Category Archives: Ancient Egypt

Was Nidaros Cathedral built from stone extracted in a large underground Medieval quarry?

Ancient underground building stone quarries are rather common. They are known since at least the Old Kingdom in Egypt, some 6 500 years ago, when fine limestone was quarried underground close to Cairo (Tura) in order to provide casing stones to the Giza pyramids. But underground quarries are, interestingly, quite rare in the European Middle Ages. Apparently, there was no need to start difficult, large-scale underground operations to build churches, monasteries and cathedrals until the Late Middle Ages, when, for example, the underground limestone quarries in Paris and Caen in France started to become developed toward the gigantic network of tunnels and galleries we know today. Thus, it is remarkable that a huge underground quarry may have been opened around AD 1200 in Trondheim, Norway, in order to provide soapstone for Nidaros Cathedral, the northernmost of Europe’s great medieval cathedrals. Why? Continue reading

Posted in Ancient Egypt, New publications, Norway, Old quarries | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Geoarchaeology of the famous ancient amethyst mines in Wadi el-Hudi, Egypt: Desert heritage at risk

This fall I joined the Wadi el-Hudi expedition to the famous Middle Kingdom amethyst gemstone mines in the Eastern Desert south-east of Aswan. The expedition is led by Dr. Kate Liszka of California State University San Bernardino (US), and over the last few seasons it has excavated and documented the ancient mining settlements in very high detail. My task was to take a closer look at the geoarchaeology – to try and understand relationships between geology and mining. It is hugely important to document what is left, for the ancient mining area is now at high risk from looting, modern gold mining and stone quarrying. Continue reading

Posted in Ancient Egypt, Archaeology, Heritage destruction, New projects, Old mines, Ruins | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Fra Aswan til Hyllestad. Hva er et steinbruddlandskap?

Menneskene har brutt stein til alle mulige formål siden tidenes morgen. Men hva er et steinbruddlandskap? Hva kan vi si om alle de millioner av steder der folk har tatt ut stein? Fra den tidligste steinalder til i dag? Det var temaet jeg fikk til et foredrag på det 14. Hyllestadseminaret i slutten av april 2016, i regi av Norsk Kvernsteinsenter. Dessuten skulle jeg snakke om hvordan steinbruddlandskap kan formidles. Jeg innså raskt at oppgaven var helt umulig. Continue reading

Posted in Ancient Egypt, Archaeology, New publications, Norway, Old quarries | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Gneiss for the Pharaoh: Geology of the Third Millennium BCE Chephren’s Quarries in Southern Egypt

Chephren’s Quarry. A name imbued with splendour. It was not the first quarry from which stone vessels and sculpture were provided in Ancient Egypt, but it was definitely the most spectaular one. Work started here, far south in the Western Desert of Egypt, already by the Predynastic period or earlier. By the Old Kingdom, 4500 years ago, it was a huge work site, comprising 700 quarry pits in the flat desert, covering an area of some 50 square kilometres. With Tom Heldal as the lead author, Ian Shaw, Elizabeth Bloxam and I have now written an account of how geology shaped Chephren’s Quarry. It is a story spanning millions of years, explaining the beauty of this hard, bluish stone – and how it could be exploited. Continue reading

Posted in Ancient Egypt, Archaeology, New publications, Old quarries | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Happy New Year! With a cavalcade of images from 2015

I wish to thank my clients, partners, colleagues and followers of my website for a fine year! The very best to you all for 2016! With a cavalcade of images, I would like to recapitulate a few 2015 events. First of all, I was finally able to finish my book on the history of stone quarries, which was published jointly by The Restoration Workshop of Nidaros Cathedral and the Geological Survey of Norway. But my work took me to many parts of Norway, from a Mesolithic quartz quarry near Arendal, deep down south, to the fascinating rock art at Alta, far in the north. Though I was not able to visit Egypt last year, I’m still publishing papers on the geoarchaeology of desert quarries down there, together with good colleagues. Read on! Continue reading

Posted in Ancient Egypt, Archaeology, Monument conservation, Norway, Old quarries, Rock art, Ruins | Tagged | Leave a comment

Beautiful Neolithic and Iron Age querns from Norway. On the history of grinding grain

The basement of the Archaeological Museum at Stavanger University holds the largest collection of grinding stones and querns found at archaeological excavations in of Norway. Dating from the Neolithic to the Middle Ages, they show the development from saddle querns to standardised rotary hand querns. The finest querns are on display in the museum, and together with the magazine objects they particularly show the early development of the rotary hand quern in Norway: From 1800 year-old, very diverse specimens to the standardised, transportable rotary quern that we know so well from the Viking Age and later, and which became an important commercial trade good. Continue reading

Posted in Ancient Egypt, Archaeology, Norway | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Nidarosdomens grunnfjell. Les utdrag og omtaler av boken!

