Who Built the Pyramids

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The Pyramids at Giza remain one of the most amazing architectural works in history and the Great Pyramid stands as the last surviving wonder of the ancient world. The Great Pyramid is “the largest pyramid… [and] was until early twentieth century the biggest building on the planet” (Shaw). It is because of this reputation that the pyramids have gained that some people began to ask the question “Who built the pyramids?” There are many theories revolving around the construction of Egypt’s pyramids: two of which are that the Hebrews under the control of the pharaoh Khufu built the pyramids or that the pyramids were built by extra-terrestrial forces.

The famous Greek historian Herodotus traveled to Egypt around 430 B.C. In Egypt, he visited the pyramids and came to the conclusion that the pyramids were built by demoralized Hebrew slaves working under the command of the immoral pharaoh named Khufu. Throughout the years and until today, this is the theory that is accepted by most people. However, there lies a problem with this theory, which is its lack of evidence. First of all, there must have been a very large amount of slaves available to build the pyramids under the labor conditions of that time. There was no proof whatsoever of there being any sort of slavery near Giza during the time of the Old Kingdom, which is the time during which the pyramids were thought to have been built. Secondly, Egyptian records were found for everything: giving birth, farming, building of structures, religion, and wars; however there is no mention of slavery involved in the construction of the pyramids. For the Egyptians to not record such a thing is unlikely. Also, recently, villages were found near Giza and from the remains of the villages it has been understood that the villagers were far from being slaves. Many of the villagers could possibly have been farmers, manufacturers, craftsmen, tailors, and the like.

Now after proving the theory of Herodotus wrong, a new theory has been created. The villages that were found near Giza contained structures that were similar in making to the pyramids. This caused researchers to believe that the inhabitants of this village were the ones that built the pyramid of the pharaoh Khufu and, possibly, the pyramids made afterward. It has been told through Herodotus that it took over 100,000 people to built the pyramids over a period of 20 years (he was probably told this by guides or storytellers) and that is nowhere near the modest amount of workers estimated to have populated the villages.

“The pyramid is an architectural feat that cannot be duplicated with our modern technology and advanced knowledge. Many… have tried to build a smaller pyramid to scale, but have not been successful” (Warren). Egyptologists Mark Lehner and Zahi Hawass had once collaborated with NOVA (a show on PBS) and went to Giza to construct a pyramid of their own next to the original by using the same procedure that the original workers had probably used when constructing the pyramids. The Egyptologists used twelve men and only achieved a small amount of work in the time given. Mark Lehner decided to use more men and proportioned the data to see how much more work would be accomplished and how long it would take to do so. Eventually, Lehner reached the conclusion that “between 20,000 and 30,000 laborers were needed to build the Great Pyramid at Giza in less that twenty three years. By comparison, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris took almost two hundred years to complete” (How). This number seemed reasonable but it had to be applied to other factors regarding the villages, such as the actual population of the villages.

“Rooted firmly in the popular imagination is he idea that the pyramids were built by slaves serving a merciless pharaoh… But graffiti from inside the Giza monuments themselves have long suggested something very different” (Shaw). These inscriptions that were found demonstrated that there were groups that were divided...
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