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Worker's City

Giza - The Places

Egyptologists have discovered the remains of this “Worker’s Village” settlement approx. 400m South of the Sphinx. It dates to the mid 4th Dynasty which would mean that it was constructed after the completion of Pharaoh Khufu’s Mortuary Complex.

It is accepted that the settlement dates from the period in which the construction of the Mortuary Complexes for Pharaoh Khafre and Pharaoh Menkaure took place. It seems to have been used in total for approx. 300 years.

A worker’s village is probably a misnomer with up to 20,000 people living together, it is perhaps more suitable to call it a large Town or a small City. For sake of argument, lets refer to this as the Worker’s City.

Layout

The Area should be considered as two individual settlements: a fully settled Town which has evolved over time and does not adhere to a strictly rigid urban plan and; a fluidly settled Town, almost like a camp, which was set up for the urban population on a grid structure, presumably so that accommodation and facilities could be allocated on an “as needed” administrative basis.

The whole Complex, the Worker’s City, appears to have been entered via a Wall, the remain of which remain on the Giza Necropolis and are referred to in Arabic as the Wall of the Crow. Egyptologists have ascertained that this was 200m long by 10m thick at its base by 10m high with a Gateway which allowed entrance. The Gateway is 2.6m wide and 7m high and today resembles a short tunnel that could be guarded and defended. The Main Street of the Settlement led right to the Gateway.

Egyptologists have called the 3 main large streets on the West to East Axis: North Street at approx. 90m long, Main Street at approx. 160m long and South Street at approx. 90m long. Each were constructed to be 10 Cubits wide or 5.2m; although South Street was later narrowed due to the expansion of some buildings. The large street on the North to South Axis appears to have been singular.

 Main Street has its candidacy as being the oldest paved Street in the World. It was paved with a Limestone bedding and gravel which was compacted with alluvial Clay. Providing a solid and almost modern road covering. Administrative Buildings appear to have been dotted throughout the City and functioned as Homes for Administrators as well as working office Check Points for People, traffic limitations and Goods.

What was inside the fully settled Town?

  • Kitchens; including a fish processing unit
  • Copper Processing Plant and Metal Workers
  • Carpenters
  • Weavers
  • Tanners
  • Breweries
  • Housing for each Family Unit
  • Bakeries
  • Hospital: evidence on skeletons of the Workers have been found of knitted broken bones and even brain surgery
  • Cemetery

What was different inside the fluidly seasonal Town?

  • Communal Sleeping Quarters which were 170m long and thought to have been able to sleep from 1,600 to 2,000 Workers; 40 to 60 people at a time. Beds have been found which were slightly lower at the foot than at the head. With ceilings half open to the sky to allow smoke out and sunlight in.

To date, no storage facilities for fully cooked or prepared food have been discovered, so we can lean toward the theory that it was daily supply, demand and consumption.

What did they eat?

Remains suggest that their diets were heavily endowered with meat, which was necessary for the health of the workers, especially those labouring with stone.

The rations for all workers appeared to have included a varied diet of meat, fish, bread and vegetables with beer. The Seasonal workers who literally moved massive blocks of Limestone for 3 months of the needed approx. 50 grams of protein a day.

In order to achieve this level of protein then half of their diet probably came from Lentils, Beans and Fish while the rest was made up of Meat itself; Goat, Sheep and Cattle, with the added extra of Beer.

The higher up the hierarchy a worker was then the more beef you had in your rations to consume. The Director of the Draftsmen, the Overseer of the Masonry, the Director of the Workers and the Inspector of the Craftsmen were better fed than a Seasonal Worker.

It is interesting to note that all the Cattle Bone investigated has shown it to be male and under 2 years old. Male cattle, sheep, goats are “surplus” to breeding requirements and therefore can be used for meat. Females could breed for longer and only one male needed per small group of females.

It is thought that families which numbered 20,000 people would be involved with the amount of herding needed for the animals alone to be involved for the project, that equates to roughly 2% of the entire population.

The animals would have been brought up, probably in the Nile Delta, and then herded to the Pyramid sites, where Animals would have been kept and then slaughtered and butchered on site, when and as needed.

The Royal Administrative Building

Size: 45m wide by 35m long on a North to South Axis

Administration

Inside the RAB Egyptologists have discovered:

  • Storehouse with 7 circular grain bins inside a slightly sunken Courtyard area. Each bin was 5 Cubits or 2.6m in diameter. It is thought that grain was deposited at the top via a walkway around the edges and collected from the bottom for use in Bakeries and presumably Breweries
  • Hundreds of Seals and Mud Tokens named and dated to the reigns of Pharaoh Khafre and Pharaoh Menkaure. These Mud Tokens often had representations of the items they were sealing etched into them, or they were produced in the same shape

Was it guarded? Galleries found next to the RAB seem to have been the sleeping barracks for a Royal Guard who kept the peace and also assisted with the distribution of the correct amount of grain for each part of the Workers City 

Thought: This was partially used for Administration and in part used as a Royal Palace for the Pharaohs, their family and their Court whilst they were reviewing the work at the Necropolis site

Worker’s Tombs

The Workers who built the Mortuary Complexes which included the Pharaoh’s Pyramids all lived closely to the Giza Necropolis. They were either:

Skilled Workers: employed on a formal basis by the Royals to build their monuments and usually lived on site with their families; they were usually highly skilled in their given profession

Seasonal Workers: utilised to Quarry materials, move the materials, set the stones in place, or in terms of building a Pyramid the “unskilled” labourers

Supporting Workers: these workers could also be employed on a seasonal basis as the workforce grew, but some would have been employed full time as the Skilled Workers needed their support. These tended to be bakers, carpenters, butchers, leather workers, cooks, water carriers, brewers, weavers for clothing and others

The families of the Skilled or Supporting Workers

All the Workers were buried according to the tiers of their expertise in a sloping desert cemetery which is located approx. 400m west of the Worker’s City. Their Tombs were vastly varied from simple shafts where un-mummified bodies were placed, to mini Pyramids; from being buried in mudbrick Tombs with their rations of Beer and Bread to sustain them into their Afterlife, to large Limestone Tombs for the Administrators of the Building Projects of the Pharaohs.

To date of the approx. 600 skeletons reviewed to date, almost half are women with 23% being children and babies.