Metal and Industry in Ancient Egypt Excerpt from

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Metal and Industry in Ancient Egypt

Excerpt from

Historical Deception: The Untold Story of Ancient Egypt – 2nd Ed.

by Moustafa Gadalla


  • At an early period, the Egyptians learned how to work metals, and by the beginning of the Dynastic Age they had developed the techniques of mining and refining; and went outside Egypt to acquire additional sources of supply.

  • The tombs revealed many copper objects and tools, and an immense quantity of wonderfully crafted stone vessels, some of which were made from the hardest stone known. The walls show the process of working, melting, forging, soldering and chasing of metal.

  • The skill of the Egyptians in compounding metals is abundantly proven by the vases, mirrors, and implements of bronze, discovered at Ta-Apet(Thebes), and other parts of Egypt. They adopted numerous methods for varying the composition of bronze, by a judicious mixture of alloys. They also had the secret of giving to bronze, or brass blades, a certain degree of elasticity; as evident in the dagger now housed in the Berlin Museum.

The science and technology to manufacture metallic products and goods were known and perfected in ancient Egypt. The industrial revolution was nothing more than mass production of previously invented and produced goods.

  • One of the interesting findings of ancient Egypt includes several vessels with bulbous bodies and long slender necks. The bodies have been hollowed out, leaving a uniform, very thin shell.

  • Gold, silver, copper, lead, iron, sulfur, emerald and other quartz mines have been discovered, in the desert near the Red Sea.

Glass & Glazing

  • Some people have argued that glazing and many of the other crafts attributed to Egypt were not invented there, but naturally in Europe; and that they were brought over to Egypt over the course of the Hittite invasions!

For example, the burial chamber at the Step Pyramid of Saqqara is lined with beautiful blue tiles. Some decided that glazing of this type was unknown in Egypt, when the Step Pyramid was built during the 3rd Dynasty. In order to explain the presence of the tiles at the Step Pyramid, it was suggested, without any supporting evidence, that the tiles were set much later, during the Saite Dynasties (800-600 BCE) when renovations were carried out.

It does not make sense that the invading Saites randomly chose this one location, in the whole of Egypt, to set the beautiful blue tiles.
Furthermore, the authors of the European origin theory chose to ignore or did not know about the contrary evidence to such an unfounded theory. The contrary evidence is located in the Southern Tomb (only 700ft (300m) from the Step Pyramid) which was discovered at Saqqara by Lauer and Firth in 1924-26. It consists of several chambers lined with blue tiles exactly like the burial chambers of the Step Pyramid. It was apparently intended to hold the canopic jars, containing the viscera.
The Southern Tomb was found unmolested, by Lauer and Firth, and there is no evidence of later restorations or Saite intrusion!

  • Glass bottles are shown on monuments of the 4th Dynasty, more than 4,000 years ago. The transparent substance shows the red wine they contained. Egyptian glass bottles, of various colors, were exported into other countries such as Greece, Etruria, and Rome.

  • More than 3,000 years ago, the Egyptians manufactured common glass items, such as beads and bottles of ordinary quality. They also developed the art of staining glass with diverse colors, as evident from the fragments found in the tombs of Ta-Apet(Thebes). Their skill in this complicated process, enabled them to imitate the rich brilliancy of precious stones. Some mock pearls have been so well counterfeited, that even now it is difficult with a strong lens to differentiate them from real pearls.

Pliny confirmed that they succeeded so completely in the imitation so as to render it difficult to distinguish false from real stones.”

  • Glass-blowing is shown at the tombs of Ti (2465-2323 BCE) at Saqqara, Beni Hassan (more than 4000 years ago) and other later tombs.

  • Since glaze contains the same ingredients fused in the same manner as glass; glass making may therefore be attributed to the Egyptians even at a much earlier date. The hard glossy glaze is of the same quality as glass. The technique that was applied to the making of glass vessels was a natural development in the technique of glazing.

