How Was Stone Quarried in Ancient Times?

Stone quarries have been around for thousands of years and have been a significant source of building materials for ancient civilizations. In ancient times, quarrying was done using basic tools like hammers, chisels, and picks. The process involved breaking the rock into smaller pieces, which could then be transported to the building site.

Tools used for quarrying

The tools used for quarrying varied depending on the type of stone being quarried and the geography of the area. Some of the most commonly used tools included:

  • Hammer and chisel – This was the most basic tool used for cutting through stone. The hammer was used to strike the chisel, which was then driven into the rock.
  • Picks – Picks were used to break up larger pieces of rock by striking them with a sharp point.
  • Drills – Drills were used to create holes in large blocks of stone that could then be split using wedges.
  • Saws – Saws were used to cut through softer types of stone like limestone.

The Quarrying Process

The process of quarrying began with locating a suitable source of stone. This required knowledge about the geology of an area and an understanding of which types of rock were suitable for building.

Once a suitable source was identified, workers would use hammers and chisels to break off large chunks of rock from the face of the quarry. These chunks would then be transported to a central location within the quarry where they could be further processed.

Splitting Stone

To split a large block of stone into smaller pieces that could be transported, workers would first drill a series of holes into it using hand-held drills. Once these holes had been drilled, they would insert wooden wedges into them and hammer them in.

Over time, the moisture in the wood would cause it to expand, which would create pressure within the holes. This pressure would eventually cause the stone to split along its natural cleavage points, resulting in smaller pieces that could be transported.


Despite the basic tools used for quarrying in ancient times, the process was still efficient enough to provide a reliable source of building materials for many civilizations. Today, modern technology has made quarrying much easier and more efficient, but the techniques used by ancient quarry workers are still fascinating to study.