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6-10-2015, 12:09

Sledges

The use of sledges to move large building blocks and statues appears early in the history of Egypt, and examples have been found that may have been used for this purpose. They are made of sturdy wood, with two runners, the fronts of which curve upwards. They were pulled by human power, or by cattle, often along specially prepared surfaces to make the moving of large and heavy loads easier. These ‘‘roads’’ had wooden sleepers placed across the surface at close intervals, and sledges were pulled over these sleepers, friction being reduced by pouring water in front of the runners. The resultant mix of water and mud produced good lubrication. Examples of these special roads survive at many major building sites, and the method of lubrication is illustrated in tomb reliefs. Sledges are unlikely to have been a practical way of moving objects on loose sand or on rough or unprepared ground. One Middle Kingdom sledge was found at Dahshur, in connection with funerary boats found there. Well-made, it was probably used to transport the boats to their final resting place. Now in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the sledge is 4.21 m in length and 0.80 m wide.

Depictions of moving large stones and statues are rare. One Middle Kingdom example survives at el-Bersha in the tomb of Djehutyhotep II. It shows a large statue being pulled on a wooden sledge by 172 men, arranged in pairs along four thick ropes. A New Kingdom relief, from the rock quarries at Tura, shows a large stone block being transported on a sledge pulled by oxen. Interestingly a number ofobjects such as wooden coffins (those of Yuya and Thuya for example) or funerary goods (such as the canopic chest of Tutankhamun) are fitted with sledges, though there is no evidence of wear on the runners to show that they had actually been used. Examples of wooden rollers, which may have been used to move large stone blocks, possibly in conjunction with sledges, have been found at Saqqara and also at stone quarries at Lahun. Not many identifiable rollers have survived, as, when too damaged to use, they would probably have been burnt as firewood.



 

 

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