Pyramids, obelisks and sarcophagi may embody Egypt in the Western imagination, but the heart of Egypt’s heritage is its base material: rock. Used to construct everything from ancient wonders to today’s homes, blocks of local limestone, basalt, and granite are so indispensable to Egyptian architecture that a few ancient quarries been declared historic cultural sites.
Quarrying itself remains a contemporary industry. Today, in the limestone fields of Minya, south of Cairo, quarrymen cut blindingly white limestone for new bricks. Dust fills the air like snow here, as workers’ rotary blades bite into the rock. It’s otherworldly, but not perfect—that unshielded blade can be deadly.