Saturday, July 31, 2010

Deir el-Medina in the Days of the Ramesses

The Louvre

Thanks to ongoing toothache and the inevitably resulting sleepless nights I have been pottering around some websites that I don't usually visit very often. I have found one or two old and newer items that, although hardly news, may be of interest. Hence this six-page article on the Louvre website and the earlier post today about the Faiyum and Saqqara. Others will be forthcoming.

Here's the introduction:

Nestled in a desert valley in the hills of Thebes across from Luxor in Upper Egypt, the site of Deir el-Medina contains vestiges of the dwellings and necropolis of the laborers and craftsmen who dug and decorated the tombs in the Valley of the Kings.

Uncovered in the early nineteenth century and methodically excavated from 1922 onward by the Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, the site of Deir el-Medina has made a unique contribution to our knowledge of pharaonic Egypt thanks to the secular, civilian nature of its remains. The village homes and objects discovered there allow us to reconstruct he daily lives of the families whose breadwinners devoted themselves to the "Grand and Noble Tomb of Millions of Years," a euphemism for the royal tomb then being built in the Valley of the Kings. Family life took place within the village of Deir el-Medina, while work was carried out in the Valley of the Kings or the Valley of the Queens, both located in the nearby Theban hills.

Objects discovered during the excavations, partly conserved in the Louvre, offer insight into the world of Deir el-Medina and provide unique access to a more intimate understanding of the ancient Egyptians. The sum of these vestiges—sometimes spectacular, sometimes modest—is nothing less than an overview of human deeds, personal aspirations, artistic creation, professional activities, fears and thoughts attributable to the community of individuals who lived in Deir el-Medina over three thousand years ago.

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