vendredi 29 avril 2011

“La Pyramide de Chéops” - fragment dramatique, par Cordellier Delanoue

Le texte qui suit est selon toute vraisemblance d’Étienne Casimir Hippolyte Cordellier-Delanoue (1806-1854), auteur dramatique, romancier et poète français.
Il a été publié dans La Psyché : choix de pièces en prose et en vers, dédié aux dames (1826-1830)

Photo de Francis Frith - 1859
C’est sous un ciel d’airain, sur des sables arides,
Que les siècles ont vu s’asseoir les pyramides ;
Obélisques des rois, par les rois élevés,
Monuments de l’orgueil par le temps éprouvés :
Qui, des vieux fondateurs de leurs masses grossières,
En oubliant les noms, ont gardé les poussières.
À l’oeil sombre et perçant de l’errant Bédouin
Ces immenses tombeaux apparaissent au loin
Comme ces monts hardis dont la fière nature
Voulut à pans égaux disposer la structure,
Et qui, lorsqu’à leur front le soleil s’est fixé,
Ne présentant point d’ombre au voyageur lassé.

Il en est un surtout, parmi ces mausolées,
Qui vit des Pharaons les ombres désolées
Lever, au bruit des pas d’un calife insolent,
Leur bras accusateur drapé d’un linceul blanc ;
Le ravisseur marcha sous ces voûtes muettes,
Ôta du front des rois les saintes bandelettes,
Et le granit, brisé par le fer, dit encor
Qu’il voulut dans ses flancs découvrir un trésor.

De nos jours, un soldat vint avec une armée
Remuer de nouveau la cendre inanimée
De ces rois par l’Égypte autrefois adorés,
Dans un étroit cercueil aujourd’hui resserrés ;
Cet homme, tout guerrier, aux armes éclatantes,
Avait pris en venant ces tombeaux pour des tentes,
Et, d’un pas conquérant, il était, sans remords,
Entré, comme en un camp, sous ces voûtes de mort,
Pour lui dire les noms des monarques ancêtres
Il traînait après lui des mages et des prêtres
Dont les yeux exercés longtemps avaient appris
À lire l’alphabet d’Isis et d’Osiris.

Que venait-il  chercher dans ces mornes ténèbres ?
Venait-il insulter aux Majestés funèbres
Qu’en ces sombres palais rassemble le Trépas ?
Non : - Avec son épée il assurait ses pas ;
Des anguleux détours parcourant l’intervalle,
Il voulait contempler quelque cendre royale,
Afin de mieux savoir s’il siège un peu d’orgueil
Sur le front couronné d’un monarque au cercueil...

Mais il ne trouva pas ce que d’un œil avide
Bien longtemps il chercha dans ce sépulcre vide.
Rêveur il s’arrêta, - murmura : “Tout finit !”
Et s’assit sur le bord d’un cercueil de granit.

Autour du chef pensif étaient rangés les prêtres :
Nos guerriers, nos savants, debout, esclaves-maîtres,
Tous, dans un grand silence, aux clartés d’un flambeau,
Regardaient Bonaparte assis sur un tombeau.
Affiche de l'exposition "Bonaparte et l'Égypte - IMA 2008-2009

BONAPARTE

Dieu seul est grand et fort et ses œuvres sont belles !
Mais qui donc a construit ces masses éternelles,
Ouvrages de géants par des hommes conçus,
Des deux bouts du désert par l’Arabe aperçus ?

SULEIMAN

Nos pères nous ont dit (et nous devons le croire)
Qu’un puissant roi d’Égypte, ambitieux de gloire,
Chéops, les éleva ; grand comme toi, Sultan,
Il prit tout ce granit aux monts du Mokatan ;
Il voulait dérober sa cendre au sacrilège ;
Il voulait, descendant au cercueil qui protège,
Sur son royaume encor jeter de longs reflets,
Et jusque dans la mort habiter un palais.

BONAPARTE

Cyrus, moins orgueilleux, mourut sans sépulture ;
Il s’offrit en tribut au vœu de la nature ;
Et peu jaloux, dit-on, d’un cadavre embaumé
Restitua son corps à qui l’avait formé.
Ne fit-il pas mieux ?

SULEIMAN

                             Gloire à ta haute sagesse !

