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Memphite Workers

The Workers - The People

No one needs to look too far or too hard to find the work that the Stone Workers of Memphis put into their daily toil. The Tombs, the interior of the Pyramids, the causeways of the Pyramids and their Temples hold significant guides to the peak of the stone and artisan culture from Memphis.

They were supported in their efforts by the God Ptah, their Patron Deity: the Patron of Craftsmanship, Metalworking, Carpenters, Shipbuilders and Sculptures; and with the Cult of Ptah at Memphis in the Great Temple there. Ptah was nearly always represented with the Was Sceptre showing Ptah’s power and dominion in Egypt. The Sceptre included the sign of all life, the Ankh; and the sign for Stability within Egypt, the Djed Pillar.

The High Priests of Ptah, not just in the Great Temple at Memphis, but throughout Egypt were Chief Architects and Master Artisans themselves and were in charge of the decoration, and sometimes more, of the Royal’s Temples and Funerary Complexes.

The Workers needed to work on a Tomb were:

  • Stone Masons: who would cut the Tomb Rooms or carve out the necessary size for the statue or pylon
  • Plasterers: to cover the uneven wall with a layer of gypsum and a whitewash
  • Draftsmen: draw out the planned design in red, to be corrected if needed by the Head Draughtsman in Black
  • Sculptors and Carvers: would carve out the reliefs themselves
  • Painters: to add the colour

 

Most high-end Workers were financed by the Pharaoh and the state, and sometimes were paid to do work for the Nobles or on each other’s Tombs.

They worked in Teams with a Head of the Team who was usually the most experienced Worker down throughout the levels of experience to the Apprentices. As with many crafts today, the skills often ran through families, but these were not just for men but women as well.