Private Lives of the Pharaohs is a History Documentary programme.

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Private Lives of the Pharaohs

For nearly three thousand years Ancient Egypt was the greatest civilisation on Earth, adhering to one religion, one language and one evolving history. But what we know about ancient Egyptian culture has been pieced together from astonishingly little hard information and guesswork, leaving many mysteries unexplained.

This programme series follows scientific investigations into the mysteries of Ancient Egypt. It will address many subjects that have been mysteries up until the scientific age and now we hope to get some answers.

The first programme takes a look at DNA samples which have been taken from two foetuses which were found buried with the boy king, Tutankhamun when the tomb was opened in 1922. We will hopefully be given the answer to the question of who were they and whether their premature deaths were in any way related to in-breeding and the end of Tutankhamun's family, the famous 18th Dynasty.

In the second programme we look at arguably the most debated mystery surrounding the Ancient Egyptians: who built the Pyramids at Giza, and how and why did they do it?

In 500 BC, already two millennia after the Pyramids were constructed, the Greek historian Heroditus recorded that they'd been built by 100,000 slaves - a purported fact that modern guidebooks still publish. This programme reveals startling new evidence to disprove Heroditus' hypothesis.

A miraculous discovery three years ago in a small suburb of Cairo, provided the initial lead that started a team of experts on an arduous and painstaking journey of discovery. A mechanical digger had uncovered a building belonging to a large settlement dating 2500 BC. A team led by Dr. Mark Lehner quickly discovered evidence to suggest that the pyramid builders had populated the settlement. Furthermore, rather than being slaves, Dr Lehner's team discovered that the workers were Egyptian people, living in family groups receiving the best food available and the most advanced medical care of the time.

Having surveyed the team's results, Dr Lehner and Dr Zahi Hawass, Director of the Pyramids, concluded that the pyramid builders comprised of only 15,000 workers and 5,000 technicians and foremen - a figure 80% lower than that put forward by Heroditus. Could they be right? An American construction expert Dr. Craig Smith began applying modern techniques to the puzzle and found that Lehner and Hawass' hypothesis was highly convincing. It was quite possible that only 20,000 people had built the pyramids. Their joint conclusions suggested that rather than being the work of brutally coerced slaves, the pyramids' construction was a national project and a great socialising force utilising the most sophisticated techniques of social organisation that the world has ever seen.

Genre: History Documentary

Running Time: 60 minutes (approx)