Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Valley of the Artisans Historical Information

Valley of the Artisans History Information
A few kilometers to the south of Cheik-Abd-el-Gurnah lies the valley known nowadays as Deir el-Medina, meaning “city convent” because once upon a time it was inhabited by the Copts of Thebaid. One can see the ruins of the village built at the time of Amon-Ofis I and inhabited by the workers who built and decorated the royal tombs of Thebes.
Activities in this valley lasted five centuries, from 1550 to 1000 B.C. and involved stone-cutters, paining by means of a path that passed over the steep hills around Deir el-Bahari. They left their children and women, who worked in the wheat and barley fields, at home. The workers toiled an eight-hour day for nine consecutive days and the tenth day of rest was assigned to the decoration of their own tombs. The teams of these known as the “Servants of Truth Square”, were directed by various superintendents and were divided into two groups depending on whether they worked on the right or left walls.

As workmen on the royal tombs, these craftsmen were considered the “holders of secrets” and therefore made to dwell in a village surrounded by walls. Workmen’s houses were small and simple; built alongside each other in dried brick, their interiors were white-washed. Generally speaking, they consisted of a tiny entrance, a reception hall a second room and a kitchen. Sometimes, but not often, they had a canteen and terrace. Nothing has remained of a probable decoration. On the west slope of the valley lies the necropolis. The tombs all consisted of a chapel and a small painted basement.

Tomb of Ipuy
A sculptor under Ramses II, Inpy had his tomb decorated with unusual, curious scenes: even though the style is rather brusque, its wealth of detail makes it one of the best-known tombs of the necropolis. One just had to mention the scene of the oculist putting drops in a patient’s eyes.
Tomb of Sennedjen
Sennedjen was a “Servant in Truth Square” and official of the necropolis at the time of the XIX Dynasty; perhaps, on account of the liveliness and freshness of its decoration, it is the most beautiful tomb of the necropolis. The main room of the tomb is more or less intact and is all that remains of the sepulchre; all the furniture contained therein is now on display at Cairo Museum.
Tomb of Inherkha
During the reigns of Ramses III and Ramses IV, Inherka filled the office of “Deputy Master of the two Egypt’s in Truth Square”: that is, he was head of a team entrusted with coordinating the work of workmen placed under him. He had two tombs built at the same time, but only the one furthest downstream and closest to the village is decorated in a lively, imaginative fashion.

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