Min nye bok “Nidarosdomens grunnfjell” er en kulturhistorisk reise i stein, sett fra perspektivet til de som jobbet i steinbruddene – steinbryterne. Vi følger dem fra Det gamle Egypt, gjennom Romerriket og nordover i Europa, helt opp til Trondheim og Nidarosdomen i middelalderen og videre frem til den nye tid. Et meget stort antall steinbrudd i hele Norge ble benyttet til restaurering og gjenreisning av Nidarosdomen – Europas nordligste katedral – fra slutten av 1800-tallet. Mange av bruddene var i drift allerede i middelalderen, noen endog mye tidligere. Fra den nye tid har vi gode kilder. Og de kan hjelpe oss til å forstå hvordan arbeidet gikk for seg i bruddene i middelalderen og enda lengre tilbake i tid.

Få kjøper en bok uten først å ha en anelse om hva den dreier seg om. Derfor finner du i denne artikkelen nok opplysninger til at du bare må få tak i “Nidarosdomens grunnfjell”! Continue reading

Posted in Ancient Egypt, Archaeology, New projects, New publications, Norway, Old quarries | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Nidarosdomen: Den viktigste marmorkatedralen nord for Alpene

Visste dere at Nidarosdomen er den viktigste marmorkatedralen nord for alpene? Ikke det? Neivel. Dere tenker vel at domen er en klebersteinskatedral. Og det er jo ikke helt galt, det heller. Men det er bare en del av sannheten. Så … Continue reading

Posted in Ancient Egypt, Archaeology, Marble, New projects, New publications, Norway, Old quarries | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Ny bok: “Nidarosdomens grunnfjell”. En kulturhistorisk reise i steinbryternes fotspor

Da er det visst offisielt. Og da er en god del års arbeid over. Boken min er i trykken og det blir lansering med foredrag under selveste Olavsfestdagene i Trondheim 30. juli 2015, kl. 12:30.

Boken er en 400 sider lang kulturhistorisk reise i stein – fra Det gamle Egypt og enda lengre tilbake, via romertid og middelalder, helt frem til vår egen tid. Alltid med Nidarosdomen i fokus. Nokså tåket fokus i de riktig gamle dager, naturlig nok, da grunnfjellet til domen ble lagt i et utall steinbrudd under helt andre himmelstrøk enn våre egne. Men så forsvinner tåken mer og mer fra jernalderen og tidlig middelalder – fra da av dreier det seg om det regionale grunnfjellet: steinbruddene som ble brukt til å bygge og restaurere Europas nordligste katedral. Og om steinbryterne som jobbet i bruddene. Hvor er alle disse steinbruddene – og hvem jobbet egentlig i dem?

Jeg kommer tilbake med en utførlig omtale av boken, som blir utgitt av Nidaros Domkirkes Restaureringsarbeiders forlag i samarbeid med Norges geologiske undersøkelse. Boken er støtter av Norsk faglitterær forfatter- og oversetterforening. Continue reading

Posted in Ancient Egypt, Archaeology, New publications, Norway, Old quarries | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Palaeolithic rock art at risk: New discoveries in Wadi Abu Subeira, Upper Egypt

The number of discovered Late Palaeolithic rock art sites in Wadi Abu Subeira (Upper Egypt) is ever increasing, now with finds also outside of the wadi, at el-Aqba el-Saghira. Archaeologist Adel Kelany of the Ministry of Antiquites (MAS) in Aswan has just published an overview paper, now listing ten sites, all with numerous panels. The largest site has a much as a hundred ones. As previously noted on this blog, this world-class rock art is under heavy pressure from modern mining, though efforts to protect the sites have shown some effect recently. Continue reading

Posted in Ancient Egypt, Archaeology, Heritage destruction, Rock art | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments