On the other hand, it appears that the capstan and the block and
tackle, arranged to give a large mechanical advantage, were quite
unknown until quite late times. No trace has been found of them in
the town-sites excavated in recent years, nor is there any trace
of their derivatives, such as the spoked well-drum in one case or
the application of the other for hauling up the sails of ships. In
the scene of the expedition to Punt in the time of Ḥatshepsôwet, an
examination of the sail halliards reveal nothing in the nature of a
block and tackle.

Sheers, gyns and derricks may well have been known in principle, but
for moving weights like those of obelisks, these are of no use except
in conjunction with the capstan and block and tackle. When the Luxor
obelisk was being lowered for removal, in spite of the elaborate
calculations of the stresses set up in the wooden sheers, and of the
good modern carpentry used in their construction and the steady pull
given by the capstans, the structure crushed and jammed, and it was
only by the use of screw-jacks that the necessary repairs could be
made. This was with a 227‐ton obelisk!

A method which may have been used, and which I should myself attempt if
I were entrusted with such a piece of work, is as follows:

(40) A square funnel is first built round and above the pedestal on
which the obelisk is to stand (see plate VIII), leaving a space about
half a metre high, and one and a half metre wide, clear over the edge
of the pedestal, to lead out to a tunnel. The sides of the funnel,
which are {39} of smooth masonry, are set at a slope so that the
obelisk on being lowered into it can lie against the wall of the slope
without passing its dead-centre and coming of itself to an upright
position. The sides of the funnel are continued upwards—perhaps in
brick, for economy—until the height of the funnel is well above the
centre of gravity of the obelisk; the higher, the better. Around the
funnel the brickwork would be brought out to form a square tower, with
the pylon wall for its revetement, perhaps, on one side. The tunnel
mentioned above leads from the pedestal to the further wall of the

A long sloping embankment (section 35) is made to lead up to the top of
the platform, and a gentle curve cut in the brick (A) to lead down to
the interior of the funnel. In the case of the obelisk of Ḥatshepsôwet,
the platform must have been at a high enough level to clear any
buildings in the way.

The obelisk is then pulled up on rollers, base foremost, until it just
overhangs the slope A. The funnel, previous to this, is filled with the
finest Aswân sand, which has very little cohesion in its particles,
banked high against the butt of the obelisk. The sand is then very
gradually removed from the tunnel, thus letting the obelisk slowly down
on to its pedestal. In this process, men would descend with the obelisk
until the masonry portion of the tunnel was reached. Precautions would
have to be taken, by banking the sand up before the butt of the obelisk
and, if necessary, by inserting wooden struts between the butt and the
wall B of the funnel, to prevent the obelisk jamming against it. After
the masonry is reached, there would be little fear of a jam.

There is fairly good proof that blocks and statues were lowered on to
their beds by emptying sand-bags which supported them. Choisy, in his
_L’Art de bâtir chez les Égyptiens_, takes it for granted that this
method must have been used for obelisks as well. His suggestion—or
rather description, for he might well have been there—of how the
Egyptians erected their obelisks, on page 124, is not to be taken
seriously, except perhaps for the smallest obelisks (see section 50).

If the method I suggest, or a modification of it, was that used for the
erection of the largest obelisks, sand-bags are not necessary at all.

As to the flow of fine blown sand, I can speak from personal experience
on the matter, as I have several times approached a big tomb-shaft
filled with blown sand from below, having entered by another tomb
breaking into it. The sand always lay sloping from the roof of the
chamber joining the shaft to the floor, at an angle of about 20
degrees. It can be easily and safely removed from below without
bringing down an avalanche. I am very sure that, at the end of the
tunnel, no constant flow will occur, even when the sand is being
pressed down by a 1168‐ton obelisk; it is more likely that men would
have to remove the sand from half-way along the tunnel.

The bottom of the funnel would have to be slightly larger than the base
of the obelisk, so as to be able to remove the sand, stones and brick
fragments which might have come down with it.

If all went well, the obelisk, when it touched the pedestal, would
lie against the near wall of the funnel with its base engaging in the
notch. Men would then enter through the tunnel, and clear out all
particles of sand from the surface of the pedestal and, if necessary,
from around the base of the obelisk. {40}

Before passing the proofs of the volume, but after plate VIII was
printed, I made a wooden model of a funnel of almost exactly the same
proportions as that shewn on the plate. The height of the end of the
embankment was 30 centimetres. This I tried with a 1/100 scale model of
the obelisk in limestone, using finely sifted Aswân sand.

The result was interesting, since it shews the great importance of
unsuspected details in this kind of undertaking.

In the model, I did not use a tunnel, but allowed the sand to escape at
any desired rate through an aperture in the stand on which the model
was placed. Since the model was not fixed to the stand, the position of
the aperture with regard to the bottom of the funnel could be varied.

I found that, if the aperture was on the side away from the embankment,
there was a decided tendency for the obelisk to jam against the
opposite wall of the funnel. If, on the other hand, the sand ran
out from the near side, the obelisk came down resting against the
embankment wall, with its edge where the slot should be. It seems
most likely that the sand was removed, not from the tunnel shewn on
plate VIII, but from one on the opposite side, leading out from under
the embankment. The tunnel shewn in the plate seems necessary for the
proper cleaning of the pedestal before the obelisk was pulled upright.

In a subsequent model, in which the side of the funnel was vertical and
made of glass, I was enabled to examine the base of the obelisk and the
levels of the sand during the descent. The results shewed no reason
for modifying the diagram on plate VIII except in the manner mentioned

It is possible that the sand was removed from above until the obelisk
was low enough for there to be no fear of a jam; after that point had
been passed, it would not matter from which side of the pedestal the
sand was removed.

