Towards The Revival Of Stone Craftsmanship In Egypt: A Rediscovery Of Forgotten Literature
Free (open access)
299 - 311
A. El-Habashi, S. Gaafar
Recent practices in the fields of architecture and cultural heritage have proved that stone craftsmanship in Egypt, among many other local crafts, is about to vanish. This paper introduces the magnitude of such deficiency, and highlights the fact that Egyptian natural stones, some of the best available, have shaped distinguishable architectural heritage and identity. The paper revisits various literature that appeared at the turn of the twentieth century where prominent European engineers published studies on the properties and structural performances of Egyptian stones. The then the local government undertook the large-scale construction of barrages, dams and bridges to regulate the floods of the Nile River using local stones. It hired foreign engineers to study the suitability of local materials for such modern structures. The published studies were the bases of designing many of such structures, as well as core references for graduate education in the field of engineering. This paper introduces these studies, which were forgotten once the local manufacturing of steel and cement locally prevailed. Through selected cases derived from such literature, the research demonstrates that those publications can be a catalyst to resume stone craftsmanship on the basis of not only accumulative experiences that started from late antiquities but also on scientific understanding of material properties and building systems. Determining the shapes and the dimensions of various architectural elements, such as stone corbels as one example, would no longer be purely an aesthetic matter, but follows accurate calculations. Consequently the hoped revival would be based on new scientific bases that would give the professionals and craftsmen involved the means to develop the craft from one hand, and to save unnecessary use of materials from the other.
Egyptian natural stones, stone craftsmanship, revival