The Egyptian pyramids, next targets of the Black Lives Matter movement? That’s what several Internet users on the social network Twitter seem to think since the beginning of June. “Are we now going to knock down the pyramids built by slaves,” one user is outraged, while another tweets “Let’s tear down the pyramids #BlackLivesMatterUK”.
Among these numerous tweets published under the hashtag #pyramids, it is difficult to distinguish between those really calling for the destruction of the pyramids… or those on the contrary, making sarcastic fun of the debunking of colonialist statues practiced by anti-racist demonstrators.
Pyramids under threat?
The protests that followed the death of the black American George Floyd have indeed brought this act of militancy back into fashion. In the United States and the United Kingdom, several Confederate monuments have been demolished or vandalized. Others are in the hot seat, while many demonstrators and elected officials are demanding their removal because of their racist and colonialist symbolism.
On Twitter, some Internet users have therefore begun to worry that this practice is being applied to the Egyptian pyramids, or at least have pointed out its inconsistency. “When will the left demolish the Colosseum, the Acropolis and the pyramids in Egypt? These monuments were all built by slavery. It’s easier to get away with destroying everything, isn’t it?” one of them ironically asks, thus reopening the debate on who built these funerary monuments.
Slaves or paid workers? “The pyramids of Giza were built by professional, paid labour 4650 years ago,” says Sarah Parcak, a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Egyptologist, in a series of tweets. To prove it, we have texts, archaeological evidence and hundreds of peer-reviewed articles and books that talk about it in detail”.