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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/129

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Bk. I. Ch. II.
97
THE PYRAMIDS AND CONTEMPORARY MONUMENTS.

coping; and there may be some error in the measurement of the others derived from a single coping-stone.

Even, however, if this were mathematically correct for any one pyramid—which it is not—it must, ipso facto, be incorrect for all the others, as no two follow the same system. Notwithstanding this, men of high scientific attainments have of late claimed for these monuments a degree of accuracy which no building—not even the Parthenon—apparently ever attained to. It has been even asserted that God revealed to Cheops the difference in the lengths of the polar and equatorial diameters of the earth and a variety of interesting astronomical information, and commanded him to build these facts into the Great Pyramid in British inches—which did not then exist![1] It is hardly necessary to point out how utterly baseless all such speculations are, nor to explain that the facts alluded to are only now being obtained by careful measurements made with recently invented modern appliances. When, however, we come to look a little more closely on the Great Pyramid itself, its accuracy is by no means worthy of the divine origin claimed for it.

According to a careful survey made by a party of Royal Engineers returning from Sinai, and which is probably correct within an inch or two,—

The four sides measure: East 9129.5 inches.
North 9127.5 "
West 9121.0 "
South 9140.5 "

Differences of more than one foot and a half in such a distance would hardly occur in a modern building set out in a perfectly clear level surface. Even the level of the sockets show discrepancies to about the same extent. They are as follows:—

S.E. angle: 0.000 feet.
N.E. " + 1.464 "
S.W. " + 1.458 "
N.W. " + 0.636 "

Practically these are of very little moment in setting out such a building, but when perfection is claimed for it they become important, and are in themselves quite sufficient to upset all the fine-drawn theories that have been based on the supposed perfection of the pyramid measures.

The one fact of value that we seem to have obtained from these recent pyramid investigations is, that the side of the pyramid was intended to be an even number of 500 Egyptian cubits; and as we learn from Herodotus ("Euterpe," 168) that the Egyptian was the same as the Greek cubit, or that of Samos, we have[2] 18.2405 in. X 500, or

  1. "Antiquity of Intellectual Man," by Piazzi Smyth. Edin. 1868, p. 240 et passim.
  2. Determined by Penrose in 1846 from measurements of the Hecatompedon, and since corrected by him in a letter to Sir Henry James in 1869.—"Notes on Great Pyramid," Southampton, 1869.