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TURIN PAPYRUS MAP

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Author Topic: TURIN PAPYRUS MAP  (Read 345 times)
Bianca
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« on: December 03, 2007, 07:46:19 am »






                                  TOPOGRAPHIC AND GEOLOGIC CONTENT OF THE MAP





            The Turin papyrus map is notable for being the only topographic map to survive from ancient Egypt and also for being one of the earliest maps in the world with real geographic content. Although there are a few older topographic maps from outside Egypt, they are all quite crude and rather abstract in comparison to the relatively modern-looking map drawn on the Turin papyrus. This map shows a 15 km stretch of Wadi Hammamat (‘Valley of Many Baths’) in the central part of Egypt’s Eastern Desert (Figure 1).

The top is oriented toward the south and the source of the Nile River with west on the right side and east to the left. There is no constant scale used on the map, but by comparison with the actual distances in Wadi Hamamat it is evident that the scale varies between 50 and 100 m for each 1 cm on the map.

The topography and geology of the Wadi Hammamat area are shown in Figure 9. The corresponding features on the ancient and modern maps are indicated by the colored lines in Figure 4 and Figure 9. From the good agreement between these maps, it can be seen that the papyrus clearly depicts Wadi Hammamat’s long course and eventual confluence with wadis Atalla and el-Sid, the surrounding hills (shown as stylized conical forms with wavy flanks that are laid out flat on both sides of the valleys), the quarry for bekhen-stone, and the gold mine and settlement at Bir Umm Fawakhir (‘Well of the Mother of Pottery’). Bekhen-stone (geologically, metagraywacke sandstone and siltstone) is a beautiful grayish-green ornamental stone that was highly prized by the ancient Egyptians. The only quarry was in Wadi Hammamat, and this was worked sporadically from the Early Dynastic period through Roman times (about 3000 BC to 400 AD). The gold mine at Bir Umm Fawakhir was active during the New Kingdom and again in the Ptolemaic through Early Byzantine periods (about 1500 BC to 600 AD).

            Fragment A shows five cultural features associated with the gold-mining settlement, including: four houses, a temple dedicated to the God Amun (the large white area subdivided by walls), a monument stone honoring king Sety I (1290-1279 BC of the New Kingdom’s 19th Dynasty), a water reservoir, and, at the confluence of wadis Hammamat and el-Sid, a water well with an encircling wall that casts a shadow on its right side. The brown patch of ground opposite the settlement may represent an area where either mine tailings were dumped or farming was practiced.

            On map fragments A and H, within the main valley represented by multi-colored dots, there are three small drawings of trees, which from their form can be identified as Tamarisks. The tree on fragment H (Figure 10), which is drawn upside-down, is just opposite the bekhen-stone quarry (the green oval at the base of the brownish black hill) and at the center of the sharp bend in the valley. On the ancient map, this is the only major bend in Wadi Hammamat prior to its confluence with Wadi Atalla. As seen in Figure 9, however, Wadi Hammamat actually has many sharp bends as well as wide meanderings. Because the ancient map was drawn on a papyrus scroll, which would have resembled a modern roll of paper towels, the author did not have the freedom to show the true wandering course of Wadi Hammamat and so included only the most important bend, the one near the bekhen-stone quarry.

            The papyrus map also has numerous annotations written in hieratic script (the cursive form of hieroglyphic writing) that identify the features shown on the map (see Table 1 for translations), including: the destinations of the valley routes (texts 1-3, 9 and 16 on fragment A), the distance between the bekhen-stone quarry and gold mine (text 17 on fragment E), the location of gold deposits in the hills (texts 4-5, 11-12 and 16’ on fragments A and D), the gold-mining settlement (texts 6-8 and 10 on fragment A), the bekhen-stone quarry (text 20 on fragment H), and the sizes of the quarried bekhen-stone blocks (texts 23 and 25-28 on fragments M-P). Text 18 on fragment F is especially important for understanding the purpose of the map because it refers to a bekhen-stone quarrying expedition and the destination of the quarried blocks.

Besides being a topographic map of surprisingly modern aspect, the Turin papyrus is also a geologic map because it accurately shows the geographic distribution of different rock types (the black hills with Hammamat siliciclastics, and the pink hills with Dokhan volcanics, Atalla serpentinite and Fawakhir granite) and the lithologically diverse wadi gravel (the brown, green and white dots within the main valley that represent different kinds of rocks), and it also contains information on quarrying and mining (see Table 2 for a description of the geologic units). Additionally notable are the representation of iron-stained, gold-bearing quartz veins with three radiating bands on the pink hill above the gold-mining settIement on fragment A (beneath text 5), and text 11 on fragment A, which reads very much like a legend on modern geologic maps by explaining what the pink coloring represents. The Turin papyrus is the oldest known geologic map in the world and it is all the more remarkable considering that it would be another 2900 years before the next geologic map was made and this was in France during the mid-1700’s. There is no reason to think, however, that the ancient author intentionally set out to make a geologic map. From the colors used for the hills and wadi gravel, it is evident that he merely drew what he literally saw in the desert – the real hills and surface gravels have the same general colors as those on the map (Table 2).
« Last Edit: December 03, 2007, 07:57:05 am by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

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