Conference paper: "The Pyramids at Giza and the developed Egyptian state"

Activity: Talk or presentationPresentation


The Giza Pyramids are the most visible elements of a large funerary and temporal desert landscape that linked Egypt’s god-king with his subjects and the cosmic world. They symbolised the Egyptian state at the peak of royal power and centralised authority, sitting at the apex of a state formation process that began with the advent of writing c. 3320 BC. The human capital required to complete these projects involved the co-option of elites, middle-ranking bureaucrats, local town elders, craftsmen, tradesmen and a vast number of seasonal farm labourers. Prisoners of war were likely also used as forced labour. For workers pressed into corvée labour, the reward was proximity to royal favour and may have included material incentives such as quality food. Yet after the construction of Sneferu’s pyramids at Dashur and those of the Giza group, all built during the Fourth Dynasty (c. 2613-2503 BC), pyramids on this scale were never built again. This paper argues that stresses placed on the human and material resources needed for construction was a negative drain on the Egyptian economy and affected the social contract. Combined with slowly worsening environmental conditions caused by progressively lower Nile floods, it led to the major reforms of state administration under the Fifth Dynasty kings.
Period29 Jan 2021
Held atMediterranean Archaeology Australasian Research Community (MAARC) Conference
Degree of RecognitionNational