Images de page
PDF
ePub

itself, after the bottom of the chamber was depreffed. There is nothing more to be seen in the chamber, except two paffages, one north, the other fouth. It is not poffible to find out their use or original depth, for they are choaked with stones and other things, which people have thrown in to fatisfy their curiofity, and to discover how far they might go.

The second pyramid is exactly like the firft, only it does not appear to have been opened. Toward the top it is covered on all fides with granite, fo clofely joined and fimooth, that it is impoffible to afcend it. There are here and there, it is true, fome holes cut; but they are not at equal distances, nor do they continue high enough to encourage any one to attempt the getting up to the top of this pyramid. On the east side are feen the ruins of a temple; with ftones of a prodigious fize. To the weft, about thirty feet deep, is a paffage, cut in the rock, upon which the pyramid ftands, which fhews how much they were obliged to take from the rock, in order to make the plain.

The third pyramid is not fo high as the two first by 100 feet; but is perfectly like them in every other refpect. It is fhut up, as is the fecond, and from the prodigious ftones that lie to the north east, it should feem as if here had been a temple more diftinguishable than that already mentioned. The entrance to it was on the east side.

The fourth pyramid is 100 feet lefs than the third: it is like the reft, but shut up, and without any temple to it. On the top is one large ftone, which feems to have ferved as a pedeftal. It is not exactly in a line with the rest, being a little to the weft of them.

These four great pyramids are furrounded with a number of little ones, which for the most part have been opened. There are three to the east of the first pyramid, and two of them fo ruinous, that the chambers of them are no longer difcernible. To the west also may be seen many more, but all in ruins. Oppofite the second pyramid there are five or fix, all of which have been opened. In one of them is a square pit, or well, thirty feet deep.

About 300 paces to the east of the fecond pyramid, is seen the head of the famous fphinx, of which our Author has given us three defigns, one profile, the other two in front.

Near to the pyramids are fepulchral caves, or grottos, in fome of which are hieroglyphics, which therefore our Author thinks, were not made till long after the pyramids; they are all open and empty. He vifited several of them, but found nothing therein, except a bit of an earthen idol, like those

3

which

which are found in great quantity near to Saltara, in the land of Momies.

These monuments must be vifited in winter, that is, from November to the middle of April; for in fummer the waters, and the descent of the Arabs from the mountains, who make no fcruple of pillaging strangers, render it either imprudent, or impracticable. If you fet out from Grand Cairo, on affes, to Califh, you pafs the ifle of Rodda, and on the left fide, be hind the Mokkias, hire a boat for yourselves and cattle, and land at Gizè, oppofite to Cairo; and a league further take up your lodgings with the Kaimakan, where you have vermin, but no beds, nor any other conveniences, for the fhequin you must pay him. In the morning you depart, and come to a little village, where there is a camp of Arabs, and you take two of them as your guides. When you come to the foot of the mountains, near the pyramids, you alight, and at the entrance of the firft pyramid discharge your piftols, to drive away the bats. The two Arabs enter firft, to clear away the fand, and you follow, (ftripped of every thing but your fhirt, on account of the exceffive heat in the pyramids,) with a torch in your hand, which is not lighted till you enter the chambers. At the end of the firft paffage, where the communication has been opened by force, it is not above one foot and an half high, and two feet wide. Here the traveller lays himfelf down, and the Arabs pull him by the legs through this ftrait paffage, covered with fand and duft: this is but for two ells, or it would be infupportable.

After this vifit to the pyramids, if your curiofity is not al ready fatisfied, you may examine the old bridges, fituate to the eaft and by north of Gize, and north-weft of the pyramids. The firft extends itself north and south, the other east and weft. No one can now tell for what purpose they were built. This place is not, like others, exposed to the waters, tho' perhaps there may have been formerly a califh, or canal. By the manner of building, and by infcriptions ftill left, they feem to be the work of the Saracens. The firft has ten arches, 241 feet long, and 20 feet four inches wide. They are 400 paces diftant from each other, but are joined by a brick wall.

This journey may be accomplished in one day, and at half the expence, (that is to fay, two fhequins the whole company) by fetting out very early in the morning from Cairo, and not ftopping by the way. You will have time enough to see every thing, and may return in good time the fame day; and our

* Mr. Norden has here expreffed himself very inaccurately: we know not whether he gives the dimenfions of the whole bridge, or of each particular arch.

REVIEW, Sept. 1756.

[blocks in formation]

Author fays he had rather go twice this way than once the other.

Befides thofe already defcribed, there are others, called the pyramids of Dagjour. They are feen to the fouth of thofe of Memphis, and end near Meduun, where ftands the most fouthern of them. Its greateft effect is when feen at a diftance, for when you come up to it, you find it built of large bricks, baked in the fun and therefore it is called by the Turks and Arabs, the falfe pyramid. It is confpicuous at a great distance, not being near the mountains, nor in the neighbourhood of the other pyramids; and is raifed upon a little hill. The four fides are equal, floping down in the form of a glacis in fortifications. It has three or four steps, or degrees, of which the lowest may be twenty feet in perpendicular height. This pyramid has never been opened, and the expence and difficulty of deftroying it, will, probably, deter any one from the attempt. Of the rest of the pyramids of Dagjour, which are fituate near Sakarra, there are only two that deferve notice; one of them has been opened, but vifited by few. There are in all twenty of them. As the old Memphis ftood near to this plain, Mr. Norden conjectures, that these pyramids were inclosed within that capital.

