Wednesday, May 17, 2006

More of Mr Davidson's Eastern stories

July, 1835.—Another visit to Mr. Davidson, to me far more interesting than the last; when the chief topic of discourse and object of investigation were his arms, though curious, beautiful, and even awful, when you come to arrows, of which the slightest scratch will infuse a poison producing inflammation and extensive discoloration, and to a lance which he does not remove from a scabbard, fearing the accidental ill-effects that might arise from handling a point which has been three years in the poison of the Upas-tree. Still all this was not in my way.

Yesterday he showed us the model of the Pyramids, and instead of giving us a lecture upon the subject, entered into a sort of discussion with Mr. (Sir Gardner) Wilkinson, the traveller, and author of a very celebrated work on Thebes. Davidson has a theory of his own on the subject of the Pyramids. He considers them as signs or monuments in commemoration of the Deluge, deriving the present name from Py (the) Aram (ancient).

The most startling fact which he told us was, that in Mexico and on the coast of Coromandel there exist to this day pyramids of still greater magnitude than the Egyptian, but not as high. One of those in India is said to be a mile between each angle, but not as high as the Egyptian. All are of antiquity far beyond any tradition ; all face the cardinal points ; all have the entrance to the north; and this entrance is never in the centre of the side on which it is placed.

These points of coincidence in buildings so very remote, in three different quarters of the globe, are certainly very curious; but I should find it very difficult to believe that, if these edifices had the distinction which Mr. Davidson assigns to them, they would never be mentioned in the Bible. By Mr. Wilkinson's book, I find their existence is proved by hieroglyphic inscriptions to have been as remote as the time of the Pharaoh of Joseph. The cause of the various measurements of the base of the great pyramid of Cheops is that, sand having accumulated round it, it is not easy to ascertain the height from which to measure; of course the least difference makes a very great one in the circumference.

The base is called 728 feet, the perpendicular height 500 feet: it occupies eleven acres, and is equal in extent to the whole of Lincoln's Inn Fields, from house to house. Humboldt's measurement of the great pyramid of Chobula in Mexico: height 172 feet, base 1,355 feet square.*
Editor’s note
* In Ward's Mexico, the height is stated as 177 feet; base, 1,778 feet square.

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