Ancient Egyptian quarries

Virginia Berg Virginia.Berg at
Tue Feb 20 17:45:48 EST 2001

I read somewhere that  the ancient Egyptians pounded dried wood into
cracks or holes in the rock, then poured on water and waited for the
hydration of the wood to split the rock.  Where I read this, I cannot
tell you.  It would work, though, and would be more reliable than
germinating seeds.  This is in the collection of water relations stories
written up for students so I won't spend so much time on them in class.
So is the following:

Dr. Bastiaan Meeuse once put dried peas inside a cat's skull, then
submerged the lot, and tried to videotape it to show "the power of
imbibition."  Indeed the swelling seeds split the skull, but it was over
in an instant, not caught in the time lapse taping, and he had to glue
to skull back together to try it again. This was at the University of
Washington when I was a graduate student. He had a sense of the macabre,
so this scheme wasn't so surprising. The part that got people talking
was the roadkill cats in the freezer, source of the skulls to use for
the demonstration, and the process of getting the skulls in shape for
the job.

--Gini Berg


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