The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh by Sir Flinders Petrie - Tombs of Gizeh

The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh by W. M. Flinders Petrie

Chap. 15. Tombs of Gizeh Pages 138 - 139

103 . p 138. Although plans were made in 1880-81, of all the accessible tombs ot Gizeh, it is hardly desirable to add them to the bulk of the present volume, especially as they have not much bearing on the Pyramids and temples. But the determination of the typical angle of the built tombs is interesting, not only in itself, but also in connection with the Mastaba-Pyramids of Sakkara and Medum (see section 110).

The rows of tomb-chapels (in Arabic mastaba) built on the surface of the rock at Gizeh, are nearly all constructed with the same angle. To determine the amount and variations of this, I measured the following tombs, which I selected as being mostly well wrought and in good condition. The numbers given are those of Lepsius.


No 45

No 49

No 37


37 and 40

No 14

No 44, N. part

No 18

No 17

mean of 9 measures

mean of 2 measures

mean of 9 measures

mean of 7 measures

mean of 6 measures

mean of 12 measures

mean of 15 measures

mean of 13 measures

mean of 7 measures

N. and S.

E. and W.

74 4' 40'

74 55 1 20'

75 15 25'

75 34 5'

80 57' 15'

75 36' 25'

76 0' 5'

76 30' 1 30'

78 3' 1

Properly weighting these data (inversely as the squares of their probable errors) the mean is 75 52' 10"; and No.44, which is by far the finest work of all, is 76 0' 5'. Now 75 57' 50" is the angle produced by a rise of 4 on a base of 1; hence the rule for the mastaba-angle seems to have been to set back the face 1 cubit. in every 4 cubits of height. The slope of 80 57' 50" on E. and W. of one mastaba is probably designed on the same principle; as a rise of 6 on 1 yields a slope of 80 32' 15"

104 . The very remarkable tomb known as Campbell's tomb, requires some notice here, as it has been associated with the name of Khufu by some writers. For a detailed plan and measurements reference should be made to Col. Vyse's volumes; but we may state the general form of it as a large square pit in the p 139 rock, 26 by 30 feet, and 53 feet deep; outside this there is a trench, running all round it at 9 to 22 feet distant ; this is 5 feet wide and 73 feet deep. Bars of rock are left at intervals across this trench. Altogether about 10,000 tons of limestone have been excavated here.
The gold ring found here, bearing the cartouche of Khufu, only belonged to a priest of that king in late times, and the king's name on it is only introduced incidentally in the inscription, which does not profess to be of early period. But there is, nevertheless, ground for believing this excavation to be the remains of a tomb of the Pyramid period.
When this pit was cleared out by Vyse, he found a tomb built in the bottom of it; but this cannot have been the original interment, for the following reasons. On the sides of the pit may be seen the characteristic marks where the backs of lining blocks have been fitted into the rock (see section 100); and on the surface round the pit and the trench are numerous traces of the fitting of stones, and of plastering, and even some remaining stones let into the rock. Hence this pit has been lined with fine stone, and a pavement or a building has existed above it at the ground level. This lining would so far reduce the size of the pit, from 315 width to probably about 206 inches, that it could be roofed either with beams or with sloping blocks. But the object of such a deep pit seems strange, as it would form a chamber 50 feet high. Perhaps the great rock-pit of the Pyramid at Abu Roash explains this; as Vyse says that in his day, there were signs that it had been filled up with successive spaced roofs, like those over the King's Chamber.
The remaining indications then show that this pit is merely the rough shell of a fine-stone chamber, probably roofed with successive ceilings for its greater security, and having some pavement, or probably a great mastaba chapel, on the surface above it. The access to it was perhaps down the square shaft in the rock, which still remains. It is certain, then, that the tomb of the twenty-sixth dynasty, built of small stones in the bottom of the great pit, after all the lining had been removed, and when it was again a mere shell, cannot have been the original interment. And from the character of the design, and its execution, there can be but little hesitation in referring the original work to the fourth dynasty. Though it may not have been the tomb of Khufu himself, as some have suggested, yet the trench around it may at high Nile have readily held water, insulating the central pit; and it may thus be the origin of the description of Khufu's tomb, given by Herodotus. For the details of the levels connected with the question, and also plans and measures,

see Prof. Smyth's account in Edinburgh Ast. Obs., vol. xiii., page 101.