Building the Great Pyramid Year 1: Six Letters from Hemienu - Letter 2

Letter 2:  Expedition to Open the Sinai Copper Mines

 To Iahbty-Semyt, Administrator of the Eastern Desert, and to Biah-Ahky, Overseer of the Expedition to Sinai, Peace upon your goings!

There can be no doubt, Khufu on the Horizon is the greatest project ever undertaken by the people of Egypt, but this great work will require more resources than we have on hand.  There is enough copper for chisels and other tools to begin operations, but as work progresses we will have need of much more than we have now.  By way of investment, I have apportioned such supplies as you will require to lead a mining expedition to the Sinai.

 Copper picks, saws, and drilling tubes have been made available, along with the powdered quartzite needed to make the drills and saws cut.  I call this an investment because these resources are in need all throughout Egypt as the great work begins.  In return, the pharaoh will need 840,000 deben of processed copper over the course of your operations.  Your work will be hard, but your afterlife will hold every luxury.

To avoid the transport of unnecessary waste materials, all smelting will take place at the mines.  You will be provided with mud brick to build the kilns and granite pounders for crushing the ore.  Moulds will be provided for pouring the copper into 50 deben ingots.  A supply train will make regular deliveries of wood for the kilns and will return with your finished ingots.

 The number of donkeys and carts, baskets, and other equipment required has been left to your expert discretion, you need only inform the Overseer of Provisions of your needs.  A company of soldiers will be attached to your expedition to protect you in your journey, and will remain with you throughout operations to defend against the wild people of the desert.


For this expedition you will select fifty of your best miners, no slaves or prisoners.  Your route will take you across the Eastern Desert to the Red Sea, where ships will bear you to the Sinai.  From there you will continue on donkey to the Plains of Markha and the mines at Wadi Maghara, where the greenest veins of ore—the easiest to smelt—are to be found. 
If in the course of your work turquoise is discovered and may be extracted with ease, please do so, but not at the expense of mining the ore.
 In addition to reopening the copper mines at Wadi Maghara, you are to assemble missions to Sewew and the Faiyum to cull the dolerite which is abundant in those lands, and which is vital to the operation of the granite quarry at Aswan. 
It is imperative that your expeditions depart as soon as your equipment, supplies, and provisions may be gathered.  The quarries at Rostau and Tura require more copper as soon as you can deliver it, and the work at Aswan must not be delayed if the granite is to be delivered on schedule.
May Isis watch over you.