Although the houses in the village varied in size they followed a fairly standard plan.
The first room very often contained a rectangular
mud brick structure partially or fully enclosed except for an opening on the long side,
which was approached by three steps. Bruyère found
remains of these structures in twenty eight of the sixty eight houses known to him at the site.
The function of the bed-like constructions
is still being discussed by Egyptologists today. It has been suggested that
they could have functioned as a birthing or nursing bed, or a
bed-altar to an ancestor cult. Fragments from several paintings
from the exterior panels of some of these structures specifically involve
themes in female life: labour, childbirth and daily grooming. It is assumed that the villagers
might have worshipped figures of deities or
supplicated a recently deceased relative within these bed-altars.
Recently it has been suggested (Brooker, 2009, p. 44-53) that the front rooms at Deir el-Medina
were used as gardens. The suggestion
is supported by existence of several clay models of houses from other sites in Egypt displaying
enclosed courtyards within the frontal
space. Archaeological evidence indicates that gardns were created on lower levels than the houses.
The majority of floors in the front
rooms at Deir el-Medina's houses were at lower levels - some 40 to 50 cm lower than the street
level. Textual evidence relating to the
front room and its purpose is limited, but Instructions and love poetry both suggest the importance
of a private garden for an ancient
The second room was the main living room and it stood higher than the first one.
The flat roof of the room was supported by one or two
wooden pillars that rested on stone bases. By archaeological evidence it is widely
acknowledged that the second room had a sacred
significance. Offering stelae were found near shallow rectangular and arched wall niches,
which occur in several houses in the first and
second rooms. Limestone offering tables were found in their vicinity. In the second rooms of most houses false door dedications were
discovered. All this evidence seems to indicate that the second room, among other multiple settings,
was used to connect with and gain
protection of those outside the bounds of ordinary moral existence.
Some houses had a small chamber off the second room, which seems to have been used both as a general storeroom and as a place where
someone might sleep. Beyond this room there was a kitchen and a staircase leading up to
the roof, which was partially open to the air to
allow smoke to escape. Two cellars complete the dwellings.