BONAPARTE

Honneur au grand Allah ! - Magnifique faiblesse !
De ces rois maintenant dépouillés du bandeau
La tombe pour la terre est un pesant fardeau...
Que sont ces vanités, pour nous, chefs de l’Europe ?
Je méprise Chéops encore plus que Rhodope ;
Aux siècles à venir, aux sables de Memnon,
La courtisane aussi voulut léguer son nom !
Le monde a de tous deux oublié l’épitaphe...
Et chaque pyramide est un grand cénotaphe.
       (une pause)
Mais quel fut le calife avide, audacieux,
Qui troubla du tombeau l’écho silencieux ?

MUHAMED

Ce fut, dit-on, Mahmoud : au berceau de l’aurore,
À Bagdad, de son règne on se souvient encore ;
Mais on impute aussi ces exploits effrayants
Au grand Aroun-Reychild, commandeur des croyants.
On raconte qu’étant entré dans ces sombres retraites
Au mépris des versets de la loi des prophètes,
Il dit à ses soldats : “Qu’on me trouve un trésor !”
Mais soudain, sur ce mur, il lut en lettres d’or :
“Un forfait inutile attend ici l’impie :
“C’est par de grands remords que tout forfait s’expie.”
- Il recula d’horreur et s’enfuit à grands pas,
Car, alignés en rangs par la main du trépas,
Ces coffres surchargés de signes, de peintures,
Des rois ensevelis vivantes sépultures,
Sur les murs adossés, de leurs yeux foudroyants,
Poursuivaient Al-Reychild, commandeur des croyants !

BONAPARTE

Le pain que le méchant dérobe est plein de sable.

MUHAMED, s’inclinant

De gloire et de sagesse, ô source intarissable !
Salut !

BONAPARTE

        Dieu seul est Dieu : que tout lui soit soumis !

SULEIMAN

Ainsi qu’à Mohamed.

BONAPARTE  
                               Je suis de ses amis.

SULEIMAN

Salut de paix ! salut sur le divin prophète !
Salut aussi sur toi que notre Égypte fête,
Sur toi, chef des Français, Général ou Sultan !
.../...

Source : Gallica

jeudi 28 avril 2011

“Si vous êtes pressé par le temps, n’allez pas en Égypte !” (Harry Westbrook Dunning - XIXe-XXe s.)

L’Américain Harry Westbrook Dunning (1871-?) fut professeur en langues sémitiques à la Yale University. Il voyagea en Égypte en 1899.
Avec son épouse Mary Parker, il effectua également de très nombreux autres voyages à travers le monde.
Dans son ouvrage To-day on the Nile (extraits ci-dessous), publié en 1905, il relata le strict minimum sur les pyramides de Guizeh. Selon lui, d’ailleurs, la visite de l’intérieur de la Grande Pyramide était “sans intérêt”, comparativement à l’extérieur du monument. Il reflétait sans doute en cela une pratique très courante à une certaine époque, à savoir celle d’escalader le monument pour découvrir de là-haut le paysage environnant, outre l’aspect sportif de l’aventure qui pouvait apparaître comme le nec plus ultra d’un séjour en terre égyptienne. Quant à l’intérieur de la pyramide, il était souvent synonyme d’inconfort, de fatigue, d’appréhension, voire de peurs... donc de déception : tant d’efforts pour voir une chambre vide !
Ceci n’empêche pas notre auteur de prodiguer des conseils aux touristes tentés par la vallée du Nil : le grand pays qu’est l’Égypte ne se découvre pas à la va-vite ; si l’on ne dispose pas d’assez de temps, mieux vaut choisir une autre destination. Des conseils de bon sens assurément, et sans doute toujours d’actualité...

