Predynastic and Early Dynastic Periods


Up to and during the Predynastic Period resistant materials were worked with knives and saws made from flint (figure 19) and simple copper tools were manufactured during the Badarian Period, 4500 to 4000 BC, to carve wood, ivory and stone. By the Naqada I Period (4000 to 3500 BC) basalt and other stone vases were being bored with copper drills and in Naqada II metal, stone and wood working proliferated. Therefore, by the beginning of the Early Dynastic Period and the unification of the lands of Upper and Lower Egypt into a single kingdom the technology was available to work wood and other materials with a high degree

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March-Killcn.) s , made from early copper saws can often be seen on planks of timber that were converted during the Early Dynastic Period. These run across the face of the timber in all directions, which indicates that the saw blades were short. The earliest examples of copper saws were discovered by Petrie at Abydos in 1899-1902 and 1921-2 and by Professor Walter B. Emery at Saqqara between the 1930s and 1950s. The series of mastabas Emery excavated included a burial chamber surrounded by a number of storerooms, which had contained many different funerary goods such as jewellery and household furniture.

Unfortunately the tombs had been robbed during antiquity and we have no idea of the material which was removed. What is more, the robbers started fires in each room, either maliciously or for the purpose of destroying evidence of their entry. The wooden roof appears to have extinguished the fire when it collapsed into the tomb. Much of the remaining wooden material was either smashed into fragments or reduced to charcoal.

One of the major discoveries Emery made was an enormous cache of saws and other woodworking tools in Tomb 3471. He dated them to the reign of Djer, who ruled during the First Dynasty. These saws were of no value to the tomb robbers nor did they melt in the fire. The Early Dynastic saws from Abydos and Saqqara were between 250 mm and 400 mm in length. The shape and profile are similar to many knives, having slightly curved edges with a round blunt nose (figure 20). The edges were beaten to increase the metal's hardness, at the same time reducing the thickness of the edge. This leaves a slight rib along the centre of the blade which extends into the tang that would have been fixed in a wooden handle. The teeth, which start some way from the shoulder of the blade and finish well before the rounded nose, are cut along one edge. They are very irregular in shape and pitch, the gullets being nibbled out, leaving the tip of many teeth flat. Since each tooth

  1. Copper saw from the tomb of a courticr of Djer at Abydos, First Dynasty. (Courtesy of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, University College London. UC. 16178.)
  2. Copper saw from the tomb of a courticr of Djer at Abydos, First Dynasty. (Courtesy of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, University College London. UC. 16178.)
  3. Ancient and modem saw sets.
  4. Ancient and modem saw sets.
Modern saw blade

set stroke direction stroke direction

Ancient saw blade

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