Great Pyramid Passages
FROM EGYPT and PALESTINE Revised, Enlarged, and Re-written Second Edition
INTRODUCTORY NOTE TO PART II
THE Second Edition of this volume has presented the opportunity to make revisions and additions. We have retained the original form of Letters in Part II, for this permits of greater freedom than the more formal chapters; but as the subject-matter treated of will, we trust, prove useful to Pyramid students at any time, they are undated.
211 The letters in their revised form are addressed to all who are interested in the Great Pyramid of Gizeh in Egypt, and in its symbolic and scientific teachings.
212 As mentioned in the beginning of Part I, it was in Spring of the year 1906 that we began a systematic study of the symbolisms, and the time-measurements, of the Great Pyramid, using as our text-book the third volume of Scripture Studies by Charles Taze Russell.
213 Being convinced that further careful and reverential investigation would reveal yet other important features still stored up in the dark recesses of this wonderful structure, we procured Professor C. Piazzi Smith’s three large volumes entitled Life and Work at the Great Pyramid, and his Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid. With the additional data thus gathered we were enabled, by the Lord’s grace, to discover many more beautiful faith-inspiring corroborations.
214 Subsequently, we were so fortunate as to procure, among other books on the Pyramid, the rare work of Col. Howard Vyse, Operations at the Pyra, mids of Gizeh, in three large volumes, and also the equally rare volume of Professor W. M. Flinders Petrie, Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh (the identical volume presented by Professor Petrie to Professor C. Piazzi Smyth, and containing Professor Smyth’s marginal notes). These works enabled us to become well acquainted with the interior construction of the Pyramid, excepting the lower rock-cut parts (the Descending Passage, the Small Horizontal Passage leading to the Subterranean Chamber, the Subterranean Chamber, the Well-shaft, and the Grotto), of which parts none of these books pretends to be accurate, nor describes so fully as our present study requires.
215 We therefore decided that a personal inspection of the Great Pyramid was necessary to enable us to arrive at correct conclusions in connection with the lower rock-cut sections of the monument. According to arrangement, one of us (Morton Edgar) left for Egypt on the 13th of May, 1909, a fortnight before the other (Professor John Edgar, who was accompanied by his younger son, Stanley). A fortnight after the latter’s departure, his wife and elder son Jack came to join us. We all five returned to Scotland at the end of July.-Morton Edgar.
LETTER IARRIVAL IN EGYPT. PERMISSION IS OBTAINED TO INVESTIGATE THE GREAT PYRAMID
HEAVING its anchors into the shallow waters of the Suez Canal, the S.S. Martaban came to rest off Port Said-Plate XXXVI. The voyage from Scotland had been calm and uneventful; and I had employed the time in ‘reading-up" in connection with the Great Pyramid of Gizeh, that my mind might be prepared to profit by every impression made upon it by my personal inspection of that wonderful monument. After the necessary preliminaries incident to disembarkation, I experienced the Pyramid-enthusiast’s thrill of expectancy when he sets foot in Egypt, the land of Pyramids!
217 Unwilling to delay my arrival at the Great Pyramid, I set off for the railway station and secured my seat in the Cairo train. I did, however, take the opportunity while in Port Said to call upon the manager of the Sailors’ Rest, Mr. Locke, with whom I had an agreeable discussion regarding the Lord’s gracious Plan of the Ages, which the Great Pyramid so wonderfully corroborates. Mr. Locke evidenced an intelligent appreciation of the proofs brought to bear upon the subject.
218 The journey to Cairo was both interesting and instructive. For the first two hours the train travels through the sandy desert alongside the Suez Canal, but at Ismailia the track leaves the canal and traverses cultivated land. Every now and again we passed villages built of dried mud. Such of the houses as are in ruins seem to crumble away very easily. In a brickfield quite close to the railway I noticed that the bricks were sun-dried. Here and there men and boys were irrigating the fields by raising water from canals through rotating tubes, and I also saw water-wheels used for the same-purpose, but worked by oxen and camels.
219 It was not long before the scenery around caused me to realize that I was indeed in a foreign land. A blazing sun shone down from an almost cloudless sky. Palm trees, tall and short, stood in little clusters. Heavily-laded camels attended by dusky natives walked along in single file with great swinging steps, with their heads poised on their long arched necks. Donkeys, with and without riders, were everywhere. The harvest is in full swing at present. In those fields in which the wheat had been reaped, a portion of ground with a hard surface had been prepared as a threshing floor, and yokes of oxen were being driven round and round dragging a threshing machine, a sledge-like contrivance on which the driver is seated-Plate XXXVII. From time to time the straw is drawn to the outside of the circle, and the grain heaped up in the center. The harvesters, I noticed, threw the grain into the air so that the wind might blow the chaff away.
220 When I was settled in a hotel in Cairo, I called on Professor Alex. Ferguson. He told me that on receipt of my brother John’s letter he had arranged with M. Maspero, the Director-general of Antiquities in Egypt, to grant us a permit to work at the Great Pyramid of Gizeh, and that consequently we shall have no difficulty in this respect. Professor Ferguson accompanied me to the Museum, and introduced me to M. Maspero. He was very pleasant with me, and answered some questions I put to him in connection with our work at the Pyramid, and offered useful advice. He also gave orders for me to receive a letter written in Arabic to present to the ‘Reis" (chief or overseer) of the excavation works in Egypt. This is to apprise the Reis that we are duly authorized to employ workmen in and around the Great Pyramid. Professor Ferguson thinks we are sure to have difficulties with the Arabs, and he volunteered to accompany me on my first visit to the Pyramid.
221 I suppose we shall require to take things as they come. Our trust is in the Lord, and we know that all things work together for good to those who love him. I have permission to photograph in the interior of the Pyramid by flashlight, and to take photographic pictures generally. I have also full powers to proceed without delay in the work of clearing out the debris from the Descending Passage of the Great Pyramid, and other work of a like nature. As the season for tourists is now nearly closed, it is not probable that many visitors will enter the Pyramid and interrupt the workmen.-Morton Edgar.
LETTER IIARRIVAL AT THE GREAT PYRAMID OF GIZEH, AND DESCRIPTION OF THE CASING-STONES
EXCELLENT work has just been completed at the base of the northern flank of the Great Pyramid, by an American excavator who has been resident in the neighborhood for some time. You will appreciate my pleasant surprise when I inform you that, on my arrival at the Gizeh plateau in company with Professor Alex. Ferguson, I beheld, not only the three historic casing-stones discovered many years ago by Col. Howard Vyse, but sixteen others! all of them in one continuous row along the center of the northern base-side of the Great Pyramid-Plate XXXVIII. These stones demonstrate that the Pyramid was at one time entirely covered, or encased, with beautiful smooth casing-stones, a fact which some have professed to disbelieve.
223 But before I proceed to describe the casing-stones, I must first mention that soon after my arrival in Egypt, I learned that Professor C. Piazzi Smyth’s faithful Arab attendant, Ali Gabri, or, as Professor Smyth misspelt his name, Alee Dobree, died four years ago (December, 1904. Professor Smyth died on 21st February, 1900). His son, Hadji Ali Gabri, is following in his father’s steps, and so I have engaged his services, and hope to find him useful in my work.
224 It was in May of the year 1837 that Col. Howard Vyse sunk a shaft down through the fifty feet of debris immediately in front of the Entrance, and discovered the three casing-stones at the eastern extremity of the row-Plate VIII. He was greatly impressed with their size, and considered that the workmanship displayed in them was unrivaled. When they were first uncovered, they were perfect; but during the short time they remained exposed while he was at the pyramids, they were, to his regret, much defaced by vandalism. He therefore felt it his duty to protect them by covering them again with a large quantity of sand and stones; but he wrote: ‘I am sorry to add, that my precautions were unsuccessful, and that the blocks have again been uncovered and much injured." (See Plate VI).
225 Happily, however, the Colonel’s informant was wrong; for Professor Flinders Petrie wrote that in the year 1881, just when he required them for the purpose of measuring, etc., the three stones were again uncovered by a contractor who was using the debris for mending the road to the pyramids, and he found them in the condition in which they were when covered in 1837. From then until now, these three stones have remained exposed. The American informs me that he uncovered the fourth one in the year 1902, and that the four stones are illustrated by Professor Breasted of Chicago University in his New History of Egypt, 1904. But now, in the latter end of May of this year (1909), exactly 72 years after Col. Howard Vyse’s celebrated discovery, 15 more of these stones have been excavated, besides a fair area of the pavement and leveled rock in front. I think I am indeed fortunate to have come just in time to see these, and to be the first to have had the privilege of photographing them as they now appear.
226 The first three or four of these stones are immediately under the Entrance of the Pyramid, and are still in excellent preservation, though I notice that the small portion referred to by Colonel Howard Vyse as adhering with such tenacity (Par. 86), has disappeared-Compare Plate VIII, with one of my photographs which shows a very near view of the largest stone-Plate XXXIX. The others to the west of these show more or less signs of surface wear, especially the last five to the extreme west which are much broken-Plate XL. When I stand at the east end of the line of the casing-stones, and look squarely along the upper and front surfaces of the long row extending about 86 feet, I cannot help being impressed with the smooth and almost glossy appearance which both surfaces present, and cannot but marvel at the skill which the builders of the Pyramid possessed. The upper surface is as level and even as a billiard table. Even the core masonry immediately behind the casing-stones preserves the same wonderful level. Professor Petrie, by means of his special apparatus, found that in a length of forty feet to the east of the three casing-stones then uncovered, the upper surface of the first course of core masonry differed from a dead level by only one-fiftieth part of an inch!
227 The casing-stones rest on a Platform nearly twenty-one inches in thickness, which, in its turn, rests on the leveled natural rock. This Platform projects sixteen inches beyond the comparatively sharp bottom edge of the beveled casing-stones. A peculiar feature of the Platform is that its front edge is not quite at right-angles with its upper surface, but is beveled after the manner of the casing-stones, though only to the extent of two or three degrees. This is well seen in Plate XL. Continuous with the Platform to the distance of over thirty feet northward (outward) from the line of the casing-stones, are the fragmentary remains of a pavement, the level upper surface of which is flush with that of the Platform, and still preserves here and there a smooth appearance. The flat stones of which it is composed approximate to the same thickness as the stones of the Platform; but as the natural rock on which they lie is not exactly level, they are not all of a uniform thickness. They vary also in length and breadth. The abutment joints between the beveled front edge of the Platform and the stones of the pavement, are very close.
