Page images
PDF
EPUB

BUILDING THE PIRAMIDS.

Photogravure from a painting by Gustave Richter,

[graphic]

ten years were expended, and in forming the subterranean apartments on the hill, on which the pyramids stand, which he had made as a burial vault for himself, in an island, formed by draining a canal from the Nile. Twenty years were spent in erecting the pyramid itself: of this, which is square, each face is eight plethra, and the height is the same; it is composed of polished stones, and jointed with the greatest exactness; none of the stones are less than thirty feet. This pyramid was built thus: in the form of steps, which some call crossæ, others bomides. When they had first built it in this manner, they raised the remaining stones by machines made of short pieces of wood : having lifted them from the ground to the first range of steps, when the stone arrived there, it was put on another machine that stood ready on the first range; and from this it was drawn to the second range on another machine; for the machines were equal in number to the ranges of steps; or they removed the machine, which was only one, and portable, to each range in succession, whenever they wished to raise the stone higher; for I should relate it in both ways, as it is related. The highest parts of it, therefore, were first finished, and afterward they completed the parts next following; but last of all they finished the parts on the ground, and that were lowest. On the pyramid is shown an inscription, in Egyptian characters, how much was expended in radishes, onions, and garlics for the workmen; which the interpreter, as I well remember, reading the inscription, told me amounted to one thousand six hundred talents of silver. And if this be really the case, how much more was probably expended in iron tools, in bread, and in clothes for the labourers, since they occupied in building the works the time which I mentioned, and no short time besides, as I think, in cutting and drawing the stones, and in forming the subterranean excavations! It is related that Cheops reached such a degree of infamy that, being in want of money, he prostituted his own daughter in a brothel, and ordered her to extort, they did not say how much; but she exacted a certain sum of money, privately, as much as her father ordered her; and she contrived to leave a monument of herself, and asked every one that came in to her to give her a stone toward the edifice she designed: of these stones they said the Pyramid was built that stands in the middle of the three, before the great pyramid, each side of which is a plethron and a half in length. The Egyptians say that this Cheops reigned fifty years; and when he died, his brother Chephren succeeded to the kingdom; and he followed the same practices as

« PreviousContinue »