Page images
PDF
EPUB

represent the deceased, having colossal proportions compared with the other figures, sitting or standing with a round table before him, upon which fruits, flowers, vegetables, ducks, haunches of beef, etc., etc., are placed. These offerings are sometimes carried in before the deceased on the head or hands of servants and others, who often lead beasts appointed for slaughter; they were brought into the tomb in an appointed order, and an endowment to ensure their presentation in the tomb on the specified festivals and seasons was specially provided. The scenes in the tombs which represent agricultural labours, the making of wine, etc., etc.,

Endow- all have reference to the bringing of funereal gifts; and it

ment of , . © © C3 n_—

tombs. seems that certain estates o] nut ent pa Cetta,

©q a I -ts-V.

"estates of the house of everlasting" (i.e., the tomb), were set apart to supply palm branches, fruit, etc., for the table of the dead. The act of bringing these gifts to the tomb at the appointed seasons was probably connected with some religious ceremony, which seems to have consisted in pouring out libations and offering incense, bandages, etc., by the ffi ^ JJ ^£7 ^> cher heb or priest. The Egyptian called

the tomb pa i'etta, "the everlasting house," and he

believed that the ka u or "genius" of the deceased resided
there as long as the mummy of his perishable body,
c/ia, was there. The ka might go in and out of the tomb,
and refresh itself with meat and drink, but it never failed
to go back to the mummy with the name of which it seems

to have been closely connected;' the ba or soul, and the
chu or intelligence did not live in the tomb.

The Pyramids.

The royal tombs of the early dynasties were built in the form of pyramids, and they are, to all intents and purposes, merely mastabas, the greater parts of which are above

1 Hera und Leib vereint bilden das oder die Personlichkeit des Menschen,

das dem Individuum eigenthiimliche Wesen, die ihn von andern unterscheidet und mit seinem Namen in engster Verbindung steht. Brugsch, Die Acgyptologic, p. 181.

ground ; they consist of the chamber in which funereal gifts

were offered, the passage and the sarcophagus chamber. The Pyramids , , . , . , , , , , are tombs

actual pyramid contained the passage and the sarcophagus

chamber, but although the chamber, sometimes called temple

or chapel, in which funereal gifts were offered, was a building

separate from the pyramid, it nevertheless formed an integral

part of the pyramid plan. 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

[graphic]

pyramids of Abu Roash, Gizeh, Zawyet el-'Aryan, Abusir, Sakkarah, and Dahshur. Other places in Egypt where pyramids are found are El-lahun in the Fayyum, 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- 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 Xllth 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.1 In modern times they have been examined by Shaw (1721), 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). uild- it appears that before the actual building of a pyramid lid. 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 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. Layei after layer of stone was then built round 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 round it every

1" 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'udi (ed. Barbier de Mcynard), t ii. p. 404.

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 Gizeh were opened by the Persians violation during the fifth and fourth centuries before Christ; it is ^{j^ probable that they were also entered by the Romans. Khalif the Mamun (a.d. 813-833) entered the Great Pyramid, and Persiansfound 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-Kamil 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:—

The Great Pyramid.

This, the largest of the three pyramids at Gizeh, was built

[graphic][ocr errors]

name was found written in red ink upon the blocks of stone Pyramid inside it All four sides measure in greatest length about of Cheops, ke(_ eacj^ k^t. 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, 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 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 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 io£ 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 T to U. Inside the chamber lies the empty, coverless, broken, red granite sarcophagus of Cheops, measuring "j\ x 3J x 3^ feet The account of the building of this pyramid is told by Herodotus1 as follows: "Now, they told me, that to the reign of Rhampsinitus there was a perfect distribution

1 Bk. ii. 124-126.

« PreviousContinue »