Deir al-Medina

sights / Religious

Deir al-Medina information

Luxor , Egypt
adult/student E£40/20, extra ticket for Tomb of Peshedu adult/student E£15/10
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This site takes its name from a Ptolemaic temple, later converted to a Coptic monastery, but the real attraction is the unique ruined settlement, the Workmen’s Village . Many of the workers and artists who created tombs in the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens lived and were buried here. Archaeologists have uncovered more than 70 houses in this village and many tombs, the most beautiful of which are now open to the public.

About 1km off the road to the Valley of the Queens and up a short, steep paved road, the small Ptolemaic-era temple, measuring only 10m by 15m, was built between 221 and 116 BC. It was dedicated to Hathor, the goddess of pleasure and love, and to Maat, the goddess of truth and personification of cosmic order. In front of the temple are the remains of the workers' village, mostly low walls although there are also remains of ancient irrigation pipes. More impressive, however, are the nearby tombs.

The beautifully adorned tomb of Inherka (No 359) belonged to a 19th-dynasty servant who worked in the Place of Truth, the Valley of the Kings. The one-room tomb has magnificent wall paintings, including the famous scene of a cat (representing the sun god Ra) killing a snake (representing the evil serpent Apophis) under a sacred tree, on the left wall. There are also beautiful domestic scenes of Inherka with his wife and children. Right next to it is the tomb of Sennedjem (No 1), a stunningly decorated 19th-dynasty tomb that contains two small chambers and some equally exquisite paintings. Sennedjem was an artist who lived during the reigns of Seti I and Ramses II and it seems he ensured his own tomb was as finely decorated as those of his masters. Due to the popularity and small size of both these tombs, only 10 people at a time are allowed inside; it’s likely you’ll find yourself in a queue.

While you wait, take a look at the 19th-dynasty tomb of Peshedu (No 3) just up the slope from the other two tombs. Peshedu was another servant in the Place of Truth and can be seen in the burial chamber praying under a palm tree beside a lake.

Close by is the tomb of Ipy (No 217), a sculptor during the reign of Ramses II. Here scenes of everyday life eclipse the usual emphasis on ritual, with scenes of farming and hunting, and a depiction of Ipy’s house in its flower- and fruit-filled garden.