“The pyramids are the oldest and most interesting things in Egypt and therefore I recommend an early visit. They introduce us to the country. (...)
According to Herodotus one hundred thousand men were employed for the three months of the inundation. At this time they would not be needed at their ordinary work. This continued for twenty years. Professor Petrie has calculated that it would be entirely possible to build the pyramid with this force. It shows a wonderful organization to be able to employ such a number of men at one time on one building. Each gang and even each individual had his own work and did it.
There is a story that one of the medieval rulers of Egypt thought that an evil spirit dwelt in the third pyramid and forthwith proceeded to tear it down. He put a large force of men to work. It is always easier to destroy than to build up, but at the end of three months he wearied of the task and gave it up. To-day the ruin he wrought is unnoticeable and the pyramid seems merely to have suffered from the ordinary wear of time. This tale has always particularly impressed me. (...)
The visit to the interior comes next. I consider it comparatively uninteresting and think it does not repay one for the toil, the dust and the dirt. That is my opinion now that I have been inside. Before I went in I of course would not listen to such advice and insisted on getting the experience for myself. (...)
We ascend a few courses on the north side and then plunge into a small hole. The passage is a trifle less than four feet high and descends at an angle of 26°. It is over a hundred yards long and goes to the subterranean chamber. We follow it for twenty yards and then come to the ascending gallery. At first this is blocked by huge stones, placed there to seal the entrance. There is some difficulty here, but the Arabs know how to surmount it. Thence the way is rather steep and slippery to the Great Hall. This is 28 feet high and 155 feet long. We see evidences of the passage of the sarcophagus. It must have been an awful task, requiring both labor and skill, to get it to its resting-place in the King's Chamber. The masonry work in the Great Hall is deserving of attention. Abd-el-Latif, the great authority on medieval Egypt, says truly that neither a needle nor a hair can be inserted into the joints of the stones.
At last we come to the King's Chamber, the goal of our trip. It is a plain bare room with the walls ornamented by the names of more or less illustrious visitors. The odor of bats, alive and dead, is prominent. The empty sarcophagus is not very interesting. Our guides hold candles to the air-shafts to show that air comes in from the outside.
They obligingly light very small pieces of magnesium wire of almost infinitesimal value. For this an extra bakshish of two piasters is unwillingly accepted. The unwillingness is not because they do not wish any reward, but because they would prefer a larger one.
Another chamber, called the Queen's Chamber, may be reached from the Great Hall. It is smaller and has a curious pointed roof. There are several other rooms and passages which have been thoroughly explored by scholars, but which are not usually visited by travelers and which have little or no interest beyond the fact of their existence.
The second and third pyramids contain tomb-chambers and are easier of access than the Great Pyramid. The second pyramid was opened by Belzoni in 1818. He found a plain tomb-chamber and a sarcophagus without inscription or contents.
The interior of the third pyramid is the easiest of access and most interesting. It is, however, seldom visited. In the tomb-chamber was found the sarcophagus of Menkaura, the builder of the pyramid. It was destined for the British Museum, but the vessel on which it was placed was unfortunately lost off the coast of Spain. The inner wooden coffin and the mummy of the king arrived safely in England and can be seen in the Egyptian Section of the British Museum. (...)

D'un auteur inconnu
Conseils aux voyageurs
I have purposely given considerable attention to the pyramids ; for I consider them the most interesting objects near Cairo, if not in all Egypt. On some accounts, such as antiquity and magnitude, they deserve the latter place. Moreover, I sincerely believe that the true principle is to see the best and most important things carefully and leisurely, leaving minor things to the last or, if necessary, leaving them out entirely. This principle applies to countries, museums, picture-galleries, in short, to all travel for pleasure and profit. Baedeker (1) says : “Travelers who are not pressed for time … are recommended to make the circuit of the pyramid plateau.” My advice is that if you are pressed for time, do not come to Egypt, but make a shorter trip to countries nearer home. I know that cruises are organized which allot seven days to Egypt and solemnly proclaim that this is ample time. Any one who can seriously consider such a trip does not deserve anything better. The only excuse that a sane man has for taking such a trip is when his pleasure (we cannot call it rest) is obtained only by constant jumping from one land to another, by the mere delight of motion.
Grant Allen thought a year would not be too long to see Florence. Unfortunately the limitations of human existence do not allow us to plan our tours on this scale. But Egypt is far distant for most of us. Surely it is not wise to spend time, strength, and money to go so far and then to hurry back after a week in this great country.”
Source
(1) Sur cet auteur, voir la note de Pyramidales ICI

mercredi 27 avril 2011

Les pyramides de Guizeh qualifiées, par un ouvrage de vulgarisation du XIXe s., de “très mauvaises applications” des forces du travail et des moyens financiers

