[Extracted from his The Origin and Antiquity of Our English Weights and Measures Discover'd:
By Their Near Agreement with Such Standards that are Now Found in One of the Egyptian Pyramids.
Together with the Explanation of Divers Lines Therein Heretofore Measur'd
The Second Edition. LONDON: MDCCXIII.]


The Contents of the Answer to the Second Letter


THE Time when the Pyramids were built, according to the Opinion of those that follow Herodotus 15


There is little Agreement amongst Writers concerning the Founders of these Pyramids 16


The Authority of Herodotus not to be relied upon 16


The Arabian Traditions concerning the Founders of Pyramids 18


Manetho's Words explained concerning the Pillars of Thoyth 19


Notwithstanding Manetho be accounted a fabulous Writer, yet his Authority in this Case is good 23


The Egyptian Thoyth is Seth, the Son of Adam 24


Terra Seriadica of Manetho is the Desart called Sarra, and the Pyramids the Pillars of Thoyth or Seth 26


Reasons why the Pyramids could not be built by Egyptians after the Flood 28


Of the Inscription on the Pillars of Seth 31



The Time when the Egyptian Pyramids were built &c;

In Answer to the second Letter.


§. I. IT seems reasonable to believe that you have made a very probable Conjecture concerning the Antiquity of these Pyramids. Yet as you are pleased to observe, 'tis the common received Opinion that they were built by certain Egyptian Kings after the Deluge, which is grounded Upon the Authority of Herodotus, Diodorus, and their Followers. And upon this Account it is that. Mr. Greaves places their Founders in the 20th Egyptian Dynasty, in the Time when the Judges ruled in Israel, because these antient Writers make Cheops or Chemnis to be the Founders of the first Pyramid, Chabris or Cephren, the Son or Brother to the former King, to be the Founder of the second Pyramid, and Mecherinus the Son of Chemnis the Founder of the third Pyramid. Now, says Mr. Greaves, if Credit may be given to Herodotus and Diodorus, we may with much Certainty place these Kings [16] betwixt the Reign of Amenophis the last King of the 18th Dynasty, (supposed to be coetaneous with Mores) and the Reign of Vapbres or Hophra, the 8th King of the 26th Dynasty, coetaneous with Hezekiah, for both of them describe the Founders of these Pyramids to have reigned many Ages before Vaphres, and long after Sosostres the Great, who is supposed to be the Son of Amenophis before-mentioned. But in the Dynasties of Manetho the Names of Cheops or Chemnis, Cephren or Chains and Mecerinus are not found. And all the intermediate Dynasties between Amenopbis and Vaphres have their peculiar Kings, except the 20th, which has the Names of no Kings assign'd it; wherefore Mr. Greaves conjectures, that these Kings must belong to that Dynasty.

§. 2. Yet Diodorus ingeniously confesses, that there is little Agreement either amongst the Natives or amongst Writers, concerning the Founders of these Pyramids. And Pliny, after he has recited the Names of many Authors that have described them, concludes. Inter omnes eos non constat a quibus sacta sint.

§. 3. And as touching the Authority of Herodotus, let us hear the learned Scaliger, Canon Isagog. lib. 3. Either (saith he) the Persons who [17] gave him his Intelligence were ignorant themselves, or else, like true Egyptians, they were cunning enough, but imposed upon Herodotus being a Stranger, and unacquainted with their Artifices, or else he did not understand his Interpreter, or was deceived by him; or lastly, Herodotus might have so much of a Grecian in him, as to adulterate the true History with some Fables of his own. Wherefore he rather adheres to Manetho than Herodotus, as to the Egyptian History. And it appears very plain in Mr. Greaves "Pyramidographia," that both Herodotus and divers of his Followers are guilty of many gross Errors, in their Descriptions of these Pyramids, even in such Things whereof they pretend to be Eye-witnesses, which sufficiently satisfies me, that his Authority is not to be confided in: For if I cannot trust him in such things whereof he pretends to be an Eye-witness, I have less Reason to credit him in such Matters which he pretends to no farther Knowledge of than from some obscure Egyptian Traditions, or uncertain Conjectures of his own. Yet there are some will have it, that Herodotus did not firmly believe the Stories he tells, but took them on Trust himself, and so delivered them to the World. Others impute it to his Ingenuity, that he calls his Books of History by the Names of the Muses, on purpose to tell his Readers, that they must not look for [18] meer History in him; but a Mixture of such Relations, which, tho' not true, yet might please and entertain his Readers. However, there is nothing to be found either in Herodotus, or any Greek Writer, that can be confided in, touching the Time when these Pyramids were built. But,

