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A dumb sounding question: temple construction
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 8:13 pm    Post subject: A dumb sounding question: temple construction Reply with quote

I know this question may seem a bit stupid but I haven't found anything on it, but...how exactly were those huge Egyptian temples built, and more specifically how were those huge columns and obelisks raised???

I don't think they had a crane system but they did have wooden scaffolding. You hear loads of theories about pyramid building but how did they build those other spectacular monuments, and how did they lift huge pillars of stone into place?
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anneke
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think they have found unfinished obelisks in the quarries. They were chiseled out from the rock there.
I think ropes were used to manouvre the stones. Some inscriptions seems to show large groups of men pulling statues by attaching ropes to them. I think they may have used wooden rollers?? (Not sure about that)

There are inscriptions showing a man in front of the crew pulling a statue, and he seems to be pooring something in front of the statue. I'm not sure if that's a libation or if it may be something like oil.

From what I remember some obelisks were moved via the nile, so they would have even had to load them on a boat.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are two main theories of how they were placed up-right.
One theory is the lever principal. The obelisk was pulled onto a fulcurm, which was as high as at least half of the obelisk. Ropes were attached to the top, and it was pulled erect using the weight of the obelisk itself to "lift" into position.
The second was to build a hill of sand over where the obelisk was to stand, with a pit in the sand going down to the base on which the stone was to stand. The sand was dug away, and the obelisk slowly raised itself, into the pit, onto the base, in an erect position. Then all of the sand was removed, leaving the obelisk up-right.
I would assume columns were done with one of those two methods.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2005 2:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Osiris II gave a good description of one of the most plausible methods of erecting obelisks. I favor that theory myself. I think I know the relief to which anneke is refering regarding the crew pulling a statue. It's a well-known relief from a tomb, though I don't remember whose tomb it was.

Studying this relief, which we have in miniature in our museum exhibit, we see it took over 170 men to pull the colossal statue. Anneke's correct in stating that the Egyptians would use wooden rollers to help move the sledges, though I can't recall if any are depicted in this relief (such rollers have been found, more or less preserved, within the remains of ramps and in the ruins of other construction sites). We see rows of men pulling the statue while, in the rear, more men carry tools and equipment to replenish spent supplies along the way. Standing on the statue are a couple of other men with specific jobs. One claps out a rhythm to which the laborers pull in unison; likely the laborers are singing or chanting as they go, to help keep the rhythm going. The second man is nearer the ground and keeps pouring a plentiful supply of water or milk into the trenches in which the sledge's runners move, for lubrication. I always thought milk was an odd liquid to use for this purpose, but as I understand it, on other reliefs of similar scenes the ubiquitous caption sometimes reads in hieroglyphs "Pouring the milk."

As for the massive temples with their towering columns about which isisinacrisis inquired, we are fortunate as modern historians to have numerous temples or parts thereof left in a state of mid-construction or partial repair. Each column is actually a series of huge disks, one propped on top of the other--simple gravity keeps them stacked in place. Likely scaffolding or ramps were used to access the higher parts. We know for certain that ramps were used in the building of huge walls, because some ramps are still there.

In erecting a wall, the builders would carefully carve only the three sides of each stone that would abut a previously placed stone. Afterward they would come along and finish the dressing of each stone in the wall, and then would come the plastering, inscribing, and painting. (A similar procedure was likely used to finish the individual disks of the columns.)

And how did the builders know when the face of a stone in the wall was smooth enough for the plastering and decoration? This is the part I like. They used an incredibly, mind-bogglingly complicated tool: two sticks with a length of cord tied between. They would stretch out the cord and run it down the face of a stone, and if the cord bowed outward, that spot in the stone received further smoothing.

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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Osiris II gave a good description of one of the most plausible methods of erecting obelisks.


Which one are you referring to? The fulcrum one or the sand one?

And if the columns are made of many parts-how come we don't see the joins? Did the Egyptians smooth out or plaster them, or even inscrive the columns so much that the joins simply aren't visible?

Did they also used a very simple way of making sure the walls/ceilings/columns were level-which was a piece of string with a weight on the end, and possibly the string was attached to a stick, and when the string was at right angles to the stick, the wall was straight. Did they use such a thing? I've heard of something like this and apparently it was also used in astronomical alignments, although I can't remember much...but apparently it was very important in temple building-whether it was for building or for orientation, I can't remember.
Reminds me of an old question I asked aaaages ago but didn't get much of an answer-what is the 'stretching of the cord' ritual?
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2005 1:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Which one are you referring to? The fulcrum one or the sand one?


Yes, that's the one. Laughing Laughing Laughing

Sorry about that. I meant the sand one. I've read about it numerous times and have seen it re-enacted on television specials.

Quote:
And if the columns are made of many parts-how come we don't see the joins? Did the Egyptians smooth out or plaster them


The techniques varied, though usually in photographs I don't have much trouble seeing the joins because of weathering. Many of these columns were so well cut and dressed that the joins are almost invisible, but when plaster was used, the joins would naturally be even more concealed.

Quote:
Did they also used a very simple way of making sure the walls/ceilings/columns were level-which was a piece of string with a weight on the end, and possibly the string was attached to a stick, and when the string was at right angles to the stick, the wall was straight. Did they use such a thing?


They used exactly that sort of tool, a simple plumb or plummet. They also used basic levels and right-angles. The latter even evolved into an amulet. Check out the link below to see the kind of amulet I'm talking about:

http://au.encarta.msn.com/media_461544652_761560148_-1_1/Egyptian_Amulets.html

It's the chevron-shaped object at center in the far right row (the caption describes it rather unimaginatively as a "brown obsidian amulet"). This is either a right-angle or, more likely, a plummet from which (on the real thing) would hang the cord with its stone or metal weight.