At the end of this defcription of the pyramids, is a letter from our Author to the late Mr. Folkes, in which are fome remarks upon Mr. Greaves' account of the pyramids. He allows the merit juftly due to Mr. Greaves, and fays he wrote his remarks, not to deftroy that writer's obfervations, but as additions to them. When Mr. Greaves fays, "all these py*ramids confift of ftone," it fhews that he had not gone far enough into Upper Egypt, to fee the pyramid of bricks, which is unquestionably the fame that, according to Herodotus, was built by Cheops, and is fituate within four leagues of Cairo. It is a mistake to imagine any one of the pyramids to be the fepulchre of Ofymandyas, from whence Cambyfes took the golden circle. It is rather at Lukoreen, and ftill entire amidst the ruins of antient Thebes. The walls of the fepulchre, and of the Temple where it stood, are covered with figures, which represent the funeral obfequies and facrifices, celebrated on the death of that prince; as the palace and porticos, tho' in ruins, contain his battles and great actions. Mr. Norden took defigns of them on the spot, and has fhewn where the golden circle might have been placed. But thefe defigns are not in this volume. He proves the great antiquity of the pyramids by these two arguments: 1. That they were built before the ufe of hieroglyphics, for none are to be found on them either within or without. And if what Vanfleb fays is true, tho' wẹ

[ocr errors]

cannot

cannot but give the preference to Mr. Norden, fuch a small quantity on no one knows which of the pyramids, may have been infcribed long after they were built. But the meaning of these characters was unknown in the time of Cambyfes, and as Memphis was raised from the ruins of Thebes, it is moft probable that these vast structures were erected before the building of Memphis. 2. The granite used for the farcophagus, the cafing of the chambers, and the fummit of the fecond pyramid, is not polifhed; and therefore, as all other marble made ufe of in thefe buildings is polished, they must have been erected before the art of polishing granite was difcovered, that is, before the obelifks were raised; or fepulchral urns, or cases to momies made; all of which, very few excepted, are of polifhed granite.

Our Author joins with Mr. Greaves in afferting, that the fuperftition of Egypt was one principal cause for the building the pyramids, but he thinks that ambition alfo had a large fhare in it. They are certainly monuments of the moft durable form, for it would take as much time to deftroy as to raise them. It is not a little furprizing, adds he, that fo vast a mountain fhould produce no other than a mouse, for to fuch may the narrow paffages and chambers juftly be compared. But then it should be confidered, that the art of making vaults and roofs might not then be fo well known, as to make men think it practicable to support the enormous weight of the pyramid over them, especially as it was not composed of fuch materials as to fupport itself, which would have required fquare blocks of ftone, wrought as on the outside. And in the leffer pyramids, which are, in great measure, open, it may be feen that they were built entirely of fquare ftones, and therefore their chambers are much larger in proportion than thofe of the greater pyramids.

Mr. Norden finds it neceffary to diffent from Strabo, concerning thofe ftones which he calls the tombs of Mercury. Nature, not art, difpofed them in that order in which they lie one upon another; for in this refpect the granite differs from other rocks, that it lies in the quarry like a heap of large flints. The workmen who antiently cut granite here, carried away fuch pieces as were proper, and left others standing here and there, as limits, or for fome other purpofe. This feems to have been the origin of what are called the Tumuli Mercuriales. Here are hieroglyphics, and an infinite quantity of granite, cut into fquares, fome begun, and others finished, in the very ftate they were left by the workmen, who, perhaps, were driven away by the calamities of war. Not far from hence is the obelisk that was begun, but not finished; and the entire $ 2

plain

plain of which Strabo fpeaks, was formed by taking away granite, which must have been of a better fort than that on the borders of the Nile, or it would not have been preferred to that which could be carried with greater ease. On the borders of the Nile too, in fome places, there are ftones covered with hieroglyphics, and others begun to be worked upon, in like manner as in the place above defcribed. Mr. Greaves is certainly mistaken in fuppofing that thefe Tumuli Mercuriales ferved as a model for building the pyramids; their fhape and fize are too diffimilar; nor is there any other appearance of art in them, but the hieroglyphics, which, according to Mr. Norden, are more modern than the pyramids.

That pyramid which is ufually diftinguished as the first, fhould be confidered as the last of those made of the fame materials. It does not seem to have been entirely finished, and has not fo very old an afpect as others that are near it. Mr. Greaves is certainly miftaken, when he supposes the inequality of the fteps of the pyramid to have proceeded from the injuries of time. The ftones of which they are compofed differ from four to five, and fometimes to ten inches. They were not made for afcending and defcending; and regularity was not observed but as it was neceflary for the cafe of the workmen, and for carrying on the form of the pyramid. Perhaps. this inequality of the fteps has occafioned the different accounts given of their number, by different travellers.

Our Author cannot conceive how Mr. Greaves, who was fo very accurate in his defcriptions, could fay there is nothing now left of that admirable bridge mentioned by Herodotus; for there remains a confiderable part of it, enough to form a juft idea of its conftruction and ufe: and to the eaft of the third pyramid are the remains of another bridge. Thefe, as they now ftand, are to be feen in our Author's defigns.

The fummit of the fecond pyramid fhews plainly, whatever may have been the opinion of Proclus, that it could not have been defigned for an obfervatory, because it is rendered inacceffible by being covered with granite. And if the reft are not fo, the architect might have nevertheless intended to finish them all in the fame manner *.

*This is true; but then it fhould also be obferved, that Proclus mentions another ufe, which was, to determine the annus fydereus. We cannot here enter into the confideration of the aftronomical ufes of pyramids and obelisks in Egypt; and therefore, refer our readers to what the accurate and ingenious Mr. James Stuart has faid of them, in a letter which he published at Rome, in Latin and Italian, inferibed to Lord Malton, now Marquis of Rockingham.

Con

« PrécédentContinuer »