Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V09, Page 75 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: it!
VASE GRINDING 108 WORK 111 109 Ancient Egyptian Tools. lie in the plane thus defined by two traces at the ends (P.M. VIII.). Metal-Work.—Copper was wrought into pins, a couple of inches long, with loop heads, as early as the oldest prehistoric graves, before the use of weaving, and while pottery was scarcely developed. The use of harpoons and small chisels of copper next arose, then broad flaying knives, needles and adzes, lastly the axe when the metal was commoner. On these prehistoric tools, when in fine condition, the original highly-polished surface remains. It shows no trace of grinding lines or attrition, nor yet of the blows of a hammer. Probably it was thus highly finished by beating between polished stone hammers which were almost flat on the face. Most likely the forms of the tools were cast to begin with, and then finished and polished by fine hammering. A series of moulds for casting in the XIIth Dynasty show that the forms were carved out in thick pieces of pottery, and then lined with fine ashy clay. The mould was single, so that one side of the tool was the open face of metal. As early as the pyramid times solid casting by cire perdue was already used for figures: but the copper statues of Pepi and his son seem, by their thinness and the piecing together of the parts, to have been entirely hammered out. The portraiture in such hammer work is amazingly life-like. By the time of the XIIth Dynasty, and perhaps earlier, cire perdue casting over an ash core became usual. This was carried out most skilfully, the metal being often not nth in. thick, and the core truly centred in the mould. Casting bronze over iron rods was also done, to gain more stiffness for thin parts. In gold work the earliest jewelry, that of King Zer of the Ist Dynasty, shows a perfect mastery of working hollow balls with minute threading holes, and of soldering with no trace of excess nor difference of colour. Thin wire was hammered out, but there is no ancient instance of drawn wire. Castings were not trimmed by filing or grinding, but by small chisels and hammering (P.R.T. ii. 17). In the XIIth Dynasty the soldering of the thin cells for the cloisonnee inlaid pectorals, on to the base plate, is a marvellous piece of delicacy; every cell has to be perfectly true in form, and yet all soldered, apparently simultaneously, as the heat could not be applied to successive portions (M.D. i.). Such work was kept up in the XVIIIth and XXVIth Dynasties. There is nothing distinctive in later jewelry different from Greek and Roman work elsewhere. Glaze and Glass.—From almost the beginning of the prehistoric age there are glazed pottery beads found in the graves: and glazing on amulets of quartz or other stones begins in the middle of the prehistoric. Apparently then glazing went together with the working of the copper ores, and probably accidental slags in the smelting gave the first idea of using glaze intentionally. The development of glazing at the beginning of the dynasties was sudden and effective. Large tiles, a foot in length, were glazed completely all over, and used to line the walls of rooms; they were retained in place by deep dovetails and ties of copper wire. Figures of glazed ware became abundant; a kind of visiting card was made with the figure of a man and his titles to present in temples which he visited; and glazed ornaments and toggles for fastening dresses were common (P. Ab. ii.). Further, besides thus using glaze on a large scale, differently coloured glazes were used, and even fused together. A piece of a large tile, and part of a glazed vase, have the royal titles and name of Menes, originally in violet inlay in green glaze. There was no further advance in the art until the great variety of colours came into use about 4000 years later. In the XIIth Dynasty a very thin smooth glaze was used, which became rather thicker in the XVIIIth. The most brilliant age of glazes was under Amenophis III. and his son Akhenaton. Various colours were used; beside the old green and blue, there were purple, violet, red, yellow and white. And a profusion of forms is shown by the moulds and actual examples, for necklaces, decorations, inlay in stone and applied reliefs on vases. Under Seti II. cartouches of the king in violet and white glaze are common; and under Rameses III. there were vases with relief figures, with painted figures, and tiles with coloured reliefs of captives of many races. The latter development ofglazing was in thin delicate apple-green ware with low relief designs, which seem to have originated under Greek influence at Naucratis. The Roman glaze is thick and coarse, but usually of a brilliant Prussian blue, with dark purple and apple-green; and high reliefs of wreaths, and sometimes figures, are common. Though glaze begins so early, the use of the glassy matter by itself does not occur till the XVIIIth Dynasty; the earlier reputed examples are of stone or frit. The first glass is black and white under Tethmosis (Tahutmes) III. It was not fused at a high point, but kept in a pasty state when working. The main use of it was for small vases; these were formed upon a core of sandy paste, which was modelled on a copper rod, the rod being the core for the neck. Round this core threads of glass were wound of various colours; the whole could be reset in the furnace to soften it for moulding the foot or neck, or attaching handles, or dragging the surface into various patterns. The colours under later kings were as varied as those of the glazes. Glass was also wheel-cut in patterns and shapes under Akhenaton. In later times the main work was