Feeding the Pyramid Builders

Bible and archaeology news

The Pyramid of Menkaure

It takes a lot to build a pyramid that will stand for 4,500 years. An estimated 10,000 workers built Menkaure’s pyramid at Giza. What did they eat?

Recent studies at the workers’ town Heit el-Ghurab suggest that the workers would have had access to sheep, goat and cattle meat on a regular basis. In fact, the diet was likely better than the average diet in Egyptian villages, and may have been an incentive to draw workers to the site. However, it was no easy feat to cater for 10,000 hungry workers. In a recent article in Livescience, Richard Redding, chief research officer at Ancient Egypt Research Associates, puts the food operation in perspective. The estimated herd of 21,900 cattle and 54,750 sheep required to regularly feed the Giza workers would have required 465 square miles of grazing, fallow, waste, built and agricultural land. While the Egyptians put a great deal of effort into feeding their workers, it wasn’t an open buffet; archaeological evidence points to a beef-rich diet for the overseers, while the general workers ate much more sheep and goat meat, in addition to the grain and beer consumed by most citizens. Providing meat for the workers was a massive endeavor, even if an estimated half of the workers’ protein came from non-meat sources. These studies were done on workers’ settlements during the construction of Menkaure’s pyramid, the smallest of the three pyramids of Giza. What did Khufu have to do to feed the Great Pyramid’s workers?

Read more.

In the new FREE eBook Ancient Israel in Egypt and the Exodus, top scholars discuss the historical Israelites in Egypt and archaeological evidence for and against the historicity of the Exodus.


Building the Pyramids in the BAS Library

BAS Library Members Read “Who Really Built the Pyramids?” by the legendary former Minister of State for Egyptian Antiquities Affairs, Zahi Hawass, as it appeared in Archaeology Odyssey.

Lesko, Barbara, Lesko, Leonard. “The Workers’ Tombs.” Biblical Archaeology Review.

Roth, Ann Macy. “Architecture of the AfterlifeArchaeology Odyssey.

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