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Chap. 12. Lesser Pyramids of Gizeh

Pages 121 - 124

90. [p. 121]Of the smaller Pyramids I had not time to uncover the bases, nor to open those now closed. Only two of them remain open at present, the northern and middle ones by the Great Pyramid.

The northern one by the Great Pyramid (marked 7 by Vyse) has the azimuth of its passage axis – 14' 40" ± 20" but the passage narrows to the bottom, being 41.5 at 520 up it, and only 40.0 at bottom; hence the azimuth of the sides of the passage is about – 9' on E. and – 20' on W; so that we may say – 15' ± 2', considering the possibility or the axis being better adjusted than either side.

The entrance passage, from the end of its sloping part, proceeds horizontally, cut in the rock for 111.4 measured on roof; the edge of the roof is bevelled 17.5, however, so that the really fiat roof is only 94. The passage then opens into a chamber, whose floor slopes down to the S. This sloping floor ends in a flat part, along the S. side of the chamber, 38.3 wide; from the W. end of which starts another sloping passage leading down westwards into the coffer chamber. The upper chamber is:

on N., 69.7; on S., 69.9; on W, 167.9.

The sloping floor is (167.9 – 38.33) = 129.6 wide horizontally; 48.6 below ceiling at N., and 115.8 (W.) to 116.0 (E.) below the ceiling at S. end. The angle, therefore, between it and the flat ceiling is about 27º 29'. The floor is much damaged by the tearing out of various blocks which had been inserted to make good flaws in rock.

The most remarkable feature in this chamber (which is entirely rock-hewn) is the cutting made to get the coffer passed through it into the lower chamber, this last being entered by a passage turned at right angles to the entrance passage. In order to turn the coffer, a recess was needed in the E. wall, opposite the mouth of the passage to the lower chamber. This recess ends at the S. wall, and is 77.3 long on the E. wall, but slopes at its N. end, so as to be only 68.1 long on its back. It is cut 20.7 into the wall, and its roof is 45 to 48 below the ceiling, so that it is 68 to 71 high. It has never been filled up with [p. 122] masonry. The coffer cannot have been over 38 wide,1  as it had to go down the lower passage; and the maximum length that could be turned by using this recess, is 88. So probably the coffer was about 37 x 84, allowing for a little free space. The recess would also allow the roofing-beams of the lining of the lower chamber to be passed down; a beam 10.3 wide (½ cubit) and 126 long could be turned without needing to take a cubic diagonal. If the beam was 20.6 (1 cubit) deep, as seems probable, then, by taking full advantage of the cubic diagonal, it might be 139 long; this would be amply sufficient for the roofing, leaving 10 inches for a bearing at each end.

Not only is there this recess, but at the S.E. corner, in the floor of the recess Is a circular hole over 15 deep and 7.3 diameter. The centre of this hole is at 19.2 from S. wall, and 5.1 from back of recess; it has a vertical groove in the recess back exactly behind it, 8.6 wide and 3.5 deep, which runs up the wall for 15, sloping off to 20 inches above the floor. The use of this circular hole seems to be for holding a stout post, around which ropes could be passed to control the coffer when sliding it down the lower passage, the groove behind it being to allow for the thickness of the rope. The centre of the hole is 19.2 from S. wall, and the middle or the passage is 19.15 from the same; hence the hole is exactly in line with the passage axis.

The roof of the lower passage begins at 78.5 below the ceiling of the upper chamber and the passage is 49.6 high vertically (or 41.3 perpendicular) and 38.3 wide. The passage floor really begins its slope in the chamber, on the flat strip of floor along the S. side, at 18.8 from the W. wall. The sloping length of the passage is 160.1. On the N. side it is lined with two courses of stone 17.8 thick, and the top one 13.45 high.

The lower chamber differs from all other parts of the inside in being lined with fine Mokattam limestone. The dimensions are:—

In rock ...
In lining ...
N. 201.4; S. 202.1 (?); E. 165.7; W. 166.3.
N. 139.8 (?); S. 140.5; E.  (?) ; W. 118 (?)

