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Life in ancient Egypt The Village and The settlement of Deir el-Medina

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The village was inhabited by the community of workmen involved in the construction and
decoration of the royal tombs in both the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens.
Together with their wives and families the workmen occupied the neatly constructed houses
of mud brick and stone for some 450 years during Egypt's New Kingdom.

 The settlement was founded sometime early in the 18th dynasty, although by which king
remains uncertain. Many bricks in the settlement's enclosure wall were stamped with the
name of Thutmosis I (around 1524-1518 BC), who was the 1st pharaoh to be buried in the
Valley of the Kings. However the reverence given to the previous king, Amenhotep I
(1551-1524 BC) and his mother, Ahmose-Nefertari, indicates that they might have been
instrumental in setting up the royal workforce at Deir el-Medina.

 We have little information on the earliest years of the community. Most of our knowledge about the
settlement is drawn from the extensive evidence dating to the 19th and 20th dynasties, when the village
almost doubled in size.
The first workforce was probably drawn from a number of places, possibly from other crews in the Theban
area employed on temple building projects

 The original town was enclosed within a thick mud-brick wall. As the first phase of the settlement's
buildings from the beginning of the 18th dynasty was destroyed by fire, little is known about the layout
of it. After the Amarna period, under the restoration of the king Horemheb (about 1321-1293 BC), the
village expanded. The damaged houses were restored and new ones were built.

 Although the village was occupied for over four centuries, the evidence from excavations shows that the
general plan of
individual houses mostly follows the pattern established in the first phase of the
construction of the settlement during the 18th dynasty. Also the ground level remained unchanged, which
differs from other settlements, where successive generations built upon the remains of previous
occupations.

 The village itself consisted of about 70
houses. They were divided by a main
street. It ran from north to south with
narrow houses on both sides of it.
Archaeological excavation suggested that
this street was covered over, making the
village one solid roofed community. Both
the floors of the houses and the central
street were found to be covered with
layers of accumulated and well-trodden
animal droppings of goats, sheep and pigs
(Hobson, 1997, p. 117).

 The community reached the highest numbers and greatest prosperity towards the end of the reign of
Ramesses II (1279-1212 BC). From the end of the reign of Ramesses XI (1098-1070 BC), the Theban
area was in turmoil and the tombs in the Valley of the Kings began to be plundered. Both the
archaeological and textual evidence suggest that not later than by the early 21st dynasty, around the
years 17-18 of Ramesses XI, the community of workmen had left Deir el-Medina and moved inside the
walls of the nearby temple at Medinet Habu.

Dhutmose, scribe of the tomb, wrote to Hor, the deputy of the estate of Amun-Ra, on his visit to
Thebes: "We heard that you have arrived and reached the town of Ne; may Amun give you a good
reception, may he do you all good things. We are dwelling here in the Mansion and you know thoroughly
our way of dwelling. But the boys of the Tomb have gone. They dwell in Ne, while I am dwelling here
alone with the scribe of the army Penthonakhte."

The mortuary temple of Ramesses III (1182-1151 BC) at Medinet Habu as seen from the western
slopes of Theban hills above Deir el-Medina.

 Although the former inhabitants no longer lived in the village, they used to return to visit the family
tombs and to worship at their temple of Amenhotep I. The abandoned houses were used for storage until
they decayed beyond their usefulness. It is not clear what happened to the villagers after this period,
but the site of Deir el-Medina continued to be used extensively for both religious and mortuary purposes
until as late as the 8th century AD.

 The settlement's ancient name, "St-maat-hr-imenty-Wast", means "The Place of Truth, to the West of
Thebes". The ancient villagers used to refer to their settlement as "pa-demi", "the town". The modern
Arabic name Deir el-Medina, means "The Convent of the Town", is reflecting the fact, that during the
Muslim conquest of Egypt, the village's Ptolemaic temple had been converted into a Christian church.





 The earliest example of the expression "st-maat" is in chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead, which
originated during the dynasties 13-17 (2nd Intermediate Period, about 1782-1633 BC). It reads
"I have not committed sins in the Place of Truth". The term can generally be applied to any place or
locality, which is sacred or holy ground. It was not only used within the locality of Thebes. There are
examples of the term being used at Memphis, Amarna or Abydos. The term cannot be translated with a
single expression as it has not got a single meaning. Depending on the context, the meaning of "st-maat"
covers the beyond, the cemetery, a tomb, the king's tomb or even a workshop (in Western Thebes). In
Theban documents, "st-maat" was used with the addition of "hr-imnty-Wast", meaning "to the West of
Weset" (Weset being the ancient Egyptian name for Thebes, modern Luxor). Inscriptions can be found in
both hieroglyphic and hieratic writings.

The term "st-maat", usually translated as "the Place of Truth",
repeatedly appears in tomb inscriptions and on funerary objects like
stelae, coffins, shabtis, statues, pyramidions, on door-lintels and
door jambs and also on wide variety of small objects, originating
from the Theban necropolis, and in particular the region of Deir
el-Medina. The lesser number of objects came from other Theban
locations, the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens,
Ramesseum, Medinet Habu, Qurna and Dra abu al-Naga. A vast
group of titles, demoting employees "in the Place of Truth" has
been identified in the documents of the 19th and 20th dynasties.





 The earliest example of the expression "st-maat" is in chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead, which
originated during the dynasties 13-17 (2nd Intermediate Period, about 1782-1633 BC). It reads
"I have not committed sins in the Place of Truth". The term can generally be applied to any place or
locality, which is sacred or holy ground. It was not only used within the locality of Thebes. There are
examples of the term being used at Memphis, Amarna or Abydos. The term cannot be translated with a
single expression as it has not got a single meaning. Depending on the context, the meaning of "st-maat"
covers the beyond, the cemetery, a tomb, the king's tomb or even a workshop (in Western Thebes). In
Theban documents, "st-maat" was used with the addition of "hr-imnty-Wast", meaning "to the West of
Weset" (Weset being the ancient Egyptian name for Thebes, modern Luxor). Inscriptions can be found in
both hieroglyphic and hieratic writings.

If you are interested to visit This spectacle historical site ,pick up this tour and explore the workers village with an expert egyptologist tour guide. Tour to the workers tombs 

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