§. 4. Mr. Greaves mentions certain Arabian Traditions about the Founders of these Pyramids, and amongst others Ibn Ahd Alboklm discoursing of this Argument, confesses that he could not find amongst the Learned in Egypt any certain Relation concerning them; wherefore, what is more reasonable (saith he) than that the Pyramids were built before the Flood, for if they had been built after, there would have been some Memory of them amongst Men, at last, he concludes, the greatest Part of Chronologers affirm, that he which built the Pyramids was Saurid Ibn Salhonk, the King of Egypt who was before the Flood 300 Years. The same Relation Mr. Greaves affirms himself to have found in several others, that Saurid was Founder of the three first Pyramids. The Author of the Book intitled, Morat Alreman writes of divers different Opinions concerning them, he says also, that the Sabeans will have one of them to be the Sepulchre of Shiit that is Seth, and the second the Sepul- [19] chre of Hermes, and the coloured one the Sepulchre of Sab, from whom they are called Sabeans: Wherefore your Opinion concerning the Time when these Pyramids were built, in some Measure agrees with these Arabian Traditions, which likewise say, all Sciences are to be found within them inscribed in Hieroglyphicks. And by what is already discover'd, it may seem that there is more still to be found, which must be left to the Enquiry of future Ages; when the other Pyramids come to be open'd, and some Vaults and Compartments which 'tis probable are still to be found in this. And 'tis probable there are subterraneous Passages from the first to the two next Pyramids, or a Passage into the Hollow of that huge Sphinx, whereof Mr. Greaves speaks, which, together with divers Reasons we have to believe that the Pyramids were built before the Flood, makes the Arabian Traditions concerning their Founders the more credible. And may it be consider'd, that

