The claim: Paid, skilled workers built the pyramids without the use of slave labor.
Relevant links: Hawass: ‘The Great Pyramids were not built by slaves’
“Linking building the Great Pyramids to slavery is a comical thing to say,” replied Zahi Hawass to some English newspaper commentary.
Hawass asserted that if the pyramids were built by forced labor, their tombs would not be built next to the pyramids.
Hawass further indicated that forced labor can build huge buildings, but they cannot be creative, and building pyramids is creative. Slaves cannot perform this engineering and scientific miracle.
From Wikipedia, Slavery in Ancient Egypt:
There were three types of enslavement in Ancient Egypt: chattel slavery, bonded labor, and forced labor. But even these types of slavery are susceptible to individual interpretation based on evidence and research. Egypt's labor culture is represented by many men and women, and it is difficult to claim their social status into one category. [...] Forms of forced labor and servitude are seen throughout all of ancient Egypt even though it wasn’t specifically declared as the well known term we have today, slavery.
Personally, I’m skeptical about the idea that these recent discoveries provide enough evidence to suggest that slaves were not involved at all or didn’t account for a significant portion of the labor. Does evidence of paid workers indicate evidence that slaves weren’t used? Does Egypt have an incentive to promote the idea that slave labor was not involved at all and potentially exaggerate the significance of this evidence?
What I’m curious about:
How conclusive is the evidence we have in demonstrating that a large majority of workers involved were not slaves?
How conclusive is it in demonstrating that no slaves were involved in its construction?
In the (hypothetical) absence of more evidence suggesting many workers involved in other aspects of the pyramids’ construction (quarrying and transporting the stone, for instance) were paid laborers, does it make sense in the historical context of slavery in Egypt that no slaves would have been involved?