Overgrown quarry pits and raised spoil heaps in the old Riniken millstone quarry landscape by Brugg in Canton Aargau, Switzerland. Photo: Per Storemyr
I’ve been busy over the last several months and so little has happened at the blog and website of my firm. A simple equation may provide a good explanation: Family and kids + professional responsibilities = no blogging! The first part of the equation ought to be pretty obvious. As regards the second part this is probably evident, too: Suddenly finding yourself confronted with deadlines and tenders!
So, I’ve been investigating, reporting, producing offers and writing for traditional scientific media instead of maintaining my blog. In due time, when more information on the projects can be released, I will provide details and – in particular – credit my clients, partners and editors.
At the moment my retreats are in the forests close to where I live, in the overgrown and underground, great old millstone quarries around Brugg, by Roman Vindonissa. It is from these quarries that the pictures accompanying this post have been taken.
Abandoned, early modern millstone rough-out, intended for a water-mill, in the Villnachern quarry landscape by Brugg in Canton Aargau, Switzerland. Photo: Per Storemyr
Aerial view of the First Nile Cataract in 1936. The Old Aswan Dam in front, by then tiny Aswan City at top right and the desert at Gharb Aswan to the left. Source: Library of Congress. Image enhanced.
Gharb Aswan – or West Aswan – is the home to some 50.000 Nubian peoples on the west bank of the Nile, by the first cataract opposite the city of Aswan. Among archaeologists and tourists the area is renowned for the Tombs of the Nobles at Qubbet el-Hawa and the Coptic St. Simeon’s monastery, both on the UNESCO World Heritage List. But Gharb Aswan is much more than this, for here it is possible to follow human interaction with the landscape for millennia, almost throughout the history of humankind. With a focus on the unique stone working traditions, here’s a synopsis of the “unknown” archaeology of this beautiful desert area – with slideshow, map, bibliography and an overview of missions that have worked here. Continue reading
Old horse cart with beer barrel in the historic Wabern quarry by Berne, Switzerland. Photo: Per Storemyr
Working with the Berne Minster Workshop on mapping the quarries used for the cathedral, I visited the Wabern quarry just outside the city centre yesterday. Though it is unclear to what extent it was employed for the cathedral in the Middle Ages, it is a most remarkable quarry: For it was reused as a brewery for “Gurten Beer” from the 1860s on. Since I have noted the link between stone extraction and beer drinking through history (see last part of this story), I thought I ought to post the photo above of a wonderful old horse cart with a beer barrel remaining in the quarries. Continue reading
What a quarry! The central summit at Gebel Manzal el-Seyl in the Eastern Desert of Egypt. Nearly 5000 years old. Photo: Per Storemyr
A biface (hand axe) in the Wadi Beiza Palaeolithic quarries. Photo: Per Storemyr
A room with a view! A soapstone quarry at Wadi Abu Qureya in Egypt’s Eastern Desert. Photo: Per Storemyr
One of the fine Old Kingdom basalt quarries at Widan el-Faras that is now destroyed… Photo: Per Storemyr
A grinding stone quarry at the north scarp of the Kharga Oasis in the Egyptian Sahara. Photo: Per Storemyr
Firesetting experiment at Aswan. Photo: Adel Kelany
The main quarry workings at Rod el-Gamra in the Eastern Desert of Egypt. Photo: Per Storemyr
Pharaoh Chephren’s pyramid at Giza, with remaining casing stones from the quarries at Tura at the top. Photo: Per Storemyr
This is the place where we bumped into the Wadi el-Muluk limestone quarry in the winter of 1999. Photo: Per Storemyr
This is how it looks like at Chephren’s Quarry. Photo: Per Storemyr
Egypt is world-renowned for its ancient quarries. Without them civilisation as we know it along the Nile would not have been possible. There are many spectacular quarries, popular way beyond the archaeological community. But there is also an enormous amount of quarries that rarely get the headlines. In the series Ten quarries of Ancient Egypt I have tried to highlight a few of those “unknowns”. They were the ones that particularly touched me during many seasons of walking the deserts bordering the Nile.
Thanks for reading, and for sharing the stories on Facebook between Christmas and New Year 2012/2013! Let’s hope that the quarries, most of which are thousands of years old, will remain there in 2013 and for millennia to come, and not be destroyed by modern development and bulldozers. So that we can enjoy them – and those after us!
Here’s the link to all the ten stories: Ten quarries of Ancient Egypt. Or you can click on the photos in the gallery above to get to the quarries…
Happy New Year with firework in the ancient quarries! Photo: Per Storemyr
It’s New Year’s Eve. Happy New Year to you all! What could be better than to end this little series on Ancient Egyptian quarries with firework! It was Reginald Engelbach that first suggested the use of fire for stone quarrying in Ancient Egypt, when he excavated the Unfinished Obelisk at Aswan almost a hundred years ago. Over the last decade much more evidence has been found in Aswan and elsewhere – and Adel Kelany and his team of archaeologists has even made experiments trying to figure out how firesetting works. Take a look at the following pictures to see how it looks like when old Egyptian stone has been subjected to fire! Continue reading
This is a great Palaeolithic quarry by Wadi Beiza in the Eastern Desert of Egypt. It was the black, hard stone that was exploited. Photo: Per Storemyr
Practically the whole of Egypt is dotted with quarries and tool workshops dating to the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic (some 3-400.000 to 30.000 years ago), showing how our predecessors adapted to the geological resources along the Nile and in the adjacent deserts. I’m very far from an expert on these periods, but over the years I’ve often been truly fascinated by quarries from these times that just popped up while looking for much later archaeological remains. In 2006, while on a tourist trip in the Eastern Desert with Red Sea Desert Adventures, we started to look for Palaeolithic tools and quarries. They were really very common. An experience we share with other people that have traversed the Eastern Desert. Continue reading