Some Wood working techniques and fittings

Some Wood working techniques and fittings


Felling, timber conversion and fittings:

The selection of wood for felling was an important process. Timber boards had to be cut from straight trunks of good quality which had sufficient heartwood with few defects (figure ) .These men are using bronze axes which have a curved cutting edge with integral projecting side lugs. The blade fitted into a groove cut into the head of the ash shaft. Wet leather thongs were bound around the lugs and shaft and as they dried they pulled and tightened the assembly together.
After felling, the branches were chopped away and the trunk was cut into lengths of approximately 1.70 meters. This made the logs easy to transport and of the correct length to convert into boards. The logs were brought to the courtyard of the carpenters' workshop. Set the ground in the centre of the courtyard there would have been a sawing post, to which the log was lashed with cord. Acarpenter would use a pull saw to rip down the green timber. As the saw cut down the log, the lashings had to be adjusted (figure ).

Timber must be seasoned to make it easier to work. The wet boards would have been rested against the walls of the workshop or stacked in wigwam fashion. It was important that air be allowed to circulate around the timber. The timber would not have been placed in direct sunlight and may have been covered with matting to prevent it from drying out too quickly in the hot dry Theban air, which would have seasoned it within a few months.

In many predynastic burials the crouched body was placed in a simple box or on a frame of wood which had been covered with plant stems. Much of this early timber has decayed but from surviving pieces showing the corners and edges it is possible to identify a number of woodworking joints. The majority of boxes have butt-jointed corners held together with wooden pegs or tied with leather thongs which passed through holes in the joining members (figure ). Other corner joints commonly used from the earliest times were the half-lap, simple mitre, shoulder-mitre, double shoulder-mitre, mitre-housing and the dovetailed mitre-housing (figure ). Carpenters used the most complex of these joints on the largest of boxes as well as the smallest ivory jewel cases.

Carpenters and joiners were unable to use long lengths of timber for the length was determined by the height of the sawing post it was converted against. Longer rails were manufactured by scarf-joining short rails together and locking them into position by using a butterfly cramp
(figure ).

The bark and sapwood were removed by axe to expose the heartwood. The surfaces would then be trued with an adze.
The earliest extant mortise and tenon joint(figure ) is seen in First Dynasty bed-frame construction , while dovetail joints ( figure )are identified on the roof bars of a Fourth Dynasty bed-frame canopy. 

The use of animal-based glues was not known until the Fifth Dynasty. The glue was made by boiling the skins and bones of animals in water and allowing the solution to evaporate, leaving a concentrated viscous adhesive. A carpenter is applying hot glue from a stone vessel with a brush to a strip of veneer (figure ).
Wooden dowels were used to hold joints together as the glue was allowed to set. Nails and small tacks, cast from copper and precious metals, were also commonly used to hold various covering materials in place.

Both wooden and gold butt-hinges were used on furniture. Barrel hinges made from interlocking cylindrical pieces of wood were also widely employed .


Egypt don't have types several wood, although the social wood could be enough the building and carving .But about hard and expensive wood, had been important by Egypt from Africa and Asia.

 THE KindS of wood :-

1-The acacia:

It was probably the most widely used of the native trees. It was used not only in the making of furniture but also in boatbuilding and large constructional projects. Anumber of tomb and temple scenes showing the acacia survive. A piece of wood from Kahun, Kew, where botanists have confirmed its identification as acacia.
2- The sycamore wood:

It used in doors of house industry. The Egyptian used it in field statues industry .The oldest wood statue is sheikh al- balad statue (fifth dynasty) and carved from sycamore wood.
The wood of Acacia and sycamore were usually used in simple sarcophagus industry, but good sarcophagus had carved from limestone or granite or basalt.
3- The tamarisk:
It was also available. It is a smaller tree and was probably not extensively used for timber production. This species has many defects such as knots and is usually found protecting desert villages from drifting and wind-blown sand. Willow , Salix safsaf , is also found in Egypt and was used in a limited way to make furniture .A fragment of a Ninth Dynasty coffin made from sidder , Zizyphus spina-christi ,has also been identified at Kew, as have a number of pieces of sycamore fig, Ficus sycamores, which date from the Eleventh Dynasty through to the Graeco-Roman Period. 

4- The El Akasia wood:
The Egyptians used El Akasia wood for lining huge flat boats.
5- The Pine-tree:
But Egypt don't have pine-tree , so was necessary importing it which grown on Libyan mountain , Also cypress from Syria and tamarisk wood all this wealth which the Egyptians imported against much money , Also from pine-wood made some elements in temples , some types doors , Also carved several small royal statues and several sarcophagus belong to old employee and your relations.
6-The black wood (Ebony):
From center Africa, the tribes who lived in Nuba brought presents to Egypt pharoni from expensive black wood (Ebony), also sandal wood. Pupil of the eye carved from flashing Ebony wood to give shine on eye, used it in large in cosmetic tools industry.
It called in ancient Egyptian "Heben", in Roman "Epenec" and in Latin "Ebenus". 


