Since before the Great Pyramid of Giza was enumerated as a wonder of the world two millennia ago, people have pored over the mysteries of these vast tombs. Now, modern technology is helping researchers glean new insight into the pyramids, revealing them from far above and exploring them from deep within.
Satellite images have revealed 17 “lost” pyramids and thousands of ancient tombs and settlements in Egypt, according to a BBC News report. Using a new imaging technique, researchers could pick out the outlines of ancient buildings buried under the surface.
Forget the myths about massive numbers of slaves or Jews building the great pyramids, Egypt‘s chief archaeologist argues this week. He says Egyptian researchers have found the tombs of more pyramid builders, and in those tombs more evidence that free men erected these monumental tributes to the ancient pharaohs.
Zahi Hawass this week unveiled new research on 4,000-year-old tombs found near the pyramids—tombs he says belonged to pyramid builders. Graves of the pyramid builders were first discovered in the area in 1990 when a tourist on horseback stumbled over a wall that later proved to be a tomb [Canadian Press]. These new ones stretch beyond those previously-discovered tombs, and contain a dozen skeletons.
What matters for the historical interpretation, Hawass stressed, is location, location, location. “These tombs were built beside the king’s pyramid, which indicates that these people were not by any means slaves,” said Mr Hawass. “If they were slaves, they would not have been able to build their tombs beside their king’s” [The Times]. In addition, Hawass says that the walls of the tombs (which the builders probably built for themselves) bear graffiti like “friends of Khufu (a pharaoh).”