Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Games to Build Pyramids

One of the greatest testimonies to work and productivity is the ancient pyramids. There are many theories on how these great structures were built -- everything from slave labor to aliens. What motivated the workers to accomplish these tremendous feats?

Former President Jimmy Carter said, "I'm surprised that a government organization could do it that quickly."

The Great Pyramid has approximately 2.3 million stone blocks, weighing an average of 2.3 metric tons each. The estimate is that 35000 workers built these great structures. Originally, the theory was that it was slave labor, but archeologists now think it was a predominantly volunteer effort - farmers, masons, carpenters, masons and metalworkers – all contributing for the sake of national pride.

So the question relevant here, is, how did these people stay motivated? Did they use productivity games?

The answer is yes. (Otherwise, I wouldn't be writing this J)

Workers were organized into teams or "phyles" (tribes) - "Friends of Khufu" and "Drunkards of Menkaure", left and right, green and red, and the evidence seems to indicate that these teams competed with one another to improve productivity. Stones were tagged with color to indicate the team.


The workers were organized into competing teams," he explains, "which may have helped them psychologically. You know, 'Let's see whose team can do this job faster.'"The workers were organized into competing teams," he explains, "which may have helped them psychologically. You know, 'Let's see whose team can do this job faster.'"



So the phyles then are subdivided into divisions. And the divisions are identified by single hieroglyphs with names that mean things like endurance, perfection, strong. OK, so how do we know this -- you come to a block of stone in the relieving chambers above the Great Pyramid. And first of all you see this cartouche of a King and then some scrawls all in red paint after it. That's the gang name. And in the Old Kingdom in the time of the Pyramids of Giza, the gangs were named after kings. So for example, we have a name, compounded with the name of Menkaure, and it seems to translate 'the drunks or the drunkards of Menkaure.' There's one that's well attested, actually in the relieving chambers above the Great Pyramid, the Friends of Khufu gang, the Drunks of Menkaura gang, and then you have the green phyles and then the powerful ones. None of this sounds like slavery, does it?

And in fact it gets more intriguing. Because in certain monuments you find the name of one gang on one side of the monument and another gang, we assume competing on the other side of the monument. You find that to some extent in the temple, the Pyramid temple of Menkaure. It's as though these gangs are competing. So from this evidence we deduce that there was a labor force that was assigned to respective crew gang phyles and divisions.