GPMP's Exploration of the Pyramid Builders Settlement

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During 2550 and 2470 BC, Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, the Egyptian pharaohs erected their mammoth pyramids and temples on the Giza plateau to leave a lasting impact on the land. The Giza Plateau Mapping Project (GPMP), is observing the living quarters of these people and their way of life. GPMP located the settlement, and is investigating the debris left by the pyramid builders to better understand how the pyramid building process was supported. These investigations by the GPMP have revealed an organized settlement that covers some 9 ha and can be divided into 30 distinct areas. It is thought that the settlement was in use during the reign of Menkaure, the last pharaoh to build a pyramid of Giza. The purpose of the GPMP is to understand what nutrition the pyramid builders had to sustain them and what their infrastructure was comprised of.

The Wall of the Crow controlled the input and output of people and supplies into and out of the four sets of eight mud brick galleries. Conscripted temporary groups of unskilled laborers were used to construct the pyramids, they were put into work units called phyles after being organized into gangs. A squad of 2000 workmen would have been split into pairs of rival clans’ of 1000 men each, 1500-2000 men could have inhabited the four sets of galleries. Numerous bakeries have been revealed which were used to produce the daily nutritional intake for the workers. The main staples in diet for the workers were bread and bear as, emmer wheat and hulled barley excrete were found around the site. For example, “This is supported by the fact that nearly 60% of the over half a million pottery sherds from the site are from bread moulds, and remains of beer jars”. Excavation shows eight large mudbrick silos, before the end of the fourth dynasty c. 2500 BC these silos were destroyed. In addition to the gallery sets there is a roofed colonnade, which has a system of troughs, benches and column bases, these structures performed as elevated podiums for the preserving of grain and other nourishment, and in this case a concentration of fish remains from the 25 m-long colonnades. The hall has been thought to have been a common area or public space, and consequentially used as an expanse for public eating. Residences would provide meals for themselves as small silos and ash-filled chambers are present. Workers abandoned the urban development soon after the reign of the pharaoh Menkaure.

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The plant residues found were of slim verity, two cereals, several pulses, and common fruits. Similarly, the animal remains are limited to four domesticates (cattle, sheep, goats and pigs) and six species of fish. Unlike most ancient Egyptian settlements, the animal bone remains show no sign of hunting and in addition there is little evidence of nuts or roots and tubers, and no evidence of plants providing oil or fiber. In the gallery sets, the concentration and different types of plant remains are few in number. The hypostyle hall has the lowest plant density and diversity. As with the plants, the greatest diversity of animal species occurs in the houses. “For example, the three gate houses and the royal administrative building contained the remains of what would have been the best cuts of beef, as well as very large Nile perch”. Certain houses in the Eastern and Western Towns also show this pattern, although with more sheep, goats and pigs. In contrast, the galleries and the hypostyle hall contain poorer cuts of meat from cattle, sheep and goats, as well as large amounts of small bony fish. The plant and animal remain so far analyzed indicate that the pyramid builders themselves subsisted mainly on bread, beer, pulses, cattle, sheep, goats and catfish, whereas the inhabitants of the gate houses and the royal administrative building, who were presumably the overseers of the workmen in the galleries, had better cuts of meat. The longer-term residents in the Eastern and Western Towns. appear to have lived on a more varied diet consisting of all these foods. The large amount of meat indicated by the bone remains is likely to have come into the settlement in the form of live animals. Wood was the main fuel used in the bakery ovens; the analysis of wood charcoal shows acacia trees was used as a fuel.

The conscripted workers were sustained on a diet of mainly bread and beer with the addition of other nutrition. Explorations have revealed the intricate system of pyramid building was a huge expenditure not only of time and resources but as well as lives, as a massive cemetery was found. GPMP still plans to continue their exploration of the pyramid builders settlement to further unlock the long-forgotten secrets of the conscripted pyramid builders.

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GPMP’s Exploration of the Pyramid Builders Settlement. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/gpmps-exploration-of-the-pyramid-builders-settlement/
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