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basstrom188's avatar

Were the Ancient Egyptian temples and monuments built by slaves?

Asked by basstrom188 (3316points) September 5th, 2010

Were they Egyptians, foreigners or even Hebrews. Slaves or not how were they treated, what they ate and wore.

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9 Answers

marinelife's avatar

“Hem (Hm), generally translated as ‘slave’ and originally meaning body, was seemingly a person with lessened rights dedicated to a certain task such as the service of a god (since the 1st dynasty) or the royal administration. The hemu (pl. of hem) are mentioned in the context of private persons only since the end of the Old Kingdom [27].
Since the Middle Kingdom foreign slaves mainly from Asia became increasingly numerous. They were either prisoners of war or traded by slave merchants. Their period of enslavement in Egypt was often limited. Debt slaves or prisoners of war were at times set free after serving for a certain period. ”

You can read all about slavery in Egypt here

troubleinharlem's avatar

You can find it in the Bible, also.
Just look around in Genesis or Exodus.


daytonamisticrip's avatar

I saw a video on it. Another theory scientist have is that it was volunteers and family of the pharaoh.

muppetish's avatar

My art history professor taught us that slaves did not build the pyramids (it was the first time that I had ever heard that information before.) National Geographic is in line with this thinking as well. I haven’t read too much into it on my own since taking that course. It would be fascinating to look into, though.

Ben_Dover's avatar

Yes they were, with the help of extra-terrestrials, of course.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

i don’t think they were all slaves. I’m sure there were some, but I think the Pharaohs framed the task as an honor for a person to work on the monuments. It would have been very hard to control a slave population the size it would have taken to build the great pyramid. Spiritually motivated workers would be much easier to control. I’m fairly sure they used religion as a sort of control system.

Deja_vu's avatar

No they were not built by slaves.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

GQ, mostly because I just learned about it in class today!

So, the short answer is: the pyramids were built by volunteers, not slaves.
The long answer:
At the time that the pyramids were built, they didn’t have slaves. You get slaves by conquering other lands (as well as the occasional debt slave/indentured servant, but certainly not thousands…). The Egyptians weren’t really going outside their own land at the time – if they had been, they would have brought back other technologies with them like, oh yeah, the wheel. That’s right folks, not only were the pyramids not built by slaves, they were built without the wheel. The thousands of stones were dragged hundreds of miles, without the wheel.
So how were they built? By religious devotees. The pyramids were built to be a tomb for the pharaohs, who were considered gods themselves, and it usually doesn’t hurt to be on the good side of a god. They were built on the off-season – when they weren’t harvesting or planting crops.
We also have some accounts of them being built that go against the idea of them being slaves.

Fun fact: The pyramids were originally cased in marble, which has now been almost completely stolen. However, at the time that they were putting the marble on, they’d graffiti it, often in the same vein as “The Red team kicks the Blue teams ass, because they’re 2 days behind – suckers!”

The temples started being built in the Middle Kingdom, because it was just too much money and time to create pyramids. This is when they start getting into the sphinxes, including The Sphinx (I don’t know the official name off-hand, but you know the one I’m talking about). I don’t know if they used slaves for it, as we haven’t covered it.

basstrom188's avatar

I think during the New Kingdom slaves were used to build temples and monuments. I should imagine their lives were pretty tough. As for food they were not starved but fed pretty basic fare such as bread, onions and beans or lentils. as for clothes they most likely went naked too low in status to be given clothes.

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