The remains of a large settlement site, known as Heit al-Ghurab, were discovered in the southeastern area of the Giza Plateau. This was where the workers who built the pyramid complexes of Khafre (c.2558–2532 BC) and Menkaure (c.2532–2503 BC) lived. The tantalizing remains of an even older settlement underneath may date to Khufu’s reign (c.2589–2566 BC). Houses, magazines, three main streets, and a royal administrative building were discovered within the city walls, as were four huge galleries. These may have been the barracks in which the workers who built the pyramids slept and prepared their food. An enormous amount of fish, bird, cattle, sheep, goat, and pig bones were found, revealing that the state ensured that the workers were in good health so they could fulfill their physically demanding responsibilities.
On the hillside immediately to the west of Heit al-Ghurab is the town’s cemetery. Low-ranking overseers of workmen were buried in modest mastabas on the low slopes of the hill, surrounded by even smaller mastaba or domed tombs, possibly those of their extended families and the workers they supervised. These were largely built of mudbrick, whereas the higher-ranking overseers and skilled craftsmen were buried in large stone mastabas higher up the slope. Among these is the beautifully decorated tomb of the overseer of linen, the overseer of the royal house of purification, Nefertheith. The majority of the bodies discovered show evidence of hard physical labor, many even featuring broken bones. Most of these had healed correctly, however, indicating that, in addition to being well-fed, the workers also received very good medical care.