The Evidence Extant of Mason's Marks
Of all the ancient cities of the East, Tyre, in Phoenicia, claims particular attention in connection with early operative work. It was known as early as 1400 B.C., and was celebrated as the home of Hiram of Tyre, to whom Solomon was indebted for assistance in building the Temple.
Indeed, Sir Charles Warren of the Palestine Exploration Society, in his researches found on stones jn the foundation of the Temple hieroglyphics or marks, said to be letters of the Phoenician alphabet; and corroborative of the biblical statement of its Phoencian origin.
This mystic language, that had its origin in Egypt, may be found in Grecian and Roman architecture, and thousands of masons' marks may be found cut in the stones of the great cathedrals of Europe, while the idea is still further preserved in the marks attached to signatures of members of the old operative lodges of Scotland and other countries.
Similar marks are to be found upon the hewn stones in the cathedrals of England from the twelfth century, as well as at an earlier date in Germany, France and Scotland. The marks were principally mathematical figures, such as crosses. triangles and other combinations of straight lines.
In Mesopotamia many of the public monuments are marked with a character which was Chaldean. One author asserts that these marks were of two classes, those of the overseers and those who worked in stone. The marks of the former were said to be monogramatic characters, while those of the latter were in the nature of symbols, such as trowels, mallets, chisels, shoes, etc.
The finer forms of Greek architecture owe their origin to the Phoenicians, and the earliest form of a Doric column. which is the oldest and most original of the three-Grecian orders, is to be found. in the remains of the Egyptian tomb of Beni Hassan, erected about 1740 B.C.
The progress of architecture in its material sense was like that of the empire, westward, for the Romans are supposed to have received their knowledge of the art from a swarm of orientals known as the Etruscans, who migrated from the East and brought to Italy, not only a knowledge of architecture; but the curious mythology and customs of. the East; indeed, the Druidica1 stone cutters in Britain, whose doctrines were the same as those entertained by Pythagoras, are said to have had their origin with this Etruscan stock.
J. R. Robertson 1900