Quote:
...what is the 'stretching of the cord' ritual?


This was a ritual supposedly performed by pharaoh himself at the beginning of construction of any important monument, like a pyramid or temple, and belonged to a set of rites known as the "foundation rituals." Its name is quite self-explanatory: the pharaoh stretched out cords to mark the boundaries of the monument, much as modern builders do. Of course the Egyptian builders had already done all of the necessary surveying and marking, but having pharaoh conduct this rite made it official and predetermined the holiness of the edifice to be erected. It's one of the oldest attested ceremonies in ancient Egypt. Here's a bit more info on foundation rituals from TourEgypt:

http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/foundation.htm
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2005 12:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've heard of sand being used to lower coffins into tombs as well, by pouring it away from a hole in the bottom of the tomb. There was one movie where they used it to lower the stones of a tomb carefully into place.

I find it interesting that the cord stretching ceremony was linked to astronomy (another one of my passions) and that Seshet was involved. I suppose it wasn't just to lay the foundations, but to line them up with stars too. That's pretty neat. But I thought determining true north would have been easy-if you don't have a compass, just look for the north star...but they used a complex series of tools and measurements? Was the plumbline I mentioned before used for astronomy and orientation too?
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anneke
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2005 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is completely off-topic: Isis you should be promoted to Vizir! Very Happy

You're now (way) past 1000 posts. May not be very important to you? And maybe you like being High Priestess? Wink
I think Kevin needs to do your title by hand...
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2005 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OMG I've noticed that...but why hasn't my title changed?

Only 965 posts to go until I become queen! Very Happy
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2005 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I remember correctly, Kevin put in "High Priestess" by hand. If the title were left on automatic you would have been a Priest.
So now he will have to reset it to Vizir by hand.

I had to share the Vizirate with Segereh, so we had to divide the Kingdom Laughing

You will have to honor of being Vizir of Upper AND Lower Egypt Laughing

Although kmt_sesh is coming up quick (well little over 300 posts left for him). So you may have to share your lofty position with him in the near future Laughing

So only a "couple more posts" until you're Queen?

I waas trying to remember historic Queens by the name of Isis or names incorporating Isis. Only came up with:
Queen Isis, mother of Thutmosis III
Queen Isis-nofret I Great Wife of Ramses II
Queen Isis-nofret II (or III) Great Wife of Merneptah (I think)

Good company me thinks....
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2005 1:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congrats on the 1000-plus posts, isisinacrisis! You're one of the most enjoyable people at Egyptian Dreams and you deserve to be called Vizier. But, oh, the scandal! A woman vizier of all of the Two Lands! I don't care, actually. Hatshepsut is one of my favorite all-time personages from ancient Egypt.

I think it'll be awhile before I reach that level. And by the way, I'm still waiting for my prizes for reaching Priest! Confused

Quote:
I find it interesting that the cord stretching ceremony was linked to astronomy (another one of my passions) and that Seshet was involved.


Astronomy was both spiritual and secular to the Egyptians. It was really their most reliable means of determining exact north, and at the same time, orientating their monuments and buildings to the cardinal points had religious significance. It's kind of interesting that at some time most Boy Scouts will learn to determine true north using a fixed celestial point pretty much the same way the ancient Egyptians did it. If I remember it right, you don't even have to use the North Star--just a prominent star in the night sky whose progress through the sky you chart throughout the night. I might have to look that up again to see how it's done.
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anneke
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2005 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Congrats on the 1000-plus posts, isisinacrisis! You're one of the most enjoyable people at Egyptian Dreams and you deserve to be called Vizier. But, oh, the scandal! A woman vizier of all of the Two Lands!


She follows in the sandals of Nebet, the mother-in-law of Pepi I, and only female Vizier of the Old Kingdom.
There was supposedly another in the later period, but I don't know who that would have been Very Happy
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2005 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suppose I could get away with a chin wig...no one will suspect a thing! And if they question me on my gender, I'll just say 'But of course I'm a pharaoh! I only do things a king would do, wear the things a king would wear, I don't look like a lady at all, not in the slightest!...do you like my fancy beard darling?' and saunter off with a grin...

(If you've seen the 'ladies' sketches of Little Britain, you'll understand. Wink )
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
(If you've seen the 'ladies' sketches of Little Britain, you'll understand. )


I haven't, and I don't, but that's par for the course for me. I seem to live much of my life out of the loop. I guess those are the consequences for someone who spends too much time thinking about people who've been dead for thousands of years. #Crazy

Your false-beard reference got me thinking, though. We know the king might wear a false beard as part of his royal regalia, and we know many people had them attached to their anthropoid coffins, complete with a black stripe painted along the sides of the face to represent the strap to which the bear was attached.

All of this was meant, of course, to associate the person (living or dead) with the great god Osiris. But if you look carefully at many reliefs and depictions of Osiris with his regal beard, you can see the strap on the sides of his face, too. Here's an example:



At other times the beard of Osiris is depicted to look real, as though it actually does grow from his chin, such as here:



This confuses me somewhat. I've always wondered what the Egyptians were thinking of when they painted these features of Osiris. Did they think his beard was real, or did they think his beard was false?

And what are these "ladies" sketches of Little Britain, anyway?
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2005 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think the broadcast that show in the US...which is a shame because it's effing hilarious Laughing the 'ladies' are transvestites, btw, and rather bad ones. I was just thinking of me being the reverse of that (ie a woman dressing and trying to act like a man) and being hopeless at keeping up the act of being a 'king'...but of course that would lead to my images being destroyed and my name being chipped off every monument!

I dunno about Ossie and his beard though...
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