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Egypt tombs suggest pyramids not built by slaves

[ 2010-01-13 09:39]     字号 [] [] []  
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In this undated photo released by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities on Sunday, January 10, 2010, pottery and bones are seen in a tomb, in Giza, Egypt. Egyptian archaeologists have discovered a new set of tombs of the workers who built the great pyramids, shedding new light on how the laborers lived and ate more than 4,000 years ago, the antiquities department said Sunday. Zahi Hawass, the director of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, says the tombs are significant because they show that the pyramids were not built by slaves, but rather free workers.(Agencies)

New tombs found in Giza support the view that the Great Pyramids were built by free workers and not slaves, as widely believed, Egypt's chief archaeologist said on Sunday.

Films and media have long depicted slaves toiling away in the desert to build the mammoth pyramids only to meet a miserable death at the end of their efforts.

"These tombs were built beside the king's pyramid, which indicates that these people were not by any means slaves," Zahi Hawass, the chief archaeologist heading the Egyptian excavation team, said in a statement.

"If they were slaves, they would not have been able to build their tombs beside their king's."

He said the collection of workers' tombs, some of which were found in the 1990s, were among the most significant finds in the 20th and 21st centuries. They belonged to workers who built the pyramids of Khufu and Khafre.

Hawass had earlier found graffiti on the walls from workers calling themselves "friends of Khufu" - another sign that they were not slaves.

The tombs, on the Giza plateau on the western edge of Cairo, are 4,510 years old and lie at the entrance of a one-km (half mile)-long necropolis.

Hawass said evidence had been found showing that farmers in the Delta and Upper Egypt had sent 21 buffalo and 23 sheep to the plateau every day to feed the builders, believed to number around 10,000 - or about a tenth of Greek historian Herodotus's estimate of 100,000.

These farmers were exempted from paying taxes to the government of ancient Egypt - evidence that he said underscored the fact they were participating in a national project.

The first discovery of workers' tombs in 1990 came about accidentally when a horse stumbled on a brick structure 10 meters (yards) away from the burial area.

(Read by Renee Haines. Renee Haines is a multimedia journalist at the China Daily Web site.)














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(中国日报网英语点津 陈丹妮 编辑蔡姗姗)


mammoth: extremely large 极其巨大的;庞大的

excavation: the activity of digging in the ground to look for old buildings or objects that have been buried for a long time (对古物的)发掘,挖掘

Khufu: Egyptian Pharaoh of the 27th century BC who commissioned the Great Pyramid at Giza 胡夫,埃及第四王朝第二位法老,在位期间建造了大金字塔

Khafre: king of Egypt (c. 2550 bc) of the 4th dynasty. He built the second pyramid and is thought to have built the Sphinx at Giza 哈夫拉,埃及第四王朝的第三位法老,他继承了胡夫的王位,在吉萨建立了世界上第二大金字塔——哈夫拉金字塔和狮身人面像

graffiti: drawings or writing on a wall, etc. in a public place. They are usually rude, humorous or political. (公共墙壁等上通常含有粗俗、幽默或政治内容的)涂画,涂鸦

necropolis: a place where dead people are buried, especially a large ancient one 坟场;(尤指)古代大墓地

buffalo: a large cow with horns that curve upwards 水牛

Herodotus: 希罗多德,古罗马时代历史学家,被誉为“历史之父”,著有《历史》一书

exempt sb. from sth.: to release someone from the obligation to do something; to allow a person not to be affected by a rule or law 豁免某人,使某人免于做某事