May 6, 2012

How a Pyramid is Built and Unbuilt, 1825

How a Pyramid is Built and Unbuilt, 1825 
Edward Lane

Egyptian Pyramids Built
During the afternoon of the 19th [March], a favourable wind enabled us to continue the voyage. . . . For several miles . . . we had a view of the Pyramid of Meydoo’n; a grand object being little inferior in height to the two pyramids of Dahshoo’r.

Early on the 20th set off to visit the Pyramid of Meydoo’n. It is situated on the low Libyan ridge. . . . This monument is called El-Har’am el-Kedda’b or ‘the False Pyramid’, from its having the appearance of a pyramidal building raised on a round hill. Such I thought it to be until I arrived quite near to it; when I perceived that the supposed hill was really part of the structure, and that the materials thrown down from above had accumulated so high as nearly to cover one half of the pyramid. I found some labourers employed in pulling down and removing upon camels some of the stones from the lower part, to employ them in the construction of some new works ordered by the government (of Mehemet Ali). One benefit to be gained from this work of destruction (independent of the use thus made of the displaced materials) is an insight into the manner in which the edifice was constructed. We find it to be similar in construction to the principal pyramid of Saccara, but displaying much more care and skill. It appears that a slender pyramid (almost like an obelisk) was first raised. This was then cased, or covered, with a circumstructure of masonry, about sixteen feet in thickness, and which rose within fifty feet of the top. This again was built around in the same manner; and so on until the work was completed. . . . The whole must have had the appearance of seven stages of masonry, in the form of truncated pyramids, one raised on top of another.

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