Page images

year that he reigned; that when he died the sides of the pyramid were like long flights of steps, which his successor filled up with right-angled triangular blocks of stone; and that the door of the pyramid was walled up after the body of its builder had been laid in it, and thus it became a finished tomb. The explanation of Dr. Lepsius may not be correct, but at least it answers satisfactorily more objections than do the views of other theorists on this matter. It has been pointed out that near the core of the pyramid the work is more carefully executed than near the exterior, that is to say, as the time for the king's death approached the work was more hurriedly performed.

During the investigations made by Lepsius in and around the pyramid area, he found the remains of about seventyfive pyramids, and noticed that they were always built in groups.

The pyramids of Gîzeh were opened by the Persians Violation during the fifth and fourth centuries before Christ; it is of pyra

mids by probable that they were also entered by the Romans. Khalif the

Persians. Mâmûn (A.D. 813-833) entered the Great Pyramid, and found that others had been there before him. The treasure which is said to have been discovered there by him is probably fictitious. Once opened, it must have been evident to every one what splendid quarries the pyramids formed, and very few hundred years after the conquest of Egypt by the Arabs, they were laid under contribution for stone to build mosques, etc., in Cairo. At the end of the twelfth century Melik el-Kâmil made a mad attempt to destroy the pyramid built by Mycerinus; but after months of toil he only succeeded in stripping off the covering from one of the sides. It is said that Muhammad 'Ali was advised to undertake the senseless task of destroying them all. The most important pyramids and groups of pyramids are the following:


This, the largest of the three pyramids at Gîzeh, was built by Chufu @ $* or Cheops, the second king of the IVth dynasty, B.C. 3733, who called it A Chut. His

of Cheops.

name was found written in red ink upon the blocks of stone inside it. All four sides measure in greatest length about 755 feet each, but the length of each was originally about 20 feet more; its height now is 451 feet, but it is said to have been originally about 481 feet. The stone used in the construction of this pyramid was brought from Turra and Mokattam, and the contents amount to 85,000,000 cubic feet. The flat space at the top of the pyramid is about thirty feet square, and the view from it is very fine.

The entrance (A) to this pyramid is, as with all pyramids, on the north side, and is about 43 feet above the ground. The passage A B C is 320 feet long, 31 feet high, and 4 feet wide ; at B is a granite door, round which the path at D has been made. The passage at D E is 125 feet long, and the large hall E F is 155 feet long and 28 feet high ; the passage E G leads to the pointed-roofed Queen's Chamber H, which measures about 17 x 19 x 20 feet. The roofing in of this chamber is a beautiful piece of mason's work. From the large hall E F there leads a passage 22 feet long, the antechamber in which was originally closed by four granite doors, remains of which are still visible, into the King's Chamber, J, which is lined with granite, and measures about 35 x 17 x 19 feet. The five hollow chambers K, L, M, N, O were built above the King's Chamber to lighten the pressure of the superincumbent mass. In chamber o the name Chufu was found written The air shafts P and Q measure 234 feet x 8 inches x 6 inches, and 174 feet x 8 inches x 6 inches respectively. A shaft from E to R leads down to the subterranean chamber S, which measures 46 x 27 x 10 feet. The floor of the King's Chamber, J, is about 140 feet from the level of the base of the pyramid, and the chamber is a little to the south-east of the line drawn from 1 to U. Inside the chamber lies the empty, coverless, broken, red granite sarcophagus of Cheops, measuring 71 x 34 x 3} feet. The account of the building of this pyramid is told by Herodotus as follows: “Now, they told me, that to the reign of Rhampsinitus there was a perfect distribution

1 Bk. ii. 124-126.

[ocr errors]

Section of the Pyramid of Cheops at Gizeh. From Vyse. “Pyramids of Gizeh," Vol. I. p. 2.

on the

of justice, and that all Egypt was in a high state of

prosperity ; but that after him Cheops, coming to reign over Herodotus them, plunged into every kind of wickedness. For that, building

having shut up all the temples, he first of all forbade them to of the

offer sacrifice, and afterwards he ordered all the Egyptians Great Pyramid. to work for himself; some, accordingly, were appointed to

draw stones from the quarries in the Arabian mountain down to the Nile, others he ordered to receive the stones when transported in vessels across the river, and to drag them to the mountain called the Libyan. And they worked to the number of 100,000 men at a time, each party during three months. The time during which the people were thus harassed by toil, lasted ten years on the road which they constructed, along which they drew the stones, a work, in my opinion, not much less than the pyramid; for its length is five stades (3,021 feet), and its width ten orgyæ (60 feet), and its height, where it is the highest, eight orgyæ (48 feet); and it is of polished stone, with figures carved on it : on this road then ten years were expended, and in forming the subterraneous 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 (820 feet), 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 renaining 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

on the


highest parts of it, therefore, were first finished, and afterwards 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 garlic, for the workmen ; which the interpreter, as I well remember, reading the inscription, told me amounted to 1,600 talents of silver. And if this be really Herodotus the case, how much more was probably expended in iron

building tools, in bread, and in clothes for the labourers, since they of the occupied in building the works the time which I mentioned, Pyramid. and no short time besides, as I think, in cutting and drawing the stones, and in forming the subterraneous excavation. [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 contrived to leave a monument of herself, and asked every one that came in to her to give her a stone towards 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.” (Cary's translation.)


The second pyramid at Gîzeh was built by Chā-f-Rā, Breo), or Chephren, the third king of the IVth dynasty, B.C. 3666, who called it SA, ur. His name has not been found inscribed upon any part of it, but the fragment of a marble sphere inscribed with the name of Chā-f-Rā,

1 Herodotus was deceived by his interpreter, who clearly made up a translation of an inscription which he did not understand. William of Baldensel, who lived in the fourteenth century, tells us that the outer coating of the two largest pyramids was covered with a great number of inscriptions arranged in lines. (Wiedemann, Aeg. Geschichte, p. 179.) If the outsides were actually inscribed, the text must have been purely religious, like those inscribed inside the pyramids of Pepi, Tetà, and Unås.

« PreviousContinue »