Deir el-Medina is the modern Arabic name for the worker’s village (now an archaeological site)
which was home to the artisans and craftsmen of Thebes
who built and decorated the royal tombs in the nearby Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens.
The ancient inhabitants called the village Pa Demi (“the village”)
but it was referred to in official correspondence as Set-Ma’at (“The Place of Truth”)
because the workers there were thought to be inspired by the gods in creating the eternal homes of the deceased kings and their families.
Early in the Christian era the village, then deserted,
was occupied by monks who took over the Temple of Hathor for use as a cloister.
The temple was referred to as Deir el-Medina (“Monastery of the Town”) and this name finally came to be applied to the entire site.
Unlike most villages in ancient Egypt
which grew up organically from small settlements, Deir el-Medina was a planned community.
It was founded by Amenhotep I (c.1541-1520 BCE) specifically to house workers on royal tombs because tomb desecration and robbery had become a serious concern by his time.
It was decided that the royalty of Egypt would no longer advertise their final resting places with large monuments but, instead, would be buried in a less accessible area in tombs cut into the cliff walls.
These areas would become the necropolises now known as the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens
and those who lived in the village were known as “Servants in the Place of Truth” for their important role
in creating eternal homes and also remaining discreet regarding tomb contents and location.
DEIR EL-MEDINA IS AMONG THE MOST IMPORTANT ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES IN EGYPT
BECAUSE OF THE WEALTH OF INFORMATION
IT PROVIDES ON THE DAILY LIFE OF THE PEOPLE WHO LIVED THERE.
Deir el-Medina is among the most important archaeological sites in Egypt
because of the wealth of information, it provides on the daily life of the people who lived there.
Serious excavation at the site was begun in 1905 CE by the Italian archaeologist Ernesto Schiaparelli
and furthered by a number of others throughout the 20th century CE with some of the most extensive work done by French
archaeologist Bernard Bruyere between 1922-1940 CE.
At the same time, Howard Carter was bringing the treasures of the royalty to light from Tutankhamun’s tomb,
Bruyere was uncovering the lives of the working people who would have created that final resting place.