« AnteriorContinuar »
but at a greater distance: then you see New Alexandria, with its minarets, and above that city, far off, appears the column of Pompey, a most royal monument. You may also discern several hills, and some other towers. At length the view terminates with a large square building, which serves for a magazine of powder, and joins to the mole.
As soon as Mr. Norden and his companions were landed, they passed through the new city towards the obelisk, over ruined walls, and on one side of it saw another that had long since given way, and is now almost entirely buried. The obelisk still remaining upright, and which to this day is called Cleopatra's Obelisk, Thews the place where stood the palace of that Queen, called also the palace of Cæsar; but there are no remains of that magnificent building now to be seen. Cleopatra's obelisk is situated in the middle between the new city and the lesser Pharillon. Its base, part of which is buried, is twenty foot above the level of the sea. Between this monument and the port is a thick wall, flanked on each side the obelisk with a large tower ; but the wall is decayed in such manner as to be of an height equal to the base of the obelisk. The inner part of the wall is no more than ten feet distant from the obelisk, and the outward about four or five from the sea. Before the wall facing the port, lies an infinite quantity of broken pieces of columns, and friefes, and other parts of architecture of divers kinds of marble, some of granite and verd antique. On the land-side, and behind the obelisk, is a large plain, which has been so often turned over and examined, that the earth looks as if it had passed through a fieve. The obelisk itself is of one entire piece of granite. The westside is the best preserved, the north next, but the east hath suffered greatly, and the south so much, from the injuries of time and weather, that the hieroglyphics on that fide are scarce distinguishable; which may be the reason why the Roman Emperors did not transport this obelisk to Rome, tho' it was nearer than the rest. The obelisk thrown down seems to have been broke; but by all that appears, it had the fame hieroglyphics, in the same order with that which stands.
Some antient authors report, that, in their time, these obelisks stood in Cleopatra's palace, but as they do not say she made them, it is probable, these monuments are more antient than the city of Alexandria, and that they were brought from some other part of Egypt to adorn her palace. This conjecture is the more likely to be true, as we know, that those Egyptian monuments, whose antiquity is of no higher date than
the building of Alexandria, are not inscribed with hieroglyphics, the use and meaning of which had, even then, been long fora, gotten,
As our Author has added some remarks concerning obelisks at the end of this volume, we shall give an account of them here, that our readers may have what relates to this subject entire, and by itself.
Their magnitude, duration, decoration, and form, justly entitle them to a place among the most valuable monuments of antiquity. One reason for their duration, is, the hardness of the granite they are generally formed of:-masses of which, equal to the dimensions of the largest obelisks, being rarely met with, greatly enhances their value.
They are peculiar to Egypt: and if found in other places, have been transported thence. They are of different heights, but have the same form, only fome have lost their summits. They are not all made of the same fubitance, nor by the same hand, but for the most part they are of granite. They are to be seen in all parts of Egypt. The first our Author law was at Alexandria, and the last at an island now called Giesiretell-heiff, which seems to have been the Phile of the antients. Each consists of one single piece of stone; the pedestal is a cube, exceeding the breadth of the obelisk two or three feet. The pedestal, and even a part of the obelisk, are now, generally, under-ground. Our Author fawtwo obelisks in the island of Giefiret-ell-heiff, the one of white marble, ftanding, but without hieroglyphics; the other of granite, on the ground, with a range of hieroglyphics upon each side. The summit of the first, which terininates the colonade of the western gallery, is broken off. It is eight feet in the square, and fixteen high. The second is the same in the square, but twenty-two feet high. It seems to be more modern than any Mr. Norden had occalion ro view, or at least was better preserved. Among the ruins round Efouaen, there_ is one without hieroglyphics, which is broken in two. Each side is three feet broad as to the heighth, it could not be measured, great part of it being buried in the sand. At Lukorcen, which is considered as part of antient Thebes, there are two obelisks, each fide measuring fix feet four inches and a half, their height in proportion. That towards the east is highet. Both stand in the front of those superb ruins so much admired in that place; and, no doubt, thele obelisks surpass every thing of the kind. Near to Carnac are seen the rest that belong to those at Lukoreen: they are four in number, perfect, stand
ing where they were first placed. Before the great hall near Carnac, as you enter, are two other obelisks, standing, and placed in a diagonal line, of the same size, and equal beauty, with those at Lukoreen: no doubt there were two more in this place, but they are gone. Before a small temple are also two obelisks, less than the former, about eleven or twelve feet high, and a foot and an half broad. They are granite, but so fine, as almost to equal porphyry; and are ornamented with hieroglyphics, which, in divers colours, represent, for the most part, those figures mutually embracing each other. Amongst the ruins at Carnac are seen many large blocks of a whitish stone, which had formerly been obelisks of an amazing size. These, like the rest, were originally of one stone, and broke by falling. They are covered with hieroglyphics, painted, and adorned with various figures, in compartments, which have a fine effect. Near to Matareen, a village not far from Grand Cairo, is an obelisk yet standing, well proportioned, and as high as that of Cleopatra at Alexandria ; but the hieroglyphics, tho' very fine, are not equal to those at Carnac and Lukoreen. Of this at Matareen, as well as of those at Alexandria, our Author has given us designs, taken on the spot, and well engraved.