I realise that if the model were enlarged up to full-size, the grains
of sand would be at least one centimetre in diameter. It seems to me
that, using ordinary sand with a full sized obelisk, the flow would
be better than is the case in the model, as there would be less
skin-friction with the sides of the funnel. On the other hand, there
may well be factors, unforeseen by me, which might render the behaviour
of the full-sized obelisk different from that of the model, so I give
these results without insisting that they are a _proof_ that such a
method is possible for erecting obelisks.

Another point arises in connection with the funnel; this is the
possibility of the _side_ walls of the funnel having been constructed
vertically, the width of the funnel being only slightly greater
than the width of the base of the obelisk. The advantage of this
modification would be that if sand were piled on to the obelisk in
the initial stages of its descent, the weight of the sand would be a
great help in forcing the base down the funnel past the point where it
might be likely to jam. It would, however, make the examination of the
obelisk during its descent a difficult matter owing to lack of space.

Mr. Somers Clarke points out that, if the obelisk came down on to
its pedestal supported on one edge, that the strain would crush the
granite. It seems that the slot in the pedestal served a double
purpose, one to keep the obelisk from twisting, and the other to ensure
that the weight {41} is taken on the edge of the slot and not on the
edge of the obelisk (see fig. 8). Let us assume that the edge of the
slot crushes until there is 2 inches of supporting surface; then since
the obelisk is about 165 inches along its base, the bearing surface
will be 330 square inches and the resulting crushing stress about
3 ½ tons per square inch, which is not so very excessive. By putting
moderately soft wood in the slot, the weight could be borne both by the
edge of the obelisk and the edge of the slot, thus further reducing the
stress set up. In the case of the standing obelisk of Ḥatshepsôwet, it
has come down without engaging in the slot, with the result that the
corners have crushed considerably.

Figure 8 shews the position of this obelisk as it now stands on its
pedestal, the position taken up being C⁠D⁠E⁠F instead of C′⁠D′⁠E′⁠F′.
The corners E and F have split badly owing to the great weight and have
been rounded to cover up the defect. In this case the inner side of
the slot, A⁠B, as far as can now be seen, is still sharp. In all the
other pedestals I have examined, where the obelisks have apparently
come down so as to bear on the inner edge of the slot, the edge is very
distinctly crushed.

 [Illustration: Fig. 8.

 Position of Ḥatshepsôwet’s obelisk on its pedestal.]

(41) Before the obelisk was pulled upright, the space in front of the
obelisk, and between it and the wall B, might well be filled up with
_halfa_ and reeds, to make a kind of cushion, and to damp any tendency
to rock backwards and forwards. The notch would prevent any twist
before it engaged with the reed cushion. If the obelisk twisted, it was
because the reed cushion was not sufficiently tightly packed, the twist
taking place after it had rocked over to its further edge.

If the obelisk was on a sledge, I should think that it was removed
before introducing it into the mouth of the funnel; the removal of the
rollers would be automatic.

The raising of the obelisk without the aid of an embankment is proposed
by Choisy in _L’Art de bâtir chez les Égyptiens_. He assumes that
the obelisk was raised by a series of levers used horizontally on a
fulcrum, and that it was heaved up simultaneously from both sides and
packed from below after each heave, the obelisk and levers rising
together till the obelisk was sufficiently high to lower on to the
pedestal (cf. section 50 and fig. 11).

Let us assume that this method was to be used for the Aswân obelisk. I
think that the largest levers practicable would be 15 metre tree-trunks
used with a mechanical advantage of 10 to 1. Not more than 30 levers
could be used on each side of the obelisk. The number of men required
to raise the obelisk can be found to be about 56 per lever, assuming
that they all heave at the end. I hardly see how such a number can
be put on a horizontal lever unless we assume that a cross-baulk is
attached along the ends of the levers and the whole loaded with stones.
The levers would have to be dismounted at each heave and the time taken
would be considerable. The method, however, is a possibility, so I
include it as an alternative to the embankment. {42}

(42) Before leaving this subject, it is as well to ascertain if the
obelisk is strong enough to bear the internal strain due to its own
weight when it is supported at its centre of gravity.

The volume of a truncated cone is given by the formula V = H/3 (A^2
+ A⁠_a_ + _a_^2).

In the shaft of this obelisk, H is 37.25, A is 4.20 and _a_ is 2.50
metres. Substituting, we have: V = 37.25/3{(4.2)^2 + 4.2 × 2.5
+ (2.5)^2} from which we find that the volume of the shaft is 426 cubic
metres. Aswân granite weighs about 2.679 tons per cubic metre, which
makes the shaft weigh 1143 tons.

The weight of the pyramidion is {(base)^2 (height) (unit weight)}/3⁠,
or (2.50)^2 (4.50) (2.679)/3 = 25 tons, so that the total weight of the
obelisk would have been 1143 + 25 = 1168 tons.

The distance of the centre of gravity of a tapering square-sectioned
solid from the butt is given by the formula: {¼ H (A^2 + 2⁠A⁠_a_
+ 3⁠_a_^2)}/(A^2 + A⁠_a_ + _a_^2).

Here H is 37.25 m.; A = 4.2 m.; _a_ = 2.5 m.

Substituting we get: (37.25/4) {[(4.20)^2 + 2 (2.50 × 4.20)
+ 3 (2.50)^2]/[(4.20)^2 + (2.50 × 4.20) + (2.50)^2]}.

That is, the distance of the C. G. from the butt, (L⁠N on fig. 11), is
15.35 metres.

