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SUMMIT OF THE PYRAMID.

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uttering a low growl, which presently rose into the more audible, and, to my ears, less musical cry of “buckshese !" From all this I began to suspect that something wonderful had been achieved ; and some idea of my perilous situation broke upon me, as I saw my friends beneath waving their hats, and looking up, no doubt with astonishment, as we sat perched upon the top, which is not more than six feet square. The apex stone has been removed, and the top now consists of the four outer slabs, and one in the centre, which is raised upon its end, and leans to the eastward. I do not think that human hands could have raised it thus from its bed, on account of its size, and the confined space on which they would have to work. I am inclined to think the top was struck with lightning, and the position thus altered by it. The three of us had just room to sit upon the place. I saw two or three names scratched upon the central slab, to which of course I added my own: and as a memento of the spot, collected some bones of the jerbil, which lay scattered about us. At first, I imagined these might have been carried up by hawks, but I soon heard the living animals squeeling under where I sat. I could not discover the Arabic inscription mentioned by Wilkinson, on any of the stones ; but I had far more interesting and absorbing objects to attract my attention, for the grandeur and extent of the picture that now presented itself from this giddy height, was almost as intoxicating as the ascent I had just completed. Around me lay the vast plain of interminable sand, that marked the Lybian and African deserts, the scorching, echoless wilderness, which mingled with the clear blue of the atmosphere at the horizon. In a sloping vale, bounded by massive rocks, the unvaried hue of barrenness was enlivened by what appeared to me a narrow silver ribbon, that wound its tortuous course for miles and miles, as it seemed to rise out of the junction of sand and sky above, and was lost to vision as it sunk into it in a similar manner below. Its bauks were green

and verdant, with the richest foliage, and groves of waving palms were now and then relieved by the gleam of noonday light, that glanced from the snow-white minaret, or the stately dome of a marabut. This ribbon was the river Nile—its banks, the land of Egypt.

The thousand pinnacles of the mosques of Cairo rose to view beyond the goodly land ; the white sail of the kanghia looked but as a sea-bird's wing, and the drove of camels, as a black dotted line upon the plain beneath. The whole of the pyramids

T

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VIEW FROM THE GREAT PYRAMID.

were below me, and appeared almost at my feet. What remembrances—what inexpressible emotions must not the traveller ever feel, while viewing such an exciting picture, where the shadows of the past, and the realities of the present, rush together on his senses! Memphis and Heliopolis stood within my view; but these are gone, as are the people that raised those stupendous sepulchres themselves. Battles have been fought round their base; the storms of above three thousand years have played harmlessly upon them; men, the most renowned the world ever saw, heroes and philosophers of every age and from every land, have come to wonder at their greatness ; dynasties and kingdoms have passed away; the very bodies of the persons for whose use they were erected, were most likely ransacked for the bit of gold that may have ornamented them; and the earth itself has changed much of its external form since they were built ; yet, there they stand, as if waiting for the dawning of another transformation of our planet.

[graphic]

This view of the pyramid of Chephrenes was taken from the platform on the top of the great pyramid of Cheops—the figures are sitting on the second step.

THE EXTERNAL COATING.

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The heat was most intense, and the stones so hot, that it became unpleasant to sit on them very long, and it would be rather too daring an experiment to attempt standing. The descent was, as might be expected, much more dangerous, though not so difficult. The guides, however, tied a long sash under my arms, and so let me slide down from course to course of these covering stones, which are of a yellowish lime-stone, somewhat different from the material of which the steps are composed, and totally distinct from the rock of the base, or the coating of the passages. The elevation of this pyramid is about 450 feet, with a base, according to Belzoni, of 684 feet; but I am of opinion, as all will be who examine it, that the sand has accumulated to a great height up its sides. The smooth coating on the upper 140 feet, is part of that spoken of by Herodotus, and was what the olden authors styled marble—a term applied by them to all polished stones. The Halicarnassian historian likewise informs us, that these stones were raised by small pieces of wood, and the coating commenced from the top! This has been denied; but an examination on the spot will, I think, convince any observant inquirer of its truth, and that, in fact, it was the easiest and perhaps the only way in which the pyramids could be so finished.

