mercredi 3 novembre 2010

Grande Pyramide : la découverte de la première chambre de décharge par Nathaniel Davison

La première chambre dite “de décharge” dans la Grande Pyramide porte le nom de Nathaniel Davison, consul britannique à Alger en 1763. C’est en effet ce diplomate qui l’a (ou "aurait", selon certains historiens) découverte, le 8 juillet 1765.
Voici en quels termes Davison relate lui-même cet événement :

Illustration de Piazzi Smyth
“The chief reason of my returning now to the pyramid was to endeavour, if possible, to mount up to the hole I had discovered at the top of the gallery the last time I was there. For this purpose I had made seven short ladders in such a manner as to fasten one to another by means of four wooden pins, the whole together, when joined, being about twenty-six feet long.
As soon as the rubbish was cleared from the straight passage at the bottom, I caused the ladders to be brought in by two carpenters who accompanied me. When they had conveyed them to the platform at the top of the gallery, tying two long canes together, I placed a candle at one end, and gave it to a servant to hold near the hole in question. The platform being very small there was no thinking of fixing the ladders on the ground, as it would have been very difficult, not to say impossible to raise them.
We took the only method which seemed practicable ; namely, that of placing the first ladder against the wall ; two men raising it up, a third placed another below it, and having fastened them together by the wooden pins, the two together were raised from the ground, and the rest in the same manner fixed one after another. The ladder entered enough into the hole, when all parts were joined together, to prevent it from sliding on the side of the gallery.
I then instantly mounted, and found a passage two feet four inches square, which turned immediately to the right. I entered a little way, with my face on the ground, but was obliged to retire, on account of the passage being in a great measure choaked with dust, and bats' dung, which, in some places, was near a foot deep. I first thought of clearing it by throwing the dirt down into the gallery, but foreseeing that this would be a work of some time, besides the inconvenience of filling the gallery with rubbish, and perhaps rendering the descent more difficult, I determined to make another effort to enter, which was accompanied with more success than the first.
I was enabled to creep in, though with much difficulty, not only on account of the lowness of the passage, but likewise the quantity of dust which I raised. When I had advanced a little way, I discovered what I supposed to be the end of the passage. My surprize was great, when I reached it, to find to the right a straight entrance into a long, broad, but low place, which I knew, as well by the length as the direction of the passage I had entered at, to be immediately above the large room. The stones of granite, which are at the top of the latter, form the bottom of this, but are uneven, being of unequal thickness.
This room is four feet longer than the one below ; in the latter, you see only seven stones, and a half of one, on each side of them ; but in that above, the nine are entire, the two halves resting on the wall at each end. The breadth is equal with that of the room below. The covering of this, as of the other, is of beautiful granite ; but it is composed of eight stones instead of nine, the number in the room below. One of the carpenters entered with me, and Mr. Meynard came into the passage, near the door, but being a good deal troubled with the dust, and want of air, he retired. Having measured and examined the different parts of it we came out, and descended by the ladder.”

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