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Charles Piazzi Smyth
As soon as it was discovered that photography was possible by magnesium...
1865, 1 June
"On Magnesium", The Technologist, ed. Peter Lund Simmonds, June 1, 1865, Vol.V, p.493-494.
As soon as it was discovered that photography was possible by magnesium, it was suggested that the interiors of the Pyramids, of catacombs, caves, and other underground and dim regions might be revealed in faithful pictures, and studied under the stereoscope. The suggestion was soon acted upon. Professor Piazzi Smyth, the Scottish Astronomer-Royal, having gone upon an exploring expedition to the Pyramids, took with him a quantity of magnesium wire, and thus reports on its use to his friend Mr. Spiller, of Woolwich Arsenal:
"East Tomb, Great Pyramid, Feb. 2, 1865.
" My Dear Sir, We have been here now about three weeks, and are settled down at last to the measuring; the chief part of the time hitherto having been occupied, in concert with a party of labourers furnished by the Egyptian Government, in clearing away rubbish from important parts of the interior, and in cleansing and preparing it for nice observation.
"The magnesium wire light is something astounding in its power of illuminating difficult places. With any number of wax candles which we have yet taken into either the king's chamber or the grand gallery, the impression left on the mind is merely seeing the candles and whatever is very close to them, so that you have small idea whether you are in a palace or a cottage; but burn a triple strand of magnesium wire and in a moment you see the whole apartment and appreciate the grandeur of its size and the beauty of its proportions. This effect, so admirably complete, too, as it is, and perfect in its way, probably results from the extraordinary intensity of the light, apart from its useful photographic property, for, side by side with the magnesium light, the wax candle-flame looked not much brighter than the red granite of the walls of the room. There come parties often many parties of visitors to see the Pyramid every day without fail, and they come amply provided, too, with all sorts of means and appliances to enjoy the sight, i.e., with everything but the needful magnesium wire; and one waistcoat-pocket of that would be worth a whole donkey-load of what they do bring up to enable their souls to realize the ancient glories of the internal scene.
" I remain, yours very truly,
" C. Piazzi Smyth.
"John Spiller, Esq., Chemical Department,
Royal Arsenal, Woolwich."