Deir el-Medina (Egypt)

The village of Deir el-Medina is located on the west bank of the River Nile at Thebes. It was inhabited by the workmen who constructed and decorated the royal tombs, and their families.

The walled village was probably founded during the reign of Thutmose I in the Eighteenth Dynasty, and was occupied until close to the end of the New Kingdom (1550-1070 BC). By the reign of Ramesses II the village contained about 120 houses. These single-storeyed buildings opened onto the main street or onto narrow side alleys. They were similar in layout, usually with four rooms including storage space, sleeping rooms and what may be a family chapel. An open area at the rear of the house was used for cooking and storage, and a staircase led to the building's flat roof.

Deir el-Medina was excavated by Ernesto Schiaparelli and later by Bernard Bruyère. Their discoveries of papyri, ostraka and other finds have provided a wealth of information about the everyday lives of the inhabitants of the village. Many of these individuals, such as the Scribe of the Tomb Qeniherkhepeshef, are known by name. The village was probably abandoned when the area became unsafe due to civil unrest and Libyan raids.

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