jeudi 24 février 2011

“Les pierres des pyramides ont été prises sur place” (Thomas Dudley Fosbroke - XVIIIe-XIXe s.)

Le Révérend Thomas Dudley Fosbroke (1770-1842) fut admis, en 1799, comme membre de la société anglaise des Antiquaires. Il est auteur de nombreuses publications, dont une Encyclopédie des Antiquités (1824) et un ouvrage sur la topographie des pays étrangers (Foreign Topography), édité en 1828, dans lequel plusieurs pages sont consacrées aux pyramides égyptiennes.
Aucune théorie ou conjecture personnelle n’est à attendre de cette lecture : Th.D. Fosbroke se limite à un survol très global des opinions d’auteurs plus ou moins anciens, avec toutefois une attention particulière aux observations et conclusions de Belzoni, notamment pour l’origine des matériaux ayant été utilisés dans la construction des pyramides et la destination de ces monuments.
Deux points méritent une attention particulière : la date de l’ouverture (forcée) de la Grande Pyramide (bien antérieure à l’époque des califes arabes) et - dixit une fois encore Belzoni - la relation temporelle entre le Sphinx, la (Grande) Pyramide et le temple à l’est de cette pyramide.

“Pyramids of Ghize. These are the only wonders of the world, which have survived to our aera, a preservation owing to the amazing quantity and size of the blocks, which could not be broken or removed without an expense far over-balancing the advantage. According to the calculation of Constanstine Manasses, the kingdom of Egypt lasted 1663 years from its beginning under Misraim, the son of Ham, 2188 before Christ, to the conquest of Cambyses, 525 before Christ. The traditions of China are justly exploded, those of India are beginning to be developed, but Egypt possesses monuments, which, in reference to the tower of Babel, prove the very earliest affirmations of Holy Writ. 

Défilé d’auteurs ayant écrit sur les pyramides, d’Hérodote aux écrivains modernes
The oldest authors are recent. Herodotus says that Cleopis or Cheops, successor to Rhampsinitus, shut all the temples, forbad the Egyptians to sacrifice to the gods, and obliged them to labour at these works ; 100.000 men continually worked at them, 10.000 relieving each other, from three months to three months. The first pyramid cost the labour of twenty years. Diodorus Siculus ascribes the erection to Chemmis. The Orientalists say that one was built by Schar, son of Schavalcac, before the deluge ; the other by Hermes, who is the Hebrew Enoch, who had foreseen the universal inundation, and lodged there his books. The Sabeans believe that Agathemon, i. e. Seth, was buried in one of these pyramids, and Hermes in another, which is nearly what Kircher says. That the present is not the antediluvian surface of the world is evident, and the pyramids, if then erected, would have been, upon the resuscitation of the globe, deeply buried in so sandy a soil. And it is sufficient to state, in the sportsman's expressive phrase, that so far as the testimony of authors is attended to, Herodotus is the favourite.
Martial has the following line :" Barbara pyramidum sileat moracula Memphis" ; and it is presumed by Denon, Shaw, and others, that the pyramids of Saccarah and Gizeh formed the northern and southern extremities of Memphis. Savary disputes this, because Pliny says that Memphis was six leagues to the south of the pyramids, but the objection is not valid, that distance not being too great for the situation of tombs. Dr. Clarke supposed absurdly, that the pyramids were the works of the Hebrews during their captivity. Belzoni says that at Toske are several rocks on the plain towards the east, which resemble so many pyramids, and thinks that that they may have suggested to the Egyptians the idea of the pyramids, for some of these rocks are above 200 feet high. Some writers (see Paw, De Tott, Dupuis, &c.) have taken the pyramids for gnomons of dials, for determination of equinoxes and solstices, monuments, like obelisks, in honour of the sun, mausolea of sovereigns, built by the removal of stones from the catacombs at every new reign, tomb of Osiris, &c. All this appears to be fanciful, for they were plainly mausolea, and may be considered as in the original intention, magnificent barrows of architectural construction. They have the interior form of Tartar barrows. In some critical discussions concerning them, they are supposed to contain in the interior a large quantity of sepulchral chambers. But they were not limited to human beings, the bones of a sacred ox, or Apis of his day, having been discovered.
It is well known, that the great pyramid contained chambers, passages, a sarcophagus, and well, and was accessible by a forced entrance at some height from the ground. It was justly suspected by Belzoni and others, that the true entrance, as in barrows, was at the base, and so it proved to be upon trial. All the preceding accounts have been superseded by the spirited labours of modern travellers, especially the one named, and therefore his account shall be first given.

Photo Marc Chartier

Origine des pierres ayant été utilisées dans la construction des pyramides
The stones of the Pyramids were taken from the spot. Belzoni observed the rock surrounding them, on the north and west sides, to be on a level with the upper part of the chamber, and as the rock is evidently cut all round the pyramid, the stones taken from that rock must have been applied to the erection of the fabrick, and blocks of an enormous size have been cut out. If any traveller, he says, will go within less than half a mile of the pyramids, particularly on the east and south sides, he may see many places where the rock has been formerly quarried to a great length, and he will find that there is stone enough to build many other pyramids, if required.
It is true that Herodotus says the stones to erect the pyramids were brought from quarries on the other side of the Nile ; but Belzoni firmly believes, that he (Herodotus) was mis-informed, unless he alluded to the granite alone. As to the causeways in front of the pyramids, said to have been made to convey the stones for the erection of these masses, he thinks that they were intended for the accommodation of visitors, particularly at the time of high Nile, and if they were only to convey stones, the labour of making them must have been nearly equal to the erection of the pyramids.

