March 3, 2014

Who Built the Pyramids?

A brief documentary by Zahi Hawass, head of Egyptian antiquities, examined exactly who built the pyramids. Hawass talks about a burial chamber found in proximity to Giza which he calls a worker's tomb. From the evidence, accordingly, the workers were treated similar to royalty as far as burial method, that they were not slaves or treated as slaves. An online article about this discovery claims it took 10,000 workers, who ate 21 cattle and 23 sheep sent to them daily, more than 30 years to complete the construction. According to a bone study, most of the workers had significant cases of arthritis and lower vertebrae problems. 

The numbers state pyramid building was fueled by at least 229,950 cattle and 251,850 sheep over the 30 year period. On average in 2013 by the USDA livestock report,  consumers in the US ate roughly 0.0086 cattle, and 0.000675 sheep per person. Might add in here too, 0.0326 average pigs were also consumed per person during the period for reference. Pyramid builders averaged to 0.77 cattle and 0.84 sheep per person per year. This means Egyptian workers were comparatively and significantly, very much, well-fed for their efforts. On the other hand, it's quite possible either a number of workers are not accounted for, or there is a discrepancy in the food consumption numbers found in worker tomb hieroglyphs. Extra protein would be necessary for the work labor involved, however, does that necessarily equate to 3 lbs or more meat per day, per person?

As far as evidence of the building itself, again, Egyptian Antiquities tells us hieroglyphs in the tombs of workers and pharaohs explain the story, yet those stories often talk about the daily lives of workers, not specifically about the pyramid building itself. To me, I think this is where part of the problem is in deciphering true origination. Maybe the workers were responsible for renovating, not building the pyramids, as perhaps another culture built them long before the Egyptians. I agree, that if no solid evidence has been uncovered to show the Egyptians building pyramids, or a process thereof, how can Egyptology support the claim?

Perhaps by this, maybe it truly is that Egyptians inherited the pyramids instead of building them. They became the keepers of passed knowledge, the proprietors of masonry on an extreme scale. Given the tireless research performed by Egyptian Antiquities, I would like to believe they are correct in asserting the Egyptians built the pyramids. However, there is enough evidence, or lack thereof, to suggest alternative possibilities. It does seem very odd, on many levels, to build such monumental structures and not document how that happened. A discovery one day will likely change all of what we know about the Egyptians in a heartbeat, or maybe, the discovery has already happened and it's being kept from general public knowledge.

The closest evidence pointing toward Egyptians constructing the pyramids comes from a stone stele on the island of Sehel. Carved into the rock is Pharaoh Zoser, Imhotep, and God Khnum, who are associated with the first step pyramids built. Interesting it is, that even this monument brings controversial issues, considering no where is it mentioned the types of construction materials required or anything about building methods and quarry locations. There is a list of minerals in Zoser's dream to build monuments, but the list does not mention limestone, sandstone, or granite.