Compare the advantages and disadvantages of the various different types of evidence used to understand ancient Egyptian technology

(i.e. scientific analysis, funerary images (reliefs, paintings and models), experimental archaeology, ethno-archaeology and study of Egyptian, Greek and Latin texts) Algy126 - Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology University of Liverpool

21.04.2012

Marek Macko

1. Index Index.............................................................................................................................................................. 2 Introduction .................................................................................................................................................. 3 Comparison ................................................................................................................................................... 4 Archeometry and pottery ............................................................................................................................. 5 Funerary images, reliefs and models ............................................................................................................ 6 Used Literature ............................................................................................................................................. 8

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2. Introduction At the very beginning of my work I would like to clarify why I chosen following Egyptian technologies and source of evidence. I decided to choose faience and glazing technique and textile (leather) technology because I consider those two as very good examples and distinctive in use of evidence we have for both of them. As we very well know we have lots of artifact from all around the Egypt when it comes to faience, so when we decide to research it, it is not going to be very big problem since we have lot of bits and pieces of pottery which we can use to research particular crafting technique that Egyptians used. But on the other hand when we decide to become more familiar with crafting technique of textiles or leather it is going to be little bit bigger problem since textiles such as Linen cloth or leather are both made of organic material it tends to rot, and in general is very easy to be destroyed by natural means or by actions of man. We have very little of actual textile material for us to research so indeed we need to use different research methods to acquire knowledge about processes that lead to actual crafting of final textile product. In next few pages I would like to compare advantages and disadvantages and main features of two completely different types of evidence. First is scientific analysis which I will try to connect to faience researching and second Funerary images, reliefs and models incorporated in researching textiles and leather crafting technique. So please sit back and enjoy.

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3. Comparison In first part of this essay I would like to compare main features, pros and cons of two different types of evidence. I’m going to start with scientific analysis since it is very broad theme. Main con of using scientific analysis is straight forward result. This source of evidence cover lots of techniques that help uz analyze artifact of various character and upon result we get both their composition, age and many other relevant information. Thou I would like to only go into composition part since it is main way how I would use it in work. Scientific analysis in archeology is summed up into one single field called Archaeometry. In United Kingdom archaeometry is funded by Natural and Environmental Research Council apart from funding archeology. As I mentioned earlier it is used to date and analyze artifact material. Under artifact analysis we have these techniques:      X-ray fluorescence (XRF) Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) Neutron activation analysis (NAA) Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS)

Main con of archeometry is that upon analyzing we don’t get answers on questions how they actually did it in real life. This is answered by analyzing paintings or by experimental archaeology. As second source of evidence I selected funerary images (reliefs and models) because it is very useful in determining how crafting technique actually worked. We can use it as so called manual. It is very useful that funerary scenes are very common and so we can then for example use various depictions to compare them to each other and determine change in one particular process over time. Even thou we have those funerary images pretty much in every tomb there is always damage to them and sometimes we have to use our imagination to put all pieces together. Second source if evidence falling into same category as funerary images are models made of wood or clay. They are very good since they are 3D actual representation of what was going on on site. I will present this again in particular connection to case study later on in this essay.

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4. Archeometry and pottery I decided to choose this aspect as let say one of the most important in researching an pottery because even with experimental archaeology without archeometry and all analysis techniques would be useless if we did not know what material was used. Only after we know what is particular piece of pottery or glaze made of we can that trace back its origin and eventually even process of creation. Of course we also use funerary images or other source of depictions to replicate actual process of crafting. Archeometry tells us exact composition of glaze and based on this we can retrospectively recreate this process. On following image we can see how this kind of analysis (EDX-SEM) gives uz exact composition of green glaze shard.

In charts above we can see Energy dispersive x-ray results for a) the black layer of shard, and b) the green glaze. Upon this kind of analysis we are able to correctly name them and then recreate original composition and figure out how it was done by use of experimental archaeology for example. On picture above we were able to tell that the presence of Cu and Si could be coming from Azurite (2CuCO3.Cu (OH)2), Malachite (CuCO3.Cu (OH) 2) or the Egyptian blue (CaCuSi4O10)1

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Compositional analysis of Ceramic Glaze by Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy and Energy Dispersive XRay A.Khedr, O. Abdelkareem, S. H. Elnabi, and M. A. Harith AIP Conf. Proc. 1380, 87 (2011); doi: 10.1063/1.3631815

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5. Funerary images, reliefs and models In second part of this essay I’m going to focus my attention on connection between these images and textile manufacture and leather working. Again I’m going to repeat myself, this is not only evidence we have but I consider it being one of the most important for this particular case study. We have lots of material evidence such as spinning bowls, loom weights, hand spindles actually we found lots of these. I don’t want to argue whether it is or it is not the true, but in my opinion those material found or let say artifacts would mean nothing if we had no idea what to do with them. Apart from tomb paintings and models we of course have chance to apply ethno-archaeology and compare or be inspired by people living today in isolated places with no technology, how they craft their linen because those technologies tend to be pretty much similar. But again tomb paintings and models will help us even if we decide look at still living societies by telling us how Egyptians used their tools and how looms looked like, how many people it took to operate it and so on. Following pictures shows wooden models of Egyptian textile workshop.

Tomb of Meketra, early Twelfth Dynasty, about 1950 BC

Badari tomb 3802 (UC 9547)

As we can see these models gives us relatively accurate image of how textiles workshops worked. Upon further investigation of model we were able to recognize what women on model are doing. Also we can very clearly see two horizontal looms lying on the ground. Together with funerary images they give us clues about how textile production was organized and then carried out. From images and models we were able to tell that textile production was carried out only by woman. From many tomb depictions we can learn deeper understanding of loom working because relatively often we can see looms depicted together with other people doing other things like threads spinning. Following funerary picture will serve as good example of this.

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1. & 3. Weaving 2. Loom 3. Putting in the woof, but not by a shuttle, thrown with the hand. 4. Male Overseer 5. Hackling 6. Twisting the double threads for the warp. a Weaving. b Chief of Loom. c Facing. d Pulling out.

From this depiction we can see how were women organized and we see process which is each one of them carrying out. At the end I would like to tell couple more things regarding this matter. I didn’t write about technologies that were carried out by Egyptians because this essay was not supposed to be about it. Even thou I would love to write more about pottery creation and glazing or about leather working there is no space for it right now. Last thing is that I wrote this essay based on my opinion. I did not strictly followed book and to be honest I did not find any direct answer to quest which source of evidence is the most important. So after I did my readings I made up my own mind and this is what I came up with.
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Horizontal Loom, Tomb of Chnem-hotep, from Sir J. G. Wilkinson’s Manners and Customs, London, John Murray, 1878, Vol. I., p. 317

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6. Used Literature Sir J. G. Wilkinson’s Manners and Customs, London, John Murray, 1878, Vol. I., p. 317 Nicholson, P.T. & Shaw, I. (eds) 2000. Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology. Cambridge: CUP Bourriau, J. and Phillips, J. (eds) 2004. Invention and Innovation: The Social Context of Technological Change, Oxford: Oxbow Compositional analysis of Ceramic Glaze by Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy and Energy Dispersive XRay, A.Khedr, O. Abdelkareem, S. H. Elnabi, and M. A. Harith, AIP Conf. Proc. 1380, 87 (2011); doi: 10.1063/1.3631815 http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/timelines/topics/flax.htm http://belovedlinens.net/fabrics/Egyptian_linen.html Nicholson, Paul T., 2009, Faience Technology. In Willeke Wendrich (ed.), UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, Los Angeles http://escholarship.org/uc/item/9cs9x41z

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