National Geographic : 1941 Oct
The Egyptian Stonemason and His Craft-Construction Work onaXIIth Dynasty Pyramid Site THE scene shifts from the cool shade of an Upper Egyp tian garden to a section of the sun-baked desert plateau on the west side of the Nile some thirty miles south of modern Cairo; and we find ourselves, on page 460, in the outer enclosure of the pyramid of King Se'n-Wosret I, the second pharaoh of the XIIth Dynasty, who ruled Egypt with a strong hand between the years 1980 and 1939 B. c. Across the back of the scene stretches the limestone inner enclosure wall of the pyramid, bearing the elaborately carved name panels of the king. In the foreground construction is in progress on the girdle wall of one of the many small pyramids which surround that of the monarch. Masons are dressing and laying the rough blocks of limestone, newly brought from the quarry. The transport inscriptions, recently painted on the sides of these blocks, are dated to the 12th Day of the 1st Month of the season of Shomu, in the 12th Regnal Year (of Se'n-Wosret I), in other words, mid-September, 1969 B. c. The blocks are being handled on stout wooden stone rockers, which can be swung around with ease, tilted to any desired angle, and, by means of a series of heavy wooden hand wedges thrust under their runners, raised vertically as much as two or three feet.To prevent them from sinking into the sand, the rockers are operated onatrack ofheavy timber balks. The man on the left-hand block isrough-dressing itssur faces with a hard stone maul. Those about the right-hand block arechecking thefinal dressing of its joint surfaces with asetof"boning rods": three rods of equal length,over thetops oftwo ofwhich a cord is stretched from edgetoedge ofthesurface being tested. The third rod, moved back and forth with itstop always under the tightly stretched cord, serves tolocate "high spots" in the surface.These arethen dressed away by the man with the chiseland mallet. The chisel is of bronze,hardened byprolonged hammer ing. The blocks are laid in a coarse white gypsum mortar; and those in the foundation course ofthewall areheld together by stout wood "cramps". Elsewhere in the scene we see,either inthehands ofthe men or lying about in the foreground, themason's reel and line-used here to check thealignment oftheleveling bricks of the court-and the mason's level, plumb, and square.