Thursday, January 25, 2007

ArchaeoBook notes The Great Pyramid: Ancient Egypt Revisited by John Romer
The largest and most precise stone building in the world and a feat of Bronze Age technology, the Great Pyramid of Giza was built around 2478 B.C. in the reign of King Khufu. But how did the Great Pyramid's makers go about their daily work? what were their timetables, their ambitions? Transposing to Giza some known facts about the building rates of the Red Pyramid during the reign of Khufu's father, Sneferu, archeologist Romer (Great Excavations) concludes that it would have taken 14 years to build the Great Pyramid and that a nationwide workforce of around 21,000 was employed during the first year of construction and almost half that number as it approached completion. Taking traditional Egyptologists to task, Romer warns readers against swallowing the "myth" that the Great Pyramid was built by a mindless rural labor force kidnapped from distant villages and enslaved by a bureaucracy governed by talented noblemen. Instead, he posits that the workers were intelligent and inventive. Moreover, the author believes that the builders worked from a single construction plan, a "hidden logic" denied by many scholars but that he claims he alone has recovered. Romer is a bracing writer with attitude to spare, yet highly technical data render this volume more suitable to architects than lay readers. Illus. (Apr.)

Just got this from the publisher and it's not out until April so I can't. . . .well, I don't know what I can say about it. The above seems to indicate that, in part, it's a review of the recent literature and thought on pyramid construction. I suppose he might be "taking traditional Egyptologists to task" for thinking they were buit by slave(-ish) labor, but that's been pretty well argued by Mark Lehner among others. Don't know about this construction plan though; I've never heard anyone really refer to a lack of one, but who knows. But feel free to discuss what might be in it, and go buy a copy when it comes out so they'll keep shoving books my way.

I will mention that Romer's Valley of the Kings is an excellent review of the VK. He's a good writer and this latter volume is an excellent and informative introduction to the Valley.