Marvels of Materials: Authored by Doug Braun, Binghamton University


Limestone is a sedimentary rock, defined by high levels of calcite, which is notable for its easy workability and relative softness. The ease with which limestone could be worked made it ideal for sculpture, in fact, limestone is likely the first stone used for sculpture within Egypt. Limestone is relatively common throughout Egypt, making it easy to acquire for architectural or artistic purposes. Despite its ubiquity, varieties of limestone, such as Tura limestone, were prized across Egypt for their durability and color. Limestone remained a popular building material throughout Egyptian history, becoming the chief building stone of Lower Egypt. Limestone was also a common sculptural material in Egypt, as demonstrated by this bust. In order to work with limestone as a sculptor, one would start their work from a plaster bust or mask of the figure, and draw the figure’s shape on a block of limestone, sculpting along the contours they drew.

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