THE KINGS CHAMBER
Having now examined the Ante-chamber we pass beneath the second low passage which leads us to the Kings Chamber carefully watching both our heads and our feet to insure we don’t stumble over the ¾ rise in the floor of the Kings Chamber.
The King’s Chamber, constructed entirely of immense beautifully squared and leveled blocks of dark polished granite, is the chief apartment in the Great Pyramid, the one “to which, and for which, and toward which, the whole Great Pyramid was originally built.”
The Granite Coffer sits near the west wall of the chamber, and is the only movable article of furniture in the building. Though named the sarcophagus by those who hold to the tombic theory of the Great Pyramid, it exhibits none of the hieroglyphics or other markings which are usually found on the sarcophagi in Egypt, nor is there any record of a mummy ever having been discovered in it. Below looking to our right (or north) we see the second low passage from which we have just entered the Kings Chamber.
The King’s Chamber is situated on the 50th course of the Pyramid masonry at a height of about 150 feet from the ground, and its size (See Plates XX and XXI below) is, approximately, 34 feet from east to west, 17 feet from north to south, and 19 feet in height.
The four walls are built of exactly one hundred stones varying in size, and the ceiling is formed of nine enormous granite beams, stretching from north to south, and extending five feet beyond each side wall. These granite beams are of greater depth than breadth, joist fashion, and constitute the largest stones in the whole Pyramid, *One of them has a breadth (or width) of five feet, a depth (height) of about seven feet, and a length of twenty-seven feet, and weighs about seventy tons. (How did the builders manage to get it into its position?)
*There is no known (visible) stone in the Great Pyramid larger or heavier than this. The weight of Aberdeen red granite, which is similar to the granite of the King’s Chamber, is 165 lbs. to the cubic foot. The cubical content of the roof-stone here mentioned is 945 cubic feet. Its weight is, therefore, rather less than 70 tons (British tons)—a very heavy stone.
Above the King’s Chamber there are five shallow spaces called Chambers of Construction, into the lowest of which, known as “Davison’s Chamber” after its discoverer, access is gained by a small passage entering from the top south-east corner of the Grand Gallery (Shown in Plate XX above). This small passage is rough, but is apparently original. It is about 24 feet in length, and only 32 inches in height by 26½ inches in width. The opening to this peculiar little passage is formed by the removal of one entire stone, from the topmost course of masonry, at the extreme southern end, of the east wall of the Grand Gallery. We did not get an opportunity to explore these upper chambers; and a visit to them is attended with danger. We were informed that there is only one guide (who lives at the Sakkara. Pyramids, about seven miles further up the Nile) who will venture to ascend to the mouth of the small passage, in order to hold a rope for the venturesome visitor who desires to extend his investigations to these upper regions. This guide mounts the giddy height by means of notches cut in the walls at the south-east angle of the Grand Gallery. When we remember the limited area of the upper surface of the Step, the vast sloping depth of the Grand Gallery below, and the great height of the roof where the mouth of the small passage is situated, we can well understand that this guide will require, as the French say, to “take his courage in both hands.” Our Arab attendant essayed to ascend for us, but after climbing a third of the height, said he was afraid and came down again.
“During my subsequent visit to the Great Pyramid in 1912, in connection with the preparation of the manuscript for Vol. II of Great Pyramid Passages, I instructed my Arab attendant, Judah Faid, to get a long and substantial ladder made; and this was erected on top of the Step at the head of the Grand Gallery, its upper end resting on the east wall just below the small doorway of the passage. In addition to this I had several smaller ladders made by means of which I climbed from the lowest (Davison’s) Chamber of Construction to the one above, and so successively from one low chamber to another till I reached the fifth and highest. From the floor of one chamber to the floor of the next above it is, on an average, about ten feet. When I again visited the Great Pyramid a third time, in the early part of 1914, these ladders were all still where I had left them—the small ones in the Chambers of Construction, and the large one down in the Subterranean Chamber to which I had had it removed for safety. I was thus enabled to re-visit these usually inaccessible recesses of the Pyramid.”— (Morton Edgar.)
It was on the 8th of July in the year 1765 A.D., that Davison, accompanied by a few friends (who did not, however, go with him all the way), discovered and examined the lowermost Chamber of Construction. He ascended to the mouth of the small passage by a ladder: and had great difficulty in making his way along the confined passage because of the large amount of dirt and bat’s manure with which it was choked. He perceived that the floor of the chamber is composed of the reverse of the granite beams which form the ceiling of the King’s Chamber, and that the entire widths of their upper surfaces are exposed, thus making this low space about four feet longer than the chamber below, although the width from north to south is the same.
This comprised all that was known of the parts above the King’s Chamber until 1837, when, on the 14th of February of that year, Col. Howard Vyse instructed his workmen to commence an excavation from the inner end of the small passage in a vertical direction, in order to penetrate above the roof-beams of Davison’s Chamber. He states that his reason for pursuing this operation was his belief that a sepulchral apartment lay above Davison’s Chamber, the latter being, as he thought, merely an entresol or low division between the two main apartments below and above. The work of excavating proved laborious and most dangerous, because of its being overhead work, and carried on in so confined a space. It was not until after six weeks of constant boring and blasting, that the workmen managed to make a small hole into the cavity above.