L’auteur de Egypt : a familiar description of the land, people and produce, 1839, dont j’ai extrait le texte qui suit, n’a pas donné son nom.
Quel qu’il soit, il a démontré qu’il avait étudié son sujet, en prenant appui sur des références majeures, dont Hérodote bien sûr, mais aussi Richardson, Belzoni, Caviglia... Par contre, c’est vraiment à très grands traits qu’il décrit à la fois l’extérieur et l’intérieur des pyramides, ainsi que leur environnement et la technique de leur construction. Sous sa plume, c’est bien d’un ouvrage de vulgarisation pour le moins sommaire qu’il s’agit. Les connaisseurs resteront sur leur faim.
J’ai toutefois retenu ce texte pour ses derniers développements, où l’auteur s’est livré à une comparaison risquée entre la démesure et la relative inutilité des pyramides et quelques constructions modernes. Pourquoi les pharaons ont-ils vu si grand, qui plus est sans prendre en considération le bonheur de leur peuple, alors que des édifices plus petits que les imposantes pyramides auraient répondu aux mêmes fonctions ? Comparer la construction des pyramides à celle du métro et des égouts londoniens : on reconnaît bien là le célèbre pragmatisme britannique !
 
“The pyramids of Gizeh are the largest and most curious. They stand upon a bed of rock some hundred and fifty feet above the desert, and may, consequently, be seen at immense distances. Approaching them from Upper Egypt, the author of "Scenes and Impressions" (*) was continually deceived, by believing himself within a field's length of these stupendous monuments ; when, before reaching their base, he had to ride four miles. So extremely clear is the air in this country, that such objects, though at a distance, are seen with the distinctness of close approximation.
Why these stupendous piles were raised, or for what purpose intended, has never been discovered. Of the innumerable conjectures this mystery has given rise to, the belief that they were designed as monuments for the dead, seems the most probable. (1)
These edifices are believed to be the most ancient amongst the peculiar structures of the kind in Egypt. The dimensions of the principal one (that of Cheops) are seven hundred and fifty-two feet at the base, which, being nearly square, would give about three thousand feet for its four sides ; its altitude is four hundred and sixty feet (2) ; higher than St. Peter's at Rome by twenty-three feet, and higher than St. Paul's at London by one hundred and sixteen. The exterior of the pyramids is built in steps, of which there are in the largest, two hundred and six.
An adequate idea of the vast magnitude of this stupendous work (which covers eleven acres of ground) may be conceived, by supposing the whole of Lincoln's Inn Fields filled up with masonry towering to the sky, the base of the great pyramid nearly coinciding in dimension with that area. (...)
The summit consists of six stone blocks, and is about thirty feet square.
The quantity of stone used to build this pyramid has been recorded as six millions of tons ; or more than three times the quantity employed for that vast undertaking, the Breakwater, thrown across Plymouth Sound. Its solid contents being more than 85,000,000 cubic feet, or above 3,148,147 cubic yards.
We have the authority of Herodotus (Bibl. Hist. ii. 125) for stating that the pyramid was originally cased or plastered over. "For, he says, the sums expended in radishes, onions, and garlic, for the workmen, were marked in Egyptian characters on this pyramid, and amounted - for I well remember what the interpreter who explained those pyramids said - to 1600 talents of silver" (345,600 l.). A hundred thousand men were employed for twenty years in raising this enormous pile.
It has been argued, not without show of probability, that the children of Israel assisted in the construction of these pyramids during the captivity, made so "bitter with hard bondage".  It is certain that afterwards, during their sufferings in the desert while flying from Egypt, they speak with desire of the "onions and garlic" freely afforded them by their task-masters, and so particularly mentioned by Herodotus as a portion of the food supplied to the builders of the pyramids.
In continuation of the same passage in Herodotus, we are told that the great pyramid was made in the form of steps, for the convenience of building. One tier having been laid, stones for the next were raised upon it by "machines contrived of short pieces of wood", and so on till the summit was gained. The structure was then finished by a facing of polished stones ; this work commencing at the top, and ending at the base. The cement which was used was composed of thin lime and a very little sand, and has held the stones together so firmly for succeeding ages, "that, says Dr. Richardson, it stands with the security of a mountain, the most indestructible pile that human ingenuity ever reared".
The outer casing has been removed, the ascent being now by no means regular or easy. "It is a mistake to suppose there are steps, the passage is performed over blocks of stone and granite, some broken off, others crumbling away, and others, which having dropped out altogether, have left an angle in the masonry ; but all these are very irregular. Occasionally the width and height of the stones are equal, but generally the height greatly exceeds the width ; in many parts the blocks are four feet high." (3) The first tier of stones is even with a man's chest.
Admittance to the interior of the great pyramid is gained upon the sixteenth step, on the side towards the north. After traversing several passages the traveller arrives at one on an inclined plane, which leads to a sort of landing-place, where, in a small recess, is the orifice of what has been named "the well." This celebrated excavation consists of two shafts, connected, about mid-way, by a low narrow gallery. (...) A continuation of the same passage leads to the “queen's chamber" ; above is " the king's", in which stands an empty sarcophagus ; immediately over which is "Davidson's chamber”, so named in honour of its discoverer.
The second, or pyramid of Cephrenes, standing close to the great pyramid, is not so large. The secret of its entrance defied all efforts at discovery, till the enterprise and perseverance of Belzoni explored the opening. A chamber was found in the interior that contained a sarcophagus, in which were the bones of a bull, an object of degrading worship amongst the ancient Egyptians.
About three hundred paces from the second pyramid is the gigantic statue of the Sphynx, a fabulous monster which the Egyptians took such delight in delineating. This enormous statue had been overthrown ; and, till lately, only the head, neck, and a portion of the back were visible above the sand ; which, having been cleared away by M. Belzoni, two temples were found; one between its legs, the other, hollowed out in one of its paws. The circuit of this monster's head round the forehead was, we are informed by Pliny, one hundred and two feet, the whole length of the figure one hundred and forty-three, the height from the belly to the top of the head, sixty-two feet.
Besides the pyramids of Gizeh, those of Abousir, Sakkarah, and Dashour, are placed at various distances from each other over a space of twenty leagues, on declivities that slope towards the river. A French (**) gentleman (M. Caviglia) who resides near the pyramids of Gizeh, and to whom the world is indebted for much valuable information regarding them, has confidently stated his belief, that there is a subterranean communication between the pyramids of Gizeh and those of Sakkarah.


