Deir El Mdina

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Deir El Medina

Describe the village of Deir El Medina. The village of Deir El Medina grew from the time of the 18th Dynasty to the 20th. By its final stage approximately 70 houses stood within the village walls and 50 outside. Perhaps 600 people lived here by then. A wall surrounded the village approximately six meters high built of mud-brick. Gates were located at each end.
The villages of Deir El Medina made up a special government department under the vizier of Upper Egypt, and were a select largely hereditary group of scribes, quarrymen, stonemasons, artisans, and labourers, who created the final resting place for their divine rulers.

Describe in detail a typical workers house at Deir El Medina. Most of the houses in Deir El Medina were built in a standard elongated design, 15 by 5 meters. They had rubble bases and mud brick superstructures, and shared walls like today’s terrace housing. Each of these houses would have the following features. Down several steps from the street was an entrance room, with niches for offerings, stalae and busts. Often there were painted images, sometimes of the god Bes. A low bed-like structure has suggested to some archaeologists that the entrance room was also used as a birthing room.
A doorway led into the main room of the house, with raised dais by one wall, plastered and whitewashed. Against another wall may have been a small altar and offering table and niches for household gods. A small cellar was often located under this room, approached by a small flight of steps and covered by a wooden trapdoor.
Several small rooms may have led off the main room, possibly for sleeping, work or storage. At the rear was a small walled court, which served as the kitchen. It contained an oven for baking bread, a small grain storage silo, a container for water and grinding equipment. Another family shrine and another small cellar may also have been here.
A staircase led to the roof where the family might sleep or store goods. Windows were normally set high in the walls with a grill. Though the outside of the houses was whitewashed, traces of paintings have been found in the interior walls.
Refer to diagram 1.1

What type of furniture existed in such a household? The furniture was generally well made and often beautifully crafted. Nobles’ furniture was often inlaid with semi-precious stones and ivory and the villages often copied ...

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... and grape juice were commonly consumed by workers- wines were more expensive. Spices and herbs were used such as cinnamon, cumin and thyme.

ENTERTAINMENT- There is abundant information about leisure pursuits of Egyptian nobility. They hunted wild game such as the ibex, ostriches, gazelles, hares and wildfowl, and fished in the Nile. It is not certain if the villagers shared these pursuits. Villagers enjoyed music from instruments such as the harp, lyre, lute, flute and drum. Board games such as senet were also popular.

What was Egyptian Family life like? Houses held five to six people yet burials often included at least three generations. Marriages were generally arranged. There was no ceremony but complex legal arrangements were made. Divorce was simple; reasons given range from adultery to infertility or simple apathy. Women had considerable legal, economic and social status. Some even appeared to be literate. Children played like they do in every culture yet are often shown performing light work. Boys were educated in a nearby temple where they were taught reading, writing and arithmetic. Squabbles between families, and even within families appear to have been quite common.

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