Page images

made to break into it, and one of the Arabs who took part in one of these attempts, “Ahmed the Carpenter,” seems to have left his name inside one of the chambers in red ink. It is probable that he is the same man who opened the Great Pyramid at Gîzeh, A.D. 820. A black basalt sarcophagus, from which the cover had been dragged off, an arm, a shin bone, and some ribs and fragments of the skull from the mummy of Unås were found in the sarcophagus chamber. The walls of the two largest chambers and two of the corridors are inscribed with ritual texts and prayers of a very interesting character. Unás, the last king of the Vth dynasty, reigned about thirty years. The Mastabat el-Farûn was thought by Mariette to be the tomb of Unás, but some scholars thought that the “blunted pyramid" at Dahshûr was his tomb, because his name was written upon the top of it.

The PYRAMID OF TETA @D. called in Egyptian Țet-ásu, lies to the north-east of the Step Pyramid, and was opened in 1881. The Arabs call it the "Prison Pyramid,” because local tradition says that it is built near the ruins of the prison where Joseph the patriarch was confined. Its actual height is about 59 feet; the length of its sides at the base is 210 feet, and the platform at the top is about 50 feet. The arrangement of the chambers and passages and the plan of construction followed is almost identical with that of the pyramid of Unås. This pyramid was broken into in ancient days, and two of the walls of the sarcophagus chamber have literally been smashed to pieces by the hammer blows of those who expected to find treasure inside them. The inscriptions, painted in green upon the walls, have the same subject matter as those inscribed upon the walls of the chambers of the pyramid of Unás. According to Manetho, Tetà, the first king of the VIth dynasty, reigned about fifty years, and was murdered by one of his guards.

The PYRAMID OF PEPI I., or meri, son of the Sun, Pepi," lies to the south-east of the

Step Pyramid, and forms one of the central group of pyramids at Şakkâralı, where it is called the Pyramid of Shêkh Abu Manşûr; it was opened in 1880. Its actual height is about 40 feet, and the length of the sides at the base is about 250 feet; the arrangement of the chambers, etc., inside is the same as in the pyramids of Unås and Tetå, but the ornamentation is slightly different. It is the worst preserved of these pyramids, and has suffered most at the hands of the spoilers, probably because having been constructed with stones which were taken from tombs ancient already in those days, instead of stones fresh from the quarry, it was more easily injured.

The granite sarcophagus was broken to take out the mummy, fragments of which were found lying about on the ground; the cover too, smashed in pieces, lay on the ground close by. A small rose granite box, containing alabaster jars, was also found in the sarcophagus chamber. The inscriptions are, like those inscribed on the walls of the pyramids of Unás and Tetá, of a religious nature; some scholars see in them evidence that the pyramid was usurped by another Pepi, who lived at a much later period than the VIth dynasty. The pyramid of Pepi I., the second king of the VIth dynasty, who reigned, according to Manetho, fifty-three years, was called in Egyptian by the same name as Memphis, i.e., Men-nefer, and numerous priests were attached to its service.



These pyramids, four of stone and two of brick, lie about three and a half miles to the south of Maştabat el-Far'ûn. The largest stone pyramid is about 326 feet high, and the length of each side at the base is about 700 feet; beneath it are three subterranean chambers. The second stone pyramid is about 321 feet high, and the length of its sides at the base is 620 feet; it is usually called the “Blunted Pyramid,” because the lowest parts of its sides are built at one angle, and the completing parts at another. The larger of the two brick pyramids is about 90 feet high, and the length of the sides at the base is about 350 feet; the smaller

is about 156 feet high, and the length of its sides at the base is about 343 feet.


This pyramid, called by the Arabs El-Haram el-Kaddab, Tombs of or “the False Pyramid," is probably so named because it is Middle

Early and unlike any of the other pyramids known to them; it is said Empire


to have been built by Seneferu (ni , the first king in plan.

of the IVth dynasty, but there is no indisputable evidence that he was the builder. The pyramid is about 115 feet high, and consists of three stages : the first is 70, the second 20, and the third about 25 feet high. The stone for this building was brought from the Mokattam hills, but it seems never to have been finished; as in all other pyramids, the entrance is on the north side. When opened in modern times the sarcophagus chamber was found empty, and it would seem that this pyramid had been entered and rifled in ancient days.


