Quarries in Ancient Egypt
The two main stones of the lower Nile valley are sandstone,
from Sudan as far north as the Edfu/Gebelein region, and limestone, the classic
Egyptian valley stone from the Theban area to Cairo.
Limestone is the typical building stone in the Old, Middle and early New Kingdom (about 1550-1069 BC).
Sandstone became a more common construction material from the Eighteenth Dynasty on, with some southern upper Egyptian examples already in the Middle Kingdom (about 2025-1700 BC).
Limestone and sandstone could be quarried in open quarries. Stone of good quality was often found only inside a mountain, and therefore huge galleries were cut. The opening of a new quarry was an important event, which was celebrated, sometimes with an eternal record in hieroglyphic inscription. The first step was to remove bad stone, dust sand and rubble.
hard stone quarries
Only granite at Aswan was quarried on the same scale as limestone and sandstone throughout Egyptian history.
(covered galleries near Qau el-Kebir; Petrie 1930: pl. XIX.2,3)
The surface of the stone was then painted with red ochre to mark the stones, to be cut.
For quarries in general see our link page for a link to the web site Ancient Egyptian Quarries
for ARCHAEOLOGICAL GEOLOGY IN ANCIENT EGYPT at the University of Toledo
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