Taking the pyramidion by itself. Its height is 4.50 metres, so that its
C. G. must be one-fourth that distance from the base, which makes 1.12

If _x_ is the distance of the centre of gravity of the whole obelisk
from the butt, by taking moments about the butt we have: (Total weight)
× _x_ = (weight of pyramidion) × (1.12 + length of shaft) + (weight of
shaft) × 15.35, or 1168 _x_ = 25 × 38.37 + 1143 × 15.35, from which _x_
= 15.84. _That is, the distance of the centre of gravity of the whole
obelisk from the butt is 15.84 metres._

The breadth of the obelisk at its centre of gravity is 4.2
− (15.84/37.25) × (4.2 − 2.5) or 3.49 metres.

(43) Let us assume that the obelisk is balanced at its C. G., and
find the stresses due to bending. The weight on each side will be
equal. Taking the right hand half, its weight will act at its C. G.
Using the formula for the C. G. of a tapering square-sectioned
solid, quoted above, we get: (15.84/4) {[(4.20)^2 + 2 (4.20) (3.49)
+ 3 (3.49)^2]/[(4.20)^2 + (4.20) (3.49) + (3.49)^2]} = 7.43 metres,
which means that the centre of gravity of the right-hand half of the
obelisk will act at a distance of 7.43 metres from the butt, or 15.84
− 7.43 = 8.41 metres from the balancing point, or C. G. of the whole

The sum of the moments to the right of the C. G. of the whole obelisk
will be half the total weight multiplied by 8.41 = 584 × 8.41.

Then, if _s_ is the internal stress set up due to the bending of the
obelisk when supported at its C. G., we have:

(Section modulus) (stress) = sum of moments on one side of support.

The modulus of the square section is one sixth the cube of the depth,
so we have: {[(3.49 × 39.37)^3]/6} _s_ = 584 × 8.41 × 39.37 × 2240.

From which _s_ = 1001 pounds per square inch (39.37 being the reduction
of metres to inches). {43}

The modulus of rupture for granite from Aswân is given as 1500 pounds
per square inch, so it will be seen that the obelisk, if not converted
into a live load (by a jerk, for instance) can be supported at its
C. G. without breaking.

It is rather difficult to say how far the Egyptians were able to
carry their calculations. The erection could well have been rehearsed
by means of a scale-model, which could have been further used for
obtaining the weight and the position of the centre of gravity. I
do not think that they ever troubled about the bending-moment; at
any rate, their mathematics were not sufficiently advanced for its
determination. It may be that, since in all the obelisks we know
of, whose taper does not vary to any great extent, can be supported
anywhere, the Egyptians never had a case of such a monument breaking by
its own weight.

Another interesting point arises in connection with this, and that is,
since in obelisks (and all beams) of the same proportion, the bending
stress due to their own weight depends on the linear dimension, and
therefore the fact that a granite scale-model does not break will be
no indication that the monument itself will not break when similarly
supported. If the 108 cubit (56.70 metres) obelisk of Ḥatshepsôwet,
mentioned by Ṭḥutiy (section 3), does indeed apply to _one_ and not to
the _two_ placed butt to butt on the boat shewn in the Dêr el-Baḥari
sculpture, then, if the proportions are about the same as the Aswân
obelisk, the stress set up when supported at its centre of gravity (see
section 40) would be in the nature of 56.70 × 1001/41.75 = 1360 pounds
per square inch, which is perilously near the breaking stress of 1500
pounds per square inch.

It will be clearly seen that the obelisk, part of which is at
Constantinople, cannot have been part of the 108‐cubit obelisk, as it
would be much thinner than the one at Aswân and would certainly not
support its own weight either at the centre of gravity or at its ends.
When worked out, the internal stress set up in such an obelisk more
than doubles the ultimate strength of granite.




(44) During the clearance of the west end of the north trench, a small
pot was found, of the form shewn in figure 9, containing a small
quantity of a substance which had the appearance of red brick dust. The
pot appears to have had a neck, but it is now missing, and a section
has been broken out of the side. On the other side of the pot there
is a small hole. The shape of the pot is not characteristic, and it
may well be of a date later than that of the obelisk. The glaze is of
a dark reddish-brown colour, and is the coarsest I have ever seen,
being very uneven and covered with bubble-craters. The Director of the
Chemical Department kindly allowed analyses to be made of the glaze
and also of the contents of the pot. As regards the glaze, Mr. W. B.
Pollard of the Chemical Department staff, who has had experience in the
analysis of glazes, has suggested that it is a natural one, perhaps
due to the pot lying in a fire of burning vegetable matter. This seems
very likely since there seems to have been a great deal of burning in
removing the upper layers of granite during the extraction of monuments
from the quarries (section 4).

 [Illustration: Fig. 9.

 Pot from obelisk trench.

 Scale ⁠¼.]

The contents of the pot are reported to be ochre and not burnt brick,
though the ochre is of poor quality. It seems that we have here the
material of the paint used in the quarries. It was probably mixed,
before use, with acacia gum.

Ochre, of various colours, occurs within a mile of the obelisk in the
rocks above the Luxor-Shellâl railway line.

