From Ancient Ivories in the Middle East (Qedem, 1982)

How a bow-drill worked. In a sketch of an ancient Egyptian tomb painting, we see the two components of a bow-drill: the shaft with its penetrating point and the bow. Workers have wrapped the bow string around the vertical shaft. Both workers steady the drill while one moves the bow to and fro in a sawing motion. The movement of the bow string looped around the shaft causes the shaft to turn swiftly, and as it twists it cuts a hole in the ivory. Remains of a bow-drill were found at the prehistoric settlement of Safadi.