Chap. 11. Inside of Third pyramid
Pages 117 - 120
84. [p. 117] The entrance is in the 4th course, or from 165.3 to 202.1 vertically above the base; it is in the middle of the face, unlike that of either of the larger Pyrarnids. The centre of it is 2078.9 rom the E. side of the Pyramid and though we do not know the exact length of the N. face, yet this is precisely half the length of the S. face
The azimuth of the passage is + 13' 16", which is just between the varying azimuths of the Pyramid sides.
The granite just around the doorway has been dressed down to pretty nearly its final surface, but there is no trace of decoration or inscription.1 The edges of the doorway are much broken away, so that no remains of any means of closing it can be traced.
The entrance passage is built of granite, until it enters the rock, in which it is afterwards cut; and all the chambers of this Pyramid are entirely hewn in the rock.
85. Just beyond the foot of the slope of the passage, it opens into the first chamber. This is symmetrical on each side of the passage, and the sides measure thus:—
The ends are divided in equal thirds, by the doorway and the two side spaces, like the lower chamber of the Second Pyramid.
Both the sides and the ends are decorated with the panel ornament (Pl. xii) so universal in the earliest tombs, but not used before in a pyramid. The mean dimensions of this panelling are marked on the diagram. The granite lintel of the south door of this chamber is lying on the floor. It has a half-round drum, [p. 118] or roll, sculptured on it (like that in the Second Pyramid, Pl. xii.), and the width between the square ends, which rested on the jambs, varies from 41.23 to 41.35 the ends are 10.7 to 10.9 wide, making 62.78 to 62.99 length over all. The breadth of the block is 18.4, and its depth 15.0 inches. The granite jambs are 18.1 broad. In the passage beyond this chamber are the sites of apparently three sliding portcullises, situated at 63.9 to 75.0, 108.1 to 121.4, and 149.3 to 161.5 beyond the doorway. Beyond this last portcullis the passage rises from its previous height of 49.0; with a half-round drum and raised band above that; and at the entry into the second chamber the passage is 71.1 high, like the passage of the Second Pyramid.
This passage has evidently been excavated from the South outwards; whenever the excavators ran wrong (and they did so several times) the false cut goes deeper towards the N., and then ends abruptly when the error was seen. Also the direction of the pickmark points to its outward working. How the men got inside the rock to begin with, is plain from a second passage which runs above this; and which opens into the second chamber blankly, without any means of getting to the chamber floor, except by a ladder or other help. This upper passage runs through the rock up to the masonry, and was cut from the North inwards.
86. The full dimensions of this second chamber are:—
N. 560.2, S. 559.5, E. 151.6, 1/3 along 152.0, 2/3 along 152.6, W. 152.5.
But the length of it is divided into two parts, by projecting pilasters cut in the rock; these separate it into an eastern space of 416.3 N., and 415.9 S.; pilaster of 41.7 N., and 41.4 S.; and a western space of 102.2 on both N. and S. The pilasters project 13.1 N.W., 12.6 N.E., 11.7 S.E., and 13.0 S.W. The doorway enters on the N side of the chamber at 103.7 to 145.1 from E. wall. It is 71.1 high; and above it at 117.7 to 172.1 over the floor opens the upper passage, which is at 105.2 to 144.2 from the E. wall. The ceiling here is 191.8 over the floor. Thus the 1east part, 2pilaster, and 3west part, are nearly equal respectively to the 1west of the door, 2door, and 3east of the door; and these are also nearly the same as the similar divisions of the Second Pyramid chamber.
This second chamber is not, however, the chamber that contained the coffer, though it has a recess apparently intended to hold a coffer. Out of the middle of its floor a sloping passage descends westwards, turns horizontal, and then comes into the E. side of the granite-lined sepulchral chamber. The floor of this passage begins at 203.2 from E. side of second chamber; and the passage is 35.4 to 35.6 wide, and 35.6 high. There are some remarkable holes cut in the walls, apparently to hold the ends of rollers, over which ropes were run in lowering the coffer; these holes were not cut by Perring, as he engraves them in his plates.