228 In one of the photographs, which shows a front and partly top view of the best preserved of the casing-stones, a large open fissure in the rock can be seen in the foreground-Plate XLI. According to the account of Col. Howard Vyse, this fissure had originally been filled with rubble stone-work, and covered over with large inset stones, one of which may be seen in the photographs, partly fallen in. Over these inset stones which were flush with the leveled rock, the beautifully fitted pavement had been laid. It has been Col. Howard Vyse’s intention to have blasted the rock to a considerable depth at this part in hope that he might discover a subterranean communication with a secret tomb-chamber under the Pyramid, supposed to have been alluded to by the Greek historian, Herodotus. He chose this part because it is in line with the Entrance Passage of the Pyramid, but the discovery of the fissure saved him considerable trouble and expense. He caused it to be cleared to a depth of 47 feet, and to a length of 74 feet from east to west, but without discovering a passage. He was therefore satisfied that there was no subterranean passage in connection with the Great Pyramid, save that of the well-known Descending Passage leading down to the Pit, a hundred feet below the base of the Pyramid-Plate XI. In the Second Pyramid, however, he did discover a second and lower communication, the entrance of which was hidden under that pyramid’s pavement about 40 feet out from the base-XLIII. This lower subterranean passage, which is in direct line with the upper entrance passage, besides being hidden by the pavement, was also completely blocked up in its length by large well-fitted and cemented stones. Col. Howard Vyse had most of these removed.
229 In another view of the casing-stones of the Great Pyramid, taken with my camera erected a little more to the east, Hadji Ali Gabri sits some distance up the side of the Pyramid, pointing to the entrance of Al Mamoun’s forced passage, which is situated in the seventh course of the Pyramid’s horizontal core masonry-Plate XLII. The relative positions of the casing-stones, Al Mamoun’s forced passage, and the Entrance to the Pyramid can better be judged, however, by a picture which I secured with the camera erected at a greater distance from the base of the Pyramid-Plate XLIV. In the upper part of this photograph the great angular limestone blocks above the doorway of the Entrance Passage can be seen. But the doorway of the Entrance, which lies some distance in from the face of the Pyramid, cannot be seen from the ground below; also the angular blocks above the Entrance appear much lower down than they are in reality-Compare with Plate XLV.
230 This latter photograph (Plate XLIV) shows the ruinous and dilapidated condition to which the great monument has been reduced by the ruthless hands of the spoiler. According to historical evidence, beautiful smooth limestone blocks, similar to those at the north base, encased the entire Pyramid until 820 A.D., when Caliph Al Mamoun, in his greed to gain possession of supposed hidden treasure, forced his way into the Pyramid’s interior. This was the beginning of the destructive work; and in the years that followed, the outer casing was torn off piecemeal for building purposes-See Pars. 95-99.
231 The existence of the forced passage, which extends inward in a horizontal direction until it meets the junction of the Descending and Ascending Passages, proves that the position of the doorway of the true Entrance, though evidently will known in earlier times, was unknown to Al Mamoun. Professor Petrie claims that, originally, the Entrance must have been closed by a stone door, swinging horizontally on side pivots, and having its outer surface flush with the general angle of the casing. He instances the entrance of the South Pyramid of Dashur, which bears evidence of having been closed in this manner. A door such as this would possess no external marks by which its situation could be identified; and knowledge of it having been lost, Al Mamoun was compelled to force an entry for himself. That the Great Pyramid was closed by a pivoted stone door, is borne out by the writings of the ancient geographer Strabo (1st century B.C.). Referring to the Pyramids of Gizeh, he wrote: ‘The Greater [Pyramid], a little way up one side, has a stone that may be taken out, which being raised up, there is a sloping passage to the foundations"-Plate XI.
232 I went round by the east side of the Great Pyramid to view the Sphinx, accompanied by Hadji Ali Gabri-Plate XLVI. Pictures of this andro-sphinx (half-man, half-animal) are so common, it is hardly necessary to describe it. In photographs the pyramids are often included in the background in such a manner, that one who has not visited the locality might get the impression that the Sphinx is almost as large-Plate XLVII. This is far from being the case. Nevertheless, though so small when compared with the pyramids, it is itself so huge, weird, and uncanny that many wonder why it was made, and speak of the ‘riddle" of the Sphinx. It is not surprising that poets have exclaimed ‘Ah! if only these lips could speak, what could they not reveal to us of an age long gone by!" But these lips have no message to divulge, for the simple reason that the Sphinx is but a dumb idol. On the contrary, the Great Pyramid which to some minds it seems to eclipse, can speak, and in no uncertain voice! To those who have ‘hearing ears" it speaks with a marvelous certainty by means of its symbolical passages and chambers, not only of the distant past, but of the present and even also of the far-reaching future! The Great Pyramid has, in these latter days, revealed many things, and probably it has yet more secrets stored up in its dark passages and chambers. They are like the ‘dark sayings" of our Lord; which only those who have the ‘Key" can understand and appreciate. We thank our heavenly Father daily that he has opened the eyes of our understanding to see thie Key, the Divine Plan of the Ages.
233 The majority of visitors walk right past the Great Pyramid, and go round to admire the Sphinx. As usual, the ‘Idol" receives the most attention and worship. They are no doubt impressed by the immense size of the Great Pyramid; but everything there bespeaks toil and labor, and comparatively few ascend to its summit; fewer still venture within.-Morton Edgar.
LETTER IIITHE DESCENDING PASSAGE IS CLEARED OF DEBRIS THROUGHOUT ITS ENTIRE LENGTH
GREAT and important truths, we are convinced, are to be won from the Pyramid by concentration, and attention to detail. It is essential that the operator should have access to the building at any time, while investigating it; and for this reason it is inconvenient to live in Cairo, or even in the Arab village below the Pyramid plateau, because of the loss of time this entails in journeyings to and fro. To facilitate our work, I applied for and obtained permission to erect tents on the plateau, as close to the Great Pyramid as the nature of the ground will allow. The Reis, Abraheem Faid, accompanied me to Cairo to interview the authorities in this connection. He has charge of the excavating works from Cairo, up the Nile to Fayoum, 70 to 80 miles distant. His son Judah, who assists him in the work of overseet, is attentive and obliging, as, indeed, are all the Arabs with whom I require to deal. I have not experienced the trouble predicted by Professor Ferguson, I am thankful to say.
235 I instructed Judah to employ nineteen men to clear out the stones and sand (limestone dust) from the Subterranean Chamber and Descending Passage-Plate XI. About six or seven years ago an American excavator cleared out thirty feet of the lower end of this passage, and also the lower end of the Well-shaft. But when I crept down the Descending Passage on my first visit to the interior, I found not only half of the passage blocked with debris throughout the greater part of its length, but the lower third of the part which had previously been cleared was again filled.
236 This excavator and the Reis almost persuaded me not to do anything in the way of clearing the Descending Passage. I would require to lay rails along the floor if I wished to do the work properly, they said, and run the rubbish up to the Entrance in small wagons, and then it would be necessary for a large number of men, arranged in a line from the Entrance down to the edge of the plateau on which the Pyramid is built, to pass the debris along and deposit it clear of the Pyramid itself. The cost would be great; and I felt downcast, for I knew I could not afford it. However, as it is important that accurate measurements be made, not only of the Descending Passage, but also of the Small Horizontal Passage leading to the Subterranean Chamber, I decided to get at least this latter passage cleared. Accordingly, I commissioned Judah to engage and superintend three men to clear this limited portion.
237 They finished with three hours still to spare, before their day was done. So, by way of trial, to see what could be accomplished in a humble way with three men, I directed Judah to ascertain how much of the rubbish in the Descending Passage could be carried out in baskets in the three hours. They commenced at the top a few feet below the point where the First Ascending Passage leaves the Descending Passage-Plate XI. At this place there is a large granite block which was discovered by Professor Flinders Petrie in 1881, and is mentioned in his book. From here downward, according to Professor Petrie, the Descending Passage measures, approximately, 235 feet.
238 One of the men filled basket after basket with the debris, and the other two carried these up the passage to the Entrance, and then down to the great mound of broken stones and dust in front of the Pyramid where they emptied them. It is wonderful how much they did in those three hours. I felt encouraged, and asked Judah’s advice about carrying on the work next day. He recommended me to engage nine men, and to leave it to him, and he would see that the work was done. Judah was as good as his word. The men did so well that I determined to continue the same method until the passage was free of debris throughout its entire length. The number of men was increased each day, as more ground had to be traversed the further down we went.
239 This part of the work is now completed, and it has not cost more than five pounds (25 dollars). The American excavator is astonished! Judah impressed upon me several times during the work, that I was to trust him and he would see that it was done. He said: ‘Me and my father are going to deal straight with you. Trust Judah. We have received two letters from M. Maspero, saying that we are to take care of you, and we would be afraid not to please you. We want you to be pleased." He is constantly asking me if I am pleased, and I always answer that I am satisfied, as indeed I am, for everything has gone on much better than I had been led to expect.
240 It is customary for excavators in Egypt to employ child-labor, but I employ men only; for although their wages are higher, they can do the work much more quickly and satisfactorily. They begin work at half-past six in the morning, and continue until noon, and then, after an interval of two hours, they resume work until six in the evening. Thus they work for nine and a half hours, for which they are paid the sum of six piastres, or one shilling and three pence (30 cents). This is a good wage according to the scale in Egypt. I understand that a common wage for unskilled labor, such as this, is four to five piastres per day. To Judah I give ten piastres, or two shillings and a penny (fifty cents), though he asked for only seven. Seventy-two years ago Col. Howard Vyse paid his men one piastre, and the overseers two!
241 In very early times, the Descending Passage appears to have been sufficiently clear to allow of venturesome travelers making occasional visits to the Subterranean Chamber; but in 1763, Davison, 1 when describing the Descending Passage, wrote: ‘At the end of one hundred and thirdy-one feet [from the junction of the First Ascending Passage] I found it so filled up with earth, that there was no possibility of proceeding." It remained in this condition until the year 1817, when, by the efforts of M. Caviglia, access to the Subterranean Chamber was restored; and at the same time the whole length of the Well-shaft was cleared. M. Caviglia was afterward for a short time in the employment of Col. Howard Vyse.
1 It was Davidson who discovered the lowermost of the five hollows or "Chambers of Construction" above the King’s Chamber. Col. Howard Vyse discovered the other four—Pars. 110-112.
242 M. Caviglia did not completely clear out the Descending Passage, for, twenty years afterward (in 1837), Col. Howard Vyse, in his description of the state in which he found the Great Pyramid previous to commending his extensive operations on it and the other Pyramids of Gizeh, wrote that, though open, it was ‘much encumbered with stones and rubbish." This no doubt explains why he measured the passage along the roof-line, and not along the floor. When Professor C. Piazzi Smyth visited the Pyramid in 1865, the passage below its juncture with the First Ascending Passage appears to have again become so blocked with dust and large stones, that he did not visit the lower sections at all. The measurements of these parts given in his Pyramid books were derived from Col. Howard Vyse’s publication, and are, unfortunately, inaccurate.
243 In 1881, Professor Flinders Petrie caused the obstructing debris to be removed sufficiently for him to descend. It was during these operations that he discovered the large granite stone, which lies on the floor a little lower than the entrance to the First Ascending Passage. He did not disturb it. The parts which he found most encumbered were those at and below the granite block, and the lowermost thirty feet of the slope where the rains had washed down much sand. He did not have this material carried out, but instructed his men to distribute it more or less uniformly deep along the length of the passage. Thus we see that the floor of this Descending Passage has never been so thoroughly cleared, at least in modern times, as it now is. The debris which my men carried out was found to have embedded in it several small fragments of green-colored idols. Whether or not the idols originally belonged to the Pyramid it is difficult to say. They may have been deposited in the Pyramid by others than the builders.
