Deir el-Medina is the Arabic name for the village in the Theban necropolis, once occupied by the pharaohs’ tomb-builders and the artisans of New Kingdom Thebes. It’s name means ‘Monastery of the Town’ and derives from the Coptic monks who occupied the Ptolemaic temple there during the early Christian period, but in ancient times it was known as ‘Set Ma’at’ (the Place of Truth) or simply ‘Pa-demi’ (the town)
Deir el-Medina is one of the most well-preserved ancient settlements in all Egypt. It lies near Thebes and was a highly skilled community of craftsmen who passed their expertise on from father to son. The community included the workmen and their wives, children and other dependents, as well as coppersmiths, carpenters, potters, basket-makers, and a part-time physician. The workers belonged to what we today would call the middle class, having no royal or noble connections, and much of their work was unglamorous.
These workers cut and prepared the tombs in the Valley of the Kings and in the Valley of the Queens, both on the West Bank at Thebes, and were administered directly by the vizier. They were better educated and better paid than the vast majority of their contemporaries elsewhere in Egypt. A number of the inhabitants augmented their income by producing furniture and funerary items for surrounding communities, and so they bought and sold in the west Theban markets, intermarried with the Theban population, and visited the Theban temples.
The village was located southeast of the Valley, on the Nile side of the western mountains, in a barren, waterless pocket in the hills. One hundred or more individuals including children lived in the community, and more than 30 foreign names have been identified there. In addition to the names of the viziers and other high officials who oversaw from Thebes, the names, families, and other details of the workmen’s lives are known.
How to get there: Deir el-Medina is situated behind the hill which separates the modern villages of Qurnet Murai and Sheikh Abd el-Qurna. It is around 10 minutes walk from the Antiquities Inspectorate. The village is usually approached today from the southern end, but only entrance to the main street is allowed. Tickets include entrance to the Workmens Village, the tombs of Sennedjem, Inherkau and the Temple of Hathor and cost EGP 30 from the main ticket office. An extra ticket is needed for the tomb of Peshedu.