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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/130

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98
Part I.
EGYPTIAN ARCHITECTURE.

9120 in.—or as nearly as may be the mean of the above measurements.[1] In the same pamphlet Sir Henry James also suggests that the angle of the pyramid was set out as 10 horizontal to 9 vertical. This would give an angle of 41.59, which is very near the truth, and the angle of the sides being 51.51 would give 483.66 feet for the total height. Piazzi Smyth, however, makes the angle 51.51.14,[2] and the total height 485, which is probably even more exact; but whichever we adopt we get the very common proportion that the height is to the circumference as the radius is to the circumference of a circle; thus, taking the mean height of 484 feet, we have 484 X 2 X 3.1416 = 3041, while 760 X 4 is equal to 3040—so near a coincidence that it can hardly be accidental, and if it was intended, all the other external proportions follow as a matter of course.

Even if this theory should not be accepted as the true one, it has at least the merit of being nearer the truth than any other yet proposed. I confess it appears to me so likely that I would hardly care to go further, especially as all the astronomical theories have signally failed, and it seems as if it were only to some numerical fancy that we must look for the solution of the puzzle.

Be this as it may, the small residuum we get from all these pyramid discussions is, that they were built by the kings of the early dynasties of the old kingdom of Egypt as their tombs. The leading idea that governed their forms was of durability—a quasi-eternity of duration is what they aimed at. The entrances were meant to be concealed, and the angle of the passages was the limit of rest at which heavy bodies could be moved while obtaining the necessary strength where they opened at the outside, and the necessary difficulty for protection inside, without trenching on impossibility. By concealment of the entrance, the difficulties of the passages, and the complicated but most ingenious arrangement of portcullises, these ancient kings hoped to be allowed to rest in undisturbed security for at least 3000 years. Perhaps they were successful, though their tombs have since been so shamefully profaned.

To the principal dimensions of the Great Pyramid given above it may be added that the entrance is about 47 ft. 6 in. above the base, on the 15th step or platform. There are in all 203 such steps. Their average height is nearly 2 ft. 6 in., but they diminish in height—generally speaking, but not uniformly—towards the top. The summit now consists of a platform 32 ft. 8 in. square; so that about 24 ft. is wanting, the present actual height being 456 ft. It contains 2 chambers above-ground, and 1 cut in the rock at a considerable death below the foundations.


  1. The result of these determinations is that the English is to the Greek or Egyptian foot, as 75 is to 76 exactly.
  2. "Astronomical Observations." Edinburgh Observatory, 1872, p. 5.