chambers (one roofed with slabs, the other all rock-hewn), these chambers, however, do not run into the masonry, the whole bulk of which is solid so far as is known. This pyramid has a part of the original casing on the top; and it is also interesting as having the workmen's barracks still remaining at a short distance on the west side, long chambers capable of housing about 4000 men. The great bulk of the rubbish from the work is laid on the south side, forming a fiat terrace level with the base, and covering a steep rock escarpment which existed there. The waste heaps from the great pyramid were similarly tipped out over the cliff on its northern side. Thus the rubbish added to the broad platform which set off the appearance of the pyramids; and it has remained undisturbed in all ages, as there was nothing to be got out of it. The third pyramid, that of Menkaura, was cased around the base with red granite for the sixteen lowest courses. The design of it has been enlarged at one bound from a small pyramid (such as those of the family of Khufu) to one eight times the size, as it is at present, the passages needed therefore to be altered. But there is no sign of gradual steps of enlargement: the change was sudden, from a comparatively small design to a large one. The basalt sarcophagus of this pyramid was ornamented with the panel decoration found on early tombs, unlike the granite sarcophagi of the two previous pyramids, which are plain. Unhappily it was lost at sea in 1838.
Fig. 4.-Sepulchral Chamber, Third Pyramid.
An additional interest belongs to the third pyramid (of Menkaura) owing to its chamber being ceiled with a pointed arch (fig. 4). But it is not a true arch, the stones being merely cantilevers opposite to each other, with the underside cut to the above form (see fig. 5).
Fig. 5.-Section of Sepulchral Chamber, Third Pyramid.
Farther south are the pyramids of Abusir, described in the work of Colonel Howard Vyse, and since excavated by the Germans. Next come those of Saqqara. The construction of the step-pyramid or cumulative mastaba has been noticed above; its passages are very peculiar and intricate, winding round the principal chamber, which is in the centre, cut in the rock, very high, and with a tomb-chamber built in the bottom of it, which is closed with a great plug of red granite, a circular stopper fitting into a neck in the chamber roof. A doorway faced with glazed tiles bearing the name of King Neter-khet of the IIIrd Dynasty existed here; the tiles were taken to Berlin by Lepsius. The other pyramids of Saqqara are those of Unas, Pepi, Haremsaf, &c. They are distinguished by the introduction of very long religious texts, covering the whole inside of the chambers and passages; these are carefully carved in small hieroglyphics, painted bright green, in the white limestone. Beyond these come the pyramids of Dahshur, which are in a simple and massive style, much like those of Gizeh. The north pyramid of Dahshur has chambers roofed like the gallery in the great pyramid by successive overlappings of stone, the roof rising to a great height, with no less than eleven projections on each side. The south pyramid of Dahshur has still the greater part of its casing remaining, and is remarkable for being built at two different angles, the lower part being at the usual pyramid angle, while the upper partis but 43°. This pyramid is also remarkable for having a western passage to the chambers, which was carefully closed up. Beyond the Memphitic group are the scattered pyramids of Lisht (Senusert I.), Illahun (Senusert II.), and Howara (Amenemhat III.), and the earliest pyramid of Medum (Sneferu). Illahun is built with a framework of stone filled up with mud bricks, and Howara is built entirely of mud bricks, though cased with fine stone like the other pyramids.
The dimensions of the pyramids that are accurately known are in inches:—
|Medum||Sneferu||4750||5682.0||6.2||51° 52′||3619||24′ 25″ W.|
|Gizeh||Khufu||4700||9068.8||.65||51° 52′||5776||3′ 42″ W.|
|”||Khafra||4600||8474.9||1.5||53° 10′||5664||5′ 26″ W.|
|”||Menkaura||4550||4153.6||3.0||51° 10′||2581||14′ 3″ E.|
|4134||9′ 12″ W.|
|Dahshur Small||?||?||2064.6||1.1||44° 34′||2034||10′ 12″ W.|
The first two closely agree to the proportion of 7 high on 11 base, approximately the ratio of a radius to its circle. And on dividing the base at Medum by 11 the modulus is 515.64, and the base of Khufu ÷ 11 is 824.44. These moduli are 25 cubits of 20.625 and 40 cubits of 20.611; so it appears that the form was of the same type, but with moduli of 25 and 40 cubits respectively.
