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Valley of the Workers - Luxor

Posted by: johnmcc

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Located on the west bank of the Nile, the necropolis of Deir el-Medina is an ancient Egyptian complete walled village. Within the village, living in modest houses in winding streets, artisans worked on tombs in the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens creating fabulous gateways into another world for the deceased Egyptian king or queen. Excavation began on the site in 1922 when the world was agog with news that Howard Carter had discovered the Tomb of Tutankhamun which resulted in little notice being given to the works and excavations of Bernard Bruvère and his team. These excavations resulted in the most complete account of the daily life and times of workers in ancient Egypt which spans some four hundred years. 

A mixed population of Egyptians, Nubians and Asiatic people worked menial tasks as labourers, stone-cutters and water carriers. Some worked with the artisans in the decoration of the royal tombs and the temples. So important were the works carried out by the artisans and workmen that cooked meals were delivered to them by the women of the village, when working on the tombs meant overnight stays away from the village. During their days off, the workmen were allowed to work on their own tombs and what fabulous tombs they created. Due to their unequalled skills and craftsmanship their personal and family tombs are considered to be almost unequalled in decoration, with colours still as vibrant today and still as beautiful. 

Excavated papyri give an unsolicited insight into the complete workings of the village, which was governed by the people, who were not slaves but free citizens. It would appear from these writings that nearly all of the community, men, woman and children where educated to the extent that virtually all could read and write. Woman had status in this village with some obtaining their own wealth.

A visit to the village and tombs in Deir el-Medina gives a fascinating glimpse of the life and the times of the artisans. A trip to the village can be arranged as part of a Nile Cruise & Stay holiday; you can extend your stay in Luxor after your Nile Cruise and a private tour to the village can be organised.

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