Only portions of the lining remain, and the floor is deeply cumbered with blocks of lining, and probably also of roofing. The lining has a ledge left on it 2.6 to 4.5 wide along the E. and W. sides — or it may be said to recede and become thinner — at 250 below rock roof on E., and 25.1 to 25.8 on W. This probably was where the long sides of the roofing-beams rested, overlapping the wall-lining; their length must have been from N. to S., as that is the shortest way of the chamber; and as they could not support an end over the doorway, which is the full height of the chamber wall. Over the doorway a dovetail stone is very neatly inserted to make good a flaw.

[p. 123] The lining blocks which remain are of the following thicknesses :– S.E. 30.8.; W.N.W. 31.0.; N.N.W., 25.1 to 26.5. The doorway sides are 36.3 from N. rock, or 10 (?) from N. lining; and 92.7 from S. rock, or about 61 from S. lining.

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91. The middle one of the small Pyramids by the Great Pyramid (No.8, Vyse) is almost exactly similar in arrangement to the preceding. The azimuth of its passage axis is –3' 20" ± 10" but the difference in the width of the ends make the sides – 1' 26" on E., and – 5' 20" on W. Probably –3' ± –1' is the truest statement

The sloping passage ends in a horizontal passage 112 long and 384 wide, which loads into the upper chamber. The chamber ceiling is I 3.2 above the passage top, and is all flat. The floor slopes down southward, to a flat strip along the S. wall; and dips down within the chamber, to begin the floor of the lower passage, which turns out of the W. wall. The chamber is not square, from the E. side of the entrance to the E. wall being askew; this E. side of it is really an enlarged form of the recess for turning the coffer and roofing-beams.

The chamber, then, is on N. 63.7 + 66.6 along diagonal slope to E. wall 71.2 on E. wall; 118.0 on S.; 110.6 on W. The N. side consists of 38.4 doorway, and 25.3 wall on W. of it = 63.7.

The slope-ended recess, or eastern enlargement of the chamber, would allow a coffer 113 long to be taken in; more likely it was 95 or 100 long; the width being limited to 38.4 by the entrance passage. The necessary roofing-beams, for lining the lower chamber, could also be passed down.

The upper chamber is 93 high, from the flat strip of floor on the S. of it but the floors are all so encumbered, and so rotten, that no precise height can be taken.

The sloping roof of the lower passage begins 58.4 below the chamber roof; and is 103.8 long horizontally.

The lower chamber is lined, like that in the other Pyramid, with fine limestone. Its size is:

In rock
In lining
209.5 N.
212.8 S.
209.8 E.
209.0 W.
121.6 W.

The N. side of the rock has been cut away too deeply over most of it; but the chamber length is shown, by the lining remaining, to have been about 121.6. As the largest beams that could be brought in (of 20.6x 10.3 section) would be 164 long, there would be probably 15 inches of bearing at each end, and 10 inches allowed for free turning in bringing them in.

There are red lines on the rock walls, showing where the planes of the inside of the lining were to come. These lines are on the S. wall at 28.8 from E. and 29.2 from W.; on the W. wall at 21.7 from S.; and on the [p. 124] E. wall at 20.9 from S. The corresponding casing actually measuring 28.2 and 279, for the 29.2 lines; and 21.0 for the 21.7 and 20.9 lines; the small differences being due to irregularities in the rock cutting.

There are no traces of the cementing-in of the lining above 32.8 or 33.0 from the roof (except on the N. side); and this probably shows at about what level the walls ended, and the roofing-beams were put on. The doorway roof ends at 28.2 (N.) to 28.8 (S.) below the rock roof; and probably the ceiling-beams would be flush with that. The sides of the doorway are of polished rock, evidently never lined; they come at 136.3 from the N. rock wall, and 34.9 from the S. rock wall; the passage being 38.6 wide.

A part of the casing of the southernmost of the Pyramids by the Great Pyramid (No.9, Vyse) was accidentally uncovered by the Arabs digging for nitrous earth; and I measured it as follows:— 52º 10', 52º 28' (both good measures), 52º 0', 52º 25', 5Iº 0' (bad). Giving the good double, and the bad half, weight of the others, the mean is 52º 11' ± 8'.

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NOTES:     (Use browser back button to return.)

1. It might have been 40 wide (as the entrance), and the lining on one side of the lower passage may have been inserted afterwards, but this would not materially affect its turning.

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