The Great Pyramid, Part 29

The Great Pyramid, Part 29

The Ante-Chamber

“Later in the day we resumed our work in the interior of the Great Pyramid. Placing the camera in front of the Step at the head of the Grand Gallery, we took a picture of it in order to show how dilapidated it now is after the wear of fully a thousand years’ traffic (Plate CXIV); for since 820 A.D., when Caliph Al Mamoun forced his way into these upper passages, they have ever been free of access to all. This photograph also shows the low passage which leads from the Grand Gallery to the Ante-Chamber and beyond this the second low passage leading out of the Ante-Chamber to the King’s Chamber. The lower edge of the Granite Leaf in the Ante-Chamber is also distinguishable (More so in the color photo). You will also note from the newer black and white photo and the color photo that an attempt was made to repair the worn down step.)

The drawing by K. Vaughan (Plate XXXIII) shows the surroundings of the upper (southern) end of the Grand Gallery more fully; and from this one can form a clearer idea of the appearance of this part. In this drawing, also, Caviglia’s excavation in the Ante-Chamber’s west wall is more distinct. Originally the west wall, like the east wall, was continuous and unbroken from its commencement at the south wall of the Grand Gallery to its termination at the King’s Chamber. The continuity of the east wall is shown in another photograph which we took with the camera erected on top of the Step to the west Plate CXXXV below. This photograph shows the square but somewhat dilapidated doorway of the small passage as it appears in the south wall of the Grand Gallery, and, to the left, part of the east wall of the Grand Gallery. (In the second photo below we are kneeling down looking into the first little passage which leads into the Ant-Chamber.)

Without entering into full details at this juncture, I shall mention that as the result of our careful measuring, and by comparing with the former figures of Professors C. Piazzi Smyth and Flinders Petrie, we conclude that the theoretically correct measures are: from the north, front, edge of the Step at the head of the Grand Gallery, horizontally southward to the south wall of the Ante- Chamber, 229.1989 + Pyramid inches; and to the north wall of the King’s Chamber, 330.0423 + Pyramid inches; while between the south end-wall of the Grand Gallery and the north wall of the King’s Chamber, the distance is 269.0828+ Pyramid inches.  But though we accept these as the standard measures, we can see that the Pyramid’s inspired architect purposely designed this part of the building to show more than the one measure between two given points. For example : between the north edge of the Step, and the south wall of the Ante-Chamber, other measures ranging approximately between 229, and 230, inches are obtainable ; and all of these measures can be demonstrated to be intentional, and all of them indicate scientific features. The same may also be said of the length of the Ante-Chamber: it is well known that the theoretically correct length for this chamber is 116.2602 + Pyramid inches; for this length is equal to the diameter of the solar tropical year circle, that is, the circle, the circumference of which is as many inches as there are days in the year. Yet this little chamber has been so constructed that measures of its length range between, approximately, 116, and 117, inches, as the figures of Professors Smyth and Petrie show. This range of measures is intentional, and not the result of carelessness on the part of the ancient builders as Professor Petrie understood. We hope to make this clear in Vol. III of Great Pyramid Passages.

We secured photographs of several parts of interest in the Ante-Chamber. One shows John standing in the twenty-one inch space between the north wall of the chamber behind him, and the Granite Leaf in front—Plate CXXXVI. He is leaning against the east wall, which at this part is, like the north wall, composed of limestone. The floor is of special importance. You will no doubt recall how Professor C. Piazzi Smyth and others point out that, while the floor of the king’s Chamber is composed entirely of granite, that of the Ante-Chamber consists mostly of granite, but partially of limestone—Plate XX. The latter portion is a continuation of the limestone block which forms the Step in the Grand Gallery and the floor of the short passage leading into the Ante- Chamber. This limestone portion ends a few inches to the north of the Granite Leaf. John is seen standing on it, his toes touching the first granite floor-stone which is raised a quarter of an inch above the other stones of the Ante-Chamber floor. Before he can rest his feet firmly on solid granite, he will require first to bow down and pass between the granite walls under the Granite Leaf into the Ante-Chamber proper. The length of the granite portion of the Ante-Chamber floor is 103.0329 + Pyramid inches.

In the color photo above we are kneeling in the second little passage leading into the Kings Chamber looking back north through the Ante-Chamber toward the Grand Gallery. The tan colored stone a bit before you is the lower portion of the granite leaf; however what we really would like to draw your attention to is how it clearly shows the transition from the limestone part of the floor to granite part, and if you look closely you can see the ¼ inch lift in the first granite stone leading into the Ante-Chamber. Due to the extreme decline of the Grand Gallery what you are seeing way out in front of you is the jagged ceiling of the Grand Gallery.

Another photograph (Plate CXXXVII) shows John in the act of passing under the Granite Leaf. By actual trial we found it impossible to raise our heads on the inner or south side of the Granite Leaf, without first lifting our feet from the limestone floor, and placing them on granite. With the exception of two small limestone blocks in the upper corners of the south and east walls, this, the main portion of the Ante-Chamber, is formed entirely of granite. The drawing by K. Vaughan (Plate XXXIV above) shows more of the floor of the Ante-Chamber, as well as a better view of the lower part of the east wall. The fragmentary pilasters, and the deep rectangular hollows at the side of the floor, are shown to advantage.

