Petrie, William M. Flinders [Oth.]
The royal tombs of the first dynasty (Part I): 1900 — London, 1900

Page: 9
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and at first sight it would seem almost impossible.
But the actual beams found yet remaining1 in
the tombs are as long as the widths of the
tombs, and therefore limber of such sizes could
be procured. In the tomb of Qa the holes for
the beams yet remain in the Avails, and even
the cast of the end of a beam. And in the
tombs of Merneit, Azab, and Mersekha are
posts and pilasters to help in supporting a roof.
We must therefore see how far such a roof would
be practicable. The clear span of the chamber
of Zet is 240 inches, or 220 if the beams were
carried on a Avooden lining, as seems likely.
Taking, however, 240 inches length, and a
depth and breadth of 10^ inches like the breadths
of the floor beams, such a beam of a conifer,
supported at both ends and uniformly loaded,
would carry about 51,000 lbs., or 2900 lbs. on
each foot of roof area. This is equal to 33 feet
depth of dry sand. Hence, even if the great
beams were spaced apart with three times their
breadth between each, they Avould carry eight
feet depth of sand on them ; but as the height
of the retaining Avail is 3|- feet, the strain Avould
be only half of the full load. It is therefore
quite practicable to roof over these great
chambers up to spans of twenty feet. The
Avood of such lengths Avas actually used, and if
spaced out over only a quarter of the area, the
beams Avould carry their load with full safety.
Any boarding, mats, straAv, &c, laid over the
beams Avould not increase the load, as they
Avould be lighter than the same bulk of sand.
That there Avas a mass of sand laid over the
tomb is strongly shown by the retaining Avail
(see pi. lxii.) around the top. This Avail is
roughly built, not intended to be a visible
feature. The outside is daubed Avith mud
plaster, and has a considerable slope; the inside
is left quite rough, with bricks in and out (see
photographs on pi. lxiv., Nos. 1, 2, 3). Such a
construction shows that it Avas backed against
loose material inside it. The top of it is finished
off with a rough rounding. At the S.W.

corner this retaining Avail ceases, and it seems
as if this Avere left thus in order to gain access
to the tomb for the funeral. The full thickness
of the tomb Avail stretches out several feet
beyond even the outside of the upper retaining

Turning now to the floor, the section is given
in pi. lxii., and the view of it in photographs
pi. lxiv., nos. 3, 4. The basis of it is mud
plastering, which Avas AvhiteAvashed. On that
were laid beams around the sides, and one
doAvn the middle: these beams Avere between
9 and 10-8 inches Avide, and 7 to 7tt inches
deep. They Avere placed before the mud floor
was hard, and have sunk about \ inch into it.
On the beams a ledge was recessed 6'5 to 7"7
Avide, and 4*7 to 6*0 deep. On this ledge the
edges of the flooring planks rested, 2 to 2*4
thick. Such planks would not bend ^ inch in
the middle bv a man standing on them, and
therefore made a sound floor. Over the planks
was laid a coat of mud plaster "5 to *7 inch
thick. This construction doubtless shows what
was the mode of flooring the palaces and large
houses of the early Egyptians, in order to keep
off the damp of the ground in the Nile valley.
For common houses a basis of pottery jars
turned mouth doAvn Avas used for the same
purpose, as I found at Koptos.

The sides of the great central chamber are
not clear in arrangement. The brick cross
Avails Avhich subdivide them into separate cells
have no finished faces on their ends. All the
wall faces are plastered and AvhiteAvashed; but
the ends of the cross Avails are rough bricks, all
irregularly in and out. Moreover, the bricks
jiroject forward irregularly over the beam line,
as outlined in the plan, pi. lxii. This projection
is 4 inches on the north, 4 on the east, and 2|-
on the south; and on the east, one of the
overhanging bricks had mud on the end of it,
with a cast of upright timber on it. It seems
then that there Avas an upright timber lining to
the chamber, against which the cross Avails Avere
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