Wednesday, January 20, 2010

In the field: More re Giza cemetery

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El Aref)

On Monday morning on the Giza plateau workers were busy removing sand from the newly discovered tomb of Idu, overseer of the construction of the Great Pyramid. They were surrounded by a media scrum, gathered around admiring their work, taking photos and trying to glimpse what has been uncovered.

During routine excavation and cleaning at the plateau an Egyptian archaeological mission, led by Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), stumbled upon what is believed to be a collection of early Fourth Dynasty tombs belonging to workers who built Khufu and Khafre's pyramids.

"The tombs belong to the late fourth and fifth dynasties (2649-2374 BC)," says Hawass, who argues that they constitute one of the most important discoveries of the 20th and 21st centuries, shedding light on the early period of the Fourth Dynasty and contradicting assertions that the Pyramids were built by slaves.

"These tombs were built beside the king's pyramid, which indicates that these people were not slaves. If they had been they would not have been allowed to build their tombs beside their king's," said Hawass.

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