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Showing posts from January, 2012

Queen Tiy and the Harem Plot

Habu Temple Harem life was comfortable but dull. There was only one escape route for an ambitious woman: she had to become the next King's Mother. Her son had to become king of Egypt before one of his half-brothers succeeded to the throne and he became displaced from the succession. Usually the throne passed to the son of the consort, but this was not invariably the case; not all consorts produced sons, and there was always a chance that a favourite son born to a more junior wife might succeed his father. We have no contemporary account of harem life, and can only guess at the amount of scheming and manipulation designed to bring a lesser son to his father's notice.

We do know, however, that at least one of Ramesses' secondary queens was not prepared to leave things to chance. A collection of con­temporary court papers preserves the details of a plot masterminded from the 'harem of the accompanying' by the secondary queen Tiy, and sup­ported by a numbe…

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…

Learn about Ancient Egypt Food and drink from tombs at Deir el-Medina

Food was received by the villagers in Deir el-Medina in a form of regular rations as a salary (mainly grain, with water and firewood, also beer, oils, ointments and garments). Food was also paid as a transferable pension - “old workmen” and their widows also receive sacks of grain. Workers also received irregular extras from the temples (part of the unused offerings after the Gods ‘fed themselves on the essence’ – mainly bread and cakes) or rewards from the Pharaoh (on the occasion of his wedding, birthday or religious festivals) – these would consist of some more luxurious items such as vegetables, fruit, beans, meat, oils…) Sources for our knowledge:

• Core texts. Mainly delivery notes and receipts on ostraca and papyri.
• Artefacts found in the archaeological excavations. This includes real foodstuffs or herbs as well as their representations on offering tables. Mainly from the tombs like that of Kha or Tutankhamun, but also from the village site and the dump – this is wh…

The monochrome tombs of Deir el-Medineh

The monochrome tombs of Deir el-Medineh
The idea that the yellow-ochre backgrounds, in the Theban paintings, characterise the Ramesside period, must be abandoned. They developed with it, but are far from being related to all the tombs of the nobles, which mostly have a white background and sometimes blue. On the other hand, on the site of Deir el-Medineh, all tombs - apart from those with monochrome decoration - have a yellow-ochre base, including the eight tombs decorated during the XVIIIth Dynasty which have survived, for example: tomb TT340 of Amenemhat (Cherpion).

Throughout the whole Theban necropolis, the themes of the daily life in fashion in the tombs of the XVIIIth Dynasty, gave way, from the reign of Amenophis III, to religious and funeral scenes: funeral processions, opening of the mouth in front of the chapel, funerary banquets, offerings to the deceased or to divinities, formulae from the Book of the Dead, etc. At the time of Ramesses II, this proc…