Egyptian Technology > Egyptian Construction
ToolsSome of the older tools used in the construction of Egyptian housing included reeds and clay. According to Lucas and Harris, “reeds were plastered with clay in order to keep out of heat and cold more effectually”.  Other tools that were used were "limestone, chiseled stones, wooden mallets, and stone hammers".  With these tools, ancient Egyptians were able to create more than just housing, but also sculptures of their gods, goddesses, pyramids, etc.BuildingsMany temples from Ancient Egypt are not standing today. Some are in ruin from wear and tear, while others have been lost entirely. The Egyptian structures are among the largest constructions ever conceived and built by humans. They constitute one of the most potent and enduring symbols of Ancient Egyptian civilization. Temples and tombs built by a pharaoh famous for her projects, Hatshepsut, were massive and included many colossal statues of her. Pharaoh Tutankamun's rock-cut tomb in the Valley of the Kings was full of jewellery and antiques. In some late myths, Ptah was identified as the primordial mound and had called creation into being, he was considered the deity of craftsmen, and in particular, of stone-based crafts. Imhotep, who was included in the Egyptian pantheon, was the first documented engineer.The Lighthouse of Alexandria on the island of Pharos.In Hellenistic Egypt, lighthouse technology was developed, the most famous example being the Lighthouse of Alexandria. Alexandria was a port for the ships that traded the goods manufactured in Egypt or imported into Egypt. A giant cantilevered hoist lifted cargo to and from ships. The lighthouse itself was designed by Sostratus of Cnidus and built in the 3rd century BC (between 285 and 247 BC) on the island of Pharos in Alexandria, Egypt, which has since become a peninsula. This lighthouse was renowned in its time and knowledge of it was never lost. A 2006 drawing of it created from the study of many references, is shown at the right.MonumentsMain articles: Egyptian pyramids and Egyptian pyramid construction techniquesThe Nile valley has been the site of one of the most influential civilizations in the world with its architectural monuments, which include the pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx—among the largest and most famous buildings in the world.Giza Plateau, Cairo. Khafre's pyramid in the backgroundThe most famous pyramids are the Egyptian pyramids—huge structures built of brick or stone, some of which are among the largest constructions by humans. Pyramids functioned as tombs for pharaohs. In Ancient Egypt, a pyramid was referred to as mer, literally "place of ascendance." The Great Pyramid of Giza is the largest in Egypt and one of the largest in the world. The base is over 13 acres (53,000 m2) in area. It is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and the only one of the seven to survive into modern times. The Ancient Egyptians capped the peaks of their pyramids with gold and covered their faces with polished white limestone, although many of the stones used for the finishing purpose have fallen or been removed for use on other structures over the millennia.The Red Pyramid of Egypt (c.26th century BC), named for the light crimson hue of its exposed granite surfaces, is the third largest of Egyptian pyramids. Menkaure's Pyramid, likely dating to the same era, was constructed of limestone and granite blocks. The Great Pyramid of Giza (c. 2580 BC) contains a huge granite sarcophagus fashioned of "Red Aswan Granite." The mostly ruined Black Pyramid dating from the reign of Amenemhat III once had a polished granite pyramidion or capstone, now on display in the main hall of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo (see Dahshur). Other uses in Ancient Egypt, include columns, door lintels, sills, jambs, and wall and floor veneer.The ancient Egyptians had some of the first monumental stone buildings (such as in Sakkara). How the Egyptians worked the solid granite is still a matter of debate. Archaeologist Patrick Hunt has postulated that the Egyptians used emery shown to have higher hardness on the Mohs scale. Regarding construction, of the various methods possibly used by builders, the lever moved and uplifted obelisks weighing more than 100 tons.Obelisks and PillarsObelisks were a prominent part of the architecture of the ancient Egyptians, who placed them in pairs at the entrances of various monuments and important buildings, such as temples. In 1902, Encyclopædia Britannica wrote, "The earliest temple obelisk still in position is that of Senusret I of the XIIth Dynasty at Heliopolis (68 feet high)". The word "obelisk" is of Greek rather than Egyptian origin because Herodotus, the great traveler, was the first writer to describe the objects. Twenty-nine ancient Egyptian obelisks are known to have survived, plus the unfinished obelisk being built by Hatshepsut to celebrate her sixteenth year as pharaoh. It broke while being carved out of the quarry and was abandoned when another one was begun to replace it. The broken one was found at Aswan and provides the only insight into the methods of how they were hewn. The obelisk symbolized the sky deity Ra and during the brief religious reformation of Akhenaten, was said to be a petrified ray of the Aten, the sun disk. It is hypothesized by New York University Egyptologist Patricia Blackwell Gary and Astronomy senior editor Richard Talcott that the shapes of the ancient Egyptian pyramid and Obelisk were derived from natural phenomena associated with the sun (the sun-god Ra being the Egyptians' greatest deity). It was also thought that the deity existed within the structure. The Egyptians also used pillars extensively.It is unknown whether the Ancient Egyptians had kites, but a team led by Maureen Clemmons and Mory Gharib raised a 5,900-pound, 15-foot (4.6 m) obelisk into vertical position with a kite, a system of pulleys, and a support frame. Maureen Clemmons developed the idea that the ancient Egyptians used kites for work. Ramps have been reported as being widely used in Ancient Egypt. A ramp is an inclined plane, or a plane surface set at an angle (other than a right angle) against a horizontal surface. The inclined plane permits one to overcome a large resistance by applying a relatively small force through a longer distance than the load is to be raised. In civil engineering the slope (ratio of rise/run) is often referred to as a grade or gradient. An inclined plane is one of the commonly-recognized simple machines. Maureen Clemmons subsequently lead a team of researchers demonstrating a kite made of natural material and reinforced with shellac (which according to their research pulled with 97% the efficiency of nylon), in a 9 mph wind, would easily pull an average 2-ton pyramid stone up the 1st two courses of a pyramid (in collaboration with Cal Poly, Pomona, on a 53-stone pyramid built in Rosamond, CA).