§. 5. Manetho in Eusebius affirms. That he took his History from some Pillars in the Land of Seriad, in which they were inscribed in the sacred Dialect by the first Mercury Thoyth; and after the Flood were transcribed out of the sacred Dialect into the Greek Tongue in Hieroglyphick Characters, and [20] are laid up amongst the Revestries of the Egyptian Temples: By this I suppose was his Name by Interpretation in Greek Agathodamon, the second Mercury the Father of Tat. Manetho has been very hardly censur'd for pretending to take his History from these Pillars of Tboyth. But it seems to me very unlikely that he ever design'd to be so understood; but rather that the Books from whence he took his History bore such a Title, as Eusebius gives us, out of this Egyptian Writer, which might be to this Effect. Descriptions on the Pillars in the Land of Seriad, in which they were written in the sacred Dialect: by the first Mercury Thoyth, &c. for the right understanding this Title, and the Reason of it, we may do well to consider the Origin and true Nature of Hieroglypbicks, which I take to be as follows. It pleased God in old Times to reveal himself to the Prophets by dark and obscure Visions, conveying divers things to their Understanding by such visible Objects, as had a certain Likeness or Resemblance of the things they represented, the right Understanding whereof in those Days was thought a Piece of Wisdom, and may be supposed to be the Origin of that antient way of expressing Things by Hieroglyphicks. Some Footsteps whereof may be found in the Books of the holy Scriptures, especially in the Apocalypse, [21] from whence it appears that Hieroglyphicks may be expressed by Letters, Words, and; Sounds, as well as by the Similitudes and Images of visible Objects. As Nebucbadnezzar's Vision is as well expressed by the Words of Daniel, as by such an Image as the King saw in his Dream. The like may be said of the Beasts that we read of in that Book, and in the Revelations, which obscure way of expressing Things in the first Ages of the World, when the Earth was of one Language, was practised by the Wise and Learned; to whom it seemed good, not to expose every thing they knew to the Eyes of the Vulgar, who would not relish such Matters that were too sublime for their otherwise disposed Thoughts; but rather to teach them only such things that were the most necessary and most convenient for them to know. Much of their Knowledge at the same Time being concealed by an obscure way of Writing or Speaking, which by King Solomon is called the The Wisdom of the Wise, and their dark Sayings. An obscure Way of expressing Things was also used by the Egyptians, tho' perhaps very different from that of the Antients; yet some such like Way they had, as appears by the Title of their Books in Manetho; which are said to be translated out of the sacred Dialect into the Greek Tongue in Hieroglyphick Characters, by which 'tis [22] impossible to understand any other thing than such an obscure Way of Writing before-mentioned. Now all the most antient Learning amongst the Egyptians is attributed to the first Mercury, Thoyth, called Trismegistus, who was before the Flood, and is said to be the sacred Scribe to Osiris. The Phoenicians called him Tautus, and made him chief Counsellor to Saturn. Iamblichus says, the Egyptians attributed all their Books to him because he was reputed the Father of Wit and Learning. This Learning of his they suppose was inscribed on certain Pillars, and so preserved during the Flood; after which, and the Confusion of Languages there was a general Decay of Learning in the World, at which time there was another Osiris, a great King of Egypt, perhaps Misrain. There was also in those Days a second Hermes or Mercury, who was a great Restorer of Learning amongst the Egyptians. This Man was supposed to translate and interpret these Inscriptions on the Pillars of Thoytb. To him likewife they attributed many new Arts, as the interpreting of Languages, the Invention of their new Letters, and the like. Wherefore these Egyptian Books of Manetho are in the first Place attributed to Thoyth, as the Father of Wit and Learning, for him they made the Author of all their Books, as says Iamblichus, but whereas these Books were [23] translated out of the sacred Dialect into the Greek Tongue in Hieroglyphick Characters; the second Mercury (as being the first Inventor of Letters after the Flood, and Interpreter of Languages) must have the Honour of that, wherefore the transcribing and translating of these Books (in like manner as we call warlike Affairs, Martial; and witty Inventions, Mercurial) belongs to him. This I take to be the Exposition and Reason of the Title of those Books from whence Manetho took his History. Whereby it appears, that according to the Tradition of the old Egyptians, the Pillars of their first Hermes or Mercury were built before the Flood. And as touching the Testimony of Manetho, we may consider,

§. 6. That the Egyptians were a very antient and learned People, which is undoubtedly true from the Testimony of holy Scripture, where, in the Book of Isaiah, the Counsellors of Pharaoh are called, wise Counsellors, and he is called, the Son of the Wise, and the Son of antient Kings. And we find it the Commendation of such a Man as Moses, to be skill'd in the Learning of the Egyptians, which in the Days of king Solomon was made the Standard of all human Wisdom, as appears by the Comparison that is made betwixt their Wisdom, and [24] what Time the Learning of the Greeks, tho' about the Days of Homner, was not worth taking notice of. But the Egyptians are said, by Strabo, to have conceal'd their Learning under many Symbols, and were not easily drawn to unfold it: Neither does it appear that the most mysterious Parts thereof were ever known to Foreigners. And 'tis probable after such time as they were conquered first by the Persians, and after that by the Greeks, their Nobility (which were also their Priests, in whose Books and Breasts their antient Learning was locked up) being much decayed, if not almost ruin'd, I say, 'tis very probable after these great Alterations, that the latter Egyptians scarce understood their antient Learning, for which cause they have been esteem'd fabulous in whatever they wrote. Insomuch, that Josephus saith, if that which they report were true, it were impossible that they should so much differ; but they labour in the Invention of Lies, and write neither agreeable to themselves nor to each other. And Manetho is thought by some to deserve this from Josephus as much as any of them. And the Truth is, his first Dynasties of Egyptian Kings have but little Truth in them, unless we suppose, many of them to be coexistent, and also at the same Time that there was one Pharaoh or King over all Egypt. If this be [25] then he reckons several Dynasties of their Princes which also were Priests instead of Kings; which 'tis likely was more than he designed. But if Manetho did so little understand his Books, yet we have at least this Advantage by it, that what he writes concerning the Title of these Books, he sets it down as he finds it, not pretending to explain the Meaning thereof, which makes him in this Case the more authentick; and concerning the antient Thoyth it may be observed, that,

