Select Page


Quarries - Builders - Builders & Buildings

Where: Between Cairo and Helwan

Known for:
Finest and Whitest Limestone

Facing stones for the tombs;
the floors and ceilings of mastabas;
Bent Pyramid of Snefru;
the Great Pyramid of Khufu;
the sarcophagi of many old kingdom nobles;
the pyramids of the Middle Kingdom and some Temples of the New Kingdom such as the Temple of Ptah at Memphis and the Southern Harem of Amun at Thebes.

The limestone was deep underground so had to be tunnelled out, while leaving some limestone behind to support the caverns.

The caves were adapted by British forces during World War II to store ammunition, aircraft bombs, and other explosives.

How did an Ancient Egyptian Quarry work?

Step 1: remove bad stone, dust, sand and rubble

Step 2: the Quarry Master chooses the place in the bed where the rock is intact. surface was painted with red ochre to mark the stones for cutting

Step 3: stone is cleaved from the rock face by driving in wedges. One theory is that a series of holes is then drilled along the line to be split

If Granite is the Stone being quarried, then the tools used would be made of Bronze, Copper and Corundum, which in hardness is second only to diamond, as copper tools are known not to be strong enough to work the stone alone. If it was Limestone or Sandstone, then Copper or Stone Tools were strong enough alone.

 Step 4: each wedge is pounded once, moving down the line in consecutive order. When the wedges are all driven in deep enough, the stone is forced apart, breaks and starts to split along the line of holes. This break would be very even

Step 5: cutting the stones with the relevant tools to the dimension and shape ordered. They are then called undressed stones

Step 6: stones are moved with levers and then it is tied to a sledge and pulled on tracks to the River Nile

Step 7: the stone remains tied the whole time to the same sledge during the whole journey from the quarry until it reaches its intended place on site of the Temple, Palace or Pyramid

Step 8: if needed the shape of the stone is then changed by a stonemason in his workshop in front of the site

Step 9: each stone is examined by the Master Builder and most pass without any changes necessary

Step 10: route of each stone is scheduled and its shape and size and its intended place on the site is already decided before it is even cut. The Stone is marked for its intended place according to a site plan. If at all possible, the Stone is transported to the construction site in a specific sequence to avoid the Stone being unnecessarily stored until use

Any stone that had fine cracks or break lines was unsuitable for building. To build the pyramids they only used building stones which were in a perfect condition


Enjoying this Website? Please spread the word :)