Chap. 9. Inside of Second Pyramid
Pages 104 - 109
73. [p. 104] The doorway of the Second Pyramid is lost, along with the casing; and the granite blocks of the passage end irregularly. The position of the passage was fixed from a station mark near it; its axis is 490.3 E. of the middle of the N. face. Its azimuth was already observed by Prof. Smyth, as – 5' 37"; which is almost exactly the mean azimuth of the sides, as by my triangulation they are – 5' 26" with a mean difference of 33". Hence, if the horizontal passage is the same azimuth as the sloping, the chamber lies altogether E. of the Pyramid centre by about 47 inches. This is much the same arrangement as in the Great Pyramid.
The entrance passage is entirely of rough dressed granite, none of it polished like the work of the King's Chamber ceiling and the Antechamber, and not like the King's Chamber walls in the Great Pyramid The flaws in it are made good with plaster, much of which is to be seen on the first roof-stone and all along the side of the roof sometimes half-way across it. This was laid on with a board or trowel, and afterwards painted red like the plastering in the Granite Temple.
This passage was measured thus, in height and breadth:—
The greater irregularity in the width than in the height of the passage, shows the builders to have been less careful than the masons since the height depends on gauging the side blocks to a uniform height, whereas the width only depends on their position.
74. At the bottom of the slope, the roof has a half-round drum or roll across it (see Pl. xii.), like the "roller " over all the tomb doors From this the passage goes southward horizontally (see Pl. vii.). From the end of the sloping roof to the other side of the roll is 11.7 on E; 11.6 on W. or, to the portcullis groove [p. 105] 40.92. The portcullis is a slab of granite working in vertical grooves in the granite sides of the passage; the width of the passage being 41.38 there, the grooves are 9.68 deep on E. and 10.05 on W., making 61.11 in all; the width by a single measurement being 61.14 in front, or N., and 61.35 at back, or S. The width of the grooves is 15.77 E., and 15.19 W., and the stone slab of the portcullis is about ½ inch thinner. Thus it is airnost the same as the granite leaf in the Great Pyramid, which is 15.14 to 16.28 thick. The granite walling and roofing ends at 41.4 to 43.0 behind the portcullis. The portcullis was fiercely attacked by Perring, who tried to break it up, with the vain idea of finding a passage leading out of the top of its groove but it resisted all his efforts, and it is now propped up high enough to crawl under it, by rough pieces of limestone in each groove. All the lower part of the entrance passage is obstructed with stones, left there by the Arabs when removing building materials from the interior. At the end of the granite the walls are of good limestone with finely-picked faces, like the walls of the gallery in the Great Pyramid; and the passage roof immediately rises 23.0, so that it measures thus:—
The height on the W. side, near the chamber, is taken to irregular plastering on the roof. The fine picked walls near the portcullis, soon merge along the horizontal passage into very rough picked work cut in the rock, and plastered over; farther on there is more masonry, but all plastered and after that the rock continues on to the chamber. The intention in the 71 inch height seems to be to make it half as high again as the ordinary passage: 71.06 x 2/3 = 47.38 ± .09; and the other passage is 47.29 ± .03.
75. The great chamber is entirely cut in the rock, excepting the pointed gable roof which is built of limestone beams, like that of the Queen's Chamber in the Great Pyramid. Stone has been let into the walls to make good defects; and the whole surface was stuccoed. The floor is partly of rock and partly paved; the paving is of fine limestone 9 to 14 inches thick, except around the coffer at the W. end, where it is of deep granite blocks. The coffer is of the usual form, like that in the Great Pyramid, but was let into the floor up to the level of its sliding lid. The floor was lamentably torn up by Perring in search of other chambers, and the stones are now piled up all over the E. wall. The chamber is 195.8 on E., 195.9 on W.; 557.9 on N., 557.4 on S.; 206.4 high at N.W.; 206.3 and 206.5 (?) at S.W.
[p. 106] Vyse gives 38 inches for the gable roof rise (though measuring the height from the wall base instead of the floor), and this gives 244.4 for the height of the ends. The doorway is on the N. wall at 104.3 to 144.9 from the E. wall. On both N. and S. walls there is a vertical red line drawn, on the N. at 198.3 from E,, and on the S. at 198.6 from E. These red lines on both walls run up to .5 or .1 on the W. side of a blind hole in the rock, which looks like the beginning of an air-channel and there is a square of the same size marked adjoining the line some way below the hole, as if it had been at first intended to cut the hole lower down. These holes and squares were measured thus:—
The backs of the holes are quite irregular and unfinished.
The coffer is, on the outside 43.1 at N., and 42.9 at S. end, distant from W. wall; increased now by .5 in shifting it. To the N. wall it is 42.5, and to the S. wall 50.0.
