Deir el-Medina


Deir el-Medina
   Modern name for the site of the workmen’s village on the west bank of the Nile opposite Thebes near the Valley of the Kings. The village was founded either by Amenhotep I, who was worshipped there as a god, or his successor, Thutmose I, whose name appears on bricks at the site. The workmen were organized to construct the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings, but little material has survived from Dynasty 18 apart from several tombs of such workmen as the foreman Kha, whose tomb was found intact, and some stelae. The village may have been abandoned during the reign of Akhenaten but was certainly in operation under Tutankhamun and reorganized during the reign of Horemheb. Much material survives from the Ramesside Period, including stelae, papyri, ostraca, and tombs that give a detailed picture of community life. Deir el-Medina was under the direct control of the southern vizier but was effectively governed by the two foremen of each side of the workforce, which was divided into two sections, and the scribe or scribes. Local disputes were settled in the village court made up of the chief men of the village, but criminal cases were sent to the vizier. The workmen were supplied with payments of wheat and beer and other commodities, and surviving daybooks show that the work period was not overly onerous and there was generous time off. In their spare time the workmen prepared material for their own tombs and accepted commissions for tomb equipment from outside the community. The village possessed a series of small chapels in which such gods and goddesses as Amunand Meretsegerwere worshipped by the workmen themselves in the roles of priests. The village was abandoned at the end of Dynasty 20 when royal burials ceased and conditions deteriorated due to Libyan raids. Some workmen remained at Medinet Habu and took part in the preparation of the royal caches during Dynasty 21.
   The site was discovered in the early 19th century, and objects were acquired by several museum collections, notably the British Museum, Louvre Museum, and Turin Egyptian Museum. Deir elMedina was excavated by an Italian expedition from Turin from 1905–1906 and in 1909, a German expedition in 1913, and since 1917 has been excavated and published by the French Institute in Cairo.
Historical Dictionary Of Ancient Egypt by Morris L. Bierbrier

Ancient Egypt. A Reference Guide. . 2011.

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