mardi 7 juin 2011

Servir de sépultures et de temples : la double fonction des pyramides égyptiennes, selon Michael Russell (XIXe s.)

Sans doute l’auteur du texte proposé ici (extrait de View of ancient and modern Egypt, 1831) était-il évêque de Glasgow et Galloway. Mais je ne garantis pas à 100% l’exactitude de ce maigre résultat de mes recherches.
Quoi qu’il en soit, le Rev. Michael Russell souligne, dans son ouvrage, les points suivants :
- les pyramides égyptiennes sont à mettre en relation avec les Rois Bergers ;
- elles ont été construites pour servir à la fois de sépulcres et de temples ;
- il est “très probable” qu’il y ait d’autres chambres que la Chambre du Roi, avec laquelle elles seraient en “communication” ;
- les découvertes faites, aux temps modernes, à l’intérieur de la Grande Pyramide ont été précédées par celles d’ “aventuriers”.
Un détail, pas tout à fait anecdotique, est relevé par l’auteur à propos des autres chambres que celle du Roi : l’accès à ces pièces serait “très vraisemblablement” (very likely) trouvé en enlevant l’une des dalles de granit servant de wainscoting (“lambris”, “cloisonnement”) sur les murs de la Chambre du Roi.

Illustration extraite de l'ouvrage de M. Russell
“The Pyramids, during several thousand years, have attracted the curiosity of the traveller, and given rise to much learned disquisition ; while so great is their magnitude, and so durable the material of which they are constructed, that they present to the moderns the same subject of study which was contemplated by Herodotus, Eratosthenes, Diodorus, and Strabo. (...)
It is manifest, at first sight, that the dynasty of princes to whom these stupendous works are ascribed were foreigners, and also, that they professed a religion hostile to the animal worship of the Egyptians ; for it is recorded by the historian, with an emphatic distinctness, that, during the whole period of their domination, the temples were shut, sacrifices were prohibited, and the people subjected to every species of oppression and calamity.
Hence it follows that the date of the Pyramids must synchronise with the epoch of the Shepherd Kings, those monarchs who were held as an abomination by the Egyptians, and who, we may confidently assert, occupied the throne of the Pharaohs during some part of the interval which elapsed between the birth of Abraham and the captivity of Joseph.
The reasoning now advanced will receive additional confirmation, when we consider that buildings of the pyramidal order were not uncommon among the nations of the East, having probably some connexion with the principles of that more refined and lofty adoration which directed the feelings of its votaries to the magnificence of the heavenly host, and to the influence supposed to be exercised by their aspect and movements on the destiny of man.
The most probable opinion respecting the object of these vast edifices is that which combines the double use of the sepulchre and the temple, nothing being more common in all nations than to bury distinguished men in places consecrated by the rites of divine worship. If Cheops, Suphis, or whoever else was the founder of the great Pyramid, intended it only for his tomb, what occasion was there, says Dr Shaw, for such a narrow sloping entrance into it, or for the well, as it is called, at the bottom, or for the lower chamber with a large niche or hole in the eastern wall of it, or for the long narrow cavities in the sides of the large upper room, which likewise is incrusted all over with the finest granite marble, or for the two antechambers and the lofty gallery, with benches on each side, that introduce us into it ? As the whole of the Egyptian theology was clothed in mysterious emblems and figures, it seems reasonable to suppose that all these turnings, apartments, and secrets in architecture, were intended for some nobler purpose, for the catacombs or burying-places are plain vaulted chambers hewn out of the natural rock, and that the deity rather, which was typified in the outward form of this pile, was to be worshipped within. (...)
As this room [la Chambre du Roi] does not reach beyond the centre of the Pyramid, Dr Richardson (1) suggests the very probable opinion that there are other passages leading to other chambers in communication with it ; the entrance to which would, it is very likely, be found by removing some of the granite slabs which serve as wainscoting to the walls. To present to the eye a uniform surface in the interior of an apartment was one of the devices usually employed by an architect in old times when he wished to conceal from an ordinary observer the approach to a secret retreat, reserving to himself and his employer the knowledge of the particular stone which covered the important orifice, as well as the means of obtaining a ready access. (...)
It is extremely doubtful, even after these laborious endeavours [les travaux de Davison et Caviglia], whether we have yet made farther progress in dissecting the structure of the Pyramid than was attained by the Greeks and Romans two thousand years ago ; for it is worthy of notice that every recess which has been explored in modern times bears marks of having been examined by former adventurers. We find, besides, that the narrow entrance into the great Pyramid was known to Strabo, which he tells us had a stone placed at the mouth of it to be removed at pleasure. The same author likewise, as well as Herodotus, was acquainted with the subterraneous chambers, and Pliny has left a description of the well. It is true that they declined to enter into many particulars which could hardly fail to have met their observation, an omission which we are justified, at least in the case of Herodotus, in attributing to certain superstitious notions of their sanctity and mysterious uses.”

(1) voir la note de Pyramidales sur cet auteur : ICI