PYRAMIDS OF DASHOOR.
NOTES BY MR. BIRCH.
THE NORTHERN BRICK PYRAMID.
These inscriptions were found upon blocks of calcareous stone, which had belonged to the propylseon erected before the
northern front of the Pyramid. From the specimens sent by Mr. Perring to the British Museum, the hieroglyphics appear to
have been executed with a purity of style, which distinguished the intervening period between the Memphite dynasty, and the
expulsion of their successors at Abydos; and may on that account, without impropriety, be assigned to the era of Asychis, by
whom the Pyramid has been by some persons supposed to have been built; but the fragments of a royal prenomen, discovered
amongst the ruins, are too imperfect to admit of identification: and the other inscriptions are similar to those often found upon
coeval sepulchral monuments, and do not possess any distinct peculiarity. It is, therefore, a point yet undetermined, which of
the brick Pyramids at present existing, is the work of Asychis. Considerable illustration of the general design of this propylseon
is afforded by the sculptures on the propylseon of the Pyramid at Mount Birkel.*
The inscriptions are at all events sepulchral. They represent tables of provisions deposited as offerings to the dead;
sacerdotal and other functionaries performing acts of adoration and of consecration; and officers of state presenting funeral gifts.
Similar tables have been almost exclusively found upon monuments executed before, or during the seventeenth dynasty. Several
have been discovered; those, upon the entrance of a hypogee, in the possession of Signore Athanasi; upon the stelae Anastasi,
No. 36, in the British Museum; upon a rectangular sarcophagus, purchased of M. Sams, and now placed in the British Museum;
and upon the sarcophagus of a person named Savaknaa, or Souchinaa, belonging to Signore Athanasi, may be cited as instances.
No doubt can exist respecting the character of these offerings, because, in the beginning of the inscriptions over the tables
upon Signore Athanasi's sarcophagus, the title " Osirian (deceased)" is inserted. It is to be remarked that, besides these tables
of provisions, other articles, such as mirrors, collars, and their counterpoises,f bracelets, armlets, crowns, cushions, shentis, daggers,
bows, arrows, and various kinds of sceptres are sometimes inscribed, which do not appear upon the fragments from Dashoor.
The provisions are usually placed in baskets, by which they are counted, and the greatest number appears to have been four.
These tables are not seen upon tombs or stelae coeval with the Pyramids of Gizeh, although the same articles of food
are found in inscriptions of a later date.
The inscriptions at Dashoor appear, therefore, to shew that the Pyramid was constructed at a period intermediate between
the dynasty, which built the Gizeh Pyramids, and their successors at Abydos, and at Thebes.
On a fragment, Plate XIII. Fig. 6, chamberlains, and other officers in the service of the court, perform adoration, consecrate
royal offerings, and carry various provisions; other processions, see Figs. 4, 5, 9, are composed of members of the family of the
deceased, and of persons connected with his household, who bear articles of furniture and of food. J
Quarry marks, in linear or hieratic characters, Figs. % 3, have also been discovered; but, as they do not contain a royal
name, they cannot establish the date of the building.
From Mr. Perring's account of the stone casing of these Pyramids, they may be supposed to have been constructed in
imitation of the magnificent Tombs at Gizeh, and to have been formed with bricks on account of their comparative cheapness.
This conjecture is more probable, because great political difficulties are said to have occurred in the time of Asychis. The manner,
in which the sculptures are executed, and the style of the hieroglyphics, although they do not afford a positive proof, yet seem
to indicate that they belonged to a time prior to the sixteenth dynasty, and consequently, to the invasion of the Shepherd kings,
Indeed, it may be remarked, that, immediately after that event, the Egyptian monarchs could not have possessed either resources,
or leisure for the erection of such colossal structures; but that, on the contrary, affected either by want of power, or by change
of taste, or of habit, instead of engaging in such gigantic undertakings, they were evidently contented with the elaborate detail,
and finished embellishments, which decorate the interior of the excavated tombs in the Biban el Molook.
Fig. 4. The hieroglyphics, before the figure walking, signify his titles-—ru.*. cjuloivx;, "the great house" "the fabricate?*"
During the reigns of the early dynasties, deceased persons were styled "functionaries attached to the great house or palace ;" and
this title occurs over a male figure in the Tomb of Trades, and is also seen in another tomb, taken from Gizeh, and now
in the British Museum.
Fig. 5. The lines immediately above the figures express the numbers of the several objects in the baskets. The eatables
presented upon the tables have been already mentioned. Other objects, although not clearly designed, are articles of food,
such as a cake, the ribs and the shoulder of an animal, grapes, &c. represented in baskets; and the hieroglyphics, before the
man dressed in the skin of a panther, signify "a royal offering."§ Behind him, and above another figure, holding in both his
hands the roll of a manuscript, are the words &&li, "priest" and cejuta, "minister, officer;" and behind these figures a person is
represented in a kneeling position, with one arm lifted up, and with the other placed upon his breast, as if in the act of
adoration. 11 There is also an imperfect inscription, which has consisted of two lines.