[graphic]

The accompanying wood-cut shows the shape of these stones, and how they were placed ; and as the pyramid was first completed, except the casing, it explains to us this apparently difficult problem.

The upper part of this design shows the coating, and the lower the steps : the upper left-hand figure gives the shape of one

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INTERIOR OF THE GREAT PYRAMID.

On my

of the casing stones, and the lower that used at the corners. It was easy, by the pieces of wood, (which I consider were used as levers, and not pulleys,) to raise each of these stones, from step to step, to the summit, and so carry it on to the top, as each step was sufficient to support a range of the coping-stone. But had the work been commenced from the bottom, it is plain, either that an enormous scaffolding and apparatus must have been used to raise these great blocks as the work proceeded, or the earth heaped up, as was supposed by Strabo, round each course, and so an inclined plane formed—to erect and remove which would have been a work little inferior to the construction of the pyramid itself.*

descent I rejoined my party, and we entered the great pyramid, for the inprovement of the entrance to which, as well as the clearing away of much of the sand from its base, we are indebted to the zeal and liberality of Colonel Vyse, and the labours of the enthusiastic and indefatigable Caviglia. The different chambers, wells, and passages of this pyramid have been so frequently and accurately described in works treating expressly of the antiquities of Egypt, that I can do little more than draw a brief outline, and conduct the reader in a few minutes over the ground I spent some hours in examining.

The Arab guides, who amounted to about half a dozen for each of our party, conducted us down the first low, narrow, and sloping passage, to another which led up to the queen's, and afterwards to that denominated the king's chamber. This latter

* In the 829th number of the “ Athenæum,” (Sept. 19th, 1843,) we read, that at a meeting of the Egyptian Society held in Cairo, the German antiquary, Dr. Lepsius, gave an exposition of the mode of constructing pyramids, in which he puts forward the very views which I advocated in the foregoing text in the year 1840; and in that article will be found a section or diagram of the architectural structure of the outer casing, precisely similar in principle to that exhibited in the illustration on the previous page. It may, however, be possible that Dr. Lepsius had not seen, or was not aware of my explanation. He stated, “ that he was indebted to Mr. I. Wild, architect, for this suggestion, and it agrees with and explains the account given by Herodotus, who states that machines were placed upon the steps, and the stones raised from one step to another." See also an article on the same subject, by Mr. Perring, in the "Athenæum" for March 9, 1813.

[blocks in formation]

is an oblong apartment, the sides of which are formed of enor. mous blocks of granite reaching from the floor to the roof; similar stones span the whole extent of the ceiling, and at the distant extremity of the chamber is the sarcophagus, seven feet six inches in length, of polished granite, which rung loudly when we struck it with any metallic substance. In the walls of this apartment are several small apertures, which proceed upwards through the pyramid. These may have been made for the purpose of admitting air from without; or to be more Egyptian in our speculations, they may have been used as acoustic tubes during the mysteries that were here enacted. The natives informed me that some time before, water which had been carried up and spilled on the outside, found its way into this chamber through these channels. In the ascending gallery are grooves cut in the sides, in order to let down a massive stone portcullis, which, in all probability, closed up the passage, (like to that raised by Belzoni, in the second pyramid,) after the body and sarcophagus had been placed within.

A pistol having been discharged in the chamber, the echo it produced was deafening, and by its repetition fully verified the conjecture that there were many other yet undiscovered apartments and cavities in this vast pile. The noise of its report was most stunning, and the reverberation that followed tremendous ; in the vaults above, in the wells and depths beneath, and around on all sides of us, it was continued for almost a minute. When the smoke, which nearly filled the chamber, had partly escaped, the grouping of our party afforded a picture of great interesteach standing in an attitude of deep attention, intently listening, to catch the last retreating sound as it sped its way into those mysterious recesses, which it alone was permitted to visit—some eight or ten wild, bearded, and half-naked Arabs holding the lights—and the Europeans in their various costumes, motionless, and with the expression of amazement and anxious curiosity strongly pictured on their countenances, afforded a subject worthy the pencil of a Salvator Rosa.

Owing to the industry of Colonel Campbell, a ladder has been formed of pieces of wood fitted into the stones that line the passage leading to Davison's chamber, an apartment of about the same length and breadth, but much lower than the king's, over which it is placed, and barely admitting us to stand upright

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