The Pyramid Builders of Ancient Egypt: A Modern Investigation of Pharaoh's Workforce

The Pyramid Builders of Ancient Egypt: A Modern Investigation of Pharaoh's Workforce

The Pyramid Builders of Ancient Egypt: A Modern Investigation of Pharaoh's Workforce

The Pyramid Builders of Ancient Egypt: A Modern Investigation of Pharaoh's Workforce

Synopsis

In Rosalie David's hands, the Egyptian builders of the pyramids are revealed as simple people, leading ordinary lives while they are engaged on building the great tomb for a Pharoah. This is an engrossing detective story, bringing to the general reader a fascinating picture of a special community that lived in Egypt and built one of the pyramids, some four thousand years ago.

Excerpt

South-west of Cairo, the modern capital of Egypt, on the west side of the Nile, there lies the province of Fayoum, the largest of the country’s oases, which owes its remarkable fertility both to springs of water, and to the Bahr Yusef, a channel through which the waters of the Nile flow into the famous lake of the oasis, known today as the ‘Birket El-Qarun’. In antiquity, as today, the area provided excellent hunting and fishing, and the kings and their courtiers visited the area regularly to enjoy these pastimes. The kings of the 12th Dynasty (1991-1786 BC) chose to build their capital city here, and to be buried in pyramids built nearby, on the edge of the desert. Their decision brought unprecedented activity and prosperity to the area; not only was a workforce employed to build and decorate each king’s pyramid and associated temples, but officials and overseers were brought in to supervise the work. Subsequently, priests and other personnel were employed in the pyramid temples, where the king’s mortuary cult was performed after his death and burial. Around this nucleus, the community soon developed and lawyers, doctors, scribes, craftsmen, tradesmen and all the other elements of a thriving society came together.

It was in the Fayoum, in the late nineteenth century, that the famous Egyptologist, Sir William Flinders Petrie, made one of his earliest and most significant discoveries. In 1888/9, he began his excavation of several sites in the area. These sites lay at the north and south ends of the great dyke of the Fayoum mouth. At the north was the pyramid of Illahun (or Lahun) built by King Sesostris II, and around it lay the cemetery which had been started in the 12th Dynasty, and then ransacked, before the

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