Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Feeding the Pyramid Builders. By Noah Wiener.

An image of the OK (Old Kingdom) Corral with the Giza pyramids in the distance. Researchers note that it was large enough to hold 55 cattle with feeding pens. There may also have been areas for slaughter. CREDIT: AERA Inc.

Feeding the Pyramid Builders. By Noah Wiener. Bible History Daily, April 26, 2013.


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. 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?

Giza Secret Revealed: How 10,000 Pyramid Builders Got Fed. By Owen Jarus. LiveScience, April 23, 2013. Image Gallery.

Pyramids and Protein. By Richard Redding and Brian V. Hunt. AREA.

Egyptian Old Kingdom Patterns of Animal Use and the Value of Faunal Data in Modeling Socioeconomic Systems. By Richard W. Redding. Paléorient, Vol. 18, No. 2 (1992).