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single arch, generally between two and three feet in breadth, which supports the roof; this arch springs from
very low pilasters on each side of the room, and in some instances rises immediately from the floor ; upon the arch is laid the roof, consisting of stone slabs one foot broad, two inches thick, and about half the length of the room, one end resting upon short projecting stones in the walls, and the other upon the top of the arch.... The rooms are seldom higher than nine or ten feet, and have no other opening than a low door, with sometimes a small window over it. In many places I saw two or three of these arched chambers one above the other, forming so many stories.... To complete the durability of these structures, most of the doors were anciently of stone, and of these many are still remaining; sometimes they are of one piece, and sometimes they are folding doors; they turn upon hinges worked out of the stone, and are about four inches thick, and seldom higher than about four feet, though I met with some upwards of nine feet in height.”—BURCKHARDT's Syria, &c.,
pp. 58, 59.
Exodus i. 11-14. “And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities ... And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour; and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar and in brick.”
v. 6, &c. “ And Pharaoh commanded ... the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying, Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick as heretofore ; let them go and gather straw for themselves. And the tale of the bricks which they did make heretofore upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof.... So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw."
shall lay JOB X. 9.
“Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay, and wilt thou bring me into dust again ?”
xxx. 19. “He hath cast me in the mire, and I am become like dust and ashes."
ISAIAH xli. 25. “He shall come upon princes as upon mortar, and as the potter treadeth clay."
JEREMIAH xliii. 9. “ Take great stones in thine hand, and hide them in the clay in the brick-kiln, which is at the entry of Pharaoh's house in Tahpanhes."
Nahum iii. 14. “Go into clay, and tread the mortar, make strong
MALACHI iv. 3.
ye shall tread down the wicked ; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet.”
The more common materials, however, were, and still are, unburnt bricks. Of these, the pyramids of Egypt were constructed. They are composed of " clay, mud, and straw, slightly blended and kneaded together, and afterwards baked in the sun. The straw which keeps these bricks together, and still preserves its original colour, seems to be a proof that these bricks were never burnt or made in kilns.”—Shaw's Barbary, vol. i. p. 250.
“The manner of preparing the mud for these sun-dried bricks (which the people build with for want of wood), fully explains the harshness and tyranny of compelling the Jews to make bricks without straw. The mud is brought to a proper consistency in a pit; they then strew over it a quantity of straw chopped in pieces about an inch in length; this is well trodden and mixed by the feet of the work people. Without the straw the bricks are little worth, being deficient in adhesiveness : it serves, in fact, the same purpose as the chopped hair in English mortar.” - Rev. J. N. ALLEN's Diary in Sinde and Affghanistan, pp. 170, 171.
Mr. Morier thus describes the building of a fort in Persia :-“ We found about one hundred peasants at work upon it. The walls are made with sun-burnt bricks, with a previous foundation of common stone, and the archways of the gates of bricks baked in a kiln. The bricks baked in the sun are composed of earth dug from pits in the vicinity, which is mixed up with straw, and then, from the form in which they have been cast, are arranged on a flat spot in rows, where the sun hardens them. This style of building is called the ‘kah-gil,' or straw and clay. The peasants who were at work had been, as usual, collected by force, and were superintended by several of the king's officers, who with hard words, and sometimes harder blows, hastened them in their operations. Their fate resembled that of the Israelites, who no doubt were employed in the same manner in buildings for Pharoah, and with the same sort of materials. Their bricks were mixed up with straw ; they had to make a certain quantity daily, and their taskmasters treated them cruelly if their task was not accomplished. The complaints which they made were natural, and resembled the language used frequently on similar occasions by the oppressed in Persia. There is no straw given unto thy servants, and they say to us, Make brick; and, behold, thy servants are beaten ; but the fault is in thine own people.' Part of the labourers were occupied in treading mortar, part in bringing clay, and several were employed at the brick-kilns, which had been erected in the immediate vicinity of the building, for baking the bricks.”—MORIER’s Second Journey through Persia, &c., pp. 199, 200.
Mr. Jowett mentions, in his “Researches in the Mediterranean," that in one place the people “were making bricks with straw cut into small pieces, and mingled with the clay to bind it. They were, in short, engaged exactly as the Israelites used to be, making bricks with straw; and for a similar purpose—to build extensive granaries for the Bashaw_treasure cities for Pharaoh.”JOWETT's Researches in the Mediterranean, p. 167.
The outside of the houses in Persia a is plastered over with a mixture of mud and cut straw, which gives them a somewhat neat and agreeable appearance ; especially if, as is usually the case, the margins of the windows and doors are skirted with borders of white plaster, which, alternating with the spaces of brown mud, impart to the front a lively variety.” The rooms, also, are often plastered with the same mixture.
The straw is cut up fine in the process of threshing.–PERKINS" Residence in Persia.
In Barbary, they make a kind of mortar or plaster for building, thus—" they take one part of sand, two parts of wood-ashes, and three of lime ; which, after it is well sifted and mixed together, they beat for three days and nights incessantly, with wooden mallets, sprinkling them alternately, and at proper times, with a little oil and water, till they become of a due consistence.”—Shaw's Barbary, vol. i. p. 372.
“ The soil is so strong in Persia, that water has only to be conducted upon almost any spot, to form tenacious mortar, which is dug up with a spade, and slightly worked by the feet of men, and then laid into a wall (piece being thrown upon piece by hand), four feet thick and three feet high. This is allowed to harden and dry a few days, when another layer of similar dimensions, but a little thinner, is laid upon it, and the same process is repeated until the wall is carried up to the desired elevation. These walls, when thoroughly dried, are very hard ; and if kept dry by being plastered over with mud and straw, may last for ages. The walls that enclose the courts of the houses and the walls of the towns in Persia, are of the same construction.”_PERKINS' Residence in Persia.
EASTERN BUILDINGS OFTEN PERISHABLE.
Job iv. 19. “How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation in the dust."
“He dwelleth in desolate cities, and in houses which no man inhabiteth, which are ready to become heaps.”
Isaiah ix. 10. “ The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones.”
ISAIAH xxxi. 18. “ Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant.”
JEREMIAH Xxx. 28. “ The city shall be builded upon her own heap.”
EZEKIEL xiii. 10, 11. “One built up a wall, and lo, others daubed it with untempered mortar. Say unto them which daub it with untempered mortar, that it shall fall : there shall be an overflowing shower; and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it."
Amos vi. 11. “Behold the Lord commandeth, and he will smite the great house with breaches, and the little house with clefts.” (ix. 11.)
ŽECH. ix. 3. “ Tyrus ... heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets.”
Although these materials (the unburnt bricks and mortar) are, when well made, and under some circumstances very durable, as for instance, in the case of the Pyramids in Egypt,-yet they are far otherwise when hastily put together, and subjected to storms and rain.