Ruins of barracks, port unearthed at Giza Pyramids
Several discoveries at the city and Khentkawes town suggest Giza was a thriving port, said archaeologist Mark Lehner, the director of Ancient Egypt Research Associates. For instance, Lehner's team discovered a basin beside the Khentkawes town just 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) from the nearest Nile River channel.
"Giza was the central port then for three generations, Khufu, Khafre, Menkaure," said Lehner in his presentation, referring to the three pharaohs who built pyramids at Giza.
A military presence
Where there is a port there are sailors. At the city the archaeologists found evidence that a series of long buildings called "galleries" held troops who could have participated in voyages to the Levant and possibly guarded VIPs while at Giza. These galleries were about 23 feet (7 meters) high and each set was at least 113 feet (34.5 meters) long, north to south.
|Near the Giza Pyramid archaeologists have discovered a basin that may have been part of a thriving harbor and a "silo building complex," suggesting royal cult priests occupied the complex [Credit: AERA]|
"What was all this cedar from the Levant doing in a common workers barracks?" Lehner asked. In fact, these troops are represented in the tombs of highly placed officials and in pyramid temples. "You have representations of these gangs, these troops, repeated over and over again," he said, adding that the word for them can be translated as "escort" or "the following." Each individual gallery could hold about 40 people comfortably, which is a unit these troops could be organized into, Lehner said.
Lehner's suspicions that the galleries were meant for troops were reinforced in 2012 when the archaeologists discovered a broken hippo hip. In ancient Egypt, hippos were considered nuisances, as the animals ate crops at night. "The young troops go out and they harpoon them and spear them," he told the Toronto audience.
These troops didn't always get the best food. The hippo meat would have been a nice respite from their everyday diet. The bones the archaeologists found in the galleries indicate they consumed lots of goat and sheep as well as oily, bony, catfish, said Richard Redding, chief research officer at Ancient Egypt Research Associates, in another symposium presentation. The troops didn't get as much cattle or Nile perch, which were considered the more desirable forms of meat and fish.
Redding is also a research scientist at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology at the University of Michigan.
Where are the pyramid builders?
The recent discoveries at Giza leave a mystery in their wake: Where were the dwellings of the pyramid builders, the regular workers, located?
|Basin in Egypt [Credit: AERA]|
The remains of these workers can be found in ancient dumps near the pyramids. "In 2004 we helped the Giza inspectors salvage material from an immense dump off the northern side of the Great Pyramid," said Lehner in the email. "We did not find remains of workers huts or lean-to's, but we did find old cattle bone, strips of cloth, rope and string of all gauges, fragments of wood, including part of a hammer, and other material of the workers."
For more information see Ancient Egypt Research Associates (AERA) website.
Author: Owen Jarus | Source: LiveScience [January 29, 2014]