Comparaison entre les pyramides et les édifices modernes
In contemplating these immense results of human labour, time, and wealth ; their immensity, and the various uncertainties and mysteries in which their history is shrouded, may impress us with notions and feelings concerning them considerably to the disadvantage of modern edifices and national works of later date ; but their utter uselessness (so far as regards their size) ought to check this kind of veneration ; for, even supposing them to have been designed for any of the various purposes conjecture has assigned to them, a greater number of smaller buildings would have answered the same uses : hence one must only look upon them as great misapplications of labour and capital. A comparison with the works of any modern city will make this the more evident. London, for example, is paved to the very outskirts with stone brought from Scotland. Imagine the same time, material, and labour, to have been employed in raising pyramids, would they not have equalled the stupendous piles of Egypt ? The subways of London, the sewers, water and gas-pipes, &c., also present an amount of labour and ingenuity immeasurably superior to the most wonderful monuments of ancient industry ; besides adding to the comforts and consequently the happiness of mankind, which is more than can be attributed to the temples, pyramids, or sphynxes of Egypt.”

(1) In "A Dissertation on the Pyramids of Egypt" (1833), the following conjectures are collected from various authors : granaries for storing corn ; retreats of safety in the event of another flood, or too great a rise of the Nile ; monuments to memorialize great events ; temples for consulting oracles ; observatories for astronomical purposes ; altars devoted to gods ; and, afterwards, the tombs and depositories of kings. To these we must add the fanciful theory of Dr. Clarke, who contends that the pyramids were built in honour of the patriarch Joseph.
(2) According to the calculations given in the Description de I'Égypte, published by the French Government. The Greek historian Herodotus gives seven hundred and forty-six feet for the base, and four hundred and sixty-one feet for the height.
(3) Narrative of a Journey from Calcutta to Europe by way of Egypt, by Mrs. C. Lushington.