 [Illustration: Fig. 10.—Scale ⁠½]

(45) During the clearance of the west end of the north trench, we
found part of an ostrakon in the hieratic character. It is written
in black ink in a piece of pottery, measuring 16 × 12 cent., of the
dull red with yellow slip common to the XVIII^{th}–XIX^{th} dynasty.
Mr. Battiscombe Gunn, who has lately been translating the recently
discovered ostraka and graffiti for some of the excavators at Thebes,
has kindly examined this ostrakon and reports that the writing is of
characteristic XIX^{th} dynasty type. This is shewn in figure 10. {46}

The hieroglyphic version of the ostrakon is: ([glyph])

 (1) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
 (2) . . . . . taxed with (?) 2 . . . . .
 (3) . . . . . thou saidst: “Thou beatest (?) it because (?) . . . the
               20 . . . [13]
 (4) . . . . . because (?) . . . which is here with me, because, he
               said, the . . .
 (5) . . . . . (drag, cut?), the whole of the stone, he said, bec[ause]
               . . .
 (6) . . . . . bringing the 20 . . .]

 [13] [glyph][glyph] for _ḫr-f_, as frequently elsewhere.

This is hardly satisfactory, and I cannot see how we could have got a
fragment of a letter telling us less than this. It is quite likely that
it was thrown down from the quarry work above.

It is tempting to read, in the word [glyph][glyph][glyph][glyph]
_qnqn_, the pounding process by which the trench was made.

(46) On the east face of the high rock shewn at C on plate VII, there
are two short inscriptions in the Greek character. That on the right

 ΑΜ[smudge][smudge][smudge]        Am . . . . . . .
 ΣΑΒΙΝΙΑΝΟΣ                        Sabinianos (and)
 ΣΕΡΑΠΕΙΩΝ                         Serapeum, (sons)
 ΟΡΣΟΥ                             of Ursus.

The first name is doubtful as I am uncertain how many letters are
missing. The remainder are Greek forms of Latin names.

On the left of the above is the Greek name ΕΡΜΕΙΝΟΣ. Ἕρμεινος is known
in _C. I. G._, 3, nos. 5109; 4716.

The names have been fairly nearly cut in the granite with a fine
pointed chisel. {47}

(47) There are over 25 obelisks known to-day whose weights exceed
50 tons, and all must have come from Aswân, since it is the only
convenient outcrop of granite in Egypt. It might well be asked from
which quarries they have been taken. I have examined most of the
quarries about Aswân and Shellâl, but must admit that I have not found
one from which I am sure that an obelisk has been extracted. I think
that, at any rate, some must have been taken from the quarries in the
near neighbourhood of the Aswân obelisk, as the stratum is good, and
it is the most conveniently situated from the river bank. It would
well repay the trouble taken to clear the quarry to the south, and the
valley leading up to the obelisk, completely, exposing the floor, as
it is there that we may expect to find the bed of one of the larger
obelisks. It must be borne in mind however, that a quarry, good enough
to furnish a large obelisk, would be worked as long as there was
good stone to be extracted from it. The sand does not come in at any
alarming rate, and a credit of L. E. 5 every year would be sufficient
to keep the whole quarry clear. I estimate the cost of completely
clearing the south quarry and the valley at L. E. 1500. It would leave
a magnificent monument.




(48) I have endeavoured to confine this bibliography to references
which, directly or indirectly, concern the quarrying, transport and
erection of obelisks in Egyptian times, omitting certain mediæval
accounts such as those of Peter Gyllius, and such stories of marvellous
Egyptian engines as are put forward by certain irresponsible writers.
I have, however, given a very brief précis of the removals of the
Vatican, Paris and the London and New York obelisks, as these have a
general interest.

ANTIQUITIES DEPARTMENT, _Annales du Service_.—Several references to
obelisks are given in the index of parts I–X, chiefly dealing with
those of Karnak. In volume V, pp. 11 and 12, there is a discussion by
Legrain on those before Pylon VII (section 11).

(49) BARBER (Commander F. M., U. S. N.), _The Mechanical Triumphs
of the Ancient Egyptians_, published by Kegan Paul, 1900.—This is
a popular description, in a portable size, of the best-known works
undertaken by the Egyptians. In many ways it may be considered as a
précis of Gorringe’s _Egyptian Obelisks_. It gives the details of
removals of obelisks in modern times, shorn of elaborate technical
details. He assumes that the large obelisks were raised in much the
same manner as the Seringapatam obelisk (section 36).

BREASTED (Dr. J. H.), _Ancient Records_.—Translations of the
inscriptions on most of the obelisks can be obtained from the general
index under ‘obelisks’. Many of these translations are accompanied by
interesting footnotes.

References to some large transportations are given in section 28 of
this volume, to transport boats in section 34.

(50) CHOISY (Auguste), _L’Art de bâtir chez les Égyptiens_, published
at 76 Rue de la Seine, Paris, 1904.—The author, in this work, gives
what he considers to have been the ancient methods of building,
together with his ideas as to those of the transportation and erection
of monoliths. The chapters on construction do not come within the
province of this volume. Obelisks are dealt with on pages 121 to 127.
Under the heading of ‘extraction’, he gives some suggestions, or
rather assertions, as to the manner in which the obelisk was given
a curved surface, but none as to the quarry work. In his notes on
transport by water, he favours the method described by Pliny (section
34 of this volume), which we know is not confirmed by an examination
of the Aswân quarries. As to the method he proposes for the transport
of obelisks, it is extremely laborious; the obelisk was heaved up by
a series of levers acting on both sides simultaneously, {50} being
packed from below after each heave. Figure 11, taken from his book,
makes this clear. When the obelisk was sufficiently high, an embankment
was constructed so as to make a ramp leading _down_ in the direction
in which it was desired to travel, and the obelisk was pulled, butt
foremost, along the ramp until it reached ground-level again, the
process being repeated for the whole journey. His method for erecting
an obelisk is, to me, mechanically unsound. Figure 12 is taken from
his book; referring to it, he says: “Soulevons le bloc (fig. 11), en
ayant soin de maintenir le remblai d’appui par les bajoyers. Arrivés
à une hauteur telle que _a′_, passons, par-dessous, des traverses _c_
et un tourillon _n_. A ce moment rien n’empêche de déblayer les terres
et d’établir en sous-œuvre une glissière _g_. La glissière faite,
remplaçons par du sable les terres enlevées; retirons les traverses
_c_ et affouillons le sable. L’obélisque, pivotant autour du tourillon
_n_, va s’incliner suivant _a″_ et arriver à l’aplomb de sa base _b_.
Il suffira pour empêcher d’aller trop long, de réserver en _d_ un arrêt
qui le contre-bute du pied, et de retenir le sommet par des haubans.”

