The Egyptian Museum in Cairo is showcasing for the first time the earliest writing from ancient Egypt found on papyrus, detailing work on the Great Pyramid of Giza, antiquities officials said Thursday.
The papyri were discovered near Wadi el-Jarf port, 25 kilometers (15 miles) south of the Gulf of Suez town of Zafarana, the antiquities ministry said.
The find by a French-Egyptian team unearths papers telling of the daily lives of port workers who transported huge limestone blocks to Cairo in the 26th century BCE during King Khufu’s rule to build the Great Pyramid, intended to be his burial structure.
One document was a “diary by government official Merer (the beloved) with statistics and administrative details” of his work, said Sayed Mahfouz, who co-led the 2013 discovery.
Merer led a team of around 40, according to the ministry.
The documents also list revenues transferred from various Egyptian provinces to feed pyramid builders and pay their wages, Mahfouz said.
Revenue was written in red, while what was paid to workers would be written in black, said Mahfouz.
“It gives for every day an account of the work of this crew transporting limestone blocks from the quarries of Turah on the east bank of the Nile to the Pyramid of Khufu at Giza plateau through the Nile and its canals,” the ministry said.
It said the papyri “indicate the highly efficient administrative system during Khufu’s reign.”