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Giza Necropolis

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Michelle Jahn
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« on: September 22, 2010, 01:21:34 pm »

Researchers have long been impressed with the precision with which the pyramids of this complex were created. The base of the Great Pyramid forms a nearly perfect square, with only a 19-cm (about 7.50-in) difference between its longest and shortest sides[citation needed], out of a total length of about 230 m (756 ft). This huge square is also almost exactly level. When newly completed, the Great Pyramid rose 146.7 m (481.4 ft)—nearly 50 stories high. The pyramid’s core probably includes a hill of unexcavated rubble,[citation needed] making it impossible to determine its exact number of blocks. Researchers estimate that 2.3 million blocks were used to build the Great Pyramid, with an average weight of about 2.5 metric tons per block. The largest block weighs as much as 15 metric tons.

It is not known how they were made but there have been varying theories regarding the construction techniques. Most construction theories are based on the idea that the pyramids were built by moving huge stones from a quarry and dragging and lifting them into place. The disagreements center on the method by which the stones were conveyed and placed and how possible the method was. A recent though unpopular theory proposes that the building blocks were manufactured in-place from a kind of "limestone concrete".[4]

The work of quarrying, moving, setting, and sculpting the huge amount of stone used to build the pyramids might have been accomplished by several thousand skilled workers, unskilled laborers and supporting workers. Bakers, carpenters, water carriers, and others were also needed for the project. Along with the methods utilized to construct the pyramids, there is also wide speculation regarding the exact number of workers needed for a building project of this magnitude. When Greek historian Herodotus visited Giza in 450 BC he was told by Egyptian priests that "the Great Pyramid had taken 400,000 men 20 years to build, working in three-month shifts 100,000 men at a time."

In 1990, tombs belonging to the pyramid workers were discovered alongside the pyramids with an additional burial site found nearby in 2009. Although not mummified they had been buried in mud-brick tombs with beer and bread to support them in the afterlife. The tombs' proximity to the pyramids and manner of burial supports that they were paid labourers who took great pride in their work and were not slaves, as was previously thought. The myth of slaves building the pyramids was popularised by Hollywood films based on the belief they could not have been built without forced labour. Evidence from the tombs indicates that a workforce of 10,000 labourers working in three month shifts took around 30 years to build a pyramid. Most of the workers appear to have been from poor families. Farms supplied the labourers with 21 cattle and 23 sheep daily. Specialists such as architects, masons, metalworkers and carpenters, were permanently employed by the king to fill positions that required the most skill.[5][6][7]

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