Dans son récit de voyage “A trip from Cairo to the Pyramids”, publié par The national magazine, vol. 9, 1856, J.O. Noyes met l’accent sur des questions somme toute très classiques à propos des pyramides, et plus particulièrement de celle de Khéops : par qui et pourquoi ont-elles été construites ?
En réponse à cette deuxième question, l’auteur fait sienne la théorie de Fialin de Persigny, selon laquelle les pyramides ont été construites, en des emplacements particulièrement menacés, comme des remparts contre les sables du désert. Ce faisant, il ancre cette théorie dans la mythologie égyptienne, la lutte contre un fléau naturel étant préfigurée par l’ “interminable conflit” opposant Osiris, symbolisant la fertilité de la vallée du Nil, à Typhon, représentant une menace perpétuelle venant du désert aride.
À propos de la fonction des conduits dits “d’aération” (hypothèse retenue par l’auteur), J.O. Noyes y va de sa suggestion qui permettrait de connaître leur tracé, au moins approximatif : mettez les petits d’une chatte au sommet de la pyramide, et la mère dans la chambre du Roi ; en très peu de temps, l’instinct maternel de l’animal créera la jonction, donnant par là de précieuses indications pour résoudre une question qui ne cesse de tarabuster les pyramidologues.
“The majority of the company now repaired to the opening on the north side of the Pyramid, for the purpose of penetrating to the chambers within. At the opening, said in the Arabic account to have been forced by the Caliph Al Mamoon, by means of fire, vinegar, and battering rams, the guides often fire their guns to frighten away the genii, by whom they suppose the Pyramids to be inhabited.
The passage is but little more than three feet square, and descends at an angle of twenty-six degrees. Our dragoman carried lighted tapers, and as we slid from notch to notch in a stooping posture, the hot and mephitic atmosphere soon became so impregnated with dust that I could scarcely breathe. A long descent and an equal ascent brought us at last to the king's chamber, the largest yet discovered in the Great Pyramid. It is thirty-four feet in length, seventeen in width, and twenty-two in height. Its walls are formed of immense blocks of polished granite, those of the passages being for the most part of porphyry. Ancient inscriptions have been discovered on the chamber walls of many of the Pyramids, but I observed none in that of Cheops. There was nothing calling to mind the succession of ancient dynasties, no tableaux representing the royal banquets, or the loves of Isis and Osiris. (...)
L’intérieur de la Grande Pyramide : les conduits, le sarcophage, le puits
There are narrow passages leading from the king's chamber, which terminate near the summit of the Pyramid. They have not been scientifically explored, but a cat, whose litter of kittens had been placed on the top of the Pyramid, having been let loose in the chamber, she was in a few minutes found with her young. M. Maillet contends that these passages were constructed for the purpose of letting down food to persons who buried themselves in this chamber, for the remainder of their lives, with their deceased king. The object of their construction was, doubtless, the ventilation of the chambers.
The sarcophagus in the king's chamber, now greatly broken, gives, on being struck, a ringing and metallic sound. Instead of the ashes of an Egyptian king, it probably once contained a body typical of Osiris.
Our Arabs wished to perform a wardance around the sarcophagus, but we left as soon as possible to visit the queen's chamber, a solitary apartment many feet below the one just described. On our way from the latter we stopped to look into the mouth of the well near the grand passage.
The construction of the well in the Pyramid of Cheops must have had some mysterious connection with the Nile, as, being in all one hundred and ninety feet deep, its bottom is nearly on a level with the surface of the river. During the descent, which is by no means regular, it passes through two or three chambers. (...)
Pourquoi les pyramides ont-elles été construites ?
The purpose for which the Pyramids of Egypt were erected is a question that has been discussed from the days of Herodotus to the present time. The actual and mysterious secret of their origin appears to have perished with the ancient kings and priests of Egypt, by whom it was never communicated to the people, not even to the strangers who came from distant lands to study their arts and their monuments. But modern science has at last wrung a reluctant answer from the Sphinx, and we can now speak with more confidence as to the design of
than could the philosophic Plato, or Diodorus Siculus.
That they were erected for the mausoleums of kings ambitious of perpetuating their memory by having their ashes rest in indestructible tombs, for royal treasuries, or to serve as astronomical observatories, were the favorite theories of the ancients. Still more varied are the hypotheses, highly imaginative in most cases, of modern travelers, who have visited and written upon the Pyramids. By one they have been regarded as the granaries of Joseph ; by another, as temples to the Egyptian Venus ; while a third, with more truth, explains them as the tombs and monuments of the god Osiris. Says Sir Thomas Brown, "These dark caves and mummy repositories are Satan's abodes."