§. 7. The Memory of Adam (as some conjecture) was preserved among the Greeks by the Name of Kronos or Saturn, and amongst the Egyptians by the Name of Osiris, whose sacred Scribe was Thoyth, say the Egyptians: But the Phoenicians will have him Counsellor to Saturn, by either of which Names may be understood Adam. And the Name of Seth (as a late learned Man, (Stillingfleet in Origines Sacrae) has observed) was of common life amongst the Egyptians, as appears by Plutarch de Iside & Osiride. And in this very Place in Manetho where it follows [Greek], a Book bearing the Title, which according to Vettius Valens Antiochenus is not [Greek] but [Greek], and the Name of the Place, where stand the Pillars of Seth, is taken out of Josephus, by Eustathius in Hex- [26] ameron, and called [Greek], the very same with this in Manetho where stand the Pillars of Thoyth. Here then we find the Authority of Manetho confirmed by Josephus, and that the Egyptian Thoyth, to whom they attributed all their Books, was Seth.

§. 8. We have already observed out of Mr. Greaves, that Ibd Abd Albokm, an Arabian Writer says, 'tis the Opinion of the greatest Part of Chronologers that the Pyramids were built before the Flood by King Saurid, which he confirms out of Egyptian Books. And according to Arabian Traditions, one of the Pyramids is the Sepulchre of Seth. Now 'tis very probable, that the old Egyptians might call the Place where these Pyramids stood by the Name of their Founder, with which Seriad, the Name of the Place, where stood the Pillars of Thoyth or Seth has some Affinity. And it seems probable that the Pyramids are the Pillars of Seth, not only from these Arabian Traditions that one of them is Seth's Sepulchre, and the new Agreement of Terra Seriadica with the Land of Saurid, which 'tis likely in old Times was the Name of this Lybian Sarra, or Desart, wherein these Pyramids stand; but for that there neither is, nor can it be found that there ever was, any other Monument in the World, made by the Art of Man able [27] to endure such a Deluge. So that either these are the very Pillars of Thoyth or Seth, or else there never was any such in Being since the Flood-Contrary to these antient both Egyptian and Jewish Traditions, which are of too great Antiquity to be wholly neglected without sufficient Reason. And if we view the Massiness of these Structures, one of them covering near eleven Acres of Ground, and near a Furlong in Height; the Greatness of the Stones, some of them 30 Feet in Length; the Richness of the Materials, well polished Marble hewn out of the Mountains of Arabia, the Closeness of the joints, and exquisite Truth of the Work, being as firm as the Rock upon which they stand, (speaking of this Eastern Pyramid) Mr. Greaves says, The Structure of it has been the Labour of an exquisite Hand, as appears by the Smoothness and Evenness of the Work, and close Knitting of the joints: A Property long since observed by Diodorus to have run through the whole Body of this Pyramid. And speaking of a certain Gallery therein, faith. This Gallery or Corridors (or whatever else I may call it) is built of white and polished Marble, which is very evenly cut in spacious Squares, or Tables, of such Materials as is the Pavement, such is the Roof, and such are the side Walls that flank it; the Coagmentation [28] or Knitting of the Joints is so close, that they are scarce discernible by a curious Eye. I say these Things consider'd, we can take them for no other than the Works of those long-liv'd Men before the Flood, that could undertake such great Things with Hopes to see them finish'd. And some Reason may be given why these Men should raise such expensive Structures, for having by Divine Revelation a Fore-knowledge of the Deluge, and finding the Vice and Wickedness of Youth to encrease more and more, left off the Care of their hopeless Offspring whom God would destroy, and endeavoured to do something for those whom he would be graciously pleased to preserve, and to perpetuate the Memory of their first Parents and Benefactors, by raising for them such Monuments that might withstand the Force of the Waters, and be supported against all the Injuries of Time; hoping also by this Means to preserve so long as the World endures those Sciences, which their long Experience had found out for the Good of Mankind.

