Skip to main content

Deir el-Medina( the valley of the artisans -luxor -west bank)

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 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.
 During the 19th dynasty Deir el-Medina occupied an area some 132 metres long and 50 metres wide. The houses within the enclosure wall were all built in blocks - no space was left between them and two adjoining houses shared a wall.

 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

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.

 In the work men's village the house tenure was more strictly controlled - properties usually passed from father to son along with their trades and professions. Restricted by the village limits,occupants of the houses were not able to increase the size of their dwellings, as often happened in other places. Some forty to fifty houses were later built outside the enclosure wall to the north among or over earlier tombs. 

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.

 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.

 In the 3rd century BC Ptolemy IV Philopater built a temple dedicated to Hathor and Maat at the
northern side of the former village, on the site of the earlier chapels and shrines and opposite the small
temple of Amun. During Christian era the temple was converted into a Coptic church. A monastery, or deir, was established there. Deir el-Medina thus survived its shift in function from a primarily habitational to a sacred and mortuary site.

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 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. A vast group of titles, demoting employees "in the Place of Truth" has been identified in the documents of the 19th and  20th dynasties."st-maat" 

 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 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.


Popular posts from this blog

How ancient Egyptians Were cutting the Obelisk from the Granite quarry?

Today, quarrymen cut and carve granite using saws with diamond-edged blades and steel chisels.

But ancient Egyptian quarrymen and stonemasons didn't have these modern tools. How, then, did they quarry and cut such clean lines in their obelisks and other monumental statuary?
To find out how ancient Egyptians quarried huge pieces of granite for their obelisks, i traveled to an ancient quarry in Aswan, located 500 miles south of Cairo. This is where the ancient Egyptians found many of the huge granite stones they used for their monuments and statues.

One of the most famous stones left behind is the Unfinished Obelisk, more than twice the size of any known obelisk ever raised. Quarrymen apparently abandoned the obelisk when fractures appeared in its sides. However, the stone, still attached to bedrock, gives important clues to how the ancients quarried granite.

Archeologist Mark Lehner, a key member of nova expedition, crouches in a granite trench that abuts one side of…

Hesi-re, the first Dentist, in ancient Egypt and in the world

Hesire was a high official who lived during the reign of Netjerikhet (Dosjer) 2686 BC to 2613 BC . His tutelary informs us of the many offices he had held during his life. Thus he was the 'overseer of the royal scribes', at the head of the royal administration of Djoser. His most spectacular title, however, was that of the 'greatest (or chief ?)of physicians and dentists'. It is not entirely clear whether this title infers that Hesire himself was honored as the greatest of physicians and dentists, or rather that he was merely responsible for the administration of physicians and dentists. But whatever the case, the distinction between 'physicians' and 'dentists' in his tutelary does show a high degree of medical specialization at this early stage of the history of Ancient Egypt..

Das Tal der Koenige

Die geographische Lage
Das Gebiet bei Theben lieferte ein vorzügliches Gebiet für das Anlegen einer königlichen Nekropole. Vom Westufer des Nils erstreckt sich eine flache Ebene zu einer Bergkette mit zahlreichen abgeschiedenen Tälern, die sich zwischen hohen Klippen und weichem Gestein durchschlängeln. Die Ebene eignete sich ideal für das Errichten der königlichen Totentempel. Die Täler hingegen boten genügend Platz, um viele kunstvoll in den Fels gehauene Gräber anzulegen. Auch aus symbolischen Gründen wählten die Alten Ägypter diesen Platz für das Errichten einer Nekropole. Blickt man von der Stadt Theben über den Nil auf das thebanische Bergmassiv, dann ähnelt es in der Gestalt einer riesigen Version der Hieroglyphe für "Horizont". Es ist das ägyptische Symbol für das Gebiet der auf- und untergehenden Sonne. Im Neuen…