(*) Sans doute s’agit-il de Moyle Sherer.
(**) Erreur manifeste de l’auteur : Caviglia était bien Italien.

mardi 26 avril 2011

Age du Sphinx : illustration des travaux de John Anthony West

Une note de ce blog a déjà été consacrée à John Anthony West : voir ICI
En complément, voici une vidéo illustrant les recherches de cet auteur, notamment sur l'âge du Sphinx. 

Une visiteuse peu ordinaire sur le site de Guizeh : Emmeline Lott (XIXe s.)

L’histoire de la Britannique Emmeline Lott fut peu banale. En 1863, elle fut engagée, pour une durée de deux ans, comme préceptrice du jeune fils d'Ismail Pacha, vice-roi d’Égypte. À ce titre, elle résida dans un palais du Caire, où elle put observer par elle-même les attraits et les “dessous”, voire les laideurs de la splendeur orientale. Elle relata son témoignage dans son ouvrage The English Governess in Egypt : Harem Life in Egypt and Constantinople (1865).
Celle qui se considérait comme une “humble personne” fut ainsi amenée à participer à une croisière sur le Nil, dans le yacht personnel du vice-roi. Elle raconta les péripéties de ce périple dans un autre ouvrage, The Grand Pacha’s cruise on the Nil, in the Viceroy of Egypt’s yacht, 1869, dont j’ai extrait le texte qui suit.
La découverte que fit Emmeline Lott du site de Guizeh prit des allures sportives. La jeune Britannique fit rien moins que l’escalade des trois pyramides majeures (c’est du moins ce qu’elle écrivit) et ne trouva pas la performance si compliquée que cela.
Quant à l’interprétation du comment et du pourquoi des monuments, elle s’en tint au récit de celui qu’elle se plaisait à appeler le “Père de l’Histoire”. Elle y ajouta toutefois cette remarque, qu’elle emprunta aux “savants”, sur l’emplacement du sarcophage de la Chambre du Roi, dans la Grande Pyramide : il “est posé sur un énorme bloc de granit dont beaucoup de savants pensent qu’il a été placé là pour marquer l’entrée d’un très profond caveau dessous”.
Sauf erreur grossière de ma part, une telle observation ne fut pas si courante que cela. Si elle émanait effectivement de nombreux “savants”, il eût été intéressant de savoir de qui il s’agissait en réalité. Un “mystère” de plus !
Emmeline Lott
“The most probable origin of these colossal monuments [les pyramides], (...)  is that they were a succession of Royal Mausoleums - like [the] illustrious Great Grandsire, Mahomet Ali erected that superb one in which repose his remains - and consequently must be considered as the most stupendous Necropolis extant.
The length of each monarch's reign is indicated by the size of the structure, as, in all probability, upon his accession  - as Viceroys of Egypt and Sultans of Turkey do nowadays - the foundation was laid, and an addition made thereto yearly until his demise.
Supposing this view of their construction to be correct, a period of sixteen to seventeen hundred years must have been occupied in building them. From all that I have read about them (...) I learn that "Cheops" (Shofo, Suphis), " the founder of the 4th Dynasty of Egyptian Monarchs ascended the throne in 2450 B.C., and Herodotus, the “Father of History”, informs us that owing to the tyrannical manner in which he ruled, and the horrid crimes he committed, he was universally hated and detested. He was an enemy to religion, ordered all the Temples to be closed, forbade the Egyptians to offer up sacrifices, and introduced that tyrannical system the corveé (forced levies), which most unfortunately for Egypt has been continued up to the present century, and compelled a hundred thousand of the most able-bodied of the population to work in gangs, superintended by the most despotic and cruel of task-masters, those overseers whom he knew to possess “hearts of stone”.
Hundreds of them were sent into the hills of Arabia, where they worked night and day at the quarries, while others cut the stones they had dug out into pieces, which were then dragged by them down to the Nile, shipped on board boats, conveyed to the opposite bank, when files of those poor wretches hauled them to the Libyan Hills. There a fresh relay of another hundred thousand of the Egyptians, composed of men, women, and boys, constructed a causeway for the transport of those huge blocks - a most stupendous undertaking. For ten long years did those two hundred thousand mortals toil night and day to execute the orders of that cruel tyrant. Another legion kept working all that period in levelling the site on which the mighty Pyramids now stand, and gangs were employed in excavating the subterranean catacomb, in which that prince purposed having his remains placed on an Island formed by the waters of the Nile.
It is stated that no less than twenty years were occupied in erecting the Great Pyramid, which having ascended, I must tell you is about 746 feet each way ; it contains eighty-five millions of cubic feet, covers eleven feddans (acres), has a perpendicular height of 461 feet, and is at this time (1869) most probably nearly four thousand years old. It has 206 tiers of steps, each from one to four feet high.