  • Glazed articles appeared as early as the Pre-Dynastic Period. Glazed objects from this early time are mostly beads, with solid quartz or steatite being used as a core. Glazed solid quartz was in use until the end of the Middle Kingdom, mostly for beads, small amulets, and pendants and a few larger articles. Steatite was used for carving small objects like amulets and small figures of neteru, and it proved an ideal base for glazing. It does not disintegrate under heat. Glazed steatite objects are found throughout the Dynastic Period and it is by far the most common material for scarabs.

The same technique was used to mass-produce funerary equipment (amulets, shabti-figures) and house decoration (tiles, inlays of floral patterns).

  • The precise method of glazing is uncertain, but the probability is that the glaze was applied, as a viscous fluid coating the object. Glaze and body material were then fused together by heating, giving the manufactured object its strength and coherence.

  • The most common color of the glaze was blue, green, or greenish-blue. The color is the result of adding a copper compound.

  • The ancient glass was formed by strongly heating quartz sand and natron with a small mixture of coloring agents such as a copper compound, or malachite to produce both green and blue glass. Cobalt, which would have been imported, was also used. After the ingredients were fused into a molten mass, the heating ceased when the mass reached the desired properties. As the mass cooled, it was poured into molds, rolled out into thin rods or canes, or other desired forms.

  • Many glass ornaments, such as beads, have been found in tombs all over Egypt. It is interesting to know that a bead bearing the name of a Pharaoh who lived about 1450 BCE was found to have the same specific gravity as the British crown glass. This is yet more evidence of the Egyptian technological knowledge of glass making.

  • Glass mosaics were made of various parts, made at different times, and afterwards united by heat by means of a flux applied to them. Their glass mosaics have wonderful, brilliant colors.

  • Glass is frequently found in what is commonly called Egyptian cloisonné-work, a term used to describe an inlay consisting of pieces of glass, faience, or stone set in metal cells — the cloisons — and fixed with cement. The process consisted of putting powdered glass in the cloison and applying enough heat to melt the powder until it became a compact mass. In the past, it was generally maintained that the Egyptians never produced true cloisonné-work, but recently this view has been contested based on found evidence.

Metal Working


  • At the Middle Kingdom tombs of Beni Hassan, the scenes give a general indication of the goldsmith’s trade. The process of washing the ore, smelting or fusing the metal with the help of the blow-pipe, and fashioning it for ornamental purposes, weighing it, recording of materials inventory, and other vocations of the goldsmith, are all represented, in these tombs.

  • When the gold was not cast solid, it was flattened into a sheet of even thickness. Gold in sheet form was used to decorate wooden furniture. Thicker gold sheets were hammered directly on to the wood and fixed by small gold rivets. Thinner sheets were attached by an adhesive, probably glue, on a prepared base of plaster. Very fine sheets were used as a coating for statues, mummy masks, coffins, and other items. It was applied over a layer of plaster, but the nature of the adhesive used by the Egyptian craftsman has not been identified.

  • The ability to work large masses of the material is shown in the 300 lb. gold coffin of Twtankhamen, at the Cairo Museum.

  • Gold and silver were cast to make small statues in the same manner as copper and bronze.


  • Copper does not occur in its metallic state in Egypt. It was extracted from ores as early as the Pre-Dynastic Period, and was used for small articles like needles. A number of areas show traces of ancient mining and smelting both in the Eastern Desert and in Sinai.

  • Before the introduction of tin, Egyptian copper was hardened by the addition of arsenic, which had to be imported. Arsenical copper was employed from the Early Dynastic Period right up to and including the Middle Kingdom, after which it was largely replaced by bronze.

  • The addition of a small proportion of tin to copper produces bronze, and results in a lower melting-point, an increased hardness, and a greater ease in casting. The date of the introduction of bronze into Egypt is uncertain. The alloy was regularly used for tools and weapons until it was replaced by iron. Tin does not exist in Egypt and had to be imported.

  • Many bronzes of a very early period have been found. A cylinder bearing the name of Papi, of the 6th Dynasty, showing clean cut lines as well as other bronze articles of the same period, indicates that the molding of bronze items dates to earlier than 2000 BCE.

  • Copper, and later bronze, provided material for a wide range of tools and weapons. The personal weapons of the Egyptian soldiers included daggers, swords, and axes. The main weapon of the Egyptian infantryman was the battle-axe. In the Old and Middle Kingdoms, rounded and semicircular forms, of battle-axes, predominated.