The Temple of Horus at Edfu (EDFU TEMPLE)

The Temple of Horus at Edfu

Between Aswan and Luxor is located the major Ptolemaic temple of Edfu - the best preserved major temple in Egypt. The temple is dedicated to the falcon god Horus and was built over a 180-year period from 237 BC to 57 BC

Dedicated to Horus, the falcon headed god, it was built during the reigns of six Ptolemies. We have a great deal of information about its construction from reliefs on outer areas. It was begun in 237 BC by Ptolemy III Euergetes I and was finished in 57 BC. Most of the work continued throughout this period with a brief interlude of 20 years while there was unrest during the period of Ptolemy IV and Ptolemy V Epiphanes


This is not only the best preserved ancient temple in Egypt, but the second largest after Karnak. It was believed that the temple was built on the site of the great battle between Horus and Seth. Hence, the current temple was but the last in a long series of temples build on this location. It is said that the original structure housing a statue of Horus was a grass hut built in prehistoric times. At any rate, there is an earlier and smaller pylon of Ramesses II which sits in a 90 degree angle to the current building




Egypt has been an ideal subject for artists over the last two centuries - from those accompanying Napolean at the end of the 18th century to David Roberts in the late 1830's, and many others since.
The paintings shown here as you scroll down the page are by well-known Australian artist John Rigby, the father of this web site's author. He visited Egypt during in 1995 and his book John Rigby: Art and Life contains reproductions of a few of his Egyptian works, including the market at Shellal shown below.

A market at Shellal south of the Old Aswan Dam where the boats depart for Philae Temple. The shopkeepers waitfor the tourists returning from the temple . Lots of bargains, certainly by Western pricing standards

The Egyptian markets are rich in both products for sale and in characters.
"No cost to look, mister

The West Bank across from Luxor is rich in subject matter. The Ramesseum, the mortuary temple of Ramesses II, is a stark reminder of the transient nature of power. But the memory lingers

The Ramesseum is an ideal place for contemplation as it is not overrun by hoards of tourists 

The Kiosk of Kertassi relocated near the
Aswan High Dam

The Temple Of Philae

The Temple Of Philae


The temple of Philae has been a popular draw for tourists since the 19th century. In 1902, the British finished a dam near the First Cataract and the temple of Philae just to its south began to be inundated for much of the year - see more on my page about Philae. These early 20th century postcards from my collection show how the temple suffered. It was dismantled and moved to the nearby island of Agilkai in the late 1970s after the construction of the Aswan High Dam threatened to submerge it forever

South of the city of Aswan lies the beautiful temple complex of Philae. Its main temple was dedicated to the goddess Isis and its construction was undertaken during the third century B.C. Philae was the last bastion of ancient Egyptian religion and hieroglyphic usage. It is also a superb example of threatened cultural heritage being saved in the face of modern civilization's march to change the environment

The island of Philae and its temples came under threat at the turn of the century when the British erected the Aswan Dam at the First Cataract. Philae began to spend some of its time beneath the backed-up flood waters of the Nile (old Philae postcards).
The Dam was progressively raised in the following decades, but the final nail in the coffin for the island of Philae came with the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s. The temples were destined to disappear forever beneath the river's waters.
Fortunately, Philae was saved from drowning. In 1977, a coffer dam was constructed around the temples and the water was pumped out. Then the temples were carefully dismantled with every block assigned a number and its position noted. A nearby higher island called Agilkai was modified to resemble Philae and the temples were resembled. In 1980, Philae was once again opened to the public

Today, Philae is one of the highlights of any visit to Aswan. To reach it, one can take an organised excursion booked through a travel agent or hotel. Alternatively, take a taxi to the boat landing at Shellal on the east side of the old Aswan Dam. From there, a short boat trip can be arranged to the island.
If time permits, a night visit for the Sound and Light Show is very worthwhile as the temples look stunning under floodlights. Shows are presented in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish and Arabic. The language and time schedule should be checked before going .




The Giza Plateau has been a popular site with visitors down through the ages, and particularly with tourists since the 19th century. The postcards featured here represent a selection of early 20th century postcards from my personal collection .






The ancient Egyptians left behind various love poems which relate the emotions felt all those thousands of years ago. And yet, they can be read as if they apply to us in the 21st century - has anything really changed? I think not.


Extract from a 3,000 year-old papyrus
She is one girl, there is no one like her.
She is more beautiful than any other.
Look, she is like a star goddess arising
at the beginning of a happy new year;
brilliantly white, bright skinned;
with beautiful eyes for looking,
with sweet lips for speaking;
she has not one phrase too many.
With a long neck and white breast,
her hair of genuine lapis lazuli;
her arm more brilliant than gold;
her fingers like lotus flowers,
with heavy buttocks and girt waist.
Her thighs offer her beauty,
with a brisk step she treads on ground.
She has captured my heart in her embrace.
She makes all men turn their necks
to look at her.
One looks at her passing by,
this one, the unique one

Two more works from different periods 
my beautiful one
I wish I were part of your affairs, like a wife.
With your hand in mine
your love would be returned.
I implore my heart:
"If my true love stays away tonight,
I shall be like someone already
in the grave."
Are you not my health and my life?
How joyful is your good health
for the heart that seeks you
I wish I were your mirror
so that you always looked at me.
I wish I were your garment
so that you would always wear me.
I wish I were the water that washes
your body.
I wish I were the unguent, O woman,
that I could annoit you.
And the band around your breasts,
and the beads around your neck.
I wish I were your sandal
that you would step on me!



And how did one pay for all of the services and products mentioned? Well, there was no money. Rather it was essentially a system of barter. People's wages were often paid in the form of food. Standard weights were used for weighing goods to evaluate the value of particular products.
Of course, the good thing was that for the Egyptians, you could take all these possessions with you in the afterlife - that is, if you could afford to barter for a good funeral and burial