244 When my brother John arrives we shall measure the Descending Passage very carefully. It will be the first continuous, or connected, measurement of this long passage ever taken. To measure this part of the Pyramid with accuracy constitutes one of the chief purposes of our investigations. As the Great Pyramid is God’s stone ‘Witness" in Egypt, in which he has outlined by its passages and chambers his glorious plan of salvation, and as the Descending Passage represents the course of ‘this present evil world" (Ga 1:4), it is of importance that it should be carefully examined and measured.
245 Our tents are situated right on the edge of the Pyramid plateau, overlooking the large Mena House Hotel, and the tramway car terminus. From here I can see a long distance over the flat Delta of lower Egypt, and eight miles to the east the domes and minarets of Cairo. Behind the city, and therefore on the other side of the broad, sluggish Nile, the long range of the while Mokattam Hills stretches away southward. The limestone blocks which form the beautiful outside-casing of the Great Pyramid, and much of the core-masonry also, as well as all the blocks which form the walls of the interior limestone parts of the monument, were quarried from these hills. It is believed by some that the bulk of the core-masonry is composed of the coarser nummulitic limestone of the Pyramid hill itself. But while it is true that limestone impregnated with nummulites (i.e., fossil shells resembling coins) are built into the core-masonry everywhere, Professor Flinders Petrie draws attention to the fact that no quarryings exist on the Pyramid (western) side of the Nile in the least adequate to yield the stones necessary for the huge mass of the Great Pyramid; and he also shows that, in general, the core-limestone is different in its character from the rock of the Pyramid plateau. It resembles, rather, the qualities usually found on the east of the Nile. He believes that the whole of the stones were quarried in the cliffs of Turra and Masara, and brought across the Nile to the plateau of the Pyramid.
246 The air on the Gizeh cliff is sweeter and cooler than in Cairo. I have not been much troubled by mosquitoes, as the breeze which is constantly blowing here drives them away. Every day there are plenty of clouds in the sky, sometimes obscuring the sun, but no rain. Rain falls seldom in Egypt; at long intervals, however, it descends in torrents.
247 One beautiful moonlight night I took a stroll to the Great Pyramid. I went down the Descending Passage as far as its juncture with the First Ascending Passage, and then, turning and looking up toward the Entrance, saw the North Star with no other star near it. I sat on a limestone block which lies on the floor of the Descending Passage under the Granite Plug, a few feet above Petrie’s granite block. I had come without a light and sat in the darkness. I had not been there long, when I was startled to hear a deep organ-like sound, growing louder and louder, and afterward a small bell-like sound. I wondered at these sounds, and listened intently. The explanation soon came. It was nothing more than a number of bats flying past me; I could feel the wind from their wings. The beating of their wings in the narrow passages of the Pyramid caused the air to vibrate, producing the organ-like sound; and the bell-like sound was only their little alarmed chirps as they flew swiftly along.-Morton Edgar
LETTER IVTHE SECOND AND THIRD PYRAMIDS OF GIZEH; THEIR TEMPLES AND CASING-STONES
RECENT excavatings at the eastern sides of the Second and Third Pyramids have laid bare the ruins of the temples connected with them. Attended by Judah I went round to view these temples, and to examine at close quarters the two pyramids. As will be seen from the photograph of the northern face, the summit of the Second Pyramid is covered with a smooth casing of limestone, and is very steep-Plate XLVIII. According to Col. Howard Vyse, the two lowest courses of casing immediately above the base are of granite, though Professor Flinders Petrie reports having observed only one during his investigations in 1881. After climbing to the lower edge of the upper casing-stones, I thought it too dangerous to proceed higher, and from this point I took a photograph giving a bird’s-eye view of the ruined foundations of its temple-Plate XLIX.
249 I walked among these ruins, and also among the ruins of the temple of the Third Pyramid, and marveled at the immense size of many of the limestone blocks with which, for the most part, they have been built. Some of them are beautifully white, and cleanly cut to very sharp arris edges. From some viewpoints the Second Pyramid, which is very large though smaller than the Great Pyramid, presents a picturesque appearance-Plate L. While strolling through the remains of the temple of the Second Pyramid, I was surprised to see about fifty human skulls arranged in rows on a ledge. They were discovered during the work of excavating-Plate LI.
250 The Second Pyramid has two entrance passages, both on the north side, and meeting each other below the base-Plate XLIII. One of them is similar in position and inclination to the Entrance Passage of the Great Pyramid, but its walls are composed of granite instead of limestone, and the wide joints and other details of construction are not to be compared with the fine workmanship which the Great Pyramid displays. As already mentioned, the entrance of the lower passage was discovered in 1837 by Col. Howard Vyse, concealed under the level pavement some distance out from the north base; but it is now hidden once more under a large mound of debris. I photographed the irregular outer end of the upper entrance. It is in the same condition as it was in 1818, when Belzoni found it be digging down through the heap of sand and stones, which had accumulated upon it at the time when the greater part of the pyramid’s casing was removed, thus concealing it for centuries. Belzoni’s name and the date of his discovery can be distinguished, carved on the outer face of the granite roof-stone, and are visible in the photograph-Plate LII.
251 When the casing of the Second Pyramid was intact, the mouth of its upper entrance must have been concealed in some way, probably by a pivoted stone door like that which is believed to have closed the Entrance to the Great Pyramid; for it also has a long forced passage.
252 A photograph which I secured of the northwest corner of the Second Pyramid shows the great extent of rock-cutting which was necessary before the builders could gain a level surface for its erection-Plate LIII. On the right side of this photograph is seen the north flank of the Third Pyramid, in which appears the deep chasm made by the Mamelukes in an unsuccessful attempt to discover the entrance. Col. Howard Vyse was much interested in the Third Pyramid, and spent a large amount of money and time forcing passages into its solid masonry, before he finally discovered the entrance hidden under the debris in the middle of the north side, a short distance above the base-Plate LIV. The previous operations of the Mamelukes had misled him; for he concluded that before cutting so large a chasm in their search for the entrance, they would first have thoroughly examined every part of the pyramid’s northern face, which in their time must have been comparatively clear of debris. Col. Howard Vyse wrote: ‘As there were no accounts, ancient or modern, respecting the entrance of this pyramid or of its having ever been opened, notwithstanding the attempts that from time to time had been made, it was an object of the greatest curiosity, and I fully expected to discover the interior chambers and passages, by carrying on the gallery [or forced horizontal passage] to the center, and by afterwards sinking a large shaft to the foundation." This operation proved that the Third Pyramid is devoid of chambers constructed within the body of the building.
253 Col. Howard Vyse stated it as his opinion that the upper passage which ascends northward from the top of the large rock-cut chamber under the base of the Third Pyramid (See Plate LIV), is an abandoned entrance passage. From certain indications on its walls, it appears to have been cut inwards through the rock from the north; whereas the present entrance passage shows evidence of having been cut outwards from the chamber. The upper passage must therefore have been made first. Professor Flinders Petrie’s examination of these passages caused him to share Col. Howard Vyse’s opinion; and he believes that certain granite stones which at present block half the height of the upper passage, were placed there by the ancient builders for the purpose of blocking it up when they decided to cut the new entrance passage. The upper end of the old passage terminates abruptly against the masonry, which was added for the purpose of increasing the originally contemplated dimensions of the pyramid. The huge carved sarcophagus which Col. Howard Vyse found in the lower granite-lined chamber, was conveyed by him to Alexandria, where it was shipped for England to be deposited in the British Museum; but the boat must have foundered, for it was never heard of again. There is a still lower chamber than the granite-lined one, entrance to which is gained by a flight of six steps. This lowest chamber contains six niches, which were hollowed out in the rock for the purpose of containing coffins.
254 The Third Pyramid is considerably smaller than its two giant neighbors. According to the ancient historian Diodorus Siculus, it was formerly encased with ‘black stone" from the base up to the 15th course; but Professor Flinders Petrie found traces of granite just one-quarter of the pyramid’s height. Above this level the casing was of limestone. Diodorus also mentions that the name of the builder of the Third Pyramid, Mikerinus (or Menkaura), was inscribed on the northern side; but this name is not now on the existing casing, and is either covered up with debris, or was destroyed. The pyramid of Abu Roash, which lies away to the northwest, five miles distant from the pyramids of Gizeh (Plate III), is supposed to have been completely encased with granite. It is now almost entirely destroyed, for the Arabs in its neighborhood have for many years treated it as a quarry! Professor Flinders Petrie was informed that its stones were being carried off at the rate of three hundred camel-loads a day. Professor C. Piazzi Smyth was of the opinion that this pyramid of Abu Roash never was finished by the builders.
255 I photographed the square entrance of the Third Pyramid, together with two or three courses of the granite casing-stones still in situ. Except at their joint edges, where narrow strips of the surface have been chiseled even and smooth, the outer faces of these stones have been left very rough and projecting-Plate LV. Another photograph of this pyramid at the part immediately connected with its temple on the east side, shows a section of the granite casing-stones dressed down to a flat surface. Adjoining these dressed stones are others only partially dressed, but the majority are rough-Plate LVI. In this photograph a portion of the granite pavement of the temple is included. Although many of these stones are large, none approaches in size the remaining casing-stones of the Great Pyramid; nor do they present so beautiful an appearance. All round the Second and Third Pyramids great numbers of granite casing-stones lie partly buried in the large mounds of debris-Plate LVII.
256 I measured the casing-stones at the north front of the Great Pyramid, and found that while they are uniform in height, they vary greatly in both width from east to west, and in depth inward toward the core masonry at the back. The first stone to the east of the long row is the largest. Measuring, like the others, about 4 feet 11 inches high, it is 6 feet 9 inches wide from east to west. In depth it measures 8 feet 3 inches along the base line to the core masonry. This is only the apparent depth, however, for it extends inward for still another two feet beyond the core block to the east on it, and thus the actual base measurement from front to back is 10 feet 3 inches.
257 The cubical contents of the block is about 200 cubic feet; and its weight is approximately 19 tons. This weight is three tons more than Professor Flinders Petrie estimated (See Par. 86), he was not aware that the stone extends beyond the core block to the east of it, the debris, now cleared away, having concealed the upper joint-lines. The extra depth is noticeable in a photograph which I took with my camera erected on top of the first course of the core masonry, some distance to the east of the casing-stones-Plate LIX. The fourth casing-stone also extends back a good distance, its base depth is even more than that of the first stone, being 11 feet 4 inches; but its width is only 5 feet as against 6 feet 9 inches for the first stone. The other stones vary in width from 3 feet 41Ú2 inches to 5 feet 3 inches, a fair average being 41Ú2 feet.
258 Herodotus says that the Great Pyramid ‘is of polished and most accurately jointed stones, no single stone being less than thirty feet." Other writers have repeated this statement; but unless Herodotus was referring to bulk, and therefore meant cubical feet, which is, however, unlikely, then we must correct the statement by declaring that there is no visible stone in the entire monument which measures so much as 30 feet in length. The largest stone is in the King’s chamber-See Par. 108.
