I'm reading a description of the pyramids written by George Sandys (1577 - 1644). The paragraph reads:

The top at length we ascended with many pauses and much difficulty; from whence with delighted eyes we beheld that sovereign of streams, and most excellent of countries. Southward and near hand the Mummies; afar off diverse huge pyramids, each of which, were this away, might supply the repute of a wonder.

I don't understand the meaning of "were this away". Could you please help me with its meaning?

Thank you very much!

  • 2
    They are standing atop the Great Pyramid. So those other pyramids might have been impressive if this wasn’t here.
    – Jim
    Apr 20, 2020 at 23:10
  • I'm guessing the meaning is "were they separate from the streams, other pyramids, and other objects of interest, would still inspire wonder on their own". But it's archaic language, so hard to guess if you're not a scholar of such works.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 20, 2020 at 23:10
  • 1
    I read it as meaning that, if you saw just one of these pyramids in another part of the world, it would stand out as something absolutely amazing, while here it's almost lost in the myriad of wonders filling the view.
    – ralph.m
    Apr 20, 2020 at 23:38
  • @Centaurus Unfortunately I'm not a native speaker... Could you please give me a hint?
    – Rex
    Apr 21, 2020 at 1:39

1 Answer 1


A version of Sandys's description appears in Samuel Purchas, Purchas His Pilgrimage: Or Relations of the World and the Religions Obserued in All Ages and Places Discouered, from the Creation vnto this Present Contayning a Theologicall and Geographicall Historie of Asia, Africa, and America, with the Ilands Adiacent, fourth edition (1626):

Full west from Cairo, close vpon the Libyan Desarts, hauing crossed Nilus, and a Playne twelue miles ouer, they came to the three Pyramides, the greatest of them is ascended by two hundred and fiftie fiue steps, each step aboue three feet high, of a breadth proportionable. No stone so little through the whole, as to bee drawne by our carriages, brought out of the Mountaynes of Arabia, with a double wonder of the conueyance and mounting. The North side is most worne by reason of the humiditie of the Northerne winde in these parts. From the top is discerned the Countrey, with her beloued Nile, the Mummes and many huge Pyramides afarre off, each of which, were this away, might be reputed wonderfull.

As Jim remarks in a comment beneath the posted question, Sandys has just ascended the 250 steps of "the greatest" of "the three Pyramides" west of Cairo and is now surveying the desert landscape all around and the Nile in the distance. From his vantage point, he can see many other "huge Pyramides" far in the distance, and he observes that any one of these would be deemed a marvel of construction and engineering if it were not inevitably compared to the even larger pyramid that he stands atop. The phrase "were it away" simply means "were the Great Pyramid not to exist at all—or not to be in proximity to these other pyramids."

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