After this account of these obelisks, or lesser pyramids, our readers will forgive us if, instead of following our Author in his description of Alexandria at present, we insert here the remarks he has made upon the great pyramids.
They stand at the feet of those high mountains, which mark the course of the Nile, and divide Egypt from Lybia. They are usually supposed to be antient fepulchres, differing in size, and constructed of various materials. Some are open, others in ruins, and the greatest part of them shut: all have suffered some injury or other. They could not all have been erected at the same time: the immense quantity of materials necessary for such a work, must have rendered it imposfible. Besides there is great difference in the work. manship, fome being more magnificent than others. They are certainly of the remoteft antiquity, since the time they were built was not known when the Grecian philosophers travelled into Egypt.' It should seem that they were raised before the invention of hieroglyphics: characters so ancient, that no history, extant, ascertaineth the time of their invention, and whose meaning was loft so long ago, as when the Persians conquered Egypt. Can it be supposed that the Egyptians, who made so free a use of hieroglyphics, should not have left one character, either within, or on the outside of, these yaft monu
ments, or on the temples of the second and third pyramids, if any such characters were then in use? but none appear in these immense ruins: had there been any, furely fome vestiges of ther would still remain. Thus
Mr. Norden. However, it is to be observed, that Vanfleb, who was very diligent in his observations on the pyramids, which he went to visit four several times, contradicts Our Author, and fays, “ J'ay trouvé “ fur quelques-unes (des pyramides) des characteres hierogly# fiques; mais le peu de temps que nous y fûmes, ne me per“ mit pas de les copier.” p. 137. Relation d'Egypte.
The present inhabitants ascribe thele vast works to a race of giants, concerning whom, fuch of our readers as delight in romances, may find many fanciful stories related by Murtadi, translated into French, from the Arabic, by Monf. Vattier. But the absurdity of fuppofing thele monuments to have been the work of giants, appears from the narrow entrance into caverns from whence the stone for building them was taken ; and the passages within the pyramids are so narrow, that a man of a moderate size, in our days, has difficulty enough to pass them, crawling on his belly. Besides, the urn and farcophagus, in the largest pyramid, give us no great idea of the extraordinary size of the inhabitants of those remote times.
The principal pyramids are fituated to the south-east of Gizé, a town lying on the western bank of the Nile, and many writers pretend, that the city of Memphis was buile there, they are generally called the pyramids of Memphis. There are four which deterve particular notice: they stand in a diagonal line, about 400 paces distant from each other. Their fides correspond exactly with the four points of the compass. The foundation is on a rock covered with fand, in which, and upon the pyramids themselves, are found shells, some of which, for their colours, are preferred to agate ; and at Cairo they make of them snuff-boxes, and handles for knives. The out-side of the great pyramid is, for the most part, made of large stones, cut out of the rocks that are along the Nile, where the shafts or caverns from whence they were taken, are to be seen at this day. These stones are shaped like prisms, but not of equal fize. That they have been so well preserved, for so long time, is more owing to the climate, where rains seldom fall, than to any natural and extraordinary hardness in the stone itself. No cement was used in joining the stones on the out-side; but within, where the stones are irregular, mortar has been used, as may be evidently difcerned on entering the second passage of the first pysamid.
When the waters are at their greatest height, you may go in boats from Old Cairo, to the rock upon which the pyramids are built. The entrance is on the north side, and leads to five different passages successively; which running up and down, and on the level, proceed to the south, and end in two chambers, one in the middle of the pyramid, and the other lower down. All these passages, except the fourth, are of an equal fize, or three feet and an half square. They are lined on every side with large pieces of white marble, extremely smooth; little holes have been cut, that those who enter may keep their footing, but if they miss a step, there is no stopping till they return to the bottom. Some think, that these palsages were filled with stones, after the pyramid was built, and the work finished; and it is certain the end of the second paffage hath been closed, for there remain still to be seen, two square blocks of marble, which stop the communication with the first paffage. But, in truth, the entrance is too narrow for us to suppose, that a number of large stones, sufficient to
all the other passages, could be conveyed thro' this. When you arrive at the end
of the two first paflages, you meet with a resting-place, to the right of which is an opening for a fmall paffage, or pit, in which you find nothing but Bats, and another resting-place. The third passage leads to a chamber of a middling fize, the half of it filled with stones, taken from a wall to the right, to open another passage, which terminates at a little distance in a nich. This chamber is vaulted in the manner of a pent-house, (en dos-d'ane) cased on every side with granite, now much obscured by the smoke from the flambeaux, carried in to light those who visit these apartments. Having returned by the fame way, you climb up to the fourth passage, which has a way raised above the level on either side. It is very high, and vaulted, as the chamber mentioned above. The fifth paffage leads to the upper chamber. In the middle of the passage is a small apartment, something higher, but not broader, than the passage itself. The stone is cut on each fide, more easily to convey what was necessary to shut up the entrance to the chamber, which, like the former, is cafed with large pieces of granite. On the left hand is a large urn or sarcophagus, of granite, plain, without any ornaments, and in the form of a parallelopipedon. It is very well cut, and when struck with a key, sounds like a bell. To the north of this urn, or coffin, is seen a very deep hole, made after the pyramid was built: for what purpose is not known. It is most probable, however, that it was occasioned by some cavity underneath; for it should seem as if the pavement fell of