259 Our tent-contractor, Abdul Salam Faid, is an experienced man, providing tents for the government-workers, doctors of Cairo, and the principal excavators in Egypt. The tents are commodious; their double roof shuts out the sun’s rays, a very desirable thing in Egypt; the beds are provided with mosquito nets, and the ground covered with carpets. There is a chest of drawers in each of them. One of the tents is used as a dining-room, and a smaller one alongside as a kitchen. At sunrise a donkey carries water from the well at Mena House Hotel.
260 The water at the pyramids, though fairly pure, is not safe to drink for those unaccustomed to it, unless it has been boiled. Standing on an iron tripod I have a large earthenware jar which, being porous, allows the water to soak through to the surface where it evaporates. This causes the boiled water which has been poured into the jar to cool quickly and to remain cool. It is large enough to contain two syphons of soda-water, which it keeps almost as cool as if they had been laid on ice.
261 The temperature during the month of June, at noontime, is about 100í F. in the shade. It feels warm, but as the atmosphere is dry it is not so unbearable as such a temperature would be in Scotland. The prevailing north breeze at the pyramids is pleasantly refreshing.
JOHN and Stanley have now joined me at the pyramids. On reaching Cairo they found it very warm, but beside the pyramids they feel cooler. On the road from Cairo, John was intensely interested when he caught his first glimpse of the pyramids in the distance; for they are visible for many miles around-Plate LVIII.
263 John was also much impressed with the magnitude of the Great Pyramid. We spent two and a half hours inside, inspecting the passages and chambers. So extensive is the interior system of the building, that by actual trial we found it took us fully eight minutes to descend from the King’s Chamber, to the Subterranean Chamber. We did not delay at any point during this trial trip, but descended rapidly. With rubber shoes we were not in danger of falling on the slippery floors.
264 We hope to get steadily to work and secure what particulars we can. We trust that it will be to God’s glory, and to our mutual edification and the strengthening of our faith in his plan of the ages; for this is the sole object of our present investigations. Our intention is to begin our measuring operations in the Descending Passage and Subterranean Chamber, from which parts our work will progress systematically.
265 Judah is our pyramid-assistant; he engages and superintends our workers, and attends to our varied requirements generally. He is a devoted servant, and it is a pleasure to have him with us. His proper name is Abdul Maujud Faid, but he is familiarly known as Judah. He has worked for many years in the Cairo Museum. Professor Ferguson of Cairo has been of great service, procuring for us the interest of M. Maspero, with the result that we are being specially well care for.-Morton Edgar.
LETTER VMORE ABOUT THE GREAT PYRAMID CASING-STONES THE TRIANGULATION ‘STATION MARKS"
ENDURING as the Great Pyramid has proved to be, it has nevertheless suffered much at the hands of the vandal. The removal of the smooth outer casing, which began a thousand years ago, has made it difficult for the modern scientist to determine the original vertical height of the building. But it is not impossible to do so, as Professor C. Piazzi Smyth demonstrated; for the regularity of the core masonry (exposed by the removal of the casing) makes it possible to observe, with suitable instruments, the angle at which the Pyramid’s sloping flanks rise from the rock. By computing with the usual trigonometrical rules, and the known socket-level base-side length of the building, Professor Smyth pronounced the ancient vertical height to be slightly more than 5813 Pyramid inches.
267 At close quarters the sides of the Great Pyramid appear irregularly rough, because of the lack of the casing. But when viewed from a distance, and especially from a point in the desert due west, the steep angle of the north and south faces is clearly defined, the sloping lines of the long sides being perfectly straight, as our photograph shows-Plate LX.
268 The casing-stones which still remain are wonderful! When Morton first came to the Pyramid, an American excavator was completing the work of uncovering nineteen of them; the workmen were just in the act of removing the last few large encumbering stones-Plate LXI. Although of great size (Plates LXII and LXIII), these casing-stones are yet fitted so closely together, that the fine blade of a pocket-knife cannot be inserted between them.
269 The once sharp arris edges of these beautiful white stones are now slightly chipped and rounded off along the joint-lines, thus giving a superficial appearance of wideness. But the actual joints themselves are too close to be distinguishable in a photograph. Therefore, to make the shape and comparative dimensions of the stones forming the casing, as well as of the Platform on which they rest, appear in the photographs, the joints and also the outside arris edges were outlined with charcoal-Plate LXIV.
270 Practical builders are unable to comprehend how the workmen of four thousand years ago were able to make such fine cemented-joints as those between the casing-stones; and yet though the joints are so fine, the cement which fills them is of great tenacity, and unites all the stones as one. How well they picture the individuality and yet oneness of the members of Christ’s body! They remind me of Jesus’ prayer to his Father, as recorded in John’s Gospel, 17th chapter: ‘that they may be one, even as we are one."
271 In addition to the nineteen below the Entrance, Professor Flinders Petrie found other casing-stones in situ here and there along the base-sides of the building. He employed men to sink well-like shafts through the mounds of debris, and saw not only casing-stones, but the Platform on which they rest. By this interesting and important discovery, he demonstrated that the Platform is a distinct feature of the Pyramid’s architecture, extending on all four sides, and forming a flat base for the casing to immediately rest upon. Professor C. Piazzi Smyth was reluctant to admit the existence of this Platform, but his objection cannot be sustained. We perceive now that the Great Pyramid has three distinct base-lines, namely, (1) the mean socket-floor level, which is the lowest, (2) the leveled natural rock on which the Platform sits, and (3) the top level surface of the Platform. All three base-lines are necessary in the Pyramid’s sumbolic and scientific teachings. The pavement, as mentioned in Par. 227, is distinct from the Platform, although level with it on the upper surface.
272 While nineteen of the Great Pyramid’s casing-stones are exposed, resting side by side on a long stretch of the Platform at the northern base, Professor C. Piazzi Smyth did not have the advantage of seeing them, for they were covered with heaps of broken stones and sand when he was in Egypt. But Professor Flinders Petrie, who saw the best preserved of them in 1880, communicated the angle of their smooth outer surface to Professor Smyth by letter. As this angle was declared to be 51í, 51’, Professor Smyth rightly concluded that his previous calculations for the original vertical height of the Pyramid was thus confirmed.2 For the theoretically correct angle for the casing of the Great Pyramid is only 14.3" more than 51’ 51’ ", and some allowance must be made for error in measuring. Professor Petrie himself made allowance for such almost inevitable error, when he published the angle as being 51’ 52’ " plus or minus 2’.
2 Professor C. Piazzi Smyth wrote: —"Petrie told me in his letter 51’51’ "
273 Not only are the northern casing-stones now exposed, but the northwest corner socket, which formerly contained one of the four foundation socket-stones, is also laid bare-See Plate VI. During the ‘Transit of Venus" expedition in the year 1874, the Astronomer Royal for the Cape of Good Hope, Mr. David Gill, with the assistance of Professor Watson, had bronze pins cemented vertically into the corner-sockets of the Great Pyramid, the tops of the pins being made flush with the leveled rock-floors of the sockets. These were employed by him as ‘station marks" while surveying the site of the Pyramid, in connection with his observation of the transit of Venus.
274 A number of Mr. Gill’s bronze marks are to be detected even now, where they were let into the rock in 1874 at and around the Great Pyramid. The Arab ‘guides" draw attention to them, and sometimes visitors are led to think that the pins were used by the workers of four thousand years ago to fasten great stones to the rock!
275 Professor Flinders Petrie says that, when conducting his own more extensive ‘triangulation" in his survey of the plateau, he could make use of only a few of Mr. Gill’s bronze pin station-marks, because most of them had been damaged by the Arabs. He wrote: ‘They [the bronze pins] may be very good in a law-abiding country, but I found that half of those put down by Mr. Gill, in 1874, were stolen or damaged in 1880"-The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh, page 20.
276 No description can do justice to the Great Pyramid. Although well prepared, perhaps because so, I felt awe-inspired, particularly when I beheld the wonderful expanse of the Grand Gallery lit up with magnesum wire. My heart is brimming over with gratitude to our heavenly Father for the love and wisdom which prompted him to provide this marvelous Stone Witness in Egypt.
277 Morton has had the Descending Passage and much of the Subterranean Chamber cleared of debris, and we intend to investigate them. We ask your prayers, both now and at all times, for the Lord’s blessing on our work. We know it is the meek whom our heavenly Father guides in judgment-John Edgar.
LETTER VIPHOTOGRAPHING, AND MEASURING IN THE DESCENDING PASSAGE OF THE GREAT PYRAMID
At sundown each night, I develop the negatives gained during the day. My tent serves very well as a ‘dark-room," even when the moon is full, for its yellow light does not penetrate the thick canvas. When requesting M. Maspero’s permission to photograph the pyramids, he expressed doubt as to my being able to get good results. He said his excavators find that the high temperature of the water softens the gelatine emulsion on the photographic plates so much, that it is hard to secure satisfactory negatives. I am glad to say, however, that I have had no trouble in this respect, partly due to the fact that the emulsion on my films was specially prepared to withstand high temperature, and partly because I do all my developing, as I said, after sundown, when the temperature of the atmosphere falls to about 70í F.
279 Owing to the low roof and narrow breadth of the passages (4 by 31Ú2 feet), and above all, owing to the uneasy slope and smoothness of the floors, it is difficult to operate in them; and, of course, all pictures of the Pyramid’s interior must be taken by flashlight. The steepness of the floors is much greater than it appears to be in illustrations. Nothing laid on them will remain stationary for a moment. Rods, bags, candles, pencils, etc., if not held by the hand, or propped up in some way, immediately begin a rapid descent, and even we ourselves slip down, if we fail to make use of the footholds.
280 Some of our number usually pose in the field of view, for the purpose of showing correct proportions. Particular attention is paid to the exact position of the camera, and to the extent of view included in the picture. Sometimes we erect measuring-rods near the parts to be photographed, and occasionally also stretch lines along the angles of the floor and walls.
281 The stars in Egypt look very brilliant and beautiful. While busy with my nightly photographic work, I sometimes steal out of my tent to admire their wonderful grandeur. The Milky-way is very clearly defined, and as beheld from our tents seems to dip down behind the huge black outline of the Great Pyramid, causing, with the added brilliancy of certain large stars, a perfect halo of light around its lofty summit. So wondrous is the luminosity of this halo, that one night I walked over to John’s tent, and called on him to come and see it.
282 Now that we have cleared the Descending Passage below the granite stone referred to by Professor Petrie (Plate XI), we find that the floor here is not slippery like it is elsewhere. Immediately below the granite stone there is a short length smoother than the rest. At this part we notice rough-hewn oblong footholds similar to those in the other passages. The whole extent of the Descending Passage from the granite stone downward, i.e., about three-fourths of the total length, is cut through the solid rock on which the Pyramid is built-Plate II.
283 Some years ago M. Maspero had a padlocked iron gate or grill-door fixed on top of this granite stone, and thus the generality of visitors are unable to explore the lower section of the Great Pyramid’s interior system. As I mentioned in a previous letter, the first time that I descended, the space between the roof and the surface of the debris along most parts of the Descending Passage permitted one to creep through with difficulty; but now that we have both it and the Small Horizontal Passage leading to the Pit thoroughly cleared throughout their entire length, it is much easier to go up and down. Not, however, that the journey can be done with comfort; for the four-feet height of the roof, together with the downward slope of the passage, obliges one to stoop very low; in the Small Horizontal Passage leading to the Pit we are compelled to creep, because here the roof is only about three feet above the floor.