Fig. 6 resembles No. 5. The inscription above the figures enumerates the number of the different offerings, and the
termination of the table, in which the objects have been phonetically inserted.
Part of the same table occurs in the second division, with characters signifying " water" or " libations" and another tropically
employed to denote "plants." It represents a young plant shooting from a clod of earth, and, as the symbol for "all" is beneath
it, "a basket filled with every young vegetable" may be signified. In the next division a kneeling figure is apparently employed in
grinding, and in the area are various articles of food, with their names; and amongst them are &ik, "cordials or refreshments "
cXhX, " grapes;" and a material called ajT or iyr.
Behind is the arm of a figure in the act of making a royal offering.
In the third division the flowers and buds of the lotus are placed upon an altar or stand, with a figure, like that in the
second division. And in the area is an inscription in hieroglyphics: — rto-rre aorrro-*, "the divine bread" together with cakes of
bread, the shoulders of victims, &c. In the next compartment an inscription expresses " attached to the hall of audience" " charged
with the care of the great house" or "palace " and below it a figure pours a libation from a vase into a cup held by another
person, and in the area is inserted " the gift of a libation" and also two tables covered with offerings, consisting of water-
fowls, vases, cakes of bread, onions, together with joints of meat.
The traces of two figures may also be made out, bearing, upon small trays or stands, different offerings; and before one
is inscribed "the architect;" and before the other, two symbols, frequently found in family registers, apparently expressive of
Fig. 7. A is part of a cornice, taken from the upper part of the propylseon. It contains hieroglyphics, and also the
insignia, which are often inserted above the representations of deities. Below them is part of the starry heavens, and an
inscription, containing " the royal chief," a title conferred upon the highest officers, and, in this instance, written in a more
ample form than usual, and most probably accompanied by the figure of the person to whom it belonged. According to
M. Rosellini, the phonetic group pne is analogous to portra, and indicates that the individual was young, and probably, also,
that he belonged to the military caste. The same title was, however, frequently attributed to queens and princesses, and, when
applied to men, was often accompanied, as in the present instance, with feminine attributes. Its exact meaning, however, is not
Fig. 9 contains fragments of two compartments. In the upper, a man clothed with a shenti round his loins, inclines
forward; and another holds in his right hand a scimitar, and in his left a bow. In the lower compartment, the sides of which
have been ornamented with a border in a rectangular pattern, are traces of the starry heavens, and also of an inscription in
hieroglyphics, of which, however, only one (the back of a chair) can be made out.
Fig. 10. Part of a royal prenomen appears in a horizontal line of hieroglyphics, but, unfortunately, the fragment contains
little more than a quarter of the cartouche. Like that of Mencheres, it has evidently been composed of three groups of uplifted
arms, of another symbol apparently rectangular, and of the disc of the sun, or of the hawk. From such imperfect remains,
it is impossible to tell to what monarch the cartouche belongs, for it can scarcely be assigned to Mycerinus; and the only
other cartouche, with which it can be compared, is a disputed reading.^ It may also be remarked, that, from the position
of the characters in the lower part of the cartouche, there was probably another symbol, besides those which are contained
in this fragment; and in that case, it would be unlike any cartouche hitherto discovered. It may, however, from its general
resemblance, be referred to the sixteenth or seventeenth dynasties.
Fig. 11. This fragment consists of the remains of two horizontal lines of hieroglyphics. In the upper, a bundle of
papyrus, of an unusual shape; and in the lower, the phonetic symbols cxt may be traced, and also the figure of a child,
with his hand to his mouth, and a peculiar branch, which forms the initial to the word ^Fr, or co-rrn.**
Fig. 12. In this are represented the eatables commonly used in sepulchral offerings, placed upon a table or stand, in
the presence of individuals of high rank. In the centre of the table are two vases, which, as they end in a point, like the
# Caillaud (Fred,), "Voyage a, Meroe," fol. Paris, 1823, PI. LIII. LIV. f By counterpoises are meant the objects shaped like this y or Q worn behind, to counterbalance the collars or tippets of the Egyptian kings.
\ The female relations, including the jutoorte, or nurse, are also frequently cepresented in sculptures executed under the sixteenth and seventeenth dynasties.
§ A figure in a similar attitude occurs upon a stela of the seventeenth dynasty, in the British Museum; and upon it is inscribed—" He makes a royal offering," or " He performs an act of adoration." Champ. "Gram. Egypt." p. 66. And below is a star, which, besides other significations, expresses
the name of the God Siou, or Seb, Chronos. || A similar figure is inscribed in the quarries at Tourah.
% The one engraved in Rosellini, "Mon. Stor." Parte Prima, Tom. II. Tav. XV. 11; and Laborde, "Arable Petree," Tab. Hier. It reads Pe or £,«Lp oj. . . . kjl. The name accompanying it has been read Osterot, Rosellini, loc. cit, ** These two pieces are in the British Museum.