As there is only a width of about three and a half feet between the east and west walls of the Ante-Chamber, we could not have taken the photograph of the small space to the north of the Granite Leaf, had it not been for Caviglia’s excavation in the west wall. By taking advantage of this excavation, we were enabled to set back the camera far enough to secure a view of sufficiently wide angle to show John at nearly full length.

We find it necessary to use our special wide-angle lens, which has a focus of only 3 ⅛ inches, in nearly all our photographs of the interior of the Great Pyramid; in such confined spaces as that mentioned above, it is of great advantage. For views outside we have another lens with a focus of 6.3 inches, which can also be converted into a focus of 11¼ inches by an arrangement lately devised by lens-makers. Both of these lenses were made by Carl Zeiss of Jena, and are in our opinion the best possible for careful work. In addition to these, we have a “Tele-photo” lens (also made by Carl Zeiss) capable or giving up to five magnifications; but so far we have not had many opportunities to make use of it.

A third photograph (Plate CXXXVIII) taken inside the Ante-Chamber, with the camera placed on the flat upper surface of the east wainscot, shows the upper portion of the west side of the Granite Leaf where it fits into its groove in the granite wainscot of the west wall. Above this, on the right side of the photograph, are seen the upper and middle of the three limestone blocks which form the north wall of the Ante-Chamber. Of the two blocks shown above the west wainscot, the one to the north is limestone, and the other is granite. The extreme blackness of the granite roof is due to the smoke from the torches and candles of the countless visitors who have passed below on their way to and from the King’s Chamber.

More of the Granite Leaf would have been shown in the above photograph had it not been for an unfortunate incident. According to our usual method we had set light to the touch-paper inserted in the powder, and had retired to a safe distance till the flash should be over. After waiting for a longer interval than usual without hearing the explosion, we concluded that the touch- paper had become extinguished, as had happened on other occasions. I therefore edged over in the direction of the camera along the top of the east wainscot, so as to cover the lens before adjusting a fresh piece of touch-paper. When quite close to the camera, but before I had time to cover the lens, the powder suddenly ignited. The result is that part of the field of view is intercepted by my knees; there is sufficient in the photograph, however, to give a general idea of the appearance of the upper portion of the Ante-Chamber.

I had a little difficulty myself at first in comprehending this photo so I added some perspective lines to help me see more clearly what was being shown. You may still be wondering what exactly we are looking at and how exactly this photo was originally shot so I have included another shot at what is being shown taken from the floor of the Ante-Chamber looking up to this position or corner of the chamber.


The two “wainscots” form a very distinctive feature of this little chamber. Their distance apart is the same as the width of the walls of the low passages, i.e., about three and a half feet. They are each approximately a foot thick, the width; therefore, of the Ante-Chamber is about two feet more in its upper than in its lower part. The whole height of the chamber from floor to roof measures twelve and a half feet. The east wainscot reaches upward to within 46 inches of the roof, but the west wainscot is 8 ¾ inches higher. This difference in height is well shown in the photograph by the fact that my position, as I sit on the upper surface of the east wainscot, is seen to be distinctly on a lower level than the top of the west wainscot.

Each wainscot is characterized by four broad vertical grooves, 3 ¼ inches deep; those on the east side are of the same dimensions as, and exactly opposite to, those on the west side of the chamber. The grooves into which the Granite Leaf is fixed are about 16 ¾ inches wide and stop short at the bottom of the Leaf; but the other grooves are cut the full height of the wainscots, and are 21 ½ inches broad. The vertical ridges or pilasters which divide the three broad grooves on each wall measure about 5 inches wide; whilst the width of those which retain the Granite Leaf on the south is 3 ¾ inches. The upper surface of the west wainscot is differentiated from that of the east by three deep semi-cylindrical horizontal grooves, which correspond in position with the three broad vertical grooves—See Plates XXXI and XXXV below.

One of these horizontal grooves, and the upper end of the corresponding vertical groove, are shown in the photograph of the upper part of the chamber—Plate CXXXVIII (the one with Morton’s knees in it). In this photograph, and especially in that which shows John stooping under the Granite Leaf (Plate CXXXVII), it will be observed that the dividing pilasters have been largely broken away, though sufficient remains to indicate their original dimensions. In the lower right-hand corner of K. Vaughan’s drawing (Plate XXXIV) the bases of two of these pilasters is easily noticeable; and in his other drawing of the southern end of the Ante-Chamber (Plate XXXV pictured above), parts of the tops of them are shown on both side-walls.

These drawings and others similar to them throughout the volume are true to scale, and perspective; but as the photographs from which they are taken were necessarily secured at close range, the lines of the perspective appear exaggerated unless you look at the pictures from the same relative viewpoint as seen by the lens of the camera. This can generally be done by holding the picture (drawing or photograph) vertically at a distance of between six and nine inches in front of you, and with your eyes opposite the spot where you judge the camera must have been standing when the picture was taken. When you do this you will find that the perspective lines appear in their proper proportions; and you also gain a truer impression of the actual appearance of each view.

We will continue with out look at the Ante-Chamber with our next post.


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