  • It is not known at what period they began to form statues and other objects in bronze, or how long the use of beaten copper preceded the art of casting in that metal.

  • Finding figure subjects made of metal is relatively rare, before the Late Dynastic Period. The Palermo Stone records the making of a copper statue of Khasekhemwy of the 2nd Dynasty. A copper statue of Pepi I, of the 6th Dynasty, is the earliest surviving example of metal sculpture, and is presently in the Cairo Museum. The precious nature of all metals in Egypt no doubt explains the rarity of early pieces, since much of the metal would eventually have been melted down and re-used several times.

The majority of discovered bronzes are reproduced figures of neteru, and emblems. They date, for the most part, from the Late Kingdom Period.

  • The color of their bronze depended on the utilized alloys. Yellow brass was a compound of zinc and copper. A white and finer kind had a mixture of silver, which was used for mirrors, and is also known as “Corinthian brass.” Adding copper to the compound produced a yellow, almost gold, appearance.


Iron and copper mines are found in the Egyptian desert, which were utilized in ancient times. Herodotus mentions iron tools being used by the builders of the pyramids. Herodotus’ account is confirmed by the presence of found pieces of iron tools in various places embedded in old masonry from the Old Kingdom era. Also, the monuments of Ta-Apet(Thebes), and even the tombs around Men-Nefer(Memphis), dating more than 4,000 years ago, represent butchers sharpening their knives on a round bar of metal attached to their apron, which from its blue color can only be steel. The distinction between the bronze and iron weapons in the tomb of Ramses III, one painted red, the other blue, leaves no doubt of both having been used at the same periods.
The argument that because no iron instruments, or arms, bearing the names of early monarchs of a Pharaonic age were found, therefore only bronze was alone used, is incorrect. Iron tools can easily decompose especially when buried for ages in the nitrous soil of Egypt. The Greeks and Romans continued to make bronze articles of various kinds such as swords, daggers, spear-heads, other offensive weapons, and defensive armor, long after iron was known and used by them. Nothing should have stopped the Egyptians from using both metals, as the Greeks and Romans did.
The discovery of Greek and Romans arms and tools, made of bronze, was never used to claim their ignorance of iron.

The Mysterious Tools

The ancient Egyptians were able to sculpt and engrave many granite monuments, with a superb minuteness and finish which is impressive, to this day. To carve stone as hard as granite requires an extremely strong tool.

The beautifully executed hieroglyphs, carved several inches deep into the granite obelisks is another wonderment. How did they do it?
There are many that insist the Egyptians were ignorant of steel and only knew of bronze. We presently do not know of a method to temper copper or unite it with other alloys, so as to provide the bronze that can sculpture or engrave the granite. The addition of tin or other metals to harden the bronze, if it exceeds a certain proportion, will make it too brittle for use.
Even if we go along with bronze tools and nothing else, then we are confessing that their skill in metallurgy was far beyond our own knowledge and indirectly confess that they had devised a method of sculpturing stone of which we remain ignorant.
Some claim that new granite being somewhat softer will require less labor. A somewhat softer granite is still very hard to handle with bronze tools. This opinion also ignores the fact that new sculptures were frequently added, 100-150 years after the erection of an obelisk. The new added lines of hieroglyphics on obelisks were found more deeply cut and more beautifully executed than those previously sculptured on the “softer” granite.


To many people all over the world, gems possess magical qualities. Since magic is the profound understanding of cosmic resonance, it is therefore possible that each gem has a resonant physical property that we respond to. As an example, turquoise represented celestial joy. The neteru were called The Turquoise Ones, and mining turquoise was an elaborate and sacred task.

Jewelry had a profound and immensely complex symbolism, behind its decorative facade. Each stone, each metal, had its specific power, and the combinations of stones and metals as well as the shapes of the numerous rings, pendants, anklets, pectorals, all had their definite cosmological meanings.

Metal and Industry in Ancient Egypt – Excerpt from Historical Deception: The Untold Story of Ancient Egypt

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