Page images

with a piece of crooked iron, and partly by the infusion of drugs in they then with an Ethiopian Itone make an incision in the side, through which they extract the intestines 158; these they cleanse thoroughly, washing them with palm-wine, and afterwards covering them with pounded aromatics : they then fill the body with powder of pure myrrh 159, casia, and other perfumes, except frankincense. Having fown up the body, it is covered with nitre 160 for the space of seventy days 161, which time they may not exceed ; at the end of this period it is washed, closely wrapped in bandages of cotton 162, dipped in a gum 163 which ihe Ægyptians use as glue :

"558 Intestines.] Porphyry informs us what afterwards becomes of these: they are put into a chest, and one of the embalmers makes a prayer for the deceased, addressed to the sun, the purport of which is to fignify that if the conduct of the deceased has during his life been at all criminal, it must have been on account of these; the embalmer then points to the chest, which is afterwards thrown into the river.-T.:)

“159 Myrrh, &c.]—Instead of myrth and cassia, the Jews in embalming used myrrh and aloes.-T.

“ 160 Nitre.]--Larcher says, this was not of the nature of our nitre, but a fixed alkaline salt,

« Literally, it is salted or pickled with nitre. In the less ex. pensive mode of embalming, Rouelle obseries that it wa: impoffi. ble to inject at the fundament, as it were by clyfters, a sufficient quantity of cedar liquid ointment, to consume the whole inside, and that they must therefore have made some additional openings. Herodotus expressly far's they made po incisions in the meaner fub. jects (sve. c. 87), but itopping up the body a certain number of days, and pickling it, they afterwards let out the cedar fluid, ,which coufumes the inside as the nitre does the outside, leaving only a skeleton in the skin. The third class, or poor, were washed interually with a liquor called svrinaie, and pickled in nirre the utual uime. The intestines of the Teneriffe mummy were ex. tračied by an incision in the right side of the abdomen, afterwards fewed up. The nitre he re mentioned, is doubtless the natron which is found in such abundance in the Natra Lakes."

"* 101 Severity days.--" If the nitre or natrum had been suf. fered," laus Larcher, “ to remain for a longer period, it would have atiаcked the solid or fibrous parts, and diffolved them; if it had been a neuiral salt, like our nitre, this precaution would not have been necefiary.”

“ 162 Corion. )-By the byssus cotton seems clearly to be meant, " which,” says Larcher, “ was probably consecrated by their religion to the purpose of embalming." Mr. Greaves afferts, that these bandages in which ebe muinmies were involved were of

it is then returned to the relations, who enclose the body in a case of wood, made to resemble an human figure, and place it against the wall in the repository of their dead. The above is the most costly mode of embalming." Vol. I. p. 422.

The Egyptian pyramids have attracted the attention of the curious and the learned in all ages, and will probably conti. nue to attract it to the end of the world. According to Hero. dotus, the largest pyramid was built by a king called Cheops, remarkable for his iyranny, who barred the avenues to every temple, and forbade the Egyptians to offer sacrifice.

" He proceeded next to make them labour servilely for him. felf. Some he compelled to hew stones in the quarries of the Arabian mountains, and drag them to the banks of the Nile *; others were appointed to receive them in vessels and transport

linen; but he appears to be mistaken. There are two species of this plant, annual and perennial; it was the latter which was cul. tivated in Ægypt."

“ 163 Gum.)-This was gum arabic. Pococke says it is pro. duced from the acacia, which is very common in Ægypt, the same as the acacia, called cyale in Arabia Petræa; in Ægypt it is called fiunt,

« Ægyptia tellus. " Claudit odorato poft funus ftantia buito

“ Corpora.” «* Dr. Shaw does not believe that the stones employed in the pyramids were brought from Arabia. Notwithstanding, says he, the great extravagance and surprizing undertakings of the Ægyptian kings, it doth not seem probable that they would have been at the vast labour and expence of bringing materials from so great a distance, when they might have been supplied from the very places where they were to employ them. Now the stone, which makes the bulk and outside of all these pyramids, is of the same nature and contexture, hath the like accidents and appear. ances of spars, follil shells, cerulean substances, &c, as are coma mon to the mountains of Libya. In like manner Joseph's Well, the quarries of Irouel near Cairo, the catacombs of Sakara, the Sphinx, and the chambers that are cut out of the natural rock on the East and Weft side of these pyramids, do all of them discover the specific marks and characteristics of the pyramidal stones, and, as far as I could perceive, were not to be distinguished from them, The pyramidal stones, therefore, were in all probability taken from this neighbourhood; nay, perhaps they were those very ftones that had been dug away to give the Sphinx and the chama bers their proper views and elevations. Shaw, p. 416..



[ocr errors]

them to a mountain of Libya. For this service an hundred thod. fand men were employed, who were relieved every three months. Ten years were consumed in the hard labour of forming the road, through which these stones were to be drawn; a work, in my estimation, of no less fatigue and difficulty than the pyramid is. self 2:4. This causeway 215 is five stadia in length, forty cubits


“_214 The pyramid itself. ]—For the satisfaction of the English reader, I shall in few words enumerate the different uses for which the learned have fupposed the pyramids to have been erected. Some have imagined that, by the hieroglyphics inscribed on their external surface, the Ægyptians wished to convey to the remoteft pofterity their national history, as well as their improvements in fcience and the arts. This, however ingenious, seems but little probable : for the ingenuity which was equal to contrive, and the industry which persevered to execute, structures like the pyramids, could not but foresee that, however the buildings themselves might from their solidity and form defy the effects of time, the outward surface, in such a situation and climate, could not be proportionably permanent; add to this, that the hieroglyphics were a sacred language, and, obfcure in themselves, and revealed but to a select number, might to pofterity afford opportunity of ingenious con. jecture, but were a very inadequate vehicle of historical facts.