284 The awkward stooping posture which it is necessary to assume when proceeding down the uneasy slope of the Descending Passage, is well illustrated in a photograph which was taken with the camera erected at the bottom of the Well-shaft, and pointing out eastward through the little passage, in the direction of the Descending Passage-See Plate XII. It shows John walking down the steep floor, with his head just touching the low roof-Plate LXV. John says he was relieved when the exposure was completed, as he felt very much like the ‘poor groaning creation" while posing for the picture.
285 We instructed Judah to employ his brother and two other men to dig out and brush away the dust from the west corner of the floor of the Descending Passage along its entire length, in order that our steel tape might rest evenly on the floor close up to the west wall, and so enable us to take exact measurements. As already stated, Professor C. Piazzi Smyth did not descend lower than to the junction of the First Ascending Passage, and did not, therefore, measure the portion of the Descending Passage below this. In 1837, twenty-eight years before Professor Smyth’s investigations, Colonel Howard Vyse measured it roughly in feet, apparently along the roof-line; but his account is difficult to follow. In 1881, Professor Flinders Petrie also measured it, as carefully as he could, as the floor was then much encumbered with sand and stones.
286 So far as we are aware, these are the only two investigators who have attempted to measure the lower reach of the Descending Passage. The latter confesses in his work, Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh, that he could not be sure of his measurements of this part of the passage, nor did he think it necessary to be more particular. He writes: ‘The measures from the steel tape onwards, by rods, down to the end of the built passage, where it rests on the rock, are not of the same accuracy as the others; the broken parts of the passage sides [at Al Mamoun’s forced hole], and the awkwardness of measuring over the large block of granite [on which the iron grill-door has since been fixed], without any flat surface even to hold the rods against, prevented my taking more care over a point where accuracy is probably not of importance. [He was not alive to the symbolic and scientific importance of this part, unfortunately.] For the total length of the entrance passage, down to the subterranean rock-cut part, only a rough measurement by the 140-inch poles was made, owing to the encumbered condition of it. The poles were laid on the rubbish over the floor, and where any great difference of position was required, the ends were plumbed one over the other, and the result is probably only true within two or three inches." His measure is about five inches too short.
287 Although the large granite block on which the grill-door is fixed, takes up nearly the full width of the passage, it did not interfere with our work. We did not require to measure over it as Professor Flinders Petrie did, for we found that its lower surface does not rest on the floor of the passage, but on debris several inches deep. By means of a crowbar our workmen tunneled out the debris under the block along the west corner, so that we had a few inches clear space through which we pushed our steel measuring-tape. We also instructed our men to shift the position of the large limestone block which then lay diagonally across the passage a little distance above the granite block. This stone lay wedged in from wall to wall, and was, we understand, placed in position by Professor Smyth for the purpose of holding his angular-measuring apparatus. We had it levered from its place, and turned round end-on with the passage-See Plate XI. In this way we obtained a clear surface along the floor at the base of the west wall of the Descending Passage throughout its entire extent. For the first time known in history, therefore, an accurate continuous floor-measurement of the passage from end to end is now made possible. To ensure accuracy in our figures, we have verified them by measuring twice in a downward, and once in an upward, direction. We have also measured the length of this passage twice along the roof-line on the west side.
288 After getting Judah’s brother to clear the other side of the Descending Passage floor, along the base of the east wall, including the portion under the east side of the granite block, we carefully measured the floor-length of the passage twice from top to bottom down this side also. We have therefore measured the length of this Descending Passage seven times in all. The result of our measuring enables us to state with confidence that the floor-length of the Descending Passage, from the ‘Point of Intersection" at the junction of the First Ascending Passage, down the west side to the lower square terminal, where the Small Horizontal Passage adjoins it, slightly over 30371Ú2 British inches (3034.501 + Pyr. ins.-Full details of this and other measures are contained in volumes II and III of Great Pyramid Passages).
289 During our measuring operations at the lower end of the Descending Passage, we made an interesting discovery at its junction with the Small Horizontal Passage which leads to the Subterranean Chamber. The Descending Passage terminates in a flat end, cut square at the corners, and at right-angles to the incline of the passage. The small passage to the Pit commences horizontally from the center of this flat end, but as it is much smaller in bore than the Descending Passage, some of the flat end of the latter remains, forming a margin several inches wide round the entrance of the Small Horizontal Passage-See Plate XII.
290 We secured a photograph showing the square flat end of the Descending Passage; and, in order to make apparent the very small bore of the Small Horizontal Passage leading southward from it to the Subterranean Chamber, John sat in its entrance, his back resting against the west wall-Plate LXVI. The drawing by K. Vaughan (Plate XXVII), which is a faithful delineation of our photograph, shows the junction of the two passages more clearly.
291 Professor Flinders Petrie describes this flat terminus of the Descending Passage in his work, Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh, he speaks of the margin as running along the roof and on each side. But he failed to notice that it also runs along the floor, because he did not clear the passage thoroughly. The higher level of the floor of the Small Horizontal Passage above the terminus of the floor of the Descending Passage is apparent in another of our photographs, which shows their junction on the west side-Plate LXVII. It will be noticed that the leveled cord stretched along the angle of the floor and the west wall of the Small Horizontal Passage, crosses at a point several inches above the lower end of the vertical rod, which is erected in the bottom corner of the Descending Passage floor. The horizontal pencil-line, drawn in continuation of the roof-level of the Small Horizontal Passage, is 17Ú8 inches above the upper end of the vertical three-foot rod. [Subsequent measuring in 1912 shows that this rod is standing in a little hollow below the surface of the floor, and that the 17Ú8 inches ought to be reduced to more nearly 11Ú4 inches.] It will be noticed in the two photographs described, that the flat margins are chipped and rounded off at the middle of their course. The corner angles are sufficiently well preserved, however, to permit of accurate measuring.
292 The floor corner at the east wall appeared to be an exception; it looked as if the rock here had been allowed to remain in a rough condition, instead of being cut out square. It seemed to us strange that the ancient workmen who, four thousand years ago, drove with so much care and precision this wonderful Descending Passage deep into the living rock, should have left one terminal-corner unfinished, and the other three well defined. We therefore closely examined the apparently uncut rock. On being struck, it gave a sound smiliar to that of the surrounding rock; but from indications we came to the conclusion that the corner had been finished like the others, and that a stone had been cemented in, possibly, we thought, with the intention of preserving the flat end from injury. We photographed this ‘inset stone" (Plate LXVIII), and then proceeded to remove part of it with a chisel, so as to enable us to take accurate measurements to and from the corner.
293 We had not cut much away before we perceived that what had at first appeared to be stone, was in reality a kind of hard concrete. The small stones and limestone dust lying in this corner had become moistened by the rain which, at rare intervals, runs down the passage, and in drying had set almost as hard as the rock itself. We removed it all, and then photographed the squared corner-Plate LXIX. While cutting out the solidified limestone dust, we were astonished to find embedded in it a living worm! This worm was three inches long, flat in section, hard, and of an ivory color. We are puzzled to know how it could remain alive in such a place. We told Judah to pull it out of its hole, and very gingerly he caught it between his finger and thumb and suddenly jerked it out in John’s direction. ‘Ugh!" exclaimed John in horror, ‘Don’t throw it at me!"
We will now direct our attention to the Small Horizontal Passage, and Subterranean Chamber, and will give an account of these in our next letter.-Morton Edgar.
LETTER VIITHE SUBTERRANEAN CHAMBER, AND THE TWO SMALL PASSAGES CONNECTED THEREWITH
THE Subterranean Chamber is by far the largest, being, approximately, 27 feet from north to south, by 46 feet from east to west-See Plate XII. Its area, therefore, is more than double that of the King’s Chamber, which measures 17 feet by 34 feet. Although the roof and walls of this large Subterranean Chamber are by no means smooth, they are for the most part square and level; but the floor is extremely rugged and unfinished, and is much encumbered with stones and sand.
295 We should prefer the removal of every vestige of this debris, that we might examine and photograph the original contour of the rough floor, but the expense stands in the way. We have had some clearing done, however, in front of the doorway of the little south passage, and also at the west wall, which was almost entirely hidden by a bank of the debris seven or eight feet deep. This obscuring bank (referred to by Professor Flinders Petrie) having been cleared away, the west wall is now exposed to view; and we find that for a width of 13 feet in the middle of this end of the chamber, the floor is fairly well leveled, and is about five and a half feet below the roof, leaving almost sufficient headroom for one of average height to stand upright.
296 The larger stones removed by our men are stacked elsewhere in the chamber. The sand and small stones were thrown into the lower depths of the shaft in the middle of the floor at the eastern end; for this portion of the shaft is a modern excavation by Mr. Perring, as explained in the first volume of Pyramids of Gizeh by Col. Howard Vyse. The upper, original, part of the shaft (which we refrained from filling) is peculiarly arranged in two sections. The ancient workmen cut a square hole in the floor, the bottom of which is fairly level and at a vertical distance of about 22 feet below the roof of the Subterranean Chamber. (It is not possible to state a definite depth for the hole below the chamber’s floor, for this floor is so irregular, as can be judged from our photographs, that any figures would be misleading.) And from one corner of this hole they cut another, smaller, square hole for a further depth of three and a half feet. The first hole, or shaft, is approximately seven feet square, and the second approximately feet feet square. (Only approximate measures can be secured, for there is no part of the Subterranean Chamber clearly defined.) The sides of these ancient shafts lie nearly diagonally to the sides of the chamber. From the floor of the lower, second, shaft Mr. Perring sunk his irregularly rounded excavation3-Plate XII.
3 In 1912, during my second visit to the Great Pyramid, I employed men to lift all the stones and sand out of this deep shaft, thus leaving it open to the bottom. I also had much of the debris removed from the Subterranean Chamber itself, carried up the long Descending Passage in baskets and thrown away clear of the Pyramid. There is more of this work still to do, however. —Morton Edgar.
297 Col. Howard Vyse had instructed Mr. Perring to excavate this deep shaft to test the truth of a theory which claimed, on the supposed authority of Herodotus, that a still lower and secret subterranean chamber existed, in which Cheops, the accredited builder of the Great Pyramid, was said to have been interred. But after penetrating to a considerable depth without result, the work was abandoned because of the lack of pure air.
298 About a thousand feet to the southeast of the Great Pyramid, there is a large and very deep sepulchral pit, now named ‘Campbell’s Tomb," which was cleared out by Col. Howard Vyse-Plate II. Professor C. Piazzi Smyth proves that this tomb more nearly answers Herodotus’ description of Cheops’ burial place, and Professor Flinders Petrie concurs with him in this opinion.
