The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest monument among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It is also the only structure that remains intact. It is a marvel of human construction and engineering, visited by thousands of tourists every year.
Its unique architecture leaves many begging the question: Who actually built the Great Pyramid of Giza, or all of the Egyptian pyramids for that matter – Jewish slaves or Egyptian ones? In the following article, we explore this age-old question in hopes of clearing the air with regards to who exactly crafted these magnificent, ancient structures.
Let’s begin with the Bible.
The Biblical account of the sojourn of the Hebrews in Egypt begins optimistically with Joseph as the second most powerful figure in Egypt bringing his entire family, 70 souls, as honored immigrants. But as the years passed and a new Pharaoh arose, their status deteriorated and the descendants of Jacob became slaves, working to build Egyptian cities.
Though much of ancient Egypt’s history, inscribed on papyrus, has been lost in the sands of time, many impressive monuments of the greatness of their physical culture remain in stone structures, the most notable being the 118 pyramids spread out over Egypt. Most were built as tombs for the country’s pharaohs and their consorts during the Old and Middle Kingdom periods, 2686-1710 BCE. The most famous Egyptian pyramids are those found at Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo. Several of the Giza pyramids are counted among the largest structures ever built. The Pyramid of Khufu is the largest Egyptian pyramid.
Due to their astounding size and the quantity and immensity of the stone blocks used, the construction of the pyramids remains a source of conjecture. The methodology has been attributed to extraterrestrial technology though most archaeologists suggest more mundane methods involving transporting the stones from the quarry via barges on the Nile and sleds constructed of logs that rolled under the stones as they were pushed.
In 2020, billionaire high-tech genius and space pioneer Elon Musk roused the ire of Egyptologists when he suggested that aliens built the pyramids. Musk went on to suggest that Ramses II, credited with building the pyramids, was, in fact, an alien. Musk even gave the reason for his bizarre theory:
“The Great Pyramid was the tallest structure made by humans for 3800 years,” Musk tweeted. “Three thousand, eight hundred years.”
A far more credible theory regarding the identity of the people who built the pyramids was first described by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus in the fifth century BCE. He stated that the pyramid builders were slaves. This theory was propagated in fiction and Hollywood movies.
But a clue to the true identity of the builders was revealed in 2010 when archaeologists discovered mud-brick tombs more than 4,000 years old of the laborers who built the famous Pyramids at Giza. Slaves were usually buried in rather simple graves, usually covered with simple reed matting. The graves discovered in Giza contained jars of beer and bread for the afterlife. The slightly more elaborate burial accommodations led archaeologists to conclude that the builders were paid laborers, probably local Egyptians. Inspection of the skeletal remains indicated that workers ate meat regularly and worked in three-month shifts. It is estimated that the construction in Giza required 10,000 workers to labor more than 30 years to build a single pyramid. Though they were not slaves, the bones indicated they lived a life of hard labor.
Amihai Mazar, a respected professor at the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, dispelled the myth of Jews building the pyramids.
“No Jews built the pyramids because Jews didn’t exist at the period when the pyramids were built,” Mazar said about the discovery in Giza.
The subject is so sensitive to modern-day Egyptians who see the pyramids as proud monuments to their ancient culture that when Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin made a passing reference in a Cairo speech in 2007 to the pyramids being built by ancient Hebrews, the Egyptian government lodged a formal complaint.
“It is well known that the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids; they regarded these structures as a national project for ancient Egypt,” said Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.
Hawass went on to file an official complaint to the Egyptian attorney general of Egypt against a Cairo high school for teaching the students that it was the Israelites who built the pyramids. Hawas criticized the school curriculum for “insisting that the Jews built the pyramids and highlighting the fact that those who refused to partake in the building were physically tortured.”
Dr. John H. Taylor, the curator of the Egypt Department of the British Museum in London confirms Hawass’ assertion explaining that the pyramids were built 100 years after the Israelites left Egypt.
So did the Jews build the pyramids? They certainly built something in ancient Egypt. But according to the scientists, it wasn’t the pyramids.