Beyond these already described there are no true pyramids, but we will briefly notice those later forms derived from the pyramid. At Thebes some small pyramids belong to the kings of the XIth Dynasty; the tomb-chamber is in the rock below. The size is under 50 ft. square. These are not oriented, and have a horizontal entrance, quite unlike the narrow pipe-like passages sloping down into the regular pyramids (see Mariette, in Bib. arch. trans. iv. 193). In Ethiopia, at Gebel Barkal, are other so-called pyramids of a very late date. They nearly all have porches; their simplicity is lost amid very dubious decorations; and they are not oriented. They are all very acute, and have flat tops as if to support some ornament. The sizes are but small, varying from 23 to 88 ft. square at Gebel Barkal and 17 to 63 ft. square at Meroe. The interior is solid throughout, the windows which appear on the sides being useless architectural members (see Hoskin's Ethiopia, 148, &c.). The structures sometimes called pyramids at Biahmu in the Fayum have no possible claim to such a name; they were two great enclosed courts with sloping sides, in the centres of which were two seated statues raised on pedestals high enough to be seen over the walls of the courts. This form would appear like a pyramid with a statue on the top; and a rather similar case in early construction is shown on the sculptures of the old kingdom. Obelisks then were single monuments (not in pairs) and stood in the midst of a great courtyard with sides sloping like a mastaba; such open courtyards on a small scale are found in the mastabas at Gizeh, and are probably copied from the domestic architecture of the time.
On the vexed question of inscriptions on the pyramids it will suffice to say that not one fragment of early inscription is known on the casing of any pyramid, either in situ or broken in pieces. Large quantities of travellers' “graffiti” doubtless existed, and some have been found on the casing of the great pyramid; these probably gave rise to the accounts of inscriptions, which are expressly said to have been in many different languages.
The mechanical means employed by the pyramid-builders have been partly ascertained. The hard stones, granite, diorite and basalt were in all fine work sawn into shape by bronze saws set with jewels (either corundum or diamond), hollows were made (as in sarcophagi) by tubular drilling with tools like our modern diamond rock-drills (which are but reinvented from ancient sources, see Engineering, xxxvii. 282). The details of the questions of transport and management of the large stones remain still to be explained.
See Colonel Howard Vyse, Operations at the Pyramids (1840); Professor C. Piazzi Smyth, Life and Work at the Great Pyramid (1867); W. M. Flinders Petrie, Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh, (1883).
PYRAMIDION (diminutive of “pyramid”), an architectural term for the copper-gilt casing covering the apex of an obelisk, and generally extended to its upper termination of pyramidical form.
PYRAMUS AND THISBE, the hero and heroine of a Babylonian love-story told by Ovid (Metam. iv. 55–465). Their parents refused to consent to their union, and the lovers used to converse through a chink in the wall separating their houses. At last they resolved to flee together, and agreed to meet under a mulberry tree near the tomb of Ninus. Thisbe was the first to arrive, but, terrified by the roar of a lion, took to flight. In her haste she dropped her veil, which the lion tore to pieces with jaws stained with the blood of an ox. Pyramus, believing that she had been devoured by the lion, stabbed himself. Thisbe returned to the rendezvous, and finding her lover mortally wounded, put an end to her own life. From that time the fruit of the mulberry, previously white, was always black.
See G. Hart, Die Ursprung und Verbreitung der Pyramus-und-Thisbesaga (1889-1892).
PYRARGYRITE, a mineral consisting of silver sulphantimonite, Ag3SbS3, known also as dark red silver ore, an important source of the metal. It is closely allied to, and isomorphous with, the corresponding sulpharsenite known as proustite (q.v.) or light red silver ore. “Ruby silver” or red silver ore (German Rotgültigerz was mentioned by G. Agricola in 1546, but the two species so closely resemble one another that they were not completely distinguished until chemical analyses of both were made by J. L. Proust in 1804.