The Sepulchres of the Kings of Thebes are mentioned by Diodorus Siculus as wonderful works, and such as could never be exceeded by anything afterwards executed in this kind. He says that forty-seven of them were mentioned in their history; that only seventeen of them remained to the time of Ptolemy Lagus; adding that most of them were destroyed in his time. Strabo says, that above the Memnonium, the precise locality of Denon’s description, were the sepulchres of the kings of Thebes, in grottos cut out of the rock, being about forty in number, wonderfully executed and worthy to be seen. In these, he says, were obelisks with inscriptions on them, setting forth the riches, power, and empire of these kings, as far as Scythia, Bactria, India, and Ionia, their great revenues, and their immense armies, consisting of one million of men.
In Egypt, the honors paid to the dead partook of the nature of a religious homage. By the process of embalming, they endeavored to preserve the body from the common laws of nature; and they provided those magnificent and durable habitations for the dead—sublime monuments of human folly—which have not preserved but buried the memory of their founders. By a singular fatality, the well-adapted punishment of pride, the extraordinary precautions by which it seemed in a manner to triumph over death, have only led to a more humiliating disappointment. The splendor of the tomb has but attracted the violence of rapine; the sarcophagus has been violated; and while other bodies have quietly returned to their native dust in the bosom of their mother earth, the Egyptian, converted into a mummy, has been preserved only to the insults of curiosity, or avarice, or barbarism.
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 deg. 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