American Egyptomania Search

From West Africa to Palestine

Freetown: Manchester, 1873

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Art & Architecture

In about half an hour, after descending and ascending difficult places, we gained the centre. The feeling in going up to the centre of the pyramid is akin to that which one experiences when ascending a very high hill. When we had accomplished the feat of reaching the centre, the Arabs themselves, who are not unaccustomed to the enterprise, seemed to think it a wonderful achievement, for they burst out into simultaneous boisterous hurrahs. The floor of the hall was one huge stone. On the sides were engraved the names of visitors who had been there centuries ago. But there were very few names : comparatively few travellers, it would seem, go into the pyramids. In the centre of the hall stands the large porphyry coffer in which the embalmed bodies of the kings were deposited— evidently too large to pass through the narrow passages by which we entered. How was it brought to this place? The Arabs said it was put here while the pyramid was building. "While the pyramid was building!" thought I : "that takes us back to the days of Noah—anterior to Abraham." What a wonderful sight!

Sir J. S. Wilkinson, one of the most competent authorities on all Egyptian questions, fixes the date of the construction of the pyramids at 2400 B.C. Job refers to them in chap. iii., 13, 14. "Now," says he, "should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept; then had I been at rest, with kings and counsellors of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves." "Desolate places", in the Arabic translation of Smith and Van Dyck, is rendered "pyramids" (ahram). The Coptic version is said to give "monuments". It is clear that Job saw or knew of the pyramids. Perhaps Abraham during his sojourn in Egypt, Jacob, Joseph, and his brethren, Moses and Aaron, stood and wondered at these structures. It is certain that Homer, Thales, Solon, Pythagoras, Herodotus, Plato, and many other distinguished Greeks, who visited Egypt for purposes of study and travel, saw them.

I was amazed at the stones of immense size, placed in every possible position, by which I was surrounded. The constant wonder is, how were these stones brought hither? and how could they be arranged as they are? Instead of imagining the use of machinery now entirely unknown, may we not suppose that there were giants in those days?—that the strength of one man of those times was equal to the strength of several men in these degenerate days? Homer tells us that Diomed, in the Trojan war, hurled, with one hand, a stone at /Eneas, which two men in his day would not have been able to carry. We read in Deuteronomy iii, 11: "For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of giants; behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of iron. Is it not in Rabbath of the children