Les pyramides ont été édifiées comme des sépulcres
The circumstance of having chambers and a sarcophagus, which undoubtedly contained the remains of some great personage, so uniform with those in the other pyramid, leaves, Belzoni thinks, very little doubt, but that they were erected for sepulchres, and he wonders that any doubt has ever existed, considering what could be learned from the first pyramid, which has been so long open. This contains a spacious chamber with a sarcophagus ; the passages are of such dimensions as to admit nothing larger than the sarcophagus. They had been closely shut up by large blocks of granite from within, evidently to prevent the removal of this relick. Ancient authors have pretty well agreed in asserting that these monuments were erected to contain the remains of two brothers Cheops and Cephren, Kings of Egypt. They are surrounded by other smaller pyramids, intermixed with mausolea, or burial grounds. Many mummy-pits have been found.

Dimensions de la Grande Pyramide
Mr. Davison's admeasurement of the great pyramid of Gizeh is of the square 746 feet. The perpendicular height 460 feet 11 inches. It consists of stories regularly disposed. Two hundred and six tiers compose the whole height. As the square of every tier is less than the one below it, the space of two or three feet, which is left on all sides by each of them, as they diminish towards the top, forms what is generally called the steps. They are of different dimensions. The entrance [the forced one] is upon the 16th step facing the north. It is not in the middle as is generally imagined, but only 350 feet distant from the north-east corner, whereas it is 396 feet from the north-west corner. According to the French admeasurement, the base of the three pyramids; of Cheops (the largest), Cephren (the second), and Mycerinus (the smallest), is, to their perpendicular height, nearly in the ratio of 8 to 5. Cheops 448 feet high, 728 length of base ; Cephren 398 high, 655 length of base ; Mycerinus 162 high, 280 length of base. According to Belzoni, the base is 684 feet, the apotome or central line down the front from the top to the base 568 feet, the perpendicular 456 feet ; the coating from the top to the place where it ends 140 feet. The perpendicular height is considerably more than the French made , but it may be doubted, whether any one before him worked down to the foundation.

Intérieur des pyramides
Entrance and interior of the pyramids : from a plan in the Quarterly Review, it appears that there were various true passages, which are easily delineated by the following diagram :

From this, it is not only probable that the pyramids contain, as suspected, numerous chambers, but that beneath, and around the base, are catacombs to a considerable extent.
As to the forced passage, it is not modern, nor was made by the Arabs in search of treasure in the eighth century. Strabo says that towards the middle of the height of one of the sides, was a stone that might be lifted, and that it shut up an oblique passage, which led to a coffin, placed in the centre of the pyramid. The passage, now open, is only 100 feet from the base. So that there was no primary violation, as pretended, by the caliphs Mahmoud, or Haroun Al-Raschid. Belzoni thus describes his mode of detecting the real entrances. Three marks on the north side suggested it. The other hints were spots where the stony matters were not so compact as the surrounding masses, and secondly, the concavity of the pyramid over the place where the entrance might have been expected, according to the distance of the entrance into the first pyramid from its centre.
The pyramid consists, so far as has been discovered, of sepulchral chambers and passages leading to them. As to the pretended well, Capt. Cabillia [Caviglia] found that it was only a communication with a lower passage, leading into an interior chamber, which chamber is cut out of the rock, under the centre of the pyramid. Mr. Walpole says that the discovery of the room in the great pyramid of Giza, over the chamber which contains the sarcophagus, is solely due to Mr. Davison, British Consul at Algiers.  (...)

Photo Marc Chartier

Sphinx, temple et pyramide(s) : le point de vue de Belzoni
On the east side of the pyramid, says Belzoni, were found the lower part of a large temple, connected with a portico, and reaching within fifty feet of the base of the pyramid. Its exterior walls were formed of enormous blocks of stone. Some of the blocks in the porticoes are 24 feet high. The interior part of this temple was built with calcareous stones of various size, but many finely cut at the angles, and is probably much older than the exterior wall, which bears the appearance of as great antiquity as the pyramids. There were evidently a spacious pavement from the temple to the pyramids, and Belzoni doubted not, but the same pavement went round the pyramid. It seemed to him, that the Sphinx, the temple, and the pyramid, were all three erected at the same time, as they all appear to be in one line, and of equal antiquity. (...)

“Hieroglyphicks” or not “hieroglyphicks” ?
Hieroglyphicks on the Pyramids : Savary, before quoted, has mentioned the hieroglyphicks of the great pyramid, and the disappearance of them with the casing. Mr. Davison says the greater part of the outer stones, or coverings of the two large pyramids, have been destroyed or carried away. According to Abdullatif's account, they had a prodigious number of hieroglyphical inscriptions, but Mr. Davison could find no traces of them. Belzoni observes that no hieroglyphicks are found in the pyramids, but that nothing can be inferred from this circumstance, respecting their aera ; for in one of the Mausolea, which stands on the west of the first pyramid, and is fallen in and ruinous, may be observed hieroglyphicks and figures reversed on one of the blocks, which formed this mausoleum, and the hieroglyphicks so preserved within, as if they were to be hidden from view. These hieroglyphicks were known previous to the erection of these mausolea, though they were without any of those ornaments or inscriptions.”

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