299 The Subterranean Chamber of the Great Pyramid is roughly halved into two parts-an eastern and western. In the eastern half, the floor is excavated much lower than in the western. The large deep shaft is approximately in the center of the eastern portion. At the northeast corner of the chamber the floor is 12 feet, and at the southeast corner 14 feet, below the roof; but at the middle of the east wall, opposite the shaft, it is 17 feet below the roof. In the western half, which begins about 21 feet from the east wall, the rocky floor roses in high receding mounds, which reach to within about 10 inches of the roof. In our photograph which was taken with the camera erected near the east wall and pointing directly west (Plate LXX), it will be noticed that these mounds lie north and south, and are divided by a narrow trench, two and half feet wide, which inclines up the middle of the chamber, rather to the north of the center, and terminates with a width of two feet at the west wall. John is sitting at the entrance to this trench on the north side, while Judah reclines on top of the north mound.
300 At the north end of the west wall at the roof, we disclosed in our clearing operations a small and roughly squared recess-Plate XII. In appearance it is as if a small westward passage had been contemplated, but had been abandoned shortly after work on it had commended, as it is only from six to eithteen inches deep, the inner end being very irregular. Adjoining the wall to the north of the recess, there is a peculiar upright ridge of rock reaching from the floor to within 13 inches of the roof. It runs parallel with and about three feet from the north wall of the chamber; the long narrow space between the two is not unlike a horse-stall-Plate LXXI.
301 One of my photographs of the Subterranean Chamber shows the doorway of the north entrance passage, with Hadji Ali Gabri sitting at the base of the north wall-Plate LXXII. The north edge of the large shaft in the floor can be seen in the immediate foreground; and high up to the right at the top of the east wall, the rough projecting knob of rock referred to by Professor Flinders Petrie. Another photograph was taken with the camera erected a few feet from the north wall, and pointing toward the south-Plate LXXIII. The entire opening of the large shaft is visible; and standing at its east edge is Hadji Ali Gabri, pointing to the doorway of the little south passage.
302 We carefully measured the Small Horizontal Passage leading to the Subterranean Chamber. The walls and roof of this passage are fairly even and straight (their surfaces being roughly dressed), but the floor is worn toward its junction with the Descending Passage. The south end of the floor juts irregularly two to five inches into the Subterranean Chamber. The distance from the lower terminal of the inclined floor of the Descending Passage, at the west corner, along the floor of the Small Horizontal Passage to the line of the terminal of the five-inch projection, is found by us to be slightly over 3503Ú4 British inches (350.403 + Pyr. ins.). Thus the total floor-distance down the west side between the ‘Point of Intersection" at the junction of the First Ascending Passage, and the extreme end of the five-inch floor-projection in the Subterranean Chamber, is a little over 33881Ú4 British inches (3384.904 + Pyr. ins.). The photograph which we secured of the Small Horizontal Passage doorway in the chamber (Plate LXXIV) shows John standing, indicating with his finger the point on the east wall at the roof-termination of the passage, which we finally fixed upon as being the correct terminal for the whole passage, and to and from which we made our measurements. The short rod erected against the east wall is plumbed vertically in line with this point; and the other rod lying horizontally on the floor, has its front edge square and at right-angles with that of the vertical rod. The vertical rod is 12, and the horizontal rod is 24, inches in length.
303 We measured the small Recess which is hewn out in the roof and west wall of the Small Horizontal Passage leading to the Subterranean Chamber. Its roof, as shown by our two photographs of this Recess, is very uneven, the variations being as much as 9 or 10 inches. A fissure in the rock, about two inches wide, runs diagonally through the Recess from northwest to southeast. The photograph of the south end of the Recess shows Judah standing in the dark Pit beyond-Plate LXXV. The horizontal six-foot rod is tightly fixed square across between the east and west walls. As the distance between the north and south walls is practically the same as between the east and west walls, the floor-plan at the Recess is square. The other rod erected vertically close to the west side of the south doorway of the Recess, is three feet in length. The horizontal distance, along the roof-line, from the general level of the projections of the rough, exfoliated, north wall of the Recess, to the north wall of the Pit where the roof of the Small Horizontal Passage terminates, we judge to be 1263Ú4 British inches. The second photograph shows the north side of the Recess (Plate LXXVI); and through at the north end of the passage, Judah’s legs may be seen as he ascends the steep sloping floor of the Descending Passage. These photographs show a granite block, lying near the northwest corner of the Recess, to which reference will be made later.
304 This little subterranean ante-chamber is a peculiar feature in the Great Pyramid’s internal system. One would think that the ancient builders had intended to hollow-out here the large Subterranean Chamber, but changing their original purpose had pushed on the Small Horizontal Passage a few feet further south, before excavating that large apartment. I remarked to John that the Recess looked like a miniature Pit, except that in its case the roof and not the floor had been left in an unfinished condition. John agreed; ‘For," he said, ‘we believe that the Pit symbolizes the ‘Great Time of Trouble’ foretold by the prophet Daniel, and also by our Lord, and the Recess represents the French Revolution; and is not the French Revolution a foreshadowing or miniature of the Great Time of Trouble in which this ‘present evil world’ will end?" (Da 12:1; Mt 24:21.)
305 The little horizontal passage, which leads southward from the Subterranean Chamber, measures only 29 inches in height and width. We had therefore to creep on hands and knees when going to the further end. It is a blind passage, over 53 feet in length-Platre XI. At one time, while measuring in this passage, four of us were at the inner end for half-an-hour, each with a lighted candle. We were astonished to notice that our breathing was quite easy, and that the candles burned brightly, in spite of the fact that the Descending Passage away to the north forms the sole inlet and outlet for air. The floor of the little passage is covered with dark earthy mould, two to three inches deep. At a distance of 36 feet from the doorway the passage curves slightly to the west, but 6 feet further on curves back to its southerly direction. The bend is so slight, however, that John, when holding one end of the steel measuring-tape at the doorway, had a full view of Judah and me with our lighted candles at the blind terminus. When, however, he looked along the west wall of the passage, he could see us only partially. There is a small fissure in the rock where this bend occurs. The blind end is fairly well squared, but uneven; the variations between the prominences and depressions are about four inches.
306 Our workmen cleared away the debris which covered the floor in front, and to the west of the doorway of the little southward passage-See the previously mentioned photograph of this part-Plate LXXIII. The original rough, uneven floor thus exposed, we photographed this southeast corner of the Pit, including the full height of the walls and part of the ceiling-Plate LXXVII. To make evident the extreme smallness of the bore of this south passage, John is leaning against the south wall to the west of its doorway.
307 The doorways of the two passages which open into the Subterranean Chamber are in direct line with each other, the east walls of both being continuous with the east wall of the chamber; but the roof of the south passage is fully three and a half feet lower than the roof of the north passage-Plate XII. The roof of the north passage is a little over seven feet below the ceiling of the Subterranean Chamber. It is interesting to notice that the length of the north passage from its roof junction with the Descending Passage, measures approximately the same as the length of the east wall of the Pit; while the two combined approximate to the total length of the south blind passage.
308 Another picture of the Subterranean Chamber shows the entire east wall, and a large section of the ceiling-Plate LXXVIII. The unevenness of the ceiling is apparent, but the roughness is exaggerated owing to the strong shadows cast by the brilliant flashlight. On the left Stanley is emerging from the north passage, while on the right John stands opposite the doorway of the south passage. Only a small section of the south wall is visible. Near the center, and against the east wall, Judah stands on the lowest part of the floor of the chamber, near the edge of the large deep shaft. He holds upright in his hand a six-foot rod, the lower end of which rests on the floor.
309 In confined places, like the little south passage, there is a great rushing sound made by the numerous bats as they fly about excitedly. At night-time as we leave the Pyramid after our day’s work, they pass us in great numbers, but without touching us, although they sometimes dash up to within a yard of our faces. Judah was struck one time, however. The creature evidently failed to notice his brown face. It fluttered down beside me, but before I could get a good look at it it was off again.
I shall continue this account in another letter.-Morton Edgar.
LETTER VIIIROCK FISSURES, THE WELL-SHAFT, AIR-CURRENTS AND TEMPERATURES, IN THE GREAT PYRAMID
PYRAMID dimensions, to be of symbolic and scientific value, must be expressed in terms of Pyramid units of measure, namely, the cubit, and the inch. The precise lengths of the Polar-axial diameter of earth, and are therefore earth-commensurable (See Pars. 19 and 20). For convenience each operator will, as a rule, use the units of measure pertaining to his own country; but the ultimate aim of all measuring must be to ascertain as accurately as possible the Pyramid-cubit, and Pyramid-inch, dimensions of the building, otherwise many of its secrets could never be deciphered. Therefore, while our own measuring rods and tape are divided into British inches, our final figures express Pyramid units.
311 Most of our operations in the Great Pyramid so far have been in the Descending Passage and Pit. We commence work about 9 a.m., using the earlier and cooler hours of the morning to read, write, etc. About one o’clock we return to our tents for lunch, and then enter the Pyramid once more and continue the work until about 8 p.m. At 4:30 our Arab waiter, Sayd, comes to us in the Pyramid, bringing with him a basket containing a kettle of boiled water, cups, etc., and a few biscuits. He soon makes for us a welcome pot of tea. It saves time to have this refreshment brought to us, and we partake of it wherever we may be working, even down in the Pit itself. On one occasion we had our afternoon tea in the small Recess in the west side of the Small Horizontal Passage leading to the Pit. As many as five of us were sitting there, and two or even three more could have accompanied us with some crowding. We had three candles burning while the feast was in progress, and yet it was not very warm. On another occasion we sipped our tea while sitting in the irregular opening of a large rock-fissure in the Descending Passage-See Plate XI. This fissure is a ‘half-way" resting place, a ‘Rest-and-be-thankful," as it were. It involves walls, ceiling and floor. Originally, stones were cemented into it flush with the incline of the passage; but, though the inset stones in the floor are still in position, most of those in the walls and ceiling are missing. Therefore we can stand upright in this part of the passage; and it is a real relief sometimes to stand here for a little before proceeding further upward or downward. There are similar inset stones let into what appears to be another larger fissure in the passage higher up-See Plate XI. The stones at that part are still in position, and they are evenly dressed.
312 We have taken careful measurements of the lower end of the Well, where it enters at the west wall of the Descending Passage-See Plate XII. The opening in the wall is broken and rough around the edges, although the sides are, in a general way, vertical and square with the top. Professor Flinders Petrie believes that the opening was at one time concealed by a stone, which would explain why this small, mysterious communication with the Pyramid’s upper system was quite unknown, previous to Caliph Al Mamoun’s accidental discovery of the lower end of the First Ascending Passage in 820 A.D.
313 It will be recollected that the lower end of the First Ascending Passage was, for nearly 3000 years, concealed by a limestone block fitted in flush with the roof of the Descending Passage-Plate XIV. Owing to the vibrations and shocks caused by Al Mamoun’s workmen, as they forced their way through the core masonry a short distance to the west of the Descending Passage, this limestone block was dislodged, and fell to the floor of the Descending Passage. It was the noise of the falling stone which revealed the presence of the Descending Passage to the workmen; and when they had bored their way into this passage, the gap in its roof revealed the Granite Plug blocking the lower end of the hitherto unknown First Ascending Passage. Professor Flinders Petrie’s opinion is that the upper passages thus having been discovered for the first time, Al Mamoun’s workmenmade their way down the Well-shaft from its upper end in the Grand Gallery, and forced the concealing block of stone from its position at the lower end. If this were so, both these communications with the upper parts would be discovered together.
