How Did They Cut Stone in Ancient Times?

Stone has been used for construction purposes for centuries, and as we look back at ancient architecture, we wonder how they managed to cut and shape these massive stones without modern machinery. The techniques used by ancient civilizations to cut stone were truly impressive, and in this article, we’ll explore some of the methods they used.

Hammer and Chisel

One of the earliest methods of stone cutting was using a hammer and chisel. This technique was used by civilizations such as the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.

The process involved striking a chisel with a hammer until it broke off a piece of the stone. This method was time-consuming but allowed for greater precision than other early methods.


Another technique that was developed later on was drilling. This method involved drilling holes into the stone using hand-held drills made from bronze or iron.

Once the holes were drilled, wooden wedges would be inserted into them and soaked in water until they expanded. The expansion of the wedges would cause the stone to crack along a predetermined line.


Saws were also used in ancient times for cutting stones. These saws were made from copper or bronze and had teeth made from either obsidian or emery dust. The saws were powered by hand or driven by water or animals such as oxen.

Abraham Darby’s Iron Sawmill

In 1705, Abraham Darby developed an iron sawmill that revolutionized stone cutting. The sawmill used large circular saws with diamond-edged teeth to cut through stones with greater speed and efficiency than any previous method.

The Wire Saw

Today’s modern wire saw is based on an ancient technology that dates back to Roman times when they used abrasive wires made from bronze to cut through marble. Wire saws are now commonly used in the stone industry to cut through large blocks of stone with precision.


In conclusion, ancient civilizations used a variety of methods to cut and shape stones. From hammer and chisel to the modern wire saw, each method had its advantages and disadvantages. The techniques developed by these civilizations were truly impressive and have paved the way for modern stone-cutting technology.