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Egypt finished the pyramid and made a second chamber to hold his or her body. At a short distance to the east of this pyramid are the ruins of a temple which was probably used in connexion with the rites performed in honour of the dead king. In A.d. 1196 a deliberate and systematic attempt was made to destroy this pyramid by the command of the Muhammedan ruler of Egypt. The account of the character of Mycerinus and of his pyramid as given by Herodotus is as follows: "They said that after him, Mycerinus,* son of Cheops, reigned over Egypt; that the conduct of his father was displeasing to him; and that he opened the temples, and permitted the people, who were worn down to the last extremity, to return to their employments, and to sacrifices; and that he made the most just decisions of all their kings. On this account, of all the kings that ever reigned in Egypt, they praise him most, for he both judged well in other respects, and moreover, when any man complained of his decision, he used to make him some present out of his own treasury and pacify his anger.
This king also left a pyramid much less than that
of his father, being on each side twenty feet short of three plethra; it is quadrangular, and built half way up of Ethiopian stone. Some of the Grecians erroneously say that this pyramid is the work of the courtesan Rhodopis; but they evidently appear to me ignorant who Rhodopis was; for they would not else have attributed to her the building such a pyramid, on which, so to speak, numberless thousands of talents were expended; besides, Rhodopis flourished in the reign of Amasis, and not at this time; for she was very many years later than those kings who left these pyramids." (Cary's translation.)
In one of the three small pyramids near that of Mycerinus the name of this king is painted on the ceiling.
* Book ii., 129, 134.
The age of the Sphinx is unknown, and few of the facts connected with its history have come down to these days. Some years ago it was generally believed to have been made during the rule of the kings of the Middle Empire over Egypt, but when the stele which recorded the repairs made in the temple of the sphinx by Thothmes IV., B.C. 1533, came to light, it became certain that it was the work of one of the kings of the Ancient Empire. The stele records that one day during an after-dinner sleep, Harmachis appeared to Thothmes IV., and promised to bestow upon him the crown of Egypt if he would dig his image, i.e., the Sphinx, out of the sand. At the end of the inscription part of the name of Cha-f-Ra or Chephren appears, and hence some have thought that this king was the maker of the Sphinx; as the statue of Chephren was subsequently found in the temple close by, this theory was generally adopted. An inscription found by Mariette near one of the pyramids to the east of the pyramid of Cheops shows that the Sphinx existed in the time of Chufu or Cheops. The Egyptians called the Sphinx hu | ^ J§!^£, and he represented the god Harmachis,
i.e., Heru-em-chut 1 rOi, "Horus in the horizon," or
the rising sun, the conqueror of darkness, the god of the morning. On the tablet erected by Thothmes IV., Harmachis says that he gave life and dominion to Thothmes III., and he promises to give the same good gifts to his successor Thothmes IV. The discovery of the steps which led up to the Sphinx, a smaller Sphinx, and an open temple, etc., was made by Caviglia, who first excavated this monument; within the last few years very extensive excavations have been made round it by the Egyptian Government, and several hitherto unseen parts of it have been brought to view. The Sphinx is hewn out of the living rock, but pieces of stone have been added where necessary; the body is about 150 feet long, the paws are 50 feet long, the head is 30 feet long, the face is 14 feet wide, and from the top of the head to the base of the monument the distance is about 70 feet. Originally there probably were ornaments on the head, the whole of which was covered with a limestone covering, and the face was coloured red; of these decorations scarcely any traces now remain, though they were visible towards the end of the last century. The condition in which the monument now appears is due to the savage destruction of its features by the Muhammedan rulers of Egypt, some of whom caused it to be used for a target. Around this imposing relic of antiquity, whose origin is wrapped in mystery, a number of legends and superstitions have clustered in all ages; but Egyptology has shown I. that it was a colossal image of Ra Harmachis, and therefore of his human representative upon earth, the king of Egypt who had it hewn, and II. that it was in existence in the time of, and was probably repaired by, Cheops and Chephren, who lived about three thousand seven hundred years before Christ.
The Temple Of The Sphinx.
A little to the south-east of the Sphinx lies the large granite and limestone temple excavated by M. Mariette in 1853; statues of Chephren (now at Gizeh) were found in it, and hence it has been generally supposed that he was the builder of it. It is a good specimen of the solid simple buildings which the Egyptians built during the Ancient Empire. In one chamber, and at the end of the passage leading from it, are hewn in the wall niches which were probably intended to hold mummies.
The Tomb Of Numbers.
This tomb was made for Cha-f-Ra-anch, a "royal relative" and priest of Chephren (Cha-f-Ra), the builder of the second
pyramid. It is called the "tomb of numbers" because the numbers of the cattle possessed by Chaf-Ra-anch are written upon its walls.
This tomb, named after the British Consul-General of Egypt at that time, was excavated by Howard Vyse in 1837; it is not older than the XXVIth dynasty. The shaft is about 55 feet deep; at the bottom of it is a small chamber in which were found three sarcophagi in niches.
The pyramids of Gizeh are surrounded by a large number of tombs of high officials and others connected with the services carried on in honour of the kings who built the pyramids. Some few of them are of considerable interest, and as they are perishing little by little, it is advisable to see as many of the best specimens as possible.
The Pyramids Of Abu Roash.
These pyramids lie about six miles north of the Pyramids of Gizeh, and are thought to be older than they. Nothing remains of one except five or six courses of stone, which show that the length of each side at the base was about 350 feet; a passage about 160 feet long leading down to a subterranean chamber about 43 feet long. A pile of stones close by marks the site of another pyramid; the others have disappeared. Of the age of these pyramids nothing certain is known. The remains of a causeway about a mile long leading to them are still visible.
The Pyramids Of Abusir.
These pyramids, originally fourteen in number, were built by kings of the Vth dynasty, but only four of them are now standing, probably because of the poorness of the workmanship and the careless way in which they were put together. The most northerly pyramid was built by Sahu-Ra, the second king of the Vth
dynasty, B.c. 3533; its actual height is about 120 feet, and the length of each side at the base about 220 feet. The blocks of stone in the sepulchral chamber are exceptionally large. Sahu-Ra made war in the peninsula of Sinai, he founded a town near Esneh, and he built a temple to Sechet at Memphis.
The pyramid to the south of that of Sahu-Ra was built O A „ Usr^n.Rii son 0fthe
Sun, An." This king, like Sahu-Ra, also made war in Sinai. The largest of these three pyramids is now about 165 feet high and 330 feet square; the name of its builder is unknown. Abusir is the Busiris of Pliny.