in mosaics of extreme delicacy. Glass rods were piled together to form a pattern in cross-section. The whole was then heated until it perfectly adhered, and the mass was drawn out lengthways so as to render the design far more minute, and to increase the total length for cutting up. The rod was then sliced across, and the pieces used for inlaying. Another use of coloured glass was for cutting in the shapes of hieroglyphs for inlaying in wooden coffins to form inscriptions. Glass amulets were also commonly placed upon Ptolemaic mummies. Blown glass vessels are not known until late Greek and Roman times, when they were of much the same manufacture as glass elsewhere. The supposed figures of glass-blowers in early scenes are really those of smiths, blowing their fires by means of reeds tipped with clay. The variegated glass beads belonging to Italy were greatly used in Egypt in Roman times, and are like those found elsewhere. A distinctively late Egyptian use of glass was for weights and vase-stamps, to receive an impress stating the amount of the weight or measure. The vase-stamps often state the name of the contents (always seeds or fruits), probably not to show what was in them, but to show for what kind of seed the vessel was a true measure. These measure stamps bear names dating them from A.D. 68o to about 950. The large weights of ounces and pounds are disks or cuboid blocks; they are dated from 720 to 785 for the lesser, and to A.D. 915 for larger, weights. The greater number are, however, small weights for testing gold and silver coins of later caliphs from A.D. 952 to 1171. The system was not, however, Arab, as there are a few Roman vase-stamps and weights. Of other medieval glass may be noted the splendid glass vases for lamps, with Arab inscriptions fused in colours on the outsides. No enamelling was ever done by Egyptians, and the few rare examples are all of Roman age due to foreign work. The manufacture of glass is shown by examples in the XVIIIth Dynasty. The blue or green colour was made by fritting together silica, lime, alkaline carbonate and copper carbonate; the latter varied from 3% in delicate blues to 20% in deep purple.blues. The silica was needed quite pure from iron, in order to get the rich blues, and was obtained from calcined quartz pebbles; ordinary sand will only make a green frit. These materials were heated in pans in the furnace so as to combine in a pasty, half-fused condition. The coloured frit thus formed was used as paint in a wet state, and also used to dissolve in glass or to fuse over a surface in glazing. The brown tints often seen in glazed objects are almost always the result of the decomposition of green glazes containing iron. The blue glazes, on the other hand, fade into white. The essential colouring materials are, for blue, copper; green, copper and iron; purple, cobalt; red, haematite; white, tin. An entirely clear colourless glass was made in the XVIIIth Dynasty, but coloured glass was mainly used. After fusing a panful of coloured glass, it was sampled by taking pinches out with tongs; when perfectly combined it was left to cool in the pan, as with modern optical glass. When cold the pan was chipped away, and the cake of glass broken up into convenient pieces, free of sediment and of scum. A broken lump would then be heated to softness in the furnace; rolled out under a bar of metal, held diagonally across the roll; and when reduced to a rod of a quarter of an inch thick, it was heated and pulled out into even rods about an eighth of an inch thick. These were used to wind round glass vases, to form lips, handles, &c.; and to twist together for spiral patterns. Glass tube was similarly drawn out. Beads were made by winding thin threads of glass on copper wires, and the greater contraction of the copper freed the bead when cold. The coiling of beads can always be detected by i) the little tails left at the ends, (2) the streaks, (3) the bubbles, seen with a magnifier. Roman glass beads are always drawn out, and nicked off hot, with striation lengthways; except the large opaque variegated beads which are coiled. Modern Venetian beads are similarly coiled. In the XXIIIrd Dynasty beads of a rich transparent Prussian blue glass were made, until the XXVIth. About the same time the eyed beads, with white and brown eyes in a blue mass, also came in (P.A. 25-27, Plate XIII.). Pottery (see fig. 1i2).—The earliest style of pottery is entirely hand made, without any rotary motion; the form being built up with a flat stick inside and the hand outside, and finally scraped and burnished in a vertical direction. The necks of vases were the first part finished with rotation, at the middle and close of the prehistoric age. Fully turned forms occur in the Ist Dynasty; but as late as the XIIth Dynasty the lower part of small vases is usually trimmed with a knife. In the earlier part of the prehistoric age there was a soft brown ware with haematite facing, highly burnished. This was burnt mouth-down in the oven, and the ashes on the ground reduced the red haematite to black magnetic oxide of iron; some traces of carbonyl in the ash helped to rearrange the magnetite as a brilliant mirror-like surface of intense black. The lower range of jars in the oven had then black tops, while the upper ranges were entirely red. A favourite decoration was by lines of white clay slip, in crossing patterns, figures of animals, and, rarely, men. This is exactly of the modern Kabyle style in Algeria, and entirely disappeared from Egypt very early in the prehistoric age. Being entirely hand made, various oval, doubled and even square forms were readily shaped. The later prehistoric age is marked by entirely different pottery, of a hard pink-brown