Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Review: The Stones of the Pyramids

Bryn Mawr Classical Review (Reviewed by William H. Peck)

Thanks to Kate Phizackerley for this link.

Dietrich D. Klemm, Rosemarie Klemm, The Stones of the Pyramids: Provenance of the Building Stones of the Old Kingdom Pyramids of Egypt. Berlin/New York: De Gruyter, 2010.

Dietrich and and Rosemarie Klemm have published extensively in the past on the geology of Egypt, the stones used in ancient Egyptian construction and the quarries from which building stone was obtained in antiquity. Their work, employing petrographical and geochemical methods, has become something of a model for the analysis of ancient construction material and its sources in Egypt. This text is concerned with the provenience of the stone used in the pyramids of the Old Kingdom, differentiating between the material of core and casing, as well as the stone of attendant structures (Valley Temple, Causeway, and Pyramid Temple, where they exist.) Proximity of quarries to the monuments is taken into consideration as a natural element in the study of the logistics of supply.

Each pyramid is discussed chronologically beginning with the Step Pyramid of Djoser and ending with the Pyramid of Pepi II, but also including the Mastabat el-Faraoun and the Sun Temples of Userkaf and Niuserre. The geological setting of each structure and any physical factors that may have influenced its building and condition are given as preliminary information. Number and source position of stone samples are given and the results of the petrographical and geochemical analysis for structures and quarries are presented in textual and graphic form. Each structure is given its exact geographical coordinates, height, base and slope. Original height and preserved height are sometimes indicated. The size of the base is stated in meters. “Slope” indicated the inclination of side. In general the text is simply and direct and there are only occasional infacilities in the English translation from the German. Numerous photographs both aerial and ground of structures and quarries, plus construction details where appropriate, are included.

The samples for study and analysis taken were made with the permission, agreement and supervision of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities.

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