§. 9. But after the Flood, and Confusion of Languages, when Men's Lives were shorten'd, and Death grew more common, when it was no Rarity for a Man to die as it had been during the first 1000 Years of the World, and all Fears of a future Deluge [29] were over; why Men should build such huge expensive Monuments for a few dead Men, to impoverish themselves, and endanger the Ruin of their Posterity, I can by no means ee. King Solomon reigned over many Countries, was endued with Wisdom from above, and erected many magnificent Structures, but all the Buildings of King Solomon put together, would not equal the Expence of one of these. Diodorus says. That the Greatness of the Work, and the Art of the Workmen struck an Admiration in the Beholders. Herodotus faith. That altho' there was a Temple at Ephesus very renown'd and another at Samos, yet the Pyramids are more worthy of Relation; each of which single might be compar'd with many of the mod sumptuous Buildings of the Grecians. Then surely, a vast deal of Treasure would be consumed in building so many, there being about twenty now standing. If the old Egyptians had ever been fond of such Works, they never had a better Opportunity for them, than when the Israelites were their Slaves. But we hear nothing of this Matter in those Days finding them hard at Work about Things more profitable and less expensive. They made Bricks to build Treasure Cities for Pharaoh. Here is no Mention of hewing great Beams or Tables of Marble out of the Arabian Mountains; nor of employing Myriads of Men [30] to fetch these great Stones from so remote a Place; which would certainly have been spoken of, if such a great Talk had been enjoyn'd them. But, instead of that, their Work lies at Home, except when they were scatter'd over the Land of Egypt to gather Stubble instead of Straw. Yet Josephus thinks the Israelites were employed in these Works; and any Man would think, the same, that believe these Pyramids were founded by Egyptians: For if that were so, I can fee no Reason why some of these mighty Structures, were not erected whilst the Israelites were in Egypt, seeing those who follow Herodotus, Diodorus, &c, acknowledge that both, before and after that Time, there were Pyramids built; And if we consider the Standards, of our own Measures here found,, which you have seen, and the Standards of such antient Persian, Grecian, and Roman Measures, which you shall see if you please, you will find it very hard to conjecture that they were all in Use amongst the Egyptians. And the best Reason that can be given, why they were expressed with so much Obscurity, that in all Likelyhood they might forever remain unintelligible, is, that the Contrivers of these antient Monuments had a Fore-knowledge by Divine-Revelation, that in the latter Days they should be understood: Also the Figure of [31] the Laver here preserved (in my Opinion) shews the Religion of their Contrivers, as plain as the Pattern of the Altar set up beyond Jordan shewed the Religion of the two Tribes and a half; which makes it appear that the Founders of these Pyramids were Worshippers of the true God, which 'tis certain the Egyptians were not; for their Religion was as contrary to that of the Jews, that they first worshipped those Beasts which they last sacrificed to God; insomuch, that the Jewish Sacrifices were an Abomination to the Egyptians. So that the Egyptian Priests were never employed in such Sort of Services in their religious Worship as the Jews were; neither were these Lavers or Basons (mentioned by Apion) in Use amongst the Egyptians, but are spoke of by him, as Things to which they were unaccustomed.

§. 10. I know, Sir, you will ask, how it comes to pass (if these Pyramids be the Pillars of Seth) that we find no Inscriptions upon them. To which I must say, that what is in these Pyramids, yet undiscover'd, I know not; but this I believe, that what Learning is here to be found„was also written upon Tables, or in Books, whose Title was Inscriptions on the Pillars of Seth. And that these were in the Time of the Deluge [32] preserved by Noah, and by him transmitted to Posterity; from which Tables or Books, and not from the Pillars, the Post-diluvian World had their original Learning. Thus I have given you some Reasons, why your Opinion may seem most probable concerning the Time when those Pyramids were built; which do in some Measure confirm what you say.

Sir, Yours, &c.,