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THE PYRAMIDS OF GIZEH.
On the western bank of the Nile, from Abu Roash on the north to Medum on the south, is a slightly elevated tract of land, about twenty-five miles long, on the edge of the Libyan desert, on which stand the pyramids of Abu Roash, Gizeh, Zawyet el-'Aryan, Abusir, Sakkarah, and Dahshur. Other places in Egypt where pyramids are found are El-laMn in the Fayum, and Kullah near Esneh. The pyramids built by the Ethiopians at Meroe and Gebel Barkal are of a very late date (b.c. 600-100), and are mere copies, in respect of form only, of the pyramids in Egypt. It is well to state at once that the pyramids were tombs and nothing else. There is no evidence whatever to show that they were built for purposes of astronomical observations, and the theory that the Great Pyramid was built to serve as a standard of measurement is ingenious but worthless. The significant fact, so ably pointed out by Mariette, that pyramids are only found in cemeteries, is an answer to all such theories. Tomb-pyramids were built by kings and others until the XIIth dynasty. The ancient writers who have described and treated of the pyramids are given by Pliny (Nat. Hist., xxxvi. 12, 17). If we may believe some of the writers on them during the Middle Ages, their outsides must have been covered with inscriptions ; these were probably of a religious nature.* In modern times they have been examined by Shaw (1721),
*" their surfaces exhibit all kinds of inscriptions written in
the characters of ancient nations which no longer exist. No one knows what this writing is or what it signifies." Mas'iidi (ed. Barbier de Meynard), t. ii., p. 404.
Pococke (1743), Niebuhr (1761), Davison (1763), Bruce (1768), Denon and Jumard (1799), Hamilton (1801), Caviglia (1817), Belzoni (1817), Wilkinson (1831;, Howard Vyse and Perring (1837-38), Lepsius (1842-45), and Petrie (1881).
It appears that before the actual building of a pyramid was begun a suitable rocky site was chosen and cleared, a mass of rock if possible being left in the middle of the area to form the core of the building. The chambers and the galleries leading to them were next planned and excavated. Around the core a truncated pyramid building was made, the angles of which were filled up with blocks of stone. Layer after layer of stone was then built around the work, which grew larger and larger until it was finished. Dr. Lepsius thought that when a king ascended the throne, he built for himself a small but complete tomb-pyramid, and that a fresh coating of stone was built around it every year that he reigned; and that when he died the sides of the pyramids were like long flights of steps, which his successor filled up with right-angled triangular blocks of stone. The door of the pyramid was walled up after the body of its builder had been laid in it, and thus remained 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 about the pyramid area, he found the remains of about seventyfive pyramids, and noticed that they were always built in groups.
The pyramids of Gizeh were opened by the Persians during the fifth and fourth centuries before Christ; it is probable that they were also entered by the Romans. Khalif Mamun (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. Early in the thirteenth century Melik el-Kamil made a mad attempt to destroy the third 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 'AH was advised to undertake the senseless task of destroying them all.
THE GREAT PYRAMID. This, the largest of the three pyramids at Gtzeh, was built
by Chufu ^® \ \ ^ or Cheops, the second king of the
IVth dynasty, B.C. 3733, who called it ^ r^-i.A Chut. His 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 45 feet above the ground. The passage A B C is 320 feet long, 3^ 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 2 2 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 35x17x19 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 1o£ feet. The floor of the King's Chamber, j, is about 140 ft. from the level of the base of the pyramid, and the chamber is a little to the south-east of the line drawn from T to u. Inside the chamber lies the empty, coverless, broken red granite sarcophagus of Cheops, measuring 7^ x 3i x 33 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 of justice, and that all Egypt was in a high state of prosperity; but that after him Cheops, coming to reign over them, plunged into every kind of wickedness. For that, having shut up all the temples, he first of all forbade them to offer sacrifice, and afterwards he ordered all the Egyptians 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
* Bk. ii. 124-126.