For ages, people have been spinning stories about who built the Egyptian Pyramids. Some say it was enslaved Jewish people, a few believe residents of the lost city of Atlantis created them, while others give credit to the aliens. But unfortunately, none of them have any solid evidence to back their claims.
Unlike all of those baseless conspiracy theories, Egyptologists say ancient Egyptians constructed the pyramids. According to them, the locals worked tirelessly to put these gigantic structures in place at the orders of the Pharaohs. But even with that explanation, several questions remain - Why were they built? For what purpose? How were the builders treated? Where did they live?
TBH, these are some questions that have been on everyone's mind for centuries, and today, we'll try to answer a few of them.
The hows and whys to pyramid builders
Written records, including papyri found by archaeologists in 2013 at Wadi al-Jarf, and theories by Egyptologists reveal that large groups of seasonal agricultural workers commonly known as ‘gangs’ brought materials for building the Great Pyramid of Giza.
The papyri narrates a tale of 200 men headed by a leader named Merer. The gang traveled by boats and transported limestones via River Nile. When they reached a point where they had nothing to grow, they became a part of the pyramid-building community.
Now as far as the Wadi al-Jarf papyri is concerned, the groups headed by Merer did a lot more than simply transporting limestones. They traveled to distant places like the Sinai Desert and carried out the tasks handed to them. So it would be wrong to call them seasonal agricultural workers.
Coming to what the pyramid builders ate, Pierre Tallet, an Egyptology professor and leader of the papyri deciphering group, said that builders followed a healthy diet. Tallet stated that pyramid builders were given everything from vegetables to meat to poultry. Since money was not expected at that time, they were given textiles as wages.
Mark Lehner, director of Ancient Egypt Research Associates (AERA), believes high-ranked officials were given land grants too. Lehner's team, who's been working in a town at Giza, found that residents of that area made large amounts of bread and slaughtered lots of animals. They even brew tons of beers for the workers. Bodies of workers extracted from the town showed bones in proper form. That means these workers had access to good medical facilities. All these pieces of evidence made archaeologists believe that pyramid builders were not enslaved for sure.
However, that doesn't mean all of them were treated equally. If Lehner's claims are correct, then workers might have been given small dwellings or fewer textiles.
It's quite tough to comment on this at present since research is still going on. But we hope things will soon be clearer, and we'll be able to find out more about these great builders.