 [Illustration: Fig. 11.]

 [Illustration: Fig. 12.—Choisy’s suggestion for erecting an obelisk.]

He does not tell us of what material the ‘tourillon’ _n_ is to be made
in order to stand the enormous strain, neither does he give any details
as to the material of the ‘glissière’ which would allow the point of
the sled to slide along it without burying itself.

Choisy imagines the procedure after the obelisk had attained a vertical
position to have been to fill in the space between the obelisk and the
pedestal with filled sand-bags, a long sausage-shaped bag having been
placed in the slot in the pedestal. The bags were then to be perforated
{51} one by one until the obelisk rested on its edge and the long bag
only. The empty bags were to be withdrawn from under the obelisk and
finally the long bag opened and the material removed through the slot.
This may possibly have been the method used with medium-sized blocks,
such as sarcophagus-lids, but I very much doubt whether any bag would
stand half the weight of the Aswân obelisk without bursting, besides,
the crushing of the inner edge of the slots in the pedestals of all the
obelisks at Karnak, except that of the standing obelisk of Ḥatshepsôwet
(cf. section 40), is not explainable by Choisy’s ‘long-bag’ theory.

The book would have been infinitely improved if it has contained a few

J. COUYAT et P. MONTET, _Les inscriptions hiéroglyphiques et
hiératiques du Ouâdi Hammâmât_, in _Mémoires publiés par les membres
de l’Institut français du Caire_, vol. XXXIV, p. 54 (Imprimerie de
l’Institut français).—References to iron-workers from inscriptions on
the rocks at Wady Hammâmât (section 25).

(51) DECOURDEMANCHE (J. A.), in _Annales du Service_, vol. XII, p. 215,
gives details of various systems of lineal measures which he suggests
are derived from an original talent, taken from measures on the Abydos
monuments excavated by Amélineau in 1899 (see section 18).

DECOURDEMANCHE, _Poids et Mesures_, published at Paris by
Gautier-Villars, 1909.—This gives a large number of systems of the
divisions of the cubit and foot and shews clearly how cautious one must
be in deducing anything from a single unit of measurement unless it is
subdivided as in the case, for example, of a cubit rod. It is possible,
in this book, to find an ancient example of almost any unit of length
which could be imagined.

(52) FONTANA (Domenico), _Della transportatione dell’obelisco
Vaticano et delle fabriche di nostro signore papa Sisto V fatte dal
cavaliere Domenico Fontana, architecto di sua Santità_.—This is a
rare book published in 1590, but a good précis is given by Lebas in
his _L’Obélisque de Louxor_ and in GORRINGE, _Egyptian Obelisks_. The
obelisk was moved from the Circus of Nero at Rome to the Piazza di San
Pietro in 1585, the method being the ‘heroic’ one of lifting it bodily
by blocks and tackles. A gigantic tower of wood, known as ‘Fontana’s
Castle’, was erected over the obelisk, being made of compound wooden
struts of a metre square in section. From the cross-beams of the tower
pairs of blocks and tackles were attached at four points along the
obelisk, which was protected by matting and planks. The obelisk was
first raised sufficiently high, being wedged as well from below, to
enable a ‘cradle’, or platform on rollers, to be introduced underneath
it. The obelisk was then lowered on to the cradle and pulled to its
new site, first down an inclined plane and thence on level ground.
The blocks and tackles were worked by a large number of capstans. The
erection was done in exactly the reverse way to the lowering. The whole
story as translated by Lebas, makes curious reading, and I cannot
resist giving a few extracts. He says (_L’Obélisque de Louxor_, pp.
178 et seq.): “Public curiosity . . . . . attracted a large number of
strangers to Rome. All roads leading to the square were barricaded,
and a _bando_ of the pope, published two days before, _punished by
death_ anybody who did not respect the barrier . . . . . On the 30^{th}
April, two hours before daylight, two masses were celebrated to {52}
implore the light of the Holy Spirit. Fontana, with all his staff,
communicated. On the eve of the lowering he had been blessed by the
Holy Father. . . . . ” Before the work began, Fontana told his workmen:
“The work we are about to undertake is consecrated to religion, the
exaltation of the Holy Cross”; thereon everyone recited with Fontana a
_pater_ and an _ave_. Gorringe comments on this (_Egyptian Obelisks_,
pp. 114 to 117) saying: “A striking scene it must have been and
_typical of that curious age_”. If, however, one compares Fontana’s
account with that of the erection of the New York obelisk, one is
struck, not with the difference, but with the resemblance between the
two ceremonies, the later one being undoubtedly more tedious to the
spectators, as there were no inquisitors and familiars waiting in a
corner, to mete out summary punishment to anyone misbehaving.

