Rope stretcher

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In ancient Egypt, a rope stretcher (or harpedonaptai) was a surveyor who measured real property demarcations and foundations using knotted cords, stretched so the rope did not sag. The practice is depicted in tomb paintings of the Theban Necropolis.[1] Rope stretchers used 3-4-5 triangles and the plummet,[2] which are still in use by modern surveyors.

The commissioning of a new sacred building was a solemn occasion in which Pharaohs and other high-ranking officials personally stretched ropes to define the foundation. This important ceremony, and therefore rope-stretching itself, are attested over 3000 years from the early dynastic period to the Ptolemaic kingdom.[3]

Rope stretching technology spread to ancient Greece and India, where it stimulated the development of geometry and mathematics.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brown, Curtis Maitland et al. (1994) Evidence and procedures for boundary location
  2. ^ Petrie Museum website: plumbs
  3. ^ Williams, Kim and Michael J. Ostwald (2015) Architecture and Mathematics from Antiquity to the Future vol. 1
  • Alistair Macintosh Wilson, The Infinite in the Finite, Oxford University Press 1995
  • The New Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica 1974
  • James Henry Breasted Ancient Records of Egypt, Part Two, Chicago 1906
  • Joel F. PAULSON, "Surveying in Ancient Egypt,", FIG Working Week 2005 and GSDI-8, Cairo, Egypt April 16-21, 2005. [1]

External links[edit]