More than seven million tourists visit Egypt each year. Most make the journey to see the Great Pyramids and perhaps the Temples of Karnak and Luxor. Some also brave the humid stuffiness of the long tomb corridors in the Valley of the Kings and travel up the Nile to Aswan, though somewhat fewer take the next long step to Abu Simbel - the monument that was saved from the rising waters of modern Egypt's High Dam.

Among these millions of visitors there are always those who - at least in part - go to Egypt to explore their own special subject.

When Art Burrows went to Egypt in 2003, he travelled with a tour party led by Australian archaeologist, David Coltheart*. As founding editor and now publisher of The Australian Woodworker**, Art has a long association with woodworking and took time off from general sightseeing to discover a little about the craft and art as it was practised in Ancient Egypt.

About 4500 years ago, during the period in which the great Pyramids were constructed, the woodworkers of Egypt were already highly accomplished. They had access to a wide range of woods - a few local, but mostly imported - and had developed a range of tools that allowed them to perform most of the operations carried out in modern workshops. Virtually all of the now familiar jointing methods were known and hide glue was in common use.

Although only a small proportion of their output over the next 1500 years remains, it is enough for us to stand in awe at the quality of design and construction attained by these ancient craftsmen.

Basing his text around photos taken in Egypt, in particular at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Art wrote a series of articles about Egyptian woodworkers and their tools. Several of these gave details of the construction of adzes similar to those used by the Egyptians and considered the ways in which they might have been employed.

These and other articles on the subject are available for download as PDF files (see right).

*David Coltheart is editor of the Australian magazine, Archaeological Diggings which each year conducts tours to Egypt and the Middle East.

** For more information about the Australian Woodworker, the Australian Timber Buyer's Guide, House & Home Annual and The Australasian Toymaker, go to

Warning: The material on this and the attached pages is copyright. The copyright owner/s welcome the use of this material as a basis for further study, but it must not be re-published in any format without prior written permission from Skills Publishing Pty Ltd, PO Box 514m Hazelbrook NSW 2779, Australia.

Ancient Egyptian Boat Building

Ancient Egyptian Woodworking

The Ubiquitous Adze

Did they really have the lathe

Workshops and the Palace


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