Egyptian tombs belonging to a period subsequent to the mastabas and pyramids, i.e., about the XIIth dynasty, usually have the three characteristic parts of these forms of tomb, viz., the chapel, the passage to the sarcophagus chamber, and the sarcophagus chamber itself excavated in the solid rock; sometimes, however, the chapel or chamber in which the relatives of the deceased assembled from time to time, is above ground and separate from the tomb, as in the case of the pyramid. Tombs having the chapel separate are the oldest, and the best examples are found at Abydos. On a brick base about 50 feet by 35 feet, and four or five feet high, rose a pyramid to a height of about 30 feet; theoretically such a tomb was supposed to consist of chapel,


Abydos étant surtout une nécropole du Moyen Empire, c'est la petite pyramide qui y domine. Des centaines de ces monuments, disposés sans ordre, hérissaient la nécropole et devaient lui donner un aspect pittoresque bien différent de l'aspect des nécropoles d'un autre temps. Mariette, Abydos, tom. II. Paris, 1880, p. 39.

Tombs at passage and pit, but at Abydos, owing to the friable nature of Abydos.

the rock, these do not exist, and the mummy was laid either in the ground between the foundations, or in the masonry itself, or in a chamber which projected from the building and formed a part of it, or in a chamber beneath. This class of tomb is common both at Thebes and Abydos. Tombs hewn entirely out of the solid rock were used at all periods, and the best examples of these are found in the mountains behind

Asyûț, at Beni-Hasân, at Thebes, and at Aswân. The tombs Tombs at at Beni-Hasân are about fifteen in number, and they all BeniHasân.

belong to the XIIth dynasty ; they have preserved the chief characteristics of the mastabas at Şakkârah, that is to say, they consist of a chamber and a shaft leading down to a corridor, which ends in the chamber containing the sarcophagus and the mummy. The tombs rise tier above tier, and follow the course of the best layers of stone; the most important here are those of Ameni and Chnemu-ḥetep, which are remarkable for possessing columns somewhat resembling those subsequently called Doric, hewn out of the solid rock. The columns inside the tomb have sixteen sides.

The bold headland which rises up in the low range of hills which faces the whole of the island of Elephantine, just opposite to the modern town of Aswân, has been found to be literally honeycombed with tombs, tier above tier, of various epochs. In ancient days there was down at the water's edge a massive stone quay, from which a broad, fine double staircase, cut in the living rock, ascended to a layer of firm rock about 150 feet higher. At Thebes and at Beni-Hasân, where such staircases must have existed, they have been destroyed,

and only the traces remain to show that they ever existed. Tombs at At Aswân it is quite different, for the whole of this remarkAswân.

able staircase is intact. It begins at the bottom of the slope, well above the highest point reached by the waters of the Nile during the inundation, and following the outward curve of the hill, ends in a platform in front of the highest tombs. Between each set of steps which form the staircase is a smooth slope, up which the coffins and sarcophagi were drawn to the tomb by the men who walked up the steps at each side. At the bottom of the staircase the steps are only a few inches

deep, but towards the top they are more than a foot. On each side of the staircase is a wall which appears to be of later date than the staircase itself, and about one-third of the way up there is a break in each wall, which appears to be a specially constructed opening leading to passages on the right and left respectively. The walls probably do not belong to the period of the uppermost tier of tombs, and appear to have been made during the rule of the Greeks or Romans. In the hill of the tombs at Aswân there are three distinct Tombs of

the Vith layers of stone which have been chosen by the ancient dynasty at Egyptians for the purpose of excavating tombs. The finest Aswân. and thickest layer is at the top, and this was chosen principally by the architects of the VIth dynasty for the sepulchres of the governors of Elephantine. The tombs here belong to the VIth and XIIth dynasties, and of the former period the most interesting is that of Sabben, which is situated at the top of the staircase. Sabben was an official who lived in the

time of Pepi II., whose cartouche o du) Nefer-ka-Rā is

found on the right hand side of the doorway. The entrance to this tomb is made through a rectangular opening, in which is a small doorway about one-third of the height of the opening, that is to say through a door within a door. The walls inside were covered with a thin layer of plaster, and upon them were painted scenes in the life of the man who was buried there. Of the XIIth dynasty tombs, the most interesting Tombs of is that of Se-renput, in the front of which there originally dynasty at stood a portico. The scarped rock was ornamented with Aswân. inscriptions, rows of cattle, etc., etc., and passing through the doorway, a chamber or chapel having four rectangular pillars was reached. A passage, in the sides of which were niches having figures in them, leads to a beautifully painted shrine in which was a black granite scated figure of the deceased; thus the serdâb and the stele of the mastaba became united. On the right hand side was a tunnel, which, winding as it descended, led to the sarcophagus chamber which was situated exactly under the shrine containing the figure of the deceased. Se-renput lived in the time of Usertsen I., and was an officer in the service of this king when he marched

« PreviousContinue »