Aswan Stone Quarry Gallery
Ancient Egyptians Site Index

Aswan Stone Quarry Overview

Aswan Stone Quarry Overview

Aswan is home to the granite quarries used for many of the monuments of the ancient Egyptian world. This particular red granite quarry is home to the famous Unfinished Obelisk, it is probable that many other of the surviving obelisks were also quarried here.

Ancient Egyptian Picture Gallery Index

Aswan Stone Quarry - The Unfinished Obelisk

Aswan Stone Quarry - The Unfinished Obelisk

The Unfinished Obelisk viewed from the top. This obelisk would have been the tallest ever being forty two metres in length (50% taller than any other known). It is believed that the female pharaoh Hatshepsut sanctioned its construction ca. 1463 BC possibly for use at the Karnak Temple Complex, the quarrying would be extremely difficult to do today, but a truly momentous task 3500 years ago!

Ancient Egyptian Picture Gallery Index

The Crack in the Unfinished Obelisk
 

The Crack in the Unfinished Obelisk

In this view from the base of the obelisk, the crack can be clearly seen. The obelisk was being carved directly out of solid red granite bedrock when it is believed to have cracked, possibly the result of stress release, and been abandoned.

A cracked obelisk would have been seen as not fit for purpose, it was thought at the time that by covering the pyramid like top of the obelisk with electrum (a gold and silver alloy), the sun's power could be collected and transmitted to the area around the base of the obelisk, a crack in the granite would have been thought to have been an unacceptable hindrance to the transmission of the suns power.

Ancient Egyptian Picture Gallery Index

Aswan Quarry Unfinished Obelisk

Aswan Quarry Unfinished Obelisk

Inspection of this obelisk, and of the marks in the granite around it left by the workers, provide an insight into the ancient Egyptian working techniques. The presence of burned mud bricks in close proximity to the obelisk have led to speculation that the granite was heated by fire and then rapidly cooled by quenching with water (thermal shock), this would have resulted in the rock being weakened by micro fractures and becoming far easier to work. It is known that such a method was in common use in Egyptian gold mines over two thousand years ago (Fire-setting) and was used world wide until the introduction of explosives.

Ancient Egyptian Picture Gallery Index

The photographs in this section are all copyright Paul Drake 2014, Paul has allowed us to publish his pictures for your use in all educational work provided they are not used online or commercially, if you wish to only use them in a written educational project no further permission is required from Siteseen Ltd. or the copyright holder Paul Drake.

Picture Paul DrakeCookies PolicyPrivacy StatementBy Linda Alchin
eXTReMe Tracker