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Origin of the State. Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt

(Cracow, Poland: 28th August - 1st September 2002)
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Stone Implements from Tell el-Farkha


Instytut Archeologii i Etnologii PAN, Poznan (Poland)

More than 2000 stone objects were found during the excavation conducted on the site of Tell el-Farkha during the last four seasons. Although 50% of the discovered material consists of small fragments of damaged tools, flakes, waste products and nodules of raw material, the number of artifacts is still considerable.

Quern stones. This category of tool was quite numerously represented. Unfortunately, most of the quern stones only survive as damaged fragments, which were frequently reworked to make smaller items of a different function (e.g. grinders, hammerstones, etc.). This is particularly true of the large, flat querns. The preservation of the smaller querns is better. Several complete examples were found along with numerous fragments which allowed the original size and shape of the stone to be determined. In both instances they were made of either sandstone or quartz. This tool category shows very little variation in shape over time.

Grinders. Three types of this tool occur at Tell el-Farkha. The first, and most common, is the polyhedral grinder. This is characterised by its small size and by its, generally, very regular shape. Most of them are made of quartz or fine-grained sandstone. In some instances they were also used as hammerstones. Flat grinders constitute a separate category. They are, on the whole, much larger than the polyhedral grinders. The third type of grinder was that used in combination with cosmetic palettes. These grinders are much smaller and usually longer. Traces of use in the form of delicate scratches and smoothing can mainly be seen on the edges and ends of these tools, though sometimes their flat, middle surface was also used. Quartz pebbles and chert concretions were most often selected for this type of grinder.

Hammerstones. This very large category can be subdivided into three basic tool types: round hammerstones of very regular shape, polyhedral hammerstones, which are characterised by a fairly regular, geometric form (often almost hexagonal) and hammerstones of irregular shape. The last group is the most numerous group of these tools. Heavy hammers comprise a separate class.

Retouching tools. Retouching by either the striking or pressure technique required the use of appropriate retouching tools. These were usually made of small, flat pebbles (tools made of organic materials could also be used) with a striking edge. These artefacts may also have been used for abrasion, hence feint traces of scratches and pitting appear on the middle section of some tools.

Cosmetic palettes. So far, a dozen implements of this type have been found at Tell el-Farkha. All of the palettes were manufactured from the same type of raw material, namely greywacke. Palettes were given geometrical and rectangular shapes, which is typical for the Nagada III period. Very exceptionally they had zoomorphic shapes.



Stone vessels. So far this category of artifacts is been scantily represented at Tell el-Farkha. Apart from one complete example from grave no 2, only a few small fragments of stone vessels were found during the last fifth excavation seasons.

Drills. Quartz drills, that were discovered during the last season of excavations, constitute a very remarkable category of artifacts. Clearly defined traces of deep, circular scratches and grooves are visible on these tools. They were most probably used for drilling holes in a hard raw materials, such as stone.


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