THE PYRAMIDS OF EGYPT.

The pyramids of Egypt, especially the two largest of the group of Jizeh or Gize, are the most stupendous masses of buildings in stone that human labor has ever been known to accomplish, and have been the wonder of ancient and modern times.—The number of the Egyptian pyramids, large and small, is very considerable; they are situated on the west bank of the Nile, and extend in an irregular line, and in groups at some distance from each other, from the neighborhood of Jizeh, in 30° N. Latitude, as far as sixty or seventy miles south of that place. The pyramids of Jizeh are nearly opposite Cairo. They stand on a plateau or terrace of limestone, which is a projection of the Lybian mountain-chain. The surface of the terrace is barren and irregular, and is covered with sand and small fragments of rock; its height, at the base of the great pyramid, is one hundred and sixty four feet above the ordinary level of the Nile, from which it is distant about five miles. There are in this group three large pyramids, and several small ones. Herodotus, who was born B.C. 484, visited these pyramids. He was informed by the priests of Memphis, that the great pyramid was built by Cheops, king of Egypt, about B.C. 900, and that one hundred thousand workmen were employed twenty years in building it, and that the body of Cheops was placed in a room beneath the bottom, surrounded by a vault, to which the waters of the Nile were conveyed through a subterranean tunnel. A chamber has been discovered under the centre of the pyramid, but it is about fifty-six feet above the low-water mark of the Nile. The second pyramid, Herodotus says, was built by Cephren or Cephrenes, the brother and successor of Cheops, and the third by Mycerinus, the son of Cheops. Herodotus also says that the two largest pyramids are wholly covered with white marble; Diodorus and Pliny, that they are built of this costly material. The account of Herodotus is confirmed by present appearances. Denon, who accompanied the French expedition to Egypt, was commissioned by Buonaparte to examine the great pyramid of Jizeh; three hundred persons were appointed to this duty. They approached the borders of the desert in boats, to within half a league of the pyramid, by means of the canals from the Nile. Denon says, "the first impression made on me by the sight of the pyramids, did not equal my expectations, for I had no object with which to compare them; but on approaching them, and seeing men at their base, their gigantic size became evident." When Savary first visited these pyramids, he left Jizeh at one o'clock in the morning, and soon reached them. The full moon illuminated their summits, and they appeared to him "like rough, craggy peaks piercing the clouds." Herodotus gives 800 feet as the height of the great pyramid, and says this is likewise the length of its base, on each side; Strabo makes it 625, and Diodorus 600. Modern measurements agree most nearly with the latter.