" Others have believed the pyramids intended merely as ob. servatories to extend philofophic and astronomical knowledge ; but in defence of this opinion little can be said : the adjacent country is a flat and even surface; buildings, therefore, of such a keight, were boch absurd and unnecessary ; besides that, for such a purpose, it would have been very preposterous to have constructed such a number of costly and maliy piles, differing so little in altitude.

" To this may be added, that it does not appear, from an examination of the pyramids, that access to the summit was ever practicable, during their perfect state.

" By fome they have been considered as repositories for corn, erected by Jofeph, and called the granaries of Pharaoh. The ar. gumenx against this is very convincing, and is afforded us by Pliny. " In the building of the largest of the pyramids, 360,000 men,” says he, “ were employed twenty years together.” This, therefore, will be found but ill to correspond with the Scriptural history of Jofeph. The years of plenty he foretold were only seven ; which fact is of itself a sufficient answer to the above.

“ It remains, therefore, to mention the more popular and the more probable opinion, which is, that they were intended for the fepulchres of the Ægyptian monarchs.

« Intead

wide, and its extreme height thirty-two cubits, the whole is of polished marble, adorned with the figures of animals. Ten years,

« Instead of useful works, like nature, great,
Enormous cruel wonders crush'd the land,
And round a tyrant's tomb, who none deserv'd,

For one vile carcass perith'd countless lives.Thomson. “ When we consider the religious prejudices of the Ægyptians, their opinion concerning the foul, the pride, the despotism, and the magnificence of their ancient princes; together with the mo. dern discoveries with respect to the interior of these enormous piles, there seems to remain but little occasion for argument, or reason for doubt.

“ The following is from Mr. Wilford, Afiatic Ref. vol. iii. . p. 439. .“ On-my describing the great Ægyptian pyramid to several very learned Brahmins, they declared it at once to have been a temple ; and one of them asked if it had not a communication un. der ground with the river Cali (Nile) ; when I answered that such a passage was mentioned as having existed, and that a well was at this day to be seen; they unanimously agreed that it was a place appropriated to the worinip of Padma Devi, and that the supposed tomb was a trough which on certain festivals her priests used to fill with the sacred water an. Lotos flowers. What Pliny says of the labyrinths is applicable also to the pyramid ; some in. fifted that it was the palace of a certain king, some that it had been the tomb of Mæris, and others, that it was built for the purpose of holy rites; a diversity of opinion among the Greeks, which shows how little we can rely on them ; and, in truth, their pride made them in general very careless and superficial inquirers into the antiquities and literature of other nations.

" Whatever attention the foregoing part of this observation may deserve, the conclusion is too hafty. With what truth can it be said that Herodotus was a superficial observer, who travelled to so many places for the sake of information and knowledge ? Did not Plato and many oihers of the most accomplished Greeks do the same ? Indeed the contrary of this assertion is the fact. The more ingenious of the Greeks were distinguished by their ardour for science, and the indefatigable pains which they took to obtain it.

215 Caufeway. ]—The ftones might be conveyed by the canal that runs about two miles north of the pyramids, and from thence part of the way by this extraordinary causeway. For at this time there is a causeway from that part, extending about a thousand yards in length, and twenty feet wide, built of hewn ftone. The length of it agreeing so well with the account of He

S 2


as I remarked, were exhausted in forming this causeway, not to me. tion the time emploved in the vaults 216 of the hill 217 upon which the pyramids are erected. These he intended as a place of burial for himself, and were in an island which he formed by introducing the waters of the Nile *. 'The pyramid itself was a work of twenty years : it is of a square form; every front is eight plethra 3:8


rodotus, is a strong confirmation that this causeway has been kept up ever since, though some of the materials of it may have been changed, all being now built with free-stone. It is strengthened on each side with semicircular buttresses, about fourteen feet diameter, and thirty feet apart; there are sixty-one of these but trefies, beginning from the north. Sixty feet farther it turns to the west for a little way, then there is a bridge of about twelve arches, twenty feet wide, built on piers that are ten feet wide. Above one hundred yards farther there is fuch another bridge, beyond which the causeway continues about one hundred yards to the south, ending about a mile from the pyramids, where the ground is higher. The country over which the causeway is built, being low, and the water lying on it a great while, seems to be the reason for building this causeway at first, and continuing to keep it in repair.- Pococke.

" The two bridges described by Pococke are also mentioned particularly by Norden. The two travellers differ essentially in the dimensions which they give of the bridges they feverally measured; which induces M. Larcher reasonably to suppose that Pococke described one bridge, and Norden the other.-T.

« 216 Vaults. ]— The second pyramid has a foffe cut in the rock to the north and west of it, which is about ninety feet wide, and thirty feet deep. There are small apartments cut from it into the rock, &c.”

317 The hill.)-The pyramids are not situated in plains, but apon the rock that is at the foot of the high mountains which accompany the Nile in its course, and which make the separation betwixt Ægypt and Libya. It may have fourscore feet of perpen. dicular elevation above the horizon of the ground, that is always overflowed by the Nile. It is a Danish league in circumference. Norden."

“ * No writer or traveller has made any mention of this canal, which is again spoken of in chapter 127; not even Diodorus Si. culus. See Grobert, p. 35."

« 218 Eight pleibra.]-To this day the dimensions of the great pyramid are problematical. Since the time of Herodotus, nany travellers and men of learning have measured it; and the difference of their calculations, far from removing, have but augrated doubt. I will give you a table of their admeasurements,

« PreviousContinue »