GARDINER (Dr. Alan), _Egyptian Hieratic Texts_, Part I.—On paragraphs
XII, XIII and XIV, some details are given as to the removal of an
obelisk from a quarry, the removal of sand from under a colossus during
erection and the construction of an embankment of brickwork, set as
problems by one scribe to another. The relevant passages are quoted _in
extenso_ in sections 28 and 35.

GARLAND (H.), in _The Journal of the Institute of Metals_, no. 2,
1913; article on _Metallographical Researches on Egyptian Metal
Antiquities_.—The author gives a very technical account of his
examination of Egyptian copper and bronze tools and weapons by means of
micro-photographs. He proves that the shaping of the tools by hammering
was done either cold or far below the annealing temperature; by this
means a better cutting edge could be obtained. He does not speculate
on how far hammer-tempering could be carried, confining himself to the
actual results of his examination of the tools as they were found and
after annealing.

GOLÉNISCHEFF (W.), _Hammâmât_, II, no. 3.—References to iron workers
(section 25).

(53) GORRINGE (Lieut.-Commander H. H., U. S. N.), _Egyptian Obelisks_,
published in 1885 by Nimmo, 14, King William St., Strand.—The obelisk,
which originally formed a pair with the London Obelisk, had already
been once removed in Roman times from Heliopolis to Alexandria, where
it was still standing. It was lowered by fitting it at its centre of
gravity, with a pair of enormous steel trunnions supported by a steel
tower on each side of the obelisk. The point was lowered (or rather
it crashed) on to a tower made of wooden baulks laid alternately. A
similar wooden tower was then built near the butt end of the obelisk
and after raising the obelisk from each end with hydraulic rams, the
trunnions were removed. The mass was then lowered from each side in
turn by supporting the obelisk by the rams while a course of baulks
were removed from the tower, and continuing the process until the
obelisk lay on the ground. It was floated in a wooden caisson from the
shore to the dock and introduced into a steamship called the _Dessouk_
by opening a port in her bows. At the American end, it was placed on a
railway line and pulled to Central Park, where the trunnion and towers
were again used in the opposite order to the lowering. For the short
moves, such as moving it into the hold of the ship, it was rolled on
cannon-balls running in channel irons. {53}

In the publication there is a very good account of the history of the
obelisk and an excellent collection of classical and mediæval records
relating to the subject. In his ‘record of all Obelisks’ he gives poor
photographs of one face of each, accompanied by ‘best translations’
of the inscriptions, where the roughest hand-copies of the text would
have been infinitely more valuable. Nowhere in the book can I find a
complete series of measurements of the New York obelisk; in a table
on page 145 he gives the heights, width at the base and the estimated
weight only. To make up for this, the analysis of the granite and of
the copper ‘crabs’ is given with extraordinary detail, and we are given
a complete list of the objects placed under the obelisk on re-erection,
which range from sets of coinage and standard works (p. 33), to _a
small box, the contents of which were known only to himself_ (that is
to a certain Mr. Henry Hurlbert). Cleopatra’s Needle, now rotting on
the Thames Embankment, we are told, has beneath it among other things,
a Mappin’s Shilling Razor, an Alexandra Feeding-bottle, a case of
cigars and photographs of a dozen pretty English women for the benefit
of posterity!

In Gorringe’s work, verbatim reports of pompous speeches, of which each
stage of the proceedings seemed to provoke cataracts, total 18 pages of
small type, while long dissertations are indulged in on the presence of
‘masonic emblems’ discovered in the base of the obelisk at Alexandria,
and on their esoteric meaning; this in spite of the fact that their
‘most expert archæologist’ points out the obvious explanation that the
signs commented on form part of an Egyptian word determined by the
_house_-sign, and the ‘mysterious lines’, etc., are merely fragments of
ordinary decoration from a re-used building.

HERODOTUS, H. Cary’s translation, 1861, Bohn edition. II, 125, iron
tools used in the Great Pyramid; II, 155, transport of a monolithic
chapel from Aswân to Buto. Mention of levers; II, 175, transport of an
enormous monument under Amasis (section 29 of this volume).

LAYARD, _Discoveries_, p. 104; transport of a winged bull at Nineveh by
means of a sled on rollers (section 29).

(54) LEBAS, _L’Obélisque de Louxor_, Paris, 1839.—A very interesting
account of a gross act of vandalism, since the Luxor obelisks were
the only pair still standing in their original position. The lowering
and raising was performed by a huge compound derrick, consisting of
five supporting members on each side of the obelisk, the power being
supplied by capstans and blocks and tackles. The obelisk was lowered on
to a wooden cradle on which it was dragged over a greased way, without
rollers, to the water, and from the water to its present position
in the Place de la Concorde. The water transport was effected by a
pontoon-raft of peculiar design, the prow of which was removed for
getting the obelisk in and out. Gorringe gives a good résumé of Lebas’
book, which is now very rare.

(55) PETRIE (Professor W. M. Flinders), _Arts and Crafts of Ancient
Egypt_, published by T. M. Foulis, London, 1909.—Stone working is
discussed in chapter vii. As regards granite, Prof. Petrie favours
the suggestion that wetted wooden wedges were used (cf. section 4 of
this volume). He gives valuable details as to the sawing and drilling
of granite, the polishing of its surface and {54} the cutting of
hieroglyphs. On the erection of obelisks he says (page 77), referring
to the setting up of colossi under Ramesses IV: “A causeway of earth
was made sloping up for the length of a quarter of a mile; it was
93 feet wide and 103 feet high on the slope, probably about 60 or
70 feet vertically, as the slopes were held up steeply with facings
of timber and brushwood. The purpose of this evidently was to raise
the great block by sliding it on its side up the slope and then to
tilt it upright by gravity over the head of the slope. How the mass
would be turned we have nothing to show, but probably the simplest
way, by gradually removing earth, would be followed. By next ramming
earth behind the obelisk as it lay on the slope, it would be quite
practicable to force it forward into an upright position.”

