Week 4: Did slaves build the pyramids?

Pyramids truly are the most fascinating piece of architecture discovered today. The elaborate planning, engineering, strength and dedication it must have taken for the people of antiquity to construct such a massive edifice. During this weeks tutorials I became astounded by the different archaeological findings of said pyramids. The pyramids in Egypt remain to me one of the finest mysteries and complexities of the modern world. I found it intriguing when we learned about the fact that slaves were not the ones who had  erected the pyramids. The Great Pyramids of Giza put forth evidence that slaves did not build these ancient monuments. There was a series of nine foot deep shafts which had held a dozen skeletons of pyramid builders perfectly preserved by dry desert sand along with jars that once contained beer and bread meant for the workers’ afterlife. Is this how they knew that it couldn’t have possibly been slaves who have constructed these ginormous monuments? According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, who had once described the pyramid builders as slaves, created what Egyptologists say is a myth later propagated by Hollywood films. Graves of the pyramid builders were first discovered in the area in 1990 when a tourist on horseback stumbled over a wall that later proved to be a tomb. Egypt’s archaeology chief Zahi Hawass said that discovery and the latest finds last week show that the workers were paid laborers, rather than the slaves of popular imagination (Kratovac, 2010).

Upon researching exactly who built the pyramids I stumbled upon a theory that Jewish slaves were forced to construct. Amihai Mazar, professor at the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, says that myth stemmed from a claim by former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, on a visit to Egypt in 1977, that Jews built the pyramids. Hawass said the builders came from poor Egyptian families from the north and the south, and were respected for their work – so much so that those who died during construction were bestowed the honor of being buried in the tombs near the sacred pyramids of their pharaohs (Kratovac, 2010).

It’s amazing how tabloids, hollywood and etc. can shape and mold what “we” think exactly happened in the past. It’s even more amazing that archaeological findings can eradicate these said myths.