Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed a number of tombs of workers who helped to construct the country´s largest pyramid, Culture Minister Faruk Hosni said in a statement on Sunday.
Antiquities chief Zahi Hawass led the team that `uncovered a new group of tombs dating back to the period of the fourth dynasty ( BC), which belonged to workers who helped to build the great pyramid´, Hosni said. The first of these tombs was discovered in 1990.
Hawass said the new discovery at the Cheops pyramid was particularly important as it `belies all that was said about the construction of the pyramids by bound workers... and contradicts the idea that they were constructed by slaves´.
He cited as evidence the fact that `the tombs are located in the direct vicinity of the pyramid and even overlook it. If they were slaves, they would not have been able to build their tombs in this area´. Hawass also mentioned `evidence´ indicating that the wealthy families of Upper Egypt and the Nile Delta provided the workers with 11 calves and 23 sheep daily in return for tax exemption.
He believes the number of workers who built the Cheops pyramid did not exceed 10,000.