Deir el-Medina

Deir el-Medina (دير المدينة‎), or Dayr al-Madīnah, is an ancient Egyptian village-settlement, which was home to the artisans who worked on the tombs in the Valley of the Kings during the 18th to 20th Dynasties of the New Kingdom of Egypt (circa 1550–1080 BCE).

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Location

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Overview

The settlement's ancient name was Set maat "The Place of Truth", and the workmen who lived there were called "Servants in the Place of Truth".

Residential Quarter

circa 1506–1080 BCE

The residential quarter or the workers' village was situated in the south-east part of the ancient settlement. It is laid out in a small natural amphitheatre, within easy walking distance of the Valley of the Kings to the south. The village may have been built apart from the wider population in order to preserve secrecy in view of sensitive nature of the work carried out in the royal tombs. At its peak, the community contained around sixty-eight houses spread over a total area of 5,600 square meters.

The main road through the village may have been covered to shelter the villagers from the intense glare and heat of the sun. Due to its location, the village is not thought to have provided a pleasant environment. The walled village reflects the shape of the narrow valley in which it's situated. The village was abandoned circa 1110–1080 BCE during the reign of Ramesses XI (whose tomb was the last of the royal tombs built in the Valley of the Kings) due to increasing threats from tomb robbery, Libyan raids and the instability of civil war.

A large proportion of the community, including women, could at least read and possibly write.

Temples

circa 1515 BCE

Amenhotep I Cult Temple
After his death, Amenhotep I was deified and made the patron deity of the village. The cult temple stood at the northern end of the settlement, north-east of the New Kingdom Temple of Hathor. It was dedicated to the deified Amenhotep I and his mother Ahmose Nefertari. Some excavations and reconstruction work on many of the walls and steps have been restored, presenting an impression of its once actual layout.

circa 1290 BCE

Chapel of Hathor
Built by Seti I (1294-1279 BCE), the Chapel of Hathor is located east of the Hathor Temple and north of the Amun Temple. It lies on a gentle slope just in front of Amenhotep I Temple ruin. It was considerably larger in its structure than the earlier building of the temple of the cult of Amenhotep I, remains of which stand on the terrace above the Ptolemaic temple enclosure. The chapel was excavated by Ernesto Schiaparelli in 1906 CE.

circa 1250 BCE

Amun Temple
Built by Ramesses II, the Temple of Amun is located south-east of the Hathor Temple. It is a small temple with later mud brick additions in front and to the right of the entrance.

circa 220 BCE

Ptolemaic Temple of Hathor
Built by Ptolemy IV Philopator, the Ptolemaic era temple is one of the largest structures in the workers' village of Deir el-Medina. It was dedicated to goddesses Hathor and Maat. The building itself is small but belongs to one of the best preserved examples of a temple from that period that is still standing today.

During the Christian era, the temple of Hathor was converted into a church from which the Egyptian Arabic name Deir el-Medina ("the monastery of the town") is derived.

Workmen Huts

circa 1280 BCE

The term "Workmens' Huts" is a generic term, the actual function of these structures is still unknown. Although a number of theories have been proposed, one thing is certain, these huts were not houses. They were most likely used as working areas, presumably for the storage and/or preparation of materials for the construction of a king's tomb. There were two types of huts built, first with no doorways that presumably functioned as a processing and/or storage unit for the materials to be used in tomb construction. The second were built with a doorway, and might have been used as 'guard-houses'.

Necropoles

circa 1280 BCE

The community of Deir el-Medina village built their own tombs across on the slopes of surrounding Theban Hills. The workmen could work on their own tombs during their off days, and since they were amongst the best craftsmen in ancient Egypt who excavated and decorated royal tombs, their own tombs are considered to be some of the most beautiful on the west bank. There are four major cemetery areas; eastern cemetery, Ramesside cemetery, Tombs of Saite Princesses, western cemetery.

Gallery

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References

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