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Egyptians were the first recorded project managers-planning pyramids

planning pyramids,Building the pyramid was one of the largest civil works projects on records.

Egyptians were the first recorded project managers. Various scholars have attempted to identify the cost of the projects, however, a measure that is possibly more meaningful is the amount of effort required. One author has estimated that a total of 52 million man-days was required to construct the pyramids.

It seems that the more knowledge we gain about the pyramid and other elements surrounding their construction, the lower the estimates for the work force. Kurk Mendelssohn, an American mathematician and physicist believed there were as many as 50,000 men involved with the Great Pyramid’s construction based on calculations needed to move a given mass over a given distance. Ludwig Borchardt and Louis Croon, in their investigations, estimated that the Medium pyramid would have required some 10,000 men to complete. Applying these calculations to the larger Great Pyramid, they estimated that a work force of some 36,000 men would have been required for that project. However, even this smaller workforce seemed too high to them, given the limited area of the construction site and the difficulties connected to logistics support.

The ancient Egyptians were the first recorded project managers.

Of key concern to the project manager of the day was the organization of their main construction equipment, i.e. people. Hieroglyphics demonstrate that the smallest organization consisted of about 200 men. These crews were organized into larger groups consisting of about 2,000 men.(reference)

Egyptian were the first recorded project managers-planning in the pyramids

Egyptian were the first recorded project managers-planning in the pyramids

Like industrialized projects today the resources required to have the crews perform included the payment to the crews and the raw materials. Archeological research demonstrates that a significant effort was spent, including the creation of camp-towns, to supply the bread and beer needed to pay the workers.

planning in the pyramid

planning in the pyramid

In addition to bread and beer, onions were a critical means of payment for pyramid workers (reference). Pyramid builders had to manage these resources carefully or labor unrest would follow. Strikes due to non-payment of onions have been documented in the historical record (reference).


All of this discussion is not to say that the early Egyptians did not commit considerable resources to these building projects. It is estimated that during the century and a half composing the 4th Dynasty, some nine million cubic meters of masonry was utilized in royal construction projects. Essentially, the Egyptian became the world’s best construction managers, and these skills served them well for some 2,500 years.

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