Sunday, October 27, 2013

Historical and Descriptive Square Used by the Earliest Builders

Quote From

Radford's cyclopedia of construction: carpentry, building and ..., Volume 8

 edited by William A. Radford, Alfred Sidney Johnson


Historical and Descriptive
Square Used by the Earliest Builders.—
The Greeks, who were an inventive people, and who were apt to ascribe to themselves more credit than was really their due, in the way of inventions and discoveries, lay claim to be the inventors of the instrument. Pliny says that Theodorus, a native of the island of Samos, was the inventor of the square and the level. Theodorus was an artist of some note, but it is evident that the square and level, in some form or other, were used long before his time, even in his own country, for some of the finest temples in Athens and other Grecian cities had been built long before his day; and the Pyramids of Egypt were hoary with age when he was in swaddling clothes.
Thus the claims made by the Greeks, to have been the originators of these two most important tools—the square and the level—we must admit, are hardly borne out under the best of authentic evidence. Indeed, the "square," as a constructive tool, must of necessity have found a place in the "kit" of the earliest builders. Evidences of its presence have been found in the ruins of prehistoric nations, and are abundant in the remains of ancient Petra, Nineveh, Babylon, Etruria, and India. South American ruins of great antiquity in Brazil, Peru, and other places, show that the unknown races that once inhabited the South American Continent, were familiar with many of the uses of the square. Egypt, however, that cradle of all the arts, furnishes us with the most numerous, and, perhaps, the most ancient evidences of the use of the square; paintings and inscriptions on the rock-cut tombs, the temples, and other works, showing its use and application, are plentiful. In one instance, a whole "kit" of tools was found in a tomb at Thebes, which consisted of mallets, hammers, bronze nails, small tools, drills, hatchets, adzes, squares, chisels, etc.; one bronze saw and one adze have the name of Thothmes III, of the 18th dynasty stamped on their blades, showing that they were made nearly 3,500 years ago. The constructive and decorative arts at that time were in their zenith in Egypt, and must have taken at least 1,000 years to reach that stage. Consequently, the square must have been used by the workmen of that country, at least, four thousand years ago.
The British Museum contains many tools of pre-historic origin, and the square is not the least of them. Herculaneum and Pompeii contribute evidences of the importance of this useful tool. On some of the paintings recently discovered in those cities, the different artisans can be seen at work in their own workshops, with their work benches, saw-horses, tools, and surroundings,  much about the same as we would find a small carpenter shop of today, where all the work is done by hand; the only difference being a change in the form of the tools, which, in some instances, had been better left as these old workmen devised them.
It can make no difference, however, to the modern workman, as to when or where the square was first used; suffice to know, that at present, we have squares immensely superior to anything known to the ancients, and it may be added, that so perfect has the machinery for the manufacture of steel squares (1909) become, that a defective tool is now the exception. Of course this relates to the products of manufacturers of repute, and not to the cheap squares, or to those said to be first class, that were made ten or fifteen years ago. The tool we recommend in this book is the best made, both as to quality of material, accuracy of workmanship, and amount of useful matter on its faces.


The following images are not from volume 8, but the book I wanted in printed form.












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