Maryl Levine

For 4,000 years, this skeleton lay undisturbed in its tomb. The workers’ skeletons were not mummified. The remains indicate that workers did not live as long as their noble counterparts and that many suffered from arthritis in the back and knees—a sign of heavy labor. But they did receive care for their wounds, and the DNA evidence indicates they were not foreign slaves but native Egyptians. It seems likely that these workers were not “scourged and panting slaves,” as Thomas Mann called them, but Egyptian peasants drafted into the pyramid service for a portion of their lives.