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Deir el Medina: panoramic view

Panoramic view of the 18th-20th Dynasty workers' town, Deir el-Medina.

TDeir el-Medina was a New Kingdom town for artisans, built on the west bank of the Nile during the reign of Thutmose I (1524-1518 BC). For several hundred years during the 18th-20th Dynasties, the town housed generations of craftsworkers and their families. These were the architects, stonemasons, sculptors, painters, and many other artisans who built and decorated the tombs of the Pharaohs in the nearby Valley of the Kings. The village, first excavated by Flinders Petrie in the 1880s-90s, was laid out in a rectangular plan inside of a brick enclosure. Along a series of parallel streets were mud-brick houses containing several rooms, often arranged around a central atrium. The town had its own necropolis, with underground tombs carved into nearby hills and cliffs (seen at right in fig.1). Petrie and later excavators have found a multitude of objects relating to both the daily life of the inhabitants, and their funerary and religious cults, as well as numerous inscriptions on media ranging from ostraca to stelae. Near the necropolis was a temple compound (the large walled structure at left in fig.1). The Arabic name "Deir el-Medina," which means "the Convent of the Town," derives from the temple's final use as a Coptic monastery.

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