314 The little westward passage which leads to the (almost) vertical shaft of the Well, does not lie at right-angles to the Descending Passage, but inclines slightly to the north-Plate XII. It is about six feet in length to the east side of the shaft, and its floor gradually dips down toward its western extremity by about two feet in the whole length of the passage-Plate XXII. The roof and south wall of this little passage are very uneven, but the north wall is fairly straight and level.
315 How much the roughness and brokenness of the mouth of the lower end of the Well may be due to dilapidation or mishandling since the time it was cut by the ancient workmen, it is difficult to say. If the opening was originally covered by a stone as Professor Petrie believes, and is quite probable, those who removed it may have knocked away the edges of the mouth in their endeavors to dislodge it from its setting.
316 In one of our photographs of the lower end of the Well, Judah is seen commencing the ascent of the narrow shaft-Plate LXXIX. The six-foot rod which he grasps in his right hand, is held parallel with the incline of this lower reach of the shaft. The camera was erected against the east wall of the Descending Passage, directly opposite the opening of the little westward passage. After making allowance for irregularities on the wall surfaces, we judge that the floor-distance between the line of the north edge of the Well-opening, and the lower extremity of the floor of the Descending Passage on the west side, is a little less that 2961Ú2 British inches (296.062 + Pyr. ins.).
317 When we remember that the Descending Passage was hewn in the rock more than four thousand years ago, it is remarkable how the angles on each side of the roof and floor have preserved their beautiful squareness. This squareness is noticeable principally at the upper and lower reaches; along the middle portion the surfaces of the walls are partly broken, mainly because of exfoliation. The whole length of the passage from the outside of the building to its junction with the Small Horizontal Passage leading to the Pit, is as straight as an arrow, and preserves a uniform height and width throughout. Professor Petrie, after testing with measuring-apparatus, remarks on the straightness of the upper built part of the Descending Passage. He says that this part deviates from absolute straightness by only one-fiftieth of an inch. The walls, roof and floor where the passage descends through the rock, show evidence of having been much smoother than they are at present.
318 It is wonderful how much light enters this passage right to the lower end. Notwithstanding the fact that quite two-thirds of its height is cut off by the granite block on which the iron grill-door is fixed, one evening at twenty minutes to six, when we were sitting at the junction of the Descending, and Small Horizontal, Passages, we found it possible to read the time. As Petrie’s granite block intercept the rays of light along the floor and axis, we found it necessary to hold the watch close to the roof, against the flat square end of the passage. When we did so, we discerned the time without difficulty. If the granite block were removed it is probable that the light, which is very strong in Egypt, would penetrate sufficiently to enable one to read a newspaper.
319 Now that the Descending Passage and the Well-shaft are quite clear of debris, there is a strong air-current through the various passages, partly due to the fact that during the summer there is an almost constant north wind blowing down the Entrance Passage, but also largely due to the great difference between the temperature of the interior of the Pyramid and that of the outer air. The conditions are now therefore quite different from what obtained in 1881 when Professor Flinders Petrie was working in the Descending Passage. He states that he could not remain in it many hours at a time, because of the lack of fresh air.
320 The wind blows down the Entrance Passage until it reaches the hole which was made by Caliph Al Mamoun a thousand years ago, and by which access is gained from the Descending Passage to the First Ascending Passage. The air-current passes through this hole and up the First Ascending Passage to the Grand Gallery, at the lower end of which it divides. One portion travels up the Grand Gallery, through the Ante-Chamber into the King’s Chamber, and thence to the outside by means of the south air-channel of that chamber-Plate XX. The other portion blows down the Well-shaft and emerges into the lower end of the Descending Passage, then up the latter until it again reaches the forced hole in the west wall of the Entrance Passage. It enters this once more, crossing the fresh in-going current, and so out along Al Mamoun’s forced passage to the open. There is generally a strong breeze blowing outward through this forced passage. The above order must be reversed in some respects when the wind is from the south, and blows down the King’s Chamber’s southern air-channel.
321 Because of this constant current of air throughout the Pyramid, the passages are always fresh and cool, and working in them is, for that reason at least, preferable to working under the blazing sun. In the heat of the day we are glad to return to the cool recesses of the Pyramid.
322 On my first Sunday at the pyramids, I experienced one of the terrible Khamseens which blow during the month of May. These are storms of hot wind laden with sand from the Sahara. The temerature in the shade on the Pyramid plateau was then 111í F. It was hotter still in the plain between Cairo and the pyramids; I nearly fainted when traveling in the tramway car, but revived when I reached the Great Pyramid. I could have slept in the Grand Gallery (which I had then visited for the first time) where the temperature was only 76í F.-35í less than in the shade without, and I don’t know how much less than in the exposed plain below! That day, in the King’s Chamber, with the hot south wind blowing down the southern air-channel in a steady strong current, the temperature was 82í F. The long narrow channel of cool masonry through which the heated air must pass (about 200 feet), lowers the temperature by fully forty degrees.
323 We find that the temperature inside the Pyramid varies with that outside according to the time of day. For instance, at the lower end of the Well-shaft where it enters the Descending Passage, our thermometer registered 76í F. between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.-the hottest part of the day. Between the hours of 3:30 and 5 p.m. the temperature inside was lowered to 72í, the temperature outside in the shade being 91í. But at 7:30 p.m., the temperature at the lower end of the Well-shaft was as low as 69í F. In the Subterranean Chamber, however, the temperature remains fairly constant at 76í F.
324 We have now finished work in the lower parts of the Great Pyramid, and in future will direct our attention to the upper parts. Judah says he is glad, as he does not like the Pit. The poor chap usually falls asleep while John and I are busy with intricate measurings, but he is cheerfully active and helpful when wanted, and we believe has made our position here as investigators much easier than might have been the case. He and his father, as I said before, are in governmental employment, being overseers of a large section of the excavating works of Egypt. Judah’s presence with us, therefore, has the effect of keeping away the other Arabs.
325 On my second day at the Great Pyramid, while I was engaged photographing the casing-stones, two of the Arab ‘guides" came edging nearer and nearer, and presently one of them asked if I wanted help-if he should not pose, say, at or near the casing-stones. But as Judah and others had warned me that if I commenced to engage these men they would come around me ‘like flies," I raised my hand and waved them off. They evidently knew I am here on special work, for they immediately withdrew; and never since then have we been waylaid by any of them.-Morton Edgar.
LETTER IXPUERILE EXCAVATINGS. THE GRANITE PLUG, AND ENTRANCE PASSAGE, OF THE GREAT PYRAMID
YIELDING to their capricious desire to discover more apartments in the Great Pyramid, investigators in the past have inflicted much injury to the noble lines of the monument. Professor C. Piazzi Smyth expresses himself with regard to this: ‘There is nothing new, or difficult either, in imagining how there may be more hollow spaces within the walls of that vast structure; for every traveler and every antiquary during ages has so indulged, and have hacked, hewed, and excavated at their own sweet will, or untutored fancies, yet never found anything thereby; or have succeeded only in proving this, that their ideas were not the ideas of the original builders." Mere imaginings in such matters are of no value, as Col. Howard Vyse proved to his cost; for he expended much time and money in boreings and blastings while in pursuit of them. Whatever has been discovered was not the result of the forethought, but of accident; as, for example, Al Mamoun’s discovery of the Ascending Passages, and Waynman Dixon’s detection of the crack in the wall of the Queen’s Chamber, which led to his revealing the air-channels (attention will be drawn to this in a subsequent letter). Waynman Dixon’s method of investigating is commendable; but if imaginings alone were admissible, they would be limitless, and eventuate in the piecemeal demolition of the building to either prove or disprove them. It would be more serviceable that such imaginative faculties be expended on the Sphinx; for neither passages nor chambers are known to be in that huge idol.
327 While we cannot commend the ruthless experimental excavatings too often practiced by workers in the Pyramid, work of another kind is useful. We believe we have completed one good job, namely, the securing by cement of a long iron pin at the head of the Well-shaft-See Plates XI and XXII. This pin is for the purpose of suspending a 33-foot rope-ladder down the first vertical part of the shaft. Of course, as the shaft is very long, other ropes may be required, although the lower parts can be descended with comparative safety by means of the foot-holds cut in the sides of the shaft. [In 1912 I had additional iron pins fixed at intervals down the course of the shaft, for greater safety.]
328 Another good job completed was the cutting of notches for the feet and hands in the part by which one climbs alongside the Granite Plug up to the First Ascending Passage. When we desire to ascend this passage, we leave the Descending Passage by the hole on its right or west side, forced by Caliph Al Mamoun about ninety feet down from the Entrance. This hole is in line with the front of the granite stone which lies on the floor of the Descending Passage. The limestone block, which now rests against the upper end of the granite stone (Plate XI), forms a convenient step by which to gain entrance, for the lower edge of the hole is about two feet up from the floor of the Descending Passage. From here the forced hole tends upward and westward into a large cavernous space about twelve feet in height. Communicating with this space at the upper portion of its northwestward side is the inner or southern extremity of the long passage which Al Mamoun caused to be excavated from the north face of the Pyramid-Plate VI. In order to reach the upper end of the Granite Plug, and so ascend the First Ascending Passage, we require to scale the southeast wall of this cavernous space. I secured a photograph showing Hadji Ali Gabri climbing this wall-Plate LXXX. In this he is seen standing with one foot on a ledge which is situated about three feet above the loose, sandy floor of the space, and the other in a notch. By taking advantage of this ledge and of the notches, the ascent is made without undue difficulty. A second photograph (Plate LXXXI) presents a near view of the ledge, and also shows the lower end of the First Ascending Passage to better advantage; the drawing by K. Vaughan (Plate XIII) gives the details still more clearly.
329 We directed our men to enlarge and roughen the notches on the floor of the First Ascending Passage; for we found this passage too slippery to be traversed with safety. They deepened the footholds on the upper surface of the lower end of the East Ramp in the Grand Gallery. When one wants to ascend the Grand Gallery, it is necessary to walk along the top of this Ramp for the first twenty feet to the place where the floor of the Gallery begins. The East Ramp extends the whole length of the Gallery from the north wall to the Step at the upper or southern extremity, whereas the first four feet of the West Ramp is partly broken, and partly missing, the open mouth of the Well being situated at this point-Plate XVIII.
330 Three of our photographs of the Descending Passage, taken where it joins the First Ascending Passage, show the lower end of the Granite Plug as it appears in the roof, and below this the continuation of the Descending Passage, with Petrie’s granite stone and its grill-door blocking the way. To the right of the grill-door, and above it, can be seen the forced hole which opens into Al Mamoun’s covervous hollow. One of these photographs (Plate LXXXII) was secured before our men cleared the debris from the front of the granite stone. Judah is sitting on this debris, which was level with the top of the granite stone, and concealed the limestone block that lay across the passage a few feet in front of it. The second photograph (Plate LXXXIII) shows this part as it appears now clear of debris. The upper end of the limestone block is visible; it was shifted from its former position, and now rests end-on against Petrie’s granite block-Plate XI.
