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   Adel Kelany  Marks of the Quarry Workers at the UnfinishedObeliskQuarry, Aswan, Egypt: Preliminary Report  1 During the Old and Middle Kingdoms, ancient Egyptians quarried granitefrom areas around the Nile River at Aswanand to the north of the ancient city there, as suggested by recently discovered granite workshop beside a jetty, which was used for loading granite blocks onto rafts or ships for transport. 2 During the New Kingdomand later times, granite was quarried from almost the whole of the eastern area of Aswanand the nearby Nile islands (Fig. 1).Proximity to the Nile River explains why only Aswangranite and someother Aswanrocks have continuously been used from earliest recorded times.The geological setting of Aswanis complex. It has igneous, metamorphic,and sedimentary rocks. 3 Thus, from early times it was a major quarry area formany types of stone, such as silicified sandstone from the west bank andsandstone from the north at Silsila Quarry. 4 Aswan, however, holds a specialprominence as the primary source of granite for monumental statuary andarchitectural elements of temples and pyramids throughout Egypt. The quarries of Aswancontain important epigraphic evidence, inparticular dating to the New Kingdom(2nd millennium BC) and the Greco-Romanperiod. The recent excavations in the granite quarries, as reportedbelow, substantially expand that evidence and shed new light on how theancient Egyptians worked such hard stone. Previous and Fresh Work of Unfinished ObeliskQuarry  The famous Unfinished ObeliskQuarry at Aswanis the site of the most important granite quarry in the region. It is located in the south of Egypt,almost in the middle of modern Aswancity, on the east bank of the Nile River(Fig. 1). The site takes its name from a very large Unfinished Obelisk(41.80 mlong and 1168 tons) found at the site (Fig. 2). It provides one of the mainsources of evidence about hard stone quarries in ancient Egypt. 5 The Unfinished ObeliskQuarry has been the focus of a long history of studies. In 1921, the English Egyptologist, R. Engelbach, excavated the 547  A. Kelany 548 Unfinished Obelisk, uncovering its body and a limited area around it. He alsostudied trenches and marks of workers on the ancient quarry faces.His wasthe only excavation at the site until the excavations of the Aswanoffice of theSupreme Council of Antiquities in 2002. 6 Work by other archaeologists hasbeen limited to surveys of the quarry surface. J. Röder’s important study of 1971 involved not only the Unfinished ObeliskQuarry but also granitequarriesdated to Roman times in the Eastern Desert near the Red Sea. 7 Morerecently James Harrell has completed work on granite and other hard stonequarries in Egypt, 8 and R. and D. Klemm have included the Aswanquarries intheir comprehensive study of quarries in the Nile Valley. 9 In 2002, the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Aswanoffice, started a largeproject to reopen the Unfinished Obelisksite with a new site management plan.The main project consisted of excavation of the rest of the quarry as well asinstalling new buildings and a visitors’ path. The excavation work took almost one year, and processing the data took two more years to finish. Many new discoveries were made during the excavation, such as inscriptions, quarry tools,unfinished objects, different methods of stone extraction, and graffiti. 10 Thisarticle will focus on the marks of quarry workers. A site plan with this article,Fig.3, will show how the excavation area is divided according to topography andthe excavation system. In addition, the all of the quarry markswere labeled withthe letter ‘M’ and numbers, which relate to this paper. Marks of Quarry Workers All over Egypt, ancient quarries are scattered throughout the Nile Valley and in the surrounding desert. Few of these quarries provide archaeologicalevidence in such concentration as the Unfinished Obeliskquarry, whichincludes, moreover, workers’ graffiti, unknown in such quantity in other hardstone quarries. These marks have provided a valuable source of informationfor understanding the life and work of ancient quarry workers.Marks at the Unfinished Obeliskquarry can be divided into four types:sketches, level and work lines, hieratic dates, and Greek names. Sketches Sketches were found in different places inside the quarry, but areconcentrated in Area A2. This is the best place in this quarry for suchinscriptions or graffiti, as it is a very long vertical quarry face (Fig. 3). It measures about 8.5 m high and 38 m long from east to west; it produced at least two obelisks, and left a very deep trench, which was reused by workersfor drawing sketches. In fact, we found all four mark types on this face,supplying us with details about each type.  Marks of the Quarry Workers at the Unfinished ObeliskQuarry 549 Ostriches Starting from the east side, we found several ostriches in red color and of different sizes. Most of the outline of each ostrich is covered with red color— this is a special style (Fig. 5). All of the ostriches are facing east, except one which was made on a large freestanding stone perpendicular to the quarry face. This ostrich is facing north. From our investigation we found out that the freestanding stone stands on cultural deposition layers with pottery shards dating to the New Kingdom(1550-1069 BC). It is not rare to find theostrich in the southern area of Egyptat Aswan, as the ostrich was a rathercommon bird in ancient times. Obelisks and Boats To the west of the ostrich sketches, we found another group of sketchesincluding two standing obelisks at different levels and of different sizes, made inred color with the centre axis and base also marked in red. Beside the obelisks, the workers had drawn sketches of small boats in a black color, and sometimes they linked two boats or more with what looks like a rope. Some of these boats appearto be carrying obelisks or large granite pieces from the quarries. Oars and ruddersare also depicted on some of these boats. All the boats are facing west (Fig. 4). Another small and rough obelisk was drawn in black color at the top of thesame quarry face.At the southernmost part of the quarry, the ancient quarry workers drew another standing obelisk in red colors on the quarry face. This certainly corresponds with the construction of obelisks, and also supports the idea that many obelisks were taken out of these quarries.The relationship between boats and quarries is established, as boats wereused to transport large blocks from quarries via the Nile to the north, wherethe Egyptians used these blocks for building and other functions. 