87. The granite chamber is hewn in the rock with a flat ceiling like the [p. 119] other chambers. The granite lining and floor of it is built in and in order to introduce the roof-blocks a hole is cut from the end of the second chamber, into the top of the lower chamber. The roofing is not by beams, as in the King's Chamber, nor by cantilevers, as in the Queen's Chamber of the Great Pyramid; but by sloping blocks resting one against the other with a thrust, the essential principle of an arch. The under-sides of these blocks are cut into a barrel or hemi-cylindrical roof, like passages in tombs of the early period. This cavity above the roof, entered from the second chamber, was originally closed; but the masonry has been forced out, and now the tops of the roofing slabs can be easily seen. These have been quarried by means of a groove, and holes drilled at intervals to determine the cleavage plane; as was the roofing of the spaces over the King's Chamber. The introduction of these massive blocks through such a small space, and the placing them in such a confined position, is a good piece of work.
This granite chamber is not at all as regular in form as it is in appearance. The walls measure thus:—
The doorway is 54.52 wide, and one side of it in the plane of the S. wall. The courses at the door (S.E. corner) are:—
27.6 on floor, 26.5 next, 26.7 top of door, 24.2 over door; total 105.2.
88. Beside the first, second, and granite chambers, there is a loculus chamber; this is entered by a flight of steps turning out of the passage to the granite chamber. These steps are by far the earliest known in any building or excavation: they are six in number, and their breadths are from 10.5 to 12 inches, averaging 11.3. This loculus chamber was doubtless intended to contain coffins, judging by the sizes of the recesses. The chamber is on
N. 74.0, S. 77.0, E. 211, W. 205.1; 78.2 high on N; 80.0 in mid; 78.2 on S.
The doorway is in the S. wall at 38.0 to 73.9 from the E. side. In the E. wall are four loculi, and in the N. wall two, of the following shapes:—
[p. 120] The floors of the loculi are level with the floor of the chamber, and their tops average 22.1 below the ceiling.. Their inner ends are not fully worked to the width of the openings, as they are left rather in the rough.
89. Reverting now to the original entrance passage (above the present entrance), by which the chambers were first begun, it is 39.3 wide and 51.0 high at the chamber. It runs horizontally for some distance northwards, and then slopes up at the usual passage angle (27º 34' Vyse) and it is 40.6 wide, and 49.0 high, square with the passage floor. It runs through the rock, and then through some masonry; and ends at last at about the level of the present entrance, but far behind — or south of — that, in the masonry of the Pyramid. Over the end of it is a large block, roughly 11¼ x 8½ x 7 feet, or about 50 tons weight; used exactly as the lintel blocks over the entrance passages in the smaller Pyramids.
From all these details it seems plain that the Third Pyramid was first begun no larger than some of the smaller Pyramids on the same hill. That it had a passage descending as usual, with a large lintel block over it; and running horizontally in the rock, into a rock-cut chamber, whose roof was 74.1 above the passage floor. That after this was made, the builders, for some reason, determined on enlarging the Pyramid before it was cased, and on deepening the chamber. They accordingly cut a fresh passage, from the new floor level of the chamber, working this passage from the inside outward They not only deepened the chamber but also cut the sloping passage to the lower, granite-lined, coffer chamber; for the granite lining could not be put in until the second chamber had been deepened to its present extent; so the granite chamber must be part of the second design, or is perhaps in itself a third design. The old entrance passage was then built over on the outside, and the greater part of its height blocked up. The blocking that remains is clearly ancient, as it consists of large blocks wedged in by chips, and worn by passing over the tops. On one block is a saw cut 6 inches deep in part, running vertically on the face; this cut must therefore have been made by the Pyramid builders, before they used the block for filling the passage.
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