Honigman's area of expertise is timely, with nonstop news coming out of the Middle East region. His book is an easy read with short chapters designed for folks wanting to make more sense out of all that is happening right now and provide a broader perspective too often missing in other sources. For information, call the mall, Honigman also will sign copies of his book from a.
For information, call Bill Ryan, a Flagler County author, will sign his books and speak of new discoveries made at the historic Bulow park. There are often only the huts that sheltered the miners and some millstones and anvils, traces of the work carried out on the spot. The ceramic material does not help either, since it is generally extremely poor, like at the villages of the New Kingdom of Samut el Beda and at the beginning of the Islamic period at Samut North.
Work seems to be organized there, directed in a more focused way than in other periods, even if we know that expedition, directly controlled by the Pharaoh were launched during Pharaonic times. Agatharchides was probably present in Egypt around BC. His work is known only from passages in Diodorus 11 and especially in the Library of Photius, written in the ninth century in Constantinople. It is not known whether Agatharchides saw the mines himself his accounts of Ethiopia are hearsay since he has apparently not travelled beyond Upper Egypt , but the description he makes of their operation is quite precise and extremely informative.
On the other hand, it is interesting to illustrate his remarks through the most recent archaeological discoveries and, thus, to summarize the different steps that ancient miners followed, from the raw ore, to gold ingots. And the entire operations are in charge of a skilled worker who distinguishes the stone and points it out to the labourers; and of those who are assigned to this unfortunate task the physically strongest break the quartz-rock with iron hammers, applying no skill to the task, but only force, and cutting tunnels through the stone, not in a straight line but wherever the seam of gleaming rock may lead.
Now these men, working in darkness as they do because of the bending and winding of the passages, carry lamps bound on their foreheads; and since much of the time they change the position of their bodies to follow the particular character of the stone they throw the blocks, as they cut them out, on the ground; and at this task they labour without ceasing beneath the sternness and blows of an overseer.
The mention of fire-setting, as seen in the text of Agatharchides, is doubtful. No trace of the use of fire a technique well known in mining in the West 15 is attested in the Eastern Desert and observations conducted in Samut corroborate this. The use of wood, rare and precious in these regions, and the fact that the surrounding rock around the vein is friable, leads one to wonder about the merits of this description. The quartz veins were visible on the surface. They were first dug in the form of trenches in open air, then in galleries. The various explorations carried out in the Eastern Desert have shown that these galleries do not exceed 15 or 20 metres in depth.
These observations are confirmed by the study of the exploitation at Samut North where the deepest traces are due to a resumption of activity in the modern era.
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There are, indeed, wells on the site of deep mines of some sixty metres. Their openings date from the early twentieth century at a time when the Eastern Desert experienced renewed interest and when British mining companies explored the ancient sites. Satellite view of the Samut North site; the exploited vein is clearly visible NNO orientation, small transverse trenches are modern.
Phantom of the quartz vein. Black glazed ware lamps were uncovered, which have a deep reservoir, which allowed the miner to have a significant degree of independence underground, and regularly have engraved letters on them, signalling ownership of the object. At the beginning of the gallery, it was possible to observe a niche dug in the rock that served as a support for the lamp when the worker was at work. Close to the main vein, between two large buildings on the site, excavations identified the remains of a forge.
Excavations showed important traces of activity: a thick layer of white ash beneath which stood an oven, a quenching pit and an anvil where the blacksmith could work. At the entrance of this stone hut, a large rock preserved traces of wear and tear of tool sharpening.
Sledgehammer, pickaxe and anvil found in Bi'r Samut. Men over thirty years old 17 are responsible for the operation:. They are most often seen as areas where the rocks have been removed and where there are small piles of stones. In these areas workers ground the ore. In several places, these areas are associated with lithic material: anvil tables, mortars and pestles. It is probable that iron tools were largely supplemented by lithic tools.
They were commonly used as they were cheaper and more accessible. The finer the flour, the more effective the next step. This step was carefully carried out as we were able to observe it by studying the granulometry of flour found on the site. Indeed, waste from washings found in the Umayyad camp in Samut North are made up of an extremely fine flour, mainly composed of grains of 50 to microns.
The reciprocating action of the grinding stone on the dormant stone made it possible to grind the quartz grains and obtain very fine flour, despite the simplicity of the operation.
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The discoveries of such stones are the first sign of mining. Following the study of the site of Samut North, ten millstones were discovered. The excavations at Bir Samut have uncovered almost of them, almost all within the walls of the fort, which demonstrates the industrial nature of these sites. Dormant grindstone.
These buildings have often been interpreted as washeries , 18 as the first surveys of the site of Samut had initially suggested. Sidebotham for being the first to have correctly interpreted this structure, as part of their surveys around the site of Compasi-Tel Daghbag. It clearly shows the place made for the central hub as well as the track of the wheel that passed over the stones inside the rotunda. The data provided by the excavations of the Samut buildings demonstrate that the operating life of the site was extremely short, not more than a few seasons.
The wear of the mills does not contradict this since the traces left by the millstone in the west rotunda are tenuous while it seems that the structure was barely used. The stone mills of Samut North. And repeating this a number of times, they first of all rub it gently with their hands, and then lightly pressing it with sponges of loose texture they remove in this way whatever is porous and earthy, until there remains only the pure gold-dust.
In any event, no sluicing table of the type Agatharchides mentions has been discovered in the Eastern Desert for that period. On the other hand, these structures are known for the Islamic period; from Sudan and Egypt, some of these sluicing tables have survived. Details such as wooden planks or other materials which might have covered them are unknown.
Still, a number of more recent sites have tailings, which are residues from the washings that are found in the form of piles. Excavation of the site did not answer this question.
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