Tombs of the unknown workers
Discovery indicates craftsmen built pyramids
August 11, 1996
Web posted at: 3:30 p.m. EDT (1930 GMT)
From Correspondent Gayle Young
GIZA, Egypt (CNN) -- Egyptians are fast solving an age-old
mystery: Who built the great pyramids of Giza, and how did
they do it?
Historians have speculated that slave labor dragged the heavy
stone blocks into place to fashion the gigantic structures.
Still others have suggested the builders were aliens from
But six years ago, a tourist literally stumbled onto a major
clue when her horse slipped on a buried structure south of
the Giza plateau.
Archeologists investigated, uncovering the tombs of the
workers who built the pyramids -- and they were neither slaves nor
"People like mystery -- they don't like facts," says pyramids
director Zahi Hawass. "Be we have the facts here."
Hawass calls the discovery the "most important," and said the
discovery shows that the laborers who constructed the
pyramids were, in fact, Egyptians.
The evidence suggests that about 15,000 skilled
craftsmen were responsible for the massive construction
project. They used blocks of stone from a nearby quarry,
moving the stones on sledges up ramps that spiraled around
Written records suggest the workers liked beer, ate lots of
bread and were generally well cared-for by the pharaohs whose
tombs they were constructing.
"They had emergency medical service for workers,"
Hawass said. "If anyone had an accident, they would save
In a recent experiment, archeologists used old techniques to
restore the base of a small, 4,500-year-old pyramid at Giza.
They used stones from the same quarry believed to have been
used by the ancient craftsmen. (680K QuickTime movie)
Their work, like other investigations of the pyramids and the
plateau around them, chips away at the myths and mysteries
that have surrounded the tombs for centuries.
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