Herodotus Returns

Tombs in Giza suggest pyramids were not built by slaves
January 11, 2010, 9:43 am
Filed under: Egypt, Tombs | Tags: , , ,

A set of tombs recently uncovered near the great pyramids of Giza show that free workers, rather than slaves, were enlisted to build the pyramids. While this theory has already been prominent among Egyptologists for some time, it nonetheless remains difficult to imagine hundreds of thousands of people dragging 2.3 million stone blocks (the largest of which weighed 80 tons) for any other reason than slavery. Perhaps these recently found tombs were supervisors of legions of slaves. Ultimately, it depends on the leader. The pharaoh Khufu may have been powerful and beloved enough that his people would have gone to any length to erect this monument in his name. This level of power, though, is difficult for the modern world to grasp.

“These tombs were built beside the king’s pyramid, which indicates that these people were not by any means slaves,” Zahi Hawass, the chief archaeologist heading the Egyptian excavation team, said in a statement.

“If they were slaves, they would not have been able to build their tombs beside their king’s.”

He said the collection of workers’ tombs, some of which were found in the 1990s, were among the most significant finds in the 20th and 21st centuries.

They belonged to workers who built the pyramids of Khufu and Khafre.

Mr Hawass had earlier found graffiti on the walls from workers calling themselves “friends of Khufu” – another sign that they were not slaves.

More on the new tombs at Giza.


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