ware, often with white specks in it, without any applied facing beyond an occasional pink wash, and no polishing. It is decorated with designs in red line, imitating cordage and marbling, and drawings of plants, ostriches and ships. The older red polished ware still survived in a coarse and degraded character, and both kinds together were carried on into the next age (P.D.P.). The early dynastic pottery not only shows the decadent end of the earlier forms, but also new styles, such as grand jars of 2 or 3 ft. high which were slung in cordage, and which have imitation lines of cordage marked on them. Large ring-stands also were brought in, to support jars, so that the damp surfaces should not touch the dusty ground. The pyramid times show the great jars reduced to short rough pots, while a variety of forms of bowls are the most usual types (P.R.T.;. P.D.; P. Desh.) In the XIIth Dynasty a hard thin drab ware was common, like the modern qulleh water flasks. Drop-shaped jars with spherical bases are typical, and scrabbled patterns of incised lines. Large jars of light brown pottery were made for storing liquids and grain, with narrow necks which just admit the hand (P.K.). The XVIIIth Dynasty used a rather softer ware, decorated at first with a red edge or band around the top, and under Tethmosis (Tahutmes) III. black and red lines were usual. Under Amenophis III. blue frit paint was freely used, in lines and bands around vases; it spread to large surfaces under Amenophis IV., and continued in a poor style into the Ramesside age. In the latter part of the XVIIIth and the XIXth Dynasties a thick hard light pottery, with white specks and a polished drab-white facing, was generally used for all fine purposes. The XIXth and XXth Dynasties only show a degradation of thetypes of the XVIIIth; and even through to the XXVth Dynasty there is no new movement (P.K.; P.I; P.A.; P.S.T.). The XXVIth Dynasty was largely influenced by Greek amphorae imported with wine and oil. The native pottery is of a very fine paste, smooth and thin, but poor in forms. Cylindrical cups, and jars with cylindrical necks and no brim, are typical. The small necks and trivial handles begin now, and are very common in Ptolemaic times (P.T. ii.). The great period of Roman pottery is marked by the ribbing on the outsides. The amphorae began to be ribbed about A.D. 150, and then ribbing extended to all the forms. The ware is generally rather rough, thick and brown for the amphorae, thin and red for smaller vessels. At the Constantine age a new style begins, of hard pink ware, neatly made, and often with " start-patterns " made by a vibrating tool while the vessel rotated: this was mainly used for bowls and cups (P.E.). Of the later pottery of Arab times we have no precise knowledge. The abbreviations used above refer to the following sources of information: M.D. Morgan, Dahshur; P.A. Petrie, Tell el Amarna; P. Ab. „ Abydos; P.D. Dendereh; P. Desh. „ Deshasheh; P.D.P. Diospolis Parva; P.E. Ehnasya; P.I. „ Mahan; P.K. „ Kahun ; P.M. „ Medum; P.N. „ Naqada; P.R.T. „ Royal Tombs; P.S. „ Season in Egypt; P.S.T. „ Six Temples; P.T. „ Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh; P.T. ii. , Tanis, ii. ; Q.H. Quibell, Hieraconpolis. (W. M. F. P.) Monuments.—The principal monuments that are yet remaining to illustrate the art and history of Egypt may be best taken in historical order. Of the prehistoric age there are many rock carvings, associated with others of later periods: they principally remain on the sandstone rocks about Silsila, and their age is shown by the figures of ostriches which were extinct in later times. One painted tomb was found at Nekhen (Hieraconpolis), now in the Cairo Museum; the brick walls were colour-washed and covered with irregular groups of men, animals and ships, painted with red, black and green. The cemeteries otherwise only contain graves, cut in gravel or brick lined, and formerly roofed with poles and brushwood. The Ist to IIIrd Dynasties have left at Abydos large forts of brickwork, remains of two successive temples, and the royal tombs (see ABYDOS). Else-where are but few other monuments; at Wadi Maghara in Sinai is a rock sculpture of Semerkhet of the Ist Dynasty in perfect state, at Giza is a group of tombs of a prince and retinue of the Ist Dynasty, and at Giza and Bet Khallaf are two large brick mastabas with extensive passages closed by trap-doors, of kings of the IIIrd Dynasty. The main structure of this age is the step-pyramid of Sakkara, which is a mastaba tomb with eleven successive coats of masonry, enlarging it to about 350 by 390 ft. and 200 ft. high. In the interior is sunk in the rock a chamber 24 X23 ft. and 77 ft. high, with a granite sepulchre built in the floor of it, and various passages and chambers branching from it. The doorway of one room (now in Berlin Museum) was decorated with polychrome glazed tiles with the name of King Neterkhet. The complex original work and various alterations of it need thorough study, but it is now closed and research is forbidden. The IVth to Vlth Dynasties are best known by the series of pyramids (see PYRAMID) in the region of Memphis. Beyond these tombs, and the temples attached to them, there are very few fixed monuments; of Cheops and Pepi I. there are temple foundations at Abydos (q.v.), and a few blocks on other sites; of Neuserre (Raenuser) there is a sun temple at Abusir; and of several kings there were tablets in Sinai, now inthe Cairo Museum. A few tablets of the IXth Dynasty have been found at Sakkara, and a tomb of a prince at Assiut. Of the Xlth Dynasty is the
End of Article: VASE
VASE (through Fr. from Lat. vas, a vessel, pl. vasa...

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.