The “Father of History” informs us that that mighty structure was built on steps, and that the workmen, for want of better mechanical appliances, raised the stones from the ground by means of machines composed of short pieces of wood. It is conjectured that when a block had been raised to the first tier, that it was placed upon a similar machine, and thus all the blocks were raised from tier to tier. The apex of the pyramid was formed first, and the artisans worked their way downwards until the whole edifice was constructed.
It is said that the Egyptian characters, engraved on the exterior, marked the sum of sixteen hundred talents, equal to about two millions of piastres (£200,000 sterling), which was expended in victualling the workmen with crude vegetables ; and it may fairly be conjectured that a similar, if not a much greater amount was spent in supplying them with tools, bread, and the scanty clothing they required. (...)
I explored the entrance of that great pyramid, which to my surprise I found was not solid. (...) I descended cautiously by the worn foot holes, passed through the entrance, which is from four to five feet high, and began the descent. I walked along a passage about 107 to 108 feet long, which led me into a subterranean apartment, from which had been removed the large piece of granite which is generally placed against it.
Not being able to pass along the upper passage, which still remains closed with a solid mass of granite, I ascended a few steps and entered the “Great Gallery”,  from whence, proceeding along a horizontal passage, I entered the “Queen's Gallery”, the roof of which is composed of blocks resting against each other in an angular form ; the height of the front is nearly twenty feet. At the eastern extremity is a niche, the stones about which are supposed to have been taken by the Arabs when they were treasure seeking.
Returning to the “Great Gallery”, I explored a narrow funnel-shaped passage, which has been termed the “Well”, but which has since been closed. That led me down to the chamber at the base, and which, it is thought, originally contained the remains of Cheops. The slope of the gallery is rather more than six feet wide. Proceeding about one hundred and sixty feet up the avenue, I came to a horizontal passage, where formerly stood four granite portcullises, which descending through groves prevented persons from entering ; now, however, free ingress and egress is obtained to the' King's Chamber, which is constructed of red granite.
The sarcophagus is also of the same material, but the lid and the contents have long since vanished. It is very plain, devoid of hieroglyphics, and is poised upon an enormous block of granite, which many savants think was placed there to mark the entrance to a very deep vault beneath. The small holes in the walls of the chamber appear to have been constructed for the purpose of ventilation.
Ascending a narrow passage at the S.E. corner of the “Great Gallery”, I entered a small room, only three and a-half feet in height, in which was discovered the Cartouche, with the name of the founder inscribed upon it -viz., Suphis (Shofo), whose gold ring as I have described in Nights in the Harem, was found in 1843 by the late Dr. Abbott, and which now ornaments a museum in the United States of America, similar to that discovered on the tablets in the desert of Mount Sinai.
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Quitting the Great Pyramid, I threw off my shawl, and commenced the really difficult ascent of the second pyramid, which is supposed to have been built by Shafre, the Monarch of the 5th Dynasty, and is constructed of much ruder materials. It stands on a very elevated site, and appears much higher than the Great Pyramid, although in its dimensions it approximates closely to it. There remains intact about thirty feet of its smooth, slippery casing, and it is rather a feat to accomplish its ascent; nevertheless, I was surprised at the agility with which the Arabs both ascended up and descended from it. The sarcophagus of its founder is sunk in the floor. On the east side of this pyramid stands a structure, which is supposed to have been a temple.
Then I ascended the third pyramid, which, although much less in size than the others, is most beautifully constructed. It is supposed to have been erected by Mycerinus, the son of Cheops, whose plain, unadorned wooden coffin is to be seen in the British Museum in London.
On the south side stand three smaller pyramids, all of which are supposed to have been erected by that Prince, whose name is painted on a stone in the roof of the chamber in the centre one.”