Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 62.djvu/553

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methods of quarrying. Dr. Cyrus Adler, of the Smithsonian Institution, upon the occasion of his visit there, was so fortunate as to discover a perfect lamp and a damaged water bottle, which he has deposited in the U. S. National Museum. The little niches cut out of the face of the rock to receive the lamps are still there, and far within the cave there is a small spring, the clear water of which now fills the little basin which was cut in the rocky floor centuries ago to receive it. Although it is not probable that any stone has been quarried in this cave since a period at least as remote as the beginning of the Christian era, so little has time affected the wrought surfaces of the rock since the last quarrying was done there, one might almost expect to see the old masons return to their work at any time, to hear at high noon the call from labor to refreshment and, in the dim light of their tiny lamps, to see them gather around the spring for their mid-day meal. Perhaps it was just here that, according to the legend, the grand master was murdered when he came to inspect the quarry work. The thought startled me, and I looked around half expecting to see hostile faces peering at us out of the darkness.

The principal method of quarrying that was practised in this cave was laborious but effective, and the same method is known to have been practised in other ancient quarries. It is a hand method, the effect of which is much like that of one now employed by aid of machinery in quarrying marble and massive limestones. A perpendicular face of the rock was prepared and the outlines of the desired ashlars drawn upon it. The principal tool used for the shaping and removal of such stones was a long slender chisel, a little more than an inch wide, which was struck on end with a hammer or mallet. A narrow groove or slot was thus cut on all the drawn lines and of sufficient depth for the full thickness of the ashlar. The latter was then removed by driving wooden wedges into the slots, the impact of which split the ashlar off at its back face and allowed it to fall upon the quarry floor. The split face was usually nearly even, because of the uniform texture of the stone, but any defect in that part of it would cause it to split unevenly. We saw one large ashlar lying where it had fallen, 'rejected of the builders,' because its back face had broken off obliquely.

In most places the quarrying of the Royal stratum appears to have been prosecuted as far as was intended, and the stones were all removed, but in one place, at least, the work was for same reason left unfinished. Some of the ashlars were only outlined and some partially cut out, the great stones still remaining in their original places. Perhaps the work was interrupted by a strike of the quarrymen and never resumed because of failure to obtain compliance with their demands. But workmen had few rights in those days, and that suspension of quarry work