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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.


Read about building the pyramids in the BAS Library:

Zahi Hawass, “Who Really Built the Pyramids?Archaeology Odyssey, May/June 1999.

Leonard Lesko and Barbara Lesko, “The Workers’ Tombs,Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 1999.

Ann Macy Roth, “Architecture of the Afterlife,Archaeology Odyssey, Spring 1998.

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1 Responses

  1. Sliding Stones - Creation RevolutionCreation Revolution says:

    […] The construction has been scrutinized from every angle: Were these pyramids built by slaves? How did the pharaoh feed this massive workforce? How did the pyramid builders lift these massive stones? And finally, how were the stones […]

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1 Responses

  1. Sliding Stones - Creation RevolutionCreation Revolution says:

    […] The construction has been scrutinized from every angle: Were these pyramids built by slaves? How did the pharaoh feed this massive workforce? How did the pyramid builders lift these massive stones? And finally, how were the stones […]

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