On receiving this information, the Colonel, in great expectation, examined the chamber by the aid of a lighted candle on the end of a rod pushed through the small opening; but, he wrote, “I had the mortification of finding that it was a chamber of construction, like that below it.” He still entertained a hope, however, of discovering a sepulchral apartment somewhere above the King’s Chamber, and his men continued to work upwards, breaking into each Chamber of Construction in succession, until, after three and a half months’ labor, when they had forced a vertical shaft up to a total height of forty feet above the small passage, the fifth cavity was entered. This, owing to its inclined pointed roof, Col. Howard Vyse believed to be the highest and final chamber. According to his measurements, the apex of the gabled roof of this chamber is seventy feet above the floor of the King’s Chamber—See Plate XXI (above).
On the surrounding masonry of all these Chambers of Construction, excepting the lowest, Col. Howard Vyse discovered many red-painted marks and hieroglyphs. He had careful copies of these taken and sent to the British Museum, where they were examined and pronounced to be merely quarry-marks and instructions for the masons, painted on at the quarries. These are the marks referred to by Professor Flinders Petrie, as mentioned in Par. 74. The diagram above depicts some of the hieroglyphs and quarry-marks which were found in the chamber just below Campbell’s Chamber, the fourth highest chamber, dubbed Lady Arbuthnot’s Chamber.
From the foregoing, it will be gathered that the “Chambers of Construction” are not chambers in the usually accepted sense of that word, but merely hollows or vacancies consequent upon the peculiar construction of the masonry above the King’s Chamber, and hence the name “Chambers of Construction.” The series of five layers of great granite beams which are built one above the other at short distances apart, and the additional pairs of great inclined limestone blocks which form the gabled roof of the topmost hollow (with also, probably, other inclined blocks resting upon these again), were evidently intended by the ancient builders to form together a support for the enormous weight of the superincumbent mass of masonry (the ancient top-stone lay more than 300 feet above the King’s Chamber), which would be solid enough to preserve for thousands of years the chaste simplicity of the noble chamber which they protect.
Nor were the precautions against destruction too great, for even with it all there is a slight settlement or inclination of the whole of the King’s Chamber towards the south-west corner, caused by an earthquake, most probably that reported to have occurred in the year 908 A.D.—Par. 84. The shock of this earthquake must have been very severe, for every one of the beams which form the immediate roof of the King’s Chamber, great and strong though they be, are broken across near the south wall, so that as Professor Flinders Petrie has said, the whole of the immensely heavy granite ceiling is upheld solely by sticking and thrusting! Moreover, in every one of the spaces above, the massive roof-beams are either cracked across, or are torn more or less out of the wall principally on the south side! Nevertheless, the wonderful and unique method of construction devised over four thousand years ago by the ancient architect, has so well succeeded in preserving the symmetry and squareness of the great chamber, that none of the effects of the mighty convulsion of nature are apparent to the eyes of the observer standing in it. These effects reveal themselves only upon close scrutiny, with careful measuring and leveling. The King’s Chamber, therefore, with its five horizontal ceilings of granite, four of which are directly built upon granite (the fifth or topmost being built upon limestone—See Plate XX), is the Great Pyramid’s practical sign, or symbol, of Stability. Egypt’s well known symbol of “Stability” has four horizontal ridges.
All the chambers in the Great Pyramid run longer from east to west, than from north to south, and the entrance doorway of each opens on the extreme east of the north wall, the Grotto, even, being no exception to this uniform rule. As all the passages run in the same vertical plane, a sectional drawing of the Pyramid from east to west would show the various chambers situated vertically one above the other—See Plate XXII above, which shows the Chamber System of the Great Pyramid, looking north.
In none of the passages and chambers of the Great Pyramid have we found any of the sculpture-work and carved hieroglyphics which are so common in many of the smaller pyramids, and in all of the temples, obelisks, sphinxes, etc., erected throughout Egypt (as exemplified in the first photo above). There are, indeed, the red marks in the Chambers of Construction (as shown in the second photo above); but these have been pronounced on good authority to be quarry-marks, and are found on the walls of spaces which are strictly speaking not chambers, and were originally built up with solid masonry. In all the other chambers and passages, on the contrary, intended to be visited, the masonry was finished off plain, and polished (though now much serrated and injured by the effects of time and vandalism); and in them neither quarry-marks nor hieroglyphics of any kind have ever been discovered, though many investigators have sought long and diligently for them. It is not by hieroglyphics nor by sculpture-work, but by symbol, measure, and angle that the Great Pyramid of Giza in the land of Egypt yields its secrets, and testifies to the Divine plan of the Ages. (Great Pyramid Passages, Pages 73-78, par. 108-117)
We will continue with our next post.