7 INTRODUCTION
 
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westwards, as will be seen on PL.II where the dotted line of the tunnel turns toward the middle of the chamber. Soon we found the rock drop straight down, and knew that the pit and chamber were now before us. Then a brick arch was cut through ; this gave further proof and fresh hope. And at last by half-past one in a dark night, one of the boys of the night gang came running down to the tents, and shouting, "The stone is found, the stone is found." I went up at once and saw that we had reached the sloping roof stone of the chamber. In the next few days we cleared and examined it, and made a slight trial on it which showed that skilled masons would be needed.

As in all the other pyramids, of which I knew the construction, the sepulchre was covered by three successive layers of gigantic pent-roof stones, I concluded it would be the same here. And as in other pyramids the end walls of the chamber are quite independent of the sides and roof, and bear only their own weight, I hoped that here I might find a thin end wall easier to cut through than the three layers of roof which I anticipated. So the next step was to measure the distance from the dwarf wall to the chamber, and then to find the north end of the dwarf wall, and measuring off a similar distance south of that to make a second branch from my tunnel to reach the end of the chamber. In this I succeeded, and the second branch will be seen in PL.II, pointing to the well chamber. But in this second cut I met with such immense blocks, that supposing they were buttresses against the end of the triple pent-roof I gave up all idea of cutting through them. I then got over some masons on the 16th April from Medinet, but they were quite helpless in the face of such a job. And as no good ones were then to be had, and the season was late to begin such a task, I reluctantly left it, after earthing over the mouth of the tunnel.

5. On returning there after my exhibition in London of the portraits and other antiquities, I began on the pyramid on the 12th November. But before cutting into the chamber, I made further search on the sides ; clearing a long space of the east, west, and south sides, down to the very base. This work went on for a fortnight, but all in vain; and I saw that either the entrance must be at some indeterminate distance out from the pyramid, or else not anywhere near the middles of the sides. Opening the tunnel again, then, I had some Fayum masons over; but they only did six inches depth of stone cutting, and then threw it up in despair. So at last on December 18th I got two masons from Cairo to attack the stone roof. I kept a close watch over them, to see how much they did, and after a few days tried to induce them to take it by contract. But they would not agree, and were evidently intending to make a long job of it. So l announced that the agreement at per diem was to stand exactly as settled ; and that, moreover, I should make them a present of so many pounds per metre cut through (the fair amount for a liberal contract) less exactly as much as their wages for every day occupied from that time forward. They could not object as the agreement was untouched, but they saw that they would get as much for quick work as for going very leisurely, and mended their rate accordingly.

6. It is, however, slow work is any case to cut with hammer and chisel a tunnel through solid stone ; and it was disheartening that we could not find the under side of the beam after cutting seven feet into it. On the twenty-first day, however, a boy ran down with the welcome news of a hole found. I had just been all the morning at work m the water in Horuta's tomb, and had come out for wash and breakfast; but I went up, as I was, to see to the matter. There was a black hole in the floor of the masons' cutting, and they were chipping away the edges scrap by scrap. Soon I managed to squeeze through, and found that I was in a little forced passage cut by ancient treasure seekers, which led to the super-chamber. Searching around it I saw the top of the entrance passage on the north side, on a level with the floor I was on. Jumping down, I found the passage was blocked; but there was a hole under the stone I had been standing on. Into this I squeezed, sloping head downwards, on the mud which partly filled it, and managed to see that there was a chamber beneath with something in it, and a deal of water. Get back I could not, for I was jammed tight at the shoulders ; and the masons had to drag me up out of the hole by my legs. Then clearing the mud and earth away, I asked a thin and active lad if he would undertake to go in ; and having sounded the depth of water, and found it not more than chest deep, he slid through feet foremost with a ropeladder to hold by, and I watched him through the hole, which would not let my shoulders pass. I then saw the sarcophagi, the large one in the middle, and the curious added one at the side.

7. Next day, after loosening and bringing down a heap of small blocks of stone which filled up the passage to the well chamber, and part of that chamber itself, I pressed through into the well chamber. Thence

 

 

 


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