Pyramid builders were labourers, not slaves, reveal newly found Egyptian tombs

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Edinburgh, January 11 (ANI): A new set of tombs, belonging to the workers who built the great pyramids, discovered by archaeologists in Egypt is providing evidence that the builders of the massive structures were labourers, not slaves.

The thousands of men who built the last remaining wonder of the ancient world 4,000 years ago worked in three-month long shifts, ate meat regularly, and were accorded the honour of being buried in mud-brick tombs within the shadow of the sacred pyramids they had been working on.

The newly discovered tombs date to Egypt's 4th Dynasty (2575BC to 2467BC) when the great pyramids were built, the head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, told The Scotsman.

Graves of the pyramid builders were first unearthed in the area in 1990, and discoveries such as these show that the workers were paid labourers, rather than the slaves of popular imagination.

"These tombs were built beside the king's pyramid, which indicates that these people were not by any means slaves," said Hawass.

"If they were slaves, they would not have been able to build their tombs beside their king's," he added.

Workers' tombs from the 4th Dynasty were typically made of mud brick and were shaped like cones and covered in white plaster, probably echoing the nearby limestone-clad pyramids of the kings.

According to Hawass, evidence from the site indicates that the approximately 10,000 labourers working on the pyramids ate 21 cattle and 23 sheep sent to them daily from farms in northern and southern Egypt.

He added that the workers were rotated every three months and the burial sites were for those who died during the construction.

Discoveries like these reveal other aspects of ancient Egyptian society besides just the stone monuments and temples of priests, rulers and nobles, explained 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 and that tell you the social origin and wealth of a range of people," she said. (ANI)

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