76. The coffer is well polished, not only inside but all over the outside; even though it was nearly all bedded into the floor, with blocks plastered against it. The bottom is left rough, and shows that it was sawn and afterwards dressed down to the intended height but in sawing it the saw was run too deep and then backed out; it was, therefore, not dressed down all over the bottom, the worst part of the sawing being cut .20 deeper than the dressed part. This is the only error of workmanship in the whole of it; it is polished all over the sides in and out, and is not left with the saw lines visible on it like the Great Pyramid coffer. The finish is about the same as on the walls of the King's Chamber, and the horizontal polishing lines can be seen inside the N. end.
The lid is lying on the floor of the chamber, unbroken; it was slid on to the coffer, and held by a projection on its base, which fitted into undercut grooves along the N., E., and S. sides of the coffer, the W. side being cut away to the depth of the groove. The grooves in the coffer are not parallel, but are wider apart at the W., so that the lid should have no chance of jamming in being put on. When finally slid into place, two pins (probably of bronze) dropped down out of holes [p. 107] in the lid, into corresponding holes in the W. side of the coffer.
The designers were evidently afraid, however, of the coffer being turned over, so as to let the pins drop back into the lid; they therefore sunk the coffer into the floor. To make it still safer they put resin in the pin-holes, where it may still be seen; then the pins, being ready heated, were put into the holes in the lid, which was quickly closed thus the pins sank ½ inch to 1 inch, melting their way into the resin, and probably forcing it up their sides. This process made sure that there could be no way of getting the lid off without breaking it, and the design answered perfectly; the lid never was drawn off, On one side of the groove in the coffer may be seen a little scrap of cement. this shows that the lid was cemented on in the grooves, and that it never was slid back, or it must have rubbed off such a fragile scrap. This cementing on of the lid was also of use to prevent any shake; so that the labour of wrenching it off, and bruising the undercutting to pieces by wriggling and jogging it up and down, must have been enormous. This seems, however, to have been the way of forcing it, as the undercutting is much broken, and the cement in the groove, and the melted-in pins, make it impossible to suppose any other mode of removing the lid. There is a good deal of crystallized salt on the inside of the coffer.
77. The size of the coffer was measured thus:—
[ *** Areas marked inaccessible on original.]
[p. 108] The mean error of the dimensions is thus only .04 inch. The two pin-holes in the top of the W. side are cut with a tube drill, and average 1.07 diameter their sides are thus:—
On the outside bottom the height is constant all over the dressed part, being 38.12 and it only diminishes at the part where the saw ran too deep, and where it has not been at all farther reduced by dressing.
This coffer being 42.0 inches wide, can never have been taken through the passages, as the upper passage is only 41.3 wide, and the lower is 41.2 and 41.6. Hence it must have been put into the chamber before the roofing was laid over it, and so before the Pyramid was built upon that.
78. Beside the coffer chamber there is one lower in the rock, which has a rock passage leading to it, descending northwards out of the floor of the horizontal passage (see Pl. vii.). This passage runs down for some way; then goes horizontal, has an enlargement on the E. side, and a sloping passage to a chamber on the W. side; and then re-ascends; and (if cleared out) would come out on the pavement in front of the N. face. The descending part is all plastered with a flat tool The lower chamber is also plastered, and is cut very roughly in some parts; on the roof even 6 inches too much having been taken off, and then plastered up; this great deficiency is, however, the same on both sides of the roof and it looks as if some different form had been begun, and then abandoned. This chamber is:—
The door in the E. side is 41.2 wide; and 40.9 from N., 41.0 from S. side. The short sloping passage into the chamber is 41.0 wide at top, where it branches from the other passage, which is 41.2 and 41.6 wide. The recess opposite the passage into the chamber is 123.8 long in front (W.), 122.0 at back (E.), and 68.2 wide on N., 67.8 on S., beside the width of the passage, which makes a total of 109.4 N., and 109.4 S. The use of such a recess opposite the passage, which turns off at right angles, is plainly seen in the small pyramids to be for turning a coffin so as to pass it into the chamber. This shows that it was intended to introduce a coffin into the lower chamber, about 40 x 105 long. There is good reason to regard this chamber as a second place of interment; and it might well have been used quite apart from the other chamber and passages, by blocking the communication between them, and reaching this by the opening in the pavement The passage to the pavement is blocked up with limestone; which was partly removed, but not opened through, by Vyse.
This passage was closed by a granite portcullis, and it is important to [p. 109] observe how this was produced. The block of granite was taken along the passage from the southward on edge, and the wall was cut away on one side in a slope, so as to just allow of the block being turned flat across the passage by slewing it round in a complex way. The block was then pushed up into the groove cut in the rock for it and the cutting in the side required to get it in was filled up by masonry at the back of the block. Thus, to any one forcing an entrance, nothing but rock and the granite slab would meet them. The skill required to turn over and lift such a block, in such a confined space, is far more striking than the moving of much larger masses in the open air, where any number of men could work on them. By measuring the bulk, it appears that this portcullis was nearly two tons in weight, and would require 40 to 60 men to lift it; the space, however would not allow of more than a tenth of that number working at it; and this proves that some very efficient method was used for wielding such masses, quite apart from mere abundance of manual force.