ROME (Jul. 21)
A startling archaeological discovery has cast doubt on the existence of harsh slavery in Egypt when the pyramids were built and, by inference, on the veracity of the biblical account of Exodus.
The Turin newspaper La Stamp reported on diggings near the Great Pyramids of Giza, outside Cairo, where a city dating from 3000 BCE has been unearthed.
It contains buildings, graveyards, records and artifacts which indicate that the pyramid-builders were not slaves but well-paid workers who enjoyed a good standard of living, La Stamp said.
They were paid for their labor in gold and food, according to La Stampa, which quotes Professor Zaki Hawass, director of antiquities at Giza, who excavated the city.
The professor will elaborate on his findings in a paper to be delivered at the international conference of Egyptologists in Turin from Sept. 1 to 8. About 1,500 experts from 30 countries are expected to attend.
La Stampa also quoted Italian archaeologist Silvio Curto, who said the city and necropolis unearthed at Giza confirm a theory that arose from earlier diggings elsewhere.
Curto, who will co-chair the Turin conference, told La Stampa that the new discoveries go a long way to disproving the accounts of the ancient Roman historians, such as Herodotus.
The Romans’ accounts were filtered through the perspectives of their own society, in which slavery existed, and “it was unthinkable that such gigantic construction could have been accomplished without forced labor,” Curto said.
As for Exodus, he added, “the slavery cited by the holy book can be understood in a moral, not literal sense.”
He observed that Moses, “a man of superior intellect, educated at court, probably realized that his people, through contact with a society like that of Egypt, ran the risk of being swallowed up culturally and could lose the outstanding points of their own civilization.”