PETRIE, _A History of Egypt, XVII–XVIII^{th} dynasties_, published by
Methuen, 1904.—On pages 131 and 132 Prof. Petrie discusses the probable
original height of the Constantinople obelisk, and speculates on the
possibility that it is one mentioned by Ḥatshepsôwet as having been 108
cubits high (see sections 3 and 43 of this volume).

PETRIE, _Tools and Weapons_, published by Bernard Quaritch, 1917.—This
gives photographs and drawings of each kind of Egyptian tool and
weapon, compared with similar examples from other countries.

PLINY, _Natural History_, book XVI, chap. 76, and book XXXVI, chap.
14 and 15, transport of an obelisk to the Vaticanian Circus in Roman
times, with details of an immense ship; book XXXVI, chap. 14, water
transport of an obelisk under Augustus and the transport of an obelisk
by canal under Ptolemy Philadelphus (see section 54); erection of an
obelisk under king ‘Rhamsesis’ (section 35).

(56) WILKINSON (Sir G.), _Manners and Customs of the Ancient
Egyptians_.—Although somewhat out of date, this is still the standard
work on the subject, especially as regards arts and crafts. The
portions directly concerning the subjects under discussion are as

 Vol. I, p. 276; boats.

 Vol. II, pp. 211, 212; boats.

 Vol. II, pp. 254, 255; probability of tempering copper.

 Vol. II, pp. 300–312; quarrying, stone working and the transport of
 large blocks.

WILSON (Erasmus), _Cleopatra’s Needle and Egyptian Obelisks_.—The
method of lowering and raising the London Obelisk was almost exactly
the same as that of the New York Obelisk. The water transport, however,
was effected by enclosing the obelisk in an iron shell in which it was
towed to England.



Abandoning obelisk, reason of, 6, 10.

Alaqi, Wady, 12, 27.

Amasis II, transport under, 30.

Amenemḥêt III, expedition, 29.

Anastasi papyrus, 30, 35.

Balls of dolerite (see ‘pounders’).

Basic nuclei at Aswân, 12.

Bed of removed obelisk, 17, 20.

Bending stress, 42, 43.

Block and tackle, 38.

Boat, loading obelisk on, 33.

Boats, 32, 33.

Boning rods, 7.

Burning, to break up granite, 4, 5.

Calculations, ancient, 30, 35, 43.

Canal, suggestion by Pliny, 33, 49.

Capstan, 38.

Centre lines, 8.

Centre of gravity, 42.

Chisel marks, 5, 11.


 — copper, 24–27.

 — stone, 26.

Cleopatra’s needle (see London obelisk).

Colossi, 23, 35.

Compartments in brick ramp, 35.

Constantinople obelisk, 3, 43.

Copper chisels, 24–27.

 — micro-examination of, 52.

 — tempering of, 27.

Cost of excavation, 2.


 — ancient examination of, 6.

 — in obelisk, 6–8, 10.

Crowbars, 4 (note 2).


 — alleged lapidary, 19.

 — common, 19.

 — obelisk, 20.

 — royal Egyptian, 19, 20.

Cutting granite, 25–27.

Date of obelisk, 3.

Derricks, 38, 53.

Detaching obelisk from bed, 23–25.

Dḥutḥotpe, statue of, 30, 38.

Dimensions of obelisks, 9.

Dolerite, 12, 13, 26.

Double-foot, 11, 7.

Embankment for erecting obelisks, 35, 37.

Emery, 5, 27.

Entasis, absence of, 7.

Erection of obelisks, 35–42, 50, 51, 52.

 — by direct raising, 36, 51.

 — by embankment, 37.

 — by embankment and funnel, 38–42.

 — New York, 52.

 — Paris, 53.

 — Seringapatam, 36.

 — under “Rhamsesis”, 36.

 — Vatican, 51.

Expeditions for stone, 29, 30.

 — Amenemḥêt III, 29.

 — Menthuḥotpe IV, 29.

 — Ramesses IV, 29.

Extraction of obelisk from quarry, 23–27.

Finger, division of cubit, 19.

Fissures, ancient examination of, 6.

 — in obelisk, 6, 7, 10.

Foot, as measure, 11, 14, 17, 19, 20.

Friction of sled, 30, 31, 38.

Funnel for erecting obelisks, 38–42.

Geology of Aswân, 12.

Glaze, natural, on pot, 44.

Graffiti, 46.

Guide-lines for masons, 6, 8, 11, 17.

Gum, acacia, 44.

Gyn, 38.

Hammâmât, quarries, 26.

Hammer-dressing, 7, 8.

Hammer, granite from Saqqârah, 5.


 — obelisk of, 9, 14, 32, 41.

 — obelisk on sled, 32.

Hieratic inscriptions, 20, 44.

Ḥori, the scribe, 30, 35.


 — on bed of small obelisk, 21.

 — on rocks, 46.

 — on ostrakon, 46.

 — on quarry-face, 20.


 — halberd of, 26.

 — preservation of, 26.

 — wedges, 5, 26.

Karnak, obelisk of pylon VII, 9, 10.

Lateran obelisk, 9, 10.

Later project, dimensions of, 9.

Length of Aswân obelisk, 3, 9.

Levers, for tilting obelisks, 23–25.

 — note on, 37.


 — guide, 6, 8, 11, 17.

 — measuring, 11.

London obelisk, 9, 53, 54.

