In 1990, a tourist was near the Sphinxes in Egypt when he noticed a small rock under the sand where he was standing. He tried to move the stone but couldn’t. He informed the guide that he was with. The guide notified the local authorities; they sent archaeologists and discovered a vast 4,500-year-old cemetery with the catacombs of the pyramid workers.
Before this discovery, much of what we knew about those who worked on the pyramids came from the historian Herodotus, who called the workers in the pyramids enslaved people. That’s why we remember those images from movies with them in chains, being whipped.
But the discovery of the Giza catacombs told another story. From bone analysis, archaeologists found that the workers were very well fed, their wounds were treated with care, and when they died, they were buried along with their wages in gold and barley. Quite different from our image of an enslaved person. Based on the animal bones found in their stomachs and other discoveries at this site in the Workers’ City, archaeologists estimate that more than 4,000 pounds of meat – from cattle, sheep, and goats – were served every day in a buffet to feed the builders of the pyramid
But most history books still portray the pharaoh’s generals with whips in hand threatening the workers.
As Daniel Quinn explains in his book Beyond Civilization, pharaoh Khufu needed to exercise no more control over his workers at Giza than pharaoh Bill Gates exercises over his workers at Microsoft. “I submit,” he says, “that Egyptian workers, relatively speaking, got as much out of building Khufu’s pyramid as Microsoft workers will get out of building Bill Gates’s pyramid.” It doesn’t take anything special to make people dedicate their lives to building pyramids if they think they have no better choice or that they will become poor if they don’t. “They’ll build whatever they’re told to build”, complete Quinn, “whether it’s pyramids, parking garages, or computer programs”.
As many sociologists point out, we are now living in an era with the most significant number of enslaved people in human history – us. But many people still associate slaves with chains and whips and see it as normal that most people devote most of their waking time to doing things they don’t really love. In exchange for their livelihood or to acquire status symbols programmed into their heads by the same companies that sell these symbols.
The brilliance of our current system is that the majority of the enslaved people do not see themselves as such because they can choose their masters. Because they don’t see chains on their feet and can choose which company or client to work for. They don’t notice that we were all programmed to think it’s normal to spend eight hours a day inside an office. I didn’t notice mine chains. And I didn’t see myself as a slave master when I had tens of employees.
I’ve been brainwashed and didn’t know it.