A Coptic tradition, related by Masoudi, states that the two great Pyramids were built by Sarid, Ben Sol, one of the kings of Egypt, before the flood. (...) The king (...) ordered the Pyramids to be built, and the predictions of the priests to be inscribed upon the large stones belonging to them. He placed within them his treasures, and all his valuable property, together with the bodies of his ancestors. He also ordered the priests to deposit within the Pyramids written accounts of their wisdom and acquirements in the different arts and sciences. The passages were filled with talismans, idols, and many wonderful things, with the writings of the priests containing all manner of wisdom, the names and properties of medical plants, and the sciences of arithmetic and geography, for the benefit of those who could afterward comprehend them. He also constructed thirty repositories within the Pyramids for sacred symbols, talismans of sapphires, and instruments of war made of iron which would not become rusty, and for vessels of glass that could be bent without being broken. (...)
La province de Guizeh : point sensible de la protection contre les sables du désert
In the mythology of the ancient Egyptians, Osiris represented the fertile land of Egypt, Typhon the scourge of the desert. Between these two existed an interminable conflict, a conflict to which we find frequent allusion in the mythology of the Greeks. Thus Hercules, the patron deity of architects, and of the builders of walls and dikes, is said to have visited Egypt, and there overcome Antesus, the Egyptian Typhon, in single combat. But this eternal conflict between Osiris and Typhon, the victory of one implying the reign of civilization and happiness, the victory of the other death and the solitude of the desert, was confined to certain points. The Nile is flanked by two mountain chains, the Arabian on the right, the Libyan on the left. Westward from the latter stretch away the deserts of Sahara and Sahel, the latter being an almost boundless sea of floating, undulating sand. Against the advance of the latter, the valley of the Nile is protected by the Libyan chain, an elevated ridge, serving as a natural barrier. Now in the wall thus interposed between the valley of the Nile and the desert there are several breaks caused by ravines of greater or less width, and it is at these points of interruption, at these solutions of continuity, that the conflict between the two giants spent its fury. At the termination of such gorges were situated the ancient cities of Ombros, Abydos, and Antinopolis, ages ago numbered among the spoils of Typhon. The most important interruption, however, occurred in the province of Ghizeh, where the broad basin terminating in the Fayoom communicates with the valley of the Nile by means of seven smaller valleys or gorges.
It was also at these points, at the embouchures of the Libyan gorges, that the ancient Egyptians planted the sacred groves of acanthus, and constructed the canals, dikes, and walls, alluded to by ancient authors, and intended to serve as barriers against the advance of the sands of Sahel.
But when these means had failed, when city after city, and province after province, had been overrun by the desert, and the very existence of Egypt was in peril, it was determined to erect barriers in the way of Typhon of such Cyclopean magnitude as to prevent another irruption of the sands of the desert. These Cyclopean structures were the Pyramids of Egypt, the results of science and the noblest memorials of Egyptian civilization, rather than the monuments of ambitious folly and superstition on the part of her kings. That such is the fact seems probable from the following considerations :
The different groups of Pyramids are, without exception, built at the embouchures of the various gorges breaking the continuity of the Libyan chain. The Pyramids, constituting the individual groups, are so disposed with respect to each other as to form, as nearly as possible, walls across the valleys at whose termination they were built. They are placed en échelon. The Pyramids themselves are oriented, not with their corners uniformly in the direction of the four cardinal points of the compass, as we have always been taught, but with their sides fronting the ravines, at whose embouchures they were constructed.
The pyramidal shape combined the chief elements of durability. Presenting four inclined triangles, they exhibited in this particular the triangular form of the Yoni, a sacred figure, worshiped by the ancient Egyptians as well as Asiatics, as symbolical of deity. A religious idea was doubtless associated with the erection of the Pyramids for the purpose of acting upon the common mind of the Egyptians.
The sands of Sahel had advanced to the very waters of the Nile. Typhon had triumphed, and "the body of Osiris was broken into a thousand pieces". It was proposed by the college of priests to build magnificent and imperishable monuments to the fallen god of Egypt. Moved by this tender and pious idea, the myriads of Egypt toiled patiently for years in the erection of the Pyramids, while at the same time their labors were so directed by the priests, and learned men, who alone understood the secret purpose of these mighty structures, as to secure a great national benefit.
The Pyramids appear to have answered in part the purpose for which they were doubtless built. I found the sand but a few feet deep at the base of Cheops, and saw peasants cultivating the valley of the Nile scarcely half a mile from the group of Ghizeh. The Bedouin and the Fellah point to the silent and mysterious Sphinx as a talisman to prevent the advance of the desert ; but, in the estimation of science, the Pyramids themselves are the monuments whose talismanic influence has, protected the domain of Osiris from the fury of Typhon.
This is the theory of M. de Persigny, and has been adopted by several French savants, among others by M. Huot, the illustrious successor of Malte Brun.”
Autre note sur cet auteur : ICI