331 In the third photograph (Plate LXXXIV), John is shown standing beneath the Granite Plug, holding the upper end of a cord, which is stretched from the bottom edge of the Plug across the west wall of the Descending Passage, to show the line of the floor of the First Ascending Passage. The joint where this line touches the floor of the Descending Passage is called the ‘Point of Intersection"-See Plate XIV. The rod which lies across the passage holding the lower end of the cord, is three feet in length. John is also holding a ‘T" square against the bottom angle of the Granite Plug, from which a plumb-bob is hanging to the floor of the Descending Passage, thus marking the position on the floor which is vertically underneath the lower edge of the Granite Plug. We found this mark useful for measurements.
332 The roof of the Descending Passage above and below the lower end of the Granite Plug, is much broken away. The line of the roof of the Descending Passage can be seen progressing from above downward at the point where John’s right hand touches the west wall of the passage. It was in the triangular-shaped space which lies in front of the lower end of the Granite Plug, that the limestone roof-block was fitted which for thirty centuries hid the entrance of the First Ascending Passage, and thus kept secret the existence of the upper passages and chambers. (In examining these photographs of the interior of the Pyramid, which, owing to the confined spaces, are necessarily taken at very close quarters, allowance must be made for apparent distortion in the perspective.)
333 Besides these photographs at the lower end of the Granite Plug, a number were secured of the upper end. One shows John stooping in the First Ascending Passage, and leaning with his right-hand on the fractured upper end of the Plug-Plate LXXXV. He holds a candle in his left hand, and is looking downward along the west side of the Granite Plug where it has been exposed by Al Mamoun’s excavation. His head is nearly in contact with the roof of the First Ascending Passage. Two of the three great granite blocks which together form the Plug, can be seen distinctly, the third being, with the exception of a little part of its upper end, hidden in the surrounding masonry. Some previous investigator chipped away sufficient of the uppermost granite stone to expose a portion of the smooth, flat upper end of the second.
334 Another photograph (Plate LXXXVI) was taken with the camera erected in the First Ascending Passage, looking down on the upper end of the Granite Plug, and showing Judah standing in Al Mamoun’s forced passage to the west. Immediately behind Judah, the long low forced passage progresses northward to the outside of the Pyramid-See Plate VI. Owing to the confined spaces in which these pictorial records have to be taken, it is sometimes impossible to include enough within the angle of view to convey true appearances. For this reason a carefully executed drawing, in addition to the photograph, is useful. K. Vaughan’s drawing of the upper end of the Granite Plug shows not only its entire rectangular end, but also adjoining it portions of the floor and east wall of the First Ascending Passage-Plate XV.
335 As our Arab assistants are frequently referred to in these Letters, their portraits may prove of interest. I therefore photographed Judah, Sayd, Ferrali the cook, and the Reis, Judah’s father-Plate LXXXVII. I also secured several pictures round our tents, showing them from various viewpoints. One of these (Plate LXXXVIII) shows a panoramic view of the flat plain, with the Mokattam Hills in the dim distance, and our four tents in the foreground. Another shows the Great Pyramid in the background, with John Stanley, and myself at the doors of our tents-Plate LXXXIX. Judah ‘pressed the button." In this latter photograph the tents look as if they were almost touching the Pyramid; but this is owing to the clearness of the air. There is actually a distance of several hundred yards between our tents and the Pyramid, as another view makes more evident-Plate XC.
336 The diminishing effect which the clearness of the air has on distance, is very noticeable when one is approaching the pyramids by the electric tramway from Cairo. After crossing the Nile by the bridge opposite Old Cairo, and reaching the village of Gizeh on the west bank, the tramcar runs for about four miles in a straight line over the flat plain to Mena House Hotel, quite close to the pyramids. The Great Pyramid is plainly visible throughout the whole of this four-mile stretch, standing out boldly on its leveled rock hill-Plate XCI. When about a third of the distance has been traversed it appears so near, that the newcomer feels convinced that each stopping place he sees ahead must be the terminus. After two or three disillusionments, however, he sinks back on his seat, and waits patiently until the terminus is reached. The tramcars travel very fast along this line, the rails of which are laid on an embankment of their own adjoining the public roadway. The roadway, or avenue, runs between two rows of beautiful acacia trees-Plate XCII. Each tramcar is provided with a continuous-sounding horn, worked by the driver’s foot. While traveling at night, especially when one is a little overcome by the heat, the sound from these horns is very dreary.
337 Continuing our work in the Great Pyramid, we examined the upper section of the Descending Passage. This built part, down to its junction with the First Ascending Passage, is sometimes named the Entrance Passage. Much masonry at its outside-beginning is missing-Plate XCIII. Plate XCIV is a closeup view of the present doorway, which, is modern times, has been closed by a sheet-iron double door. To take this picture we placed our camera on the extreme outer end of the floor; but owing to the steep descent of the floor only a small portion of it could be included within the view. In Place XCV an Arab can be seen sitting on the outside end of the floor (on the right, or west, side), the stones of which are about two and a half feet thick. These floor-stones can be traced at their exposed outer ends for a combined width of thirty-three feet, from east to west. Because of this great width, Professor C. Piazzi Smyth named the floor of the Descending Passage the ‘Basement-sheet" Down the center of this long broad sheet of stone, and at a distance of three and half feet apart, the walls of the passage are laid; and placed on top of these are immense roof-stones, eight and a half feet in thickness, and over twelve feet in width from east to west.
Thus, while the Descending Passage is very narrow, the sheet of masonry which forms its floor is so broad, that by this means the passage sustains its symbolical significance, namely, its representation of the ‘broad way that leadeth to destruction." Professor Smyth was of the opinion that the present outside end of this Basement-sheet is also its original north-beginning. Nevertheless, the ancient doorway must have been nearly ten and a half feet further out, in line with the now missing casing of the building-See Plate XCIII. In the sybmolic and scientific features of the Pyramid, both the ancient, and present, north-commencements of the Descending Passage floor are recognized, thus proving that Professor Smyth was correct in this opinion as to the importance of the Basement-sheet.
338 Without doubt the Entrance Passage was constructed to endure; and the workmanship displayed in it has been the object of the great admiration of all investigators, both ancient and modern. Professor Greaves, on beholding the beautiful masonry of this passage in 1638, thirty-eight centuries after the completion of the building, exclaimed with almost Tennysonian feeling: ‘The structure of it hath been the labor of an exquisite hand, as appears by the smoothness and evenness of the work, and by the close knitting of the joints"; and Professor C. Piazzi Smyth writes: ‘No one with an ability to appreciate good work, can look, unmoved with admiration, at the extraordinarily truthful straight lines, and close fitting of the wall joints near and about the present Entrance"; while Professor Flinders Petrie adds his testimony in the following eulogism: ‘The pavement, lower casing, and Entrance Passage are exquisitely wrought; in fact, the means employed for placing and cementing the blocks of soft limestone, weighing a dozen or twenty tons each, with such hair-like joints, are almost inconceivable at present; and the accuracy of the leveling is marvelous."
339 We found the floor-length by measuring with our steel-tape; from the north edge of the Basement-sheet down to the ‘Point of Intersection" at the junction of the First Ascending Passage, is slightly more than 9861Ú4 British inches (985.266 + Pyr. ins.). From the north edge of the floor at the ancient Entrance-doorway, the floor-length down to the ‘Point of Intersection" must have been a little over 11103Ú4 British inches (1109.664 + Pyr. ins.). Hence, from the ancient, but now missing, north-beginning of the Descending Passage floor, right down to the junction of the Small Horizontal Passage, the distance is computed to have been a little more than 41481Ú4 British inches (4144.165 + Pyr. ins.). And if the floor-line of the Descending Passage is produced at the same angle downward, beyond the junction of the Small Horizontal Passage, until it touches the vertical line of the southern extremity of the floor of this Small Horizontal Passage (i.e., the terminal of the five-inch projection of the floor into the Subterranean Chamber), the total floor-length thus produced to form one continuous straight line, is slightly more than 45391Ú2 British inches (4535.037 + Pyr. ins.).
We also measured the floor-distance between the ‘Point of Intersection" and the Scored-line on the west wall of the Descending Passage, and found it to be a little less than 6283Ú4 British inches (628.0688 + Pyr. ins.). As pointed out by Professor C. Piazzi Smyth, these unique scored-lines (for there is also one on the east wall, opposite the other on the west) were drawn on the walls of the Descending Passage with a firm hand, and with an iron or bronze tool, by the builders who erected the Great Pyramid. They are proved to mark, by their position and direction (at right-angles to the incline of the passage) the precise date when the great edifice was erected, that is, probably, to commemorate the date of the completion of the building-operations, namely, the Autumnal Equinox of the 2140 B.C. Thus the Great Pyramid was completed exactly 2138 years previous to the birth of the Man Christ Jesus in the city of Bethlehem; for it is now fully demonstrated that the true date of the birth of Jesus was in Autumn of the year 2 B.C., or 11Ú4 years before the presently acceptec A.D. 1 date.
340 Before we could complete our work in the upper Entrance Passage, it became so dark that we could not see to read our measurements properly, and our candles would not remain lit because of the wind which is always blowing at the Pyramids. Darkness comes on very suddenly in Egypt; there is little or no twilight. In Scotland at this time of the year, it remains light even up to 11 o’clock, but here it is dark at eight, and when the moon is not shining, very dark at nine o’clock. Sometimes, when coming out of the Pyramid after our day’s work, it is so dark that it is with considerable difficulty that we tread our way along the narrow footpath, which leads down from the Entrance along the top of what now remains of the once large mound of debris.
I may here mention that the mounds which lie at the bases of all four sides of the Great Pyramid, have been much reduced in size of late years. The builders of Mena House Hotel, and other, removed great quantities of this debris to make concrete, etc. A narrow strip of the top of each mound still remains, however, running against the side of the Pyramid, and forming, therefore, an indication of their original shape and height (between 40 and 50 feet). the one on the north side forms a ready means of ascending to the Entrance-See Plate XCVI. [But since the beginning of the world-war in 1914, the remains of the mound at the northern base have been removed, and all of the Pyramid at this part is now exposed to view.] Professors Smyth and Petrie, and others give reasons which prove that these debris-mounds are composed of the fragmentary remains of the ancient casing-stones. I verified this by myself extricating from the masses of broken stones several small pieces of casing, showing the distinctive angle of their worked surfaces. A considerable portion of the mounds of debris is fine chips and limestone dust, the result of the pounding of the great stones when thrown down by the spoilers who denuded the building of its pristine casing. As Professor Flinders Petrie points out, the flinty sand of the surrounding desert does not find lodgment here, owing to the prevailing winds.
341 We sent off Judah for our electric-light apparatus which A. Matheson of Glasgow fitted up for us. By its aid we could see very clearly. This is the first time that we have used the electric light at the Pyramid. I have employed it for several nights, however, inside a dark-room lamp in my tent, when developing our photographs. We find that, after all, candles are more to be preferred while working inside the Pyramid than any other light, because they are easier for us to hold when we are lying on the passage floors measuring, etc. We have only once employed the two acetylene lamps which we brought with us; they become too hot to be easily handled.-Morton Edgar.