Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors]

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

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, on the 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 orgya
(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 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

Great

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,

on the 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 grcat pyramid, each side of which is a plethron and a half in length.” (Cary's translation.)

THE SECOND PYRAMID. The second pyramid at Gîzeh was built by Chā-f-Rā, (Bico), or Chephren, the third king of the IVth dynasty, B.C. 3666, who called it A, 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,

| 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.

of Chephren.

which was found near the temple, close by this pyramid, confirms the statements of Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus, that Chephren built it. A statue of this king, now

in the Gîzeh Museum, was found in the granite temple Pyramid close by. This pyramid appears to be larger than the

Great Pyramid because it stands upon a higher level of stone foundation ; it was cased with stone originally and polished, but the greater part of the outer casing has disappeared. An ascent of this pyramid can only be made with difficulty. It was first explored in 1816 by Belzoni (born 1778, died 1823), the discoverer of the tomb of Seti I. and of the temple of Rameses II. at Abu Simbel. In the north side of the pyramid are two openings, one at the base and one about 50 feet above it. The upper opening leads into a corridor 105 feet long, which descends into a chamber 464 x 164 x 22 feet, which held the granite sarcophagus in which Chephren was buried. The lower opening leads into a corridor about 100 feet long, which, first descending and then ascending, ends in the chamber mentioned above, which is usually called Belzoni's Chamber. The actual height is about 450 feet, and the length of each side at the base about 700 feet. The rock upon which the pyramid stands has been scarped on the north and west sides to make the foundation level. The history of the building of the pyramid is thus stated by

Herodotus': “The Egyptians say that this Cheops reigned Pyramid fifty years ; and when he died, his brother Chephren sucChephren. ceeded to the kingdom; and he followed the same practices

as the other, both in other respects, and in building a pyramid ; which does not come up to the dimensions of his brother's, for I myself measured them; nor has it subterraneous chambers; nor does a channel from the Nile flow to it, as to the other ; but this flows through an artificial aqueduct round an island within, in which they say the body of Cheops is laid. Having laid the first course of variegated Ethiopian stones, less in height than the other by forty feet, he built it near the large pyramid. They both stand on the same hill, which is about 100 feet high. Chęphren, they said, reigned fifty-six years. Thus 106 years are reckoned, during

i Bk. ii. 127.

which the Egyptians suffered all kinds of calamities, and for this length of time the temples were closed and never opened. From the hatred they bear them, the Egyptians are not very willing to mention their names ; but call the pyramids after Philition, a shepherd, who at that time kept his cattle in those parts." (Cary's translation.)

inus.

THE THIRD PYRAMID. The third pyramid at Gîzeh was built by Men-kau-Rā, (owney, 1), the fourth king of the IVth dynasty, about B.C. 3633, who called it A, Her. Herodotus and other ancient authors tell us that Men-kau-Rā, or Mycerinus, was Pyramid buried in this pyramid, but Manetho states that Nitocris, a o queen of the VIth dynasty, was the builder. There can be, however, but little doubt that it was built by Mycerinus, for the sarcophagus and the remains of the inscribed coffin of this king were found in one of its chambers by Howard Vyse in 1837. The sarcophagus, which measured 8 x3 x 21 feet, was lost through the wreck of the ship in which it was sent to England, but the venerable fragments of the coffin are preserved in the British Museum, and form one of the most valuable objects in the famous collection of that institution. The formula on it is one which is found upon coffins down to the latest period, but as the date of Mycerinus is known, it is possible to draw some interesting and valuable conclusions from the fact that it is found upon his coffin. It proves that as far back as 3,600 years before Christ the Egyptian religion was established on a firm base, that the doctrine of immortality was already deeply rooted in the human mind. The art of preserving the human body by embalming was also well understood and generally practised at that early date. The pyramid of Men-kau-Rā, like that of Chephren, is Pyramid

of Mybuilt upon a rock with a sloping surface; the inequality of cerinus. the surface in this case has been made level by building up courses of large blocks of stones. Around the lower part the remains of the old granite covering are visible to a depth of B. M.

Z

« PreviousContinue »