vendredi 31 décembre 2010

“Selon toute probabilité, beaucoup d’autres chambres et galeries restent à découvrir” dans la pyramide de Khéops (Arthur Cleveland Wigan - XIXe siècle)

Arthur Cleveland Wigan (1815 - ?) était un écrivain et compositeur (ou professeur) de musique anglais, auteur d’un Modulating Dictionary. À part ces quelques mini-données, je n’ai trouvé aucune information sur cet auteur. J’ignore notamment les raisons qui l’ont amené à écrire sur les “grandes merveilles du monde, des pyramides au Crystal Palace” (The great wonders of the world ; from the pyramids to the Crystal Palace - 1856).
Rien n’indique que les remarques de l’auteur sur les pyramides et le Sphinx aient fait suite à une visite effective des lieux. Observez ci-dessous les traits du Sphinx : je doute fort qu'ils aient été inspirés par une observation directe ! Selon toute vraisemblance, l'artiste a dû faire appel à son imagination créatrice particulièrement féconde !
Au cours de l’inventaire qui constitue le matériau de ce blog, je l’ai d’ailleurs maintes fois constaté : combien d’ouvrages n’ont-ils pas été écrits à partir de on-dit, de relations transmises de génération en génération, sans (possibilité de) vérification de leur origine et surtout de leur véracité ! Ainsi sont façonnées des pages d’histoire, qui s’incrustent par la suite dans les esprits et la trame d’une culture dite “générale”. Le discernement et l’éducation ont alors fort à faire pour remettre “la” vérité sur ses rails...

Pyramid of Cheops
“The Pyramids of Memphis, perhaps the most stupendous monuments extant of misdirected skill and energy, have from a very early period excited the curiosity and wonder of mankind. More than two thousand years ago they were visited by Herodotus, whose narrative affords the earliest information we possess as to their origin. According to the account given to him by the priests of Memphis, the Great Pyramid was built about 900* years before the Christian era, by Cheops, king of Egypt. In its construction, 100,000 workmen were employed for twenty years, and the cost of feeding them upon onions and other vegetables amounted to nearly £400,000 of our money.
The Pyramid of Cheops is about 480 feet in height, and covers more than thirteen acres of ground. Placed in Lincoln's Inn Fields, it would occupy the entire space, overtopping, by more than 100 feet, the cross of St. Paul's.
This pyramid consists of a series of platforms, and the steps thus made vary from five to two feet in height. The vacancies were originally filled by highly polished casing stones, the whole surface being thus rendered perfectly smooth. Some of this facing still remains upon the second and third pyramids.
The ascent, though often performed with the assistance of the Arab guides, is laborious, and not without danger. Some years since an English officer lost his footing, and rolled from the top to the bottom of the Great Pyramid. Every bone in his body was broken, and he reached the ground a shapeless mass.
The interior of these singular and mysterious structures has not yet been fully explored, nor is it likely that our knowledge will ever be complete on the subject, so vast is their extent and so difficult and hazardous the undertaking. The entrance to the Pyramid of Cheops is by an orifice fifty feet above the foundation, and three and a half feet square. A narrow passage, seventy-three feet in length, and sloping downwards, leads from the entrance to a second gallery, 109 feet long, but with an ascending inclination. At the end of this last passage there is a platform, in which is the mouth of a well, sunk into the body of the pyramid, and beyond it into the solid rock, where it has been traced to the depth of 145 feet. There is also a second passage or gallery, leading from the platform to what is known as the Queen's Chamber; but the ascending gallery above mentioned is continued for 132 feet beyond the platform, and leads to the King's Chamber, in which there is a sarcophagus of red granite, supposed to have contained the body of Cheops. Other chambers and galleries have been entered, and in all probability many more remain to be discovered.
The purposes for which the Pyramids were intended are not clearly known. They were undoubtedly used as sepulchres for and monuments of the dead, but their internal structure is hardly compatible with so limited a design. A curious observation has been made with respect to the narrow passages by which access is gained to the interior, but which can scarcely be supposed to have been the original means of entrance. The Pyramids have their sides directly facing the four points of the compass, and the galleries in question open on their northern faces. They are, moreover, so inclined as to point nearly to the pole of the heavens ; and the Polar star of those days (...) must, in the time of Cheops and his successors, have been visible once in every twenty-four hours from the inmost recesses of the Pyramids. From this and other circumstances it is conjectured that they were also designed for astronomical and religious purposes.”

* Modern research has added more than 1200 years to the probable age of the Pyramids.

The Sphinx
“The Sphinx is a fabulous being, occurring in the Grecian, Indian, and Egyptian mythologies. In Greece it was variously portrayed, but the figure was always a compound of the human and animal forms, and generally consisted of a woman's head united to the body of a lion or dog, with or without wings. In India, on the other hand, the Sphinx was always represented with the head of a man.
The Egyptian Sphinxes have the upper portion either human (and mostly female), or they have the head of a ram ; the body being that of a lion, without wings. They were usually placed at the entrance of temples, where they sometimes formed a long avenue leading up to the entrance. At Carnac there is one of these avenues, nearly two miles in length.
The largest of existing Sphinxes is the celebrated one which stands near the Pyramid of Cheops. With the exception of the paws, which are formed of masonry and project 50 feet beyond the body, it is hewn out of the rocky ledge upon which the Pyramids are built. It is of enormous dimensions, being 143 feet long and 62 feet in height. All but the head and neck was formerly buried in the sand, which in the course of ages had entirely filled up the surrounding hollow. The body was partially uncovered by the French, during their occupation of Egypt ; and was afterwards entirely freed by Cavaglia at the expense of Colonel Vyse. The work was one of great labour and difficulty, the loose surface from above continually sliding into the excavation. An altar was discovered between the projecting paws. Steps led down into the vast area, which is now again half filled with drifted sand.
In the head of the figure there is a cavity about five feet deep ; and it has been supposed that a passage led thence to the well of the Great Pyramid, the priests being by this means enabled to pronounce their oracles from the monster's head. This communication with the interior has, however, been doubted.
The features have been greatly mutilated by the Arabs, who have used the Sphinx as a target for their arrows and djereeds. But the face, though partaking strongly of the Ethiopian or negro character, still possesses a calm and melancholy beauty which is recognised by every traveller. Seen among the surrounding tombs, it appears, says Stephens, " like a Divinity guarding the Dead."
Part of this effect is, however, in all probability due to association, and to the surrounding desert scenery and ruins. It must, at all events, be confessed that even well-executed drawings or engravings fail in conveying any impression of the kind to those who have not seen the original statue.”

* Modern research has added more than 1200 years to the probable age of the Pyramids.

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