Luxor-Paris obelisk, 9, 31, 38, 53.

Maṭarieh obelisk, 9.

Menthuḥotpe, expedition of, 29.

_Mindâlah_, 13.

Modern erections of obelisks, 31, 33, 52–54.

Modulus of rupture for granite, 43.

New York obelisk, 9, 33, 52.

Nineveh, transport at, 30.


 — alleged 108‐cubit, 3, 43.

 — ancient problem on, 30.

 — dimensions of, 9.

 — erection of, 35–43.

 — extraction from quarry, 23–27.

 — Ḥatshepsôwet’s, 9, 14, 32, 41.

 — Lateran, 9, 10.

 — limit to length of, 43.

 — London, 9, 53, 54.

 — Luxor-Paris, 9, 31, 38, 53.

 — Maṭarieh, 9.

 — modern removals of, 31–33, 52, 54.

 — New York, 9, 33, 52.

 — Seringapatam, 36.

 — stresses in, 42, 43.

 — transport of, 29–33.

 — Tuthmôsis I, 9.

 — Tuthmôsis III, 9, 10.

 — undercutting in quarry, 23, 24.

Ochre, 11, 44.

Ostrakon, 44, 45.

Palm (measure), 19.

Palm-rope, 25.

Paris obelisk, 9, 31, 38, 53.

Platform above obelisk, 17.

Plug and feather, 4.


 — attachment of, 13.

 — broken by blows, 12.

 — material of, 12.

 — provenance of, 12.

 — rate of work with, 14.

 — specific gravity, 12.

 — used by hand, 13, 20.

 — use with rammers, 13.

 — wear on, 12.

Pounding, ancient word for, 46.

Pot found in clearing, 44.

Ptolemy Philadelphus, transport under, 33.

Quarries at Aswân, 12.

Ramesses IV, expedition of, 29.

Rammers, 13.

Rate of work in pounding granite, 14.

Records of ancient workmen, 18–20.

Reed cushion, 41.


 — obelisk placed on, 31, 38.

 — ancient, 38.

Rolling obelisk from quarry, 23–25.

Ropes, sizes of, 25.

Rusting of iron, 26.


 — cohesion of particles in, 39.

 — packing with, 24, 25.

 — used in erections, 35, 39.

Sarcophagi, unfinished, 12.

Scale models, 40, 43.

Seringapatam obelisk, 36.

Sheers, 38.

Sleds, 32, 41.

Slot in obelisk pedestals, 40, 41.

Softening (!) granite, 26.

Soldiers in transport work, 29, 30.

Specific gravity of ‘pounders’, 12.

Stains on dolerite ‘pounders’, 12.

Steel, 25, 26.

Stresses due to weight of obelisk, 42, 43.

Survey Department, 1.

Tempering of copper, 27.

Test-shafts, 6.

Ṭḥutḥotpe (see Dḥutḥotpe), 30, 38.

Ṭḥutiy, record of 108 cubit obelisk, 43.

Time taken in pounding out trench, 14.

Transport of obelisks, 29–33.

Trench on upper quarry-face, 17.

Trench round obelisk, 11–15.

Tuthmôsis I, obelisk of, 9.

Tuthmôsis III, obelisk of, 9, 10.

Undercutting obelisks in quarry, 23, 24.

Units used in this volume, 2.

Wedges, 4, 5, 26.

Weight of Aswân obelisk, 3, 9.

Weight of obelisks compared, 9.

Work, ancient arrangement of, 14.

 [Illustration: Plate II

 (1) View from East.

 (2) View from West.]

 [Illustration: Plate III

 (1) Bottom of trench.

 (2) Wedge & chisel marks.

 (3) Lines for pyramidion of a smaller obelisk.

 (4) Rough-dressing: “El-Hammâmât”, Shellâl.]

 [Illustration: Plate IV

 (1) Hammer-dressing on pyramidion.

 (2) Black granite hammer from Saqqârah.

 (3) Construction of sarcophagus lid by pounding.

 (4) Embankment near obelisk.


 [Illustration: Plate V

 Fig. 1—Obelisk, platform and quarry-face from north.

 Fig. 2—The upper quarry face.

 Fig. 3—Bed of a small obelisk.

 Fig. 4—Inscription on bed of small obelisk.


 [Illustration: _PLATE VI._


 [Illustration: _PLATE VII._


 SCALE 1 : 1000]

 [Illustration: _PLATE VIII._





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Original spelling and grammar have been generally retained, with some
exceptions noted below. Original printed page numbers are shown like
this: {52}. Original small caps are now uppercase. Italics look _like
this_. Anchored notes (e.g. footnotes) have been relabeled 1–13, and
moved from within paragraphs to nearby locations between paragraphs.
Large curly brackets { } that graphically indicate combination
of information on two or more lines of text have been removed. I
produced the cover image and hereby assign it to the public domain.
Original page images are available from archive.org—search for

Page 2. The word ‹toune› was changed to ‹tonne›.

Page 7. The phrase ‹to slop evenly› was changed to ‹to slope evenly›.

Page 45. The phrase ‹form shewn in figure 10› was changed to ‹form
shewn in figure 9›.

Page 46. The quotation mark in ‹“Thou beatest› has no mate.

Page 52. The phrase ‹to meet out summary› was changed to ‹to mete out

Page 54. The phrase ‹it is on mentioned› was changed to ‹it is one

Pages 55–57, INDEX. A few corrections have been made in the Index to
improve the syntax and remove ambiguity. For example, the original

    Chisels, copper, 24–27.
     — stone, 26.

was changed to

     — copper, 24–27.
     — stone, 26.

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