11 Dolphins (?) To the west of the boat drawings, and on and beside the obelisk sketches,the ancient workers drew what looks like dolphins; they are of different sizes,done in black color, and facing in a westerly direction (Fig. 4). What isnotable is that dolphins are not found in the Nile, but in the Red and theMediterranean Seas. 12 The relationship between the quarries, the workers,and the dolphins is not clear. One possibility is related to Mendes in the Delta, which is a cult centre for Hatmehit  , the chief of fishes, who was worshipped inthe form of a fish, a woman, and sometimes a dolphin. 13 Another way tointerpret the existence of these dolphin sketches in this quarry, so far away from the sea, is that ancient quarry workers traveled and worked in the RedSea area, that they saw dolphins, remembered them and drew them at theUnfinished Obelisksite.  Bes (the dwarf god) In the south-east of the quarry was found a freestanding granite block, on which the upper part of a simple sketch of the god Bes in red color waspreserved (Fig. 3, M.7 and Fig. 6). This block has Roman wedge marks at thebottom, which means it was taken from the mother rock of the quarries. At further investigation we found the lower part of the same Bes figure still in situ in the quarry face. This implies that during the Roman period, this part, where older sketches already existed, was quarried. I interpret the presence of  Bes in the quarry in relation to his role as the god of protection and of funduring the hard work in the quarries. 14 Geometric Figures The only two geometric figures found at the quarry were a circle with anunclear stroke in the middle, and a figure shaped like a star, both in red color.These were made just beside one of the natural fissures, and could have beenmade by the workers’ supervisor to point to out these cracks for investigationand possible exploitation by the workforce (Fig. 3, M.9 and Fig. 9). Dates An important group of hieratic dates have now been found in theUnfinished ObeliskGranite Quarry. Most of the dates are linked withquarrying activity during the New Kingdom, and are similar to dates found inthe limestone quarries in Egypt, such as the quarry located west of Luxor. They have hieratic dating between red lines, and have recently been interpretedconvincingly as a method of calculating daily excavation. 15 This quarry, just as,e.g. the Dibabiya limestone quarry located 35 km south of Luxor, dates to theNew Kingdom. 16 The same methods of using hieratic dates with lines wereused not only in quarries but also in the rock-cut tombs of the same period. 17 In Area H we found a large (about 20.5 m x 3 m) unfinished block of granite insitu . 18 On three faces of this block we found many scratch marks at different levels.All scratch marks are parallel to the trench bottom, including the trenches andscratch marks sloping down from east to west. Only four of the scratch marks at the northern face have hieratic dating in red color between them. One of thesedates is quite clear to read, but it is still hard to understand and to completely translate the rest (Fig. 3, M.8 and Fig. 7). Nevertheless, although not all the datescan be read completely, they yield important information. In the ancient Egyptiancalendar, a year was divided into three seasons:  Akhet  (inundation), Peret  (emergence or winter), and Shemu (harvest or summer). Each season was fourmonths long. The annual flood of the Nile River was from our August to October.With translation, we found that most of the dates were recorded in the summerbetween the second and the fourth month. This means that the main part of the work was done before that time, and that the quarry supervisors were able to A. Kelany 550  Marks of the Quarry Workers at the Unfinished ObeliskQuarry 551 register how much work had been done in the quarry before the annual Nile floodthat came at the end of summer. Annually, the main work in the quarry had to befinished before the inundation, so that the high water could be exploited for theremoval of the blocks from the quarry to the loading area, perhaps on an ancient canal, 19 then to be transported north on the Nile.We also found hieratic dates in other places. The most important one wasfound in what we call the Granite Test Pit, west of the Unfinished Obelisk (Fig. 8). This test pit is a hole dug into the granite in order to find theorientation of the natural cracks. It was not excavated during Engelbach’s work, 20 but was completely excavated during our 2002 excavations. 21 Thedepth of the test pit is 4.5 m and the diameter is 0.77 m. It is located about 1m west of the southwestern corner of the Unfinished Obelisktrench (Fig. 3,M.4). In this test pit we have two types of hieratic dates, based on color variation, namely red and black. This could relate to the two phases of theUnfinished Obelisk. 22 All of the hieratic dates are linked withred or black lines, which were used for counting the amount of work in this test pit. Thehieratic dates are also associated with the hieroglyphic nefer sign, whichsometimes is used to refer to elevation. 23 In the southern part of theUnfinished Obelisktrenches, we also found hieratic dating recorded in thequarry face (Fig. 3, M.5).The rest of the hieratic dating somehow relates to the small or large blockstaken out of the quarry— such is the case in Area A2 (Fig. 3, M.3), where wefound a black line associated with hieratic dates that refer to the blocksremoved from here.In the southeastern part of the quarry, Area G2 (Fig. 3, M.7), on one of thequarry faces with chisel marks, we found a lot of Demotic graffiti with short lines written in red color (Fig. 11). With our preliminary investigation we now have a clear idea that these are numbers and dates with lines made forcounting extraction work. This will be published in the final report.  Work Level Lines All over the faces of the granite quarrieswe found traces of red lines, vertical and horizontal, and sometimes with hieroglyphic signs such as nfr , wd3t eyes, and hieratic dates. Most of these lines are completely straight, which means that they were made after the quarry face was excavated inancient times. Some of them, in fact, belong to the extraction trenches andclearly served to help count the daily work. Some of these marks werepublished by Engelbach both from the Unfinished Obelisktrenches andsouth of the Unfinished Obeliskbody. 24 Straight vertical and horizontal lines were identified in Area A2 (Fig. 9),especially in the southern part, where the lines form irregular grids that vary from 0.59 m to 0.63 m intervals, though more regularly at 0.60 m. This spandoes not correspond with the ancient Egyptian cubit of 0.525 m. Perhaps the
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