January 11, 2010

Workers Tombs Unearthed Near Egypt’s Famous Pyramids

Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed the tombs of workers who constructed the great pyramids, revealing how they lived nearly 4,000 years ago.

The thousands of men, who worked tirelessly on the amazing monuments, consumed meat regularly, worked for three months at a time and were allowed to be buried in mud brick tombs near the consecrated pyramids.

The date to Egypt's 4th Dynasty has now been placed at 2575 B.C. to 2467 B.C., when the pyramids were originally constructed, says the head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass.

The resting places of the pyramid builders were first unearthed in 1990, and these kinds of finds indicate that the workers were paid, and not free slaves.

"These tombs were built beside the king's pyramid, which indicates that these people were not by any means slaves," Hawass wrote in the statement. "If they were slaves, they would not have been able to build their tombs beside their king's."

Verification from the site shows that the 10,000 laborers consumed 21 cattle and 23 sheep daily during the construction of the pyramids.

Finds like these also show other characteristics of ancient Egyptian civilization other than the stone monuments and temples, said Salima Ikram, a professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo.

"It is important to find tombs that belong to lower class people that are not made out of stone that tell you about the social organization and the relative wealth of a range of people."

The workers' tombs were constructed of mud bricks and were cone shaped, similar to the limestone pyramids they built.

Additional graves were discovered around the largest tomb, and burial shafts were full of both skeletons and clay pots.


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