T h e f in a l step was polishing. P olis h in g i n v olve s thr e e stages: smoothing, scou rin g , "For polishing, the E gy p t ia n a n d b u ffin g . metalworkersused special stones to smooth uneven patches on metal objects. Agate, w h i ch w as p r o bablyused for polishingst o n e s , can be found at severalplaces in Egypt and is s t i l l u se d to d a y for polishing by golds mit h s . Metal surfaces may also have been finished u s i ng ab r a sive s like emery or sand. T h e gleamingsurfaceson the pieceswere obtained b y a fin a l bu r n ishingwith small balls ma d e o f l e a t h e r felt, , or o ther textiles."18 Other metals were used in ancient Egypt as w e l l , tho u g h on a smaller scale. In an 1 8 : n D y n asty n o b le man'stomb, a finger ring o f t in w a s disco ve r e d. lt is the only pure tin art if a c t from Egypt. The gold/silver alloy called p opular e l e ctr um w as for jewelry throu g h o u t the dynasticperiod. Headdressesof lead were madefor statuettes. So What? Metal defines civilization. The four prerequisites -- water, fertile soil, warmth, and natural protection provide only the r u d i men ts.Without metal, E gyptianciviliz a t io n would have left little more than a few stone t o o l s an d pr e se r vedbodiesfor us to pond e ra t . Most people would agree that the Great P y r am idis m o r e impressivethan a wood h u t lashedtogether with rope. Moreover, if they s t o p p e d to thin k about it, they would re a liz e t h a t witho u t m e talthere would be no pyramidj u s t th e hu t. To m a ke i t m o r e personal,how much me t a l is i n y ou r h o u se ? Not inside the rooms, b u t in t h e ho u se itself. How many pounds of s t e e l n a i l s ho ld you r r oof on? How many mile s o f c o p pe r w i r i ng a r e there in your walls? Ho w smooth would the wood be if it had been roughedout with a flint ax insteadof cut with a s a w? l f su d d enlyyou had to make do wit h o u t an y m e tal,would you be able to survi v e ? The next time you admire somethingEgyptian, t a k e a m o m e n t to appreciatetheir metals . . . u n l e ssyou 'd r atherhave lived in that hut! Summer1996
ENDNOTES 1. Raymond,Robert. Out of the FieryFurnace:the lmpact of Metals on the Historv of Mankind. MelbourneAustralia;The MacmillanCompanyof AustraliaPty. Ltd., 1984, p. 13. 2. Raymond,p. 15. 3. "Erythro-." The AmericanHeritageDictionarvof the EnglishLanguage,CollegeEdition. Boston; The HoughtonMifflin Company,1980, p. 446. 4. Garland,Major H. Ancient EgyptianMetallurgv, London, Charles Griffin and Company, 1927, p.24. 5. Garland,p. 26. 6. Agatharchidesof Cnidus. On the Ervthraean Sea, Trans. Stanley M. Burstein.London; The HakluytSociety,1989, p. 60. 7. Fitzler, Kurt. Steinbrtiche und Bergwerke im ptolmaeischen und romischen Agvpten, Leipzig; 1910, pp. 12-13, as quoted by Stanley M. Bursteinin a footnote to his translationof On the ErythraeanSea, by Agatharchides of Cnidus. p. 62. 8. Agatharchides, 9. Burstein,StanleyM. Footnoteto his translation of On the ErythraeanSea, by Agatharchidesof Cnidus, London; The Hakluyt Society, 1989, p.64. 10. Burstein. Footnoteto Agatharchides, p. 64. pp. 65-66. 1 1. Agatharchides 12. Burstein. Footnoteto Agatharchides, p. 66. 13. Raymond,p. 17. 14. Budd, Dr. Paul. Electronicmail to the author, (Dr. Paul Budd, Ancient May 1, 1996. Metallurgy Research Group, Department of Archaeological Sciences,Universityof Bradford, UnitedKingdom. 15. Budd. Electronicmail to author,May 1, 1996. 16. Raymond,pp. 28-29. 17. Garland,p. 35. 18. Scheel, Bernd. Egyptian Metalworkingand Tools, Aylesbury, United Kingdom; Shire Publications Ltd., 1989, pp. 37-4O.
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