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The tombs of Deir el-Medina

The ancient Egyptians regarded the human life as cyclical, an experience which, like the endless re-emergence of the sun each dawn, could be expected to repeat itself throughout eternity. Death was regarded not as an end, but a further change, leading forward to another type of existence. They recognised death was inevitable but believed that by passing through it could the afterlife be attained (Taylor,2001,12). This conception was the product of many centuries of thought. Various means could ensure their eternal life : piety to the gods, the preservations of the body through mummification, and the provision of statuary and other funerary equipment.

The body and the funerary equipment of various kinds were usually placed within a tomb. The tombs were almost always subterranean, usually comprising a simple pit, a rock-cut room or a chamber of mud-brick or stone.

E50 Deir el-Medina.jpg
The main cemetery of the royal workmen at Deir el-Medina is situated to the west of the village, on the slope of the Theban hills. Most of the tombs were built during the 19th dynasty. Some of them are impressive in their decoration and size. By the time of the 20th dynasty the tombs had been turned into family tombs in which the descendants of the original owners were buried. Little alterations were made apart from the addition of another subterranean burial chamber. The lower courses of the eastern hill of Qurnet Mura'i were the site of burials of babies and children. More than a hundred children were buried in common domestic pottery jars or amphorae, in baskets, even fish baskets, in chests, boxes or in proper coffins there. The poorest burials were those of still-born babies. They contained no jewellery or amulets, only small vessels filled with food for the afterlife. The adults' graves were situated higher up. Many of these graves date from the 18th dynasty.
Luxor2 075.jpg
View of the cemetery at the northern side
of the settlement looking towards west
The settlement's tombs had a basic plan: at ground level a small open courtyard, a vaulted chapel of one or more rooms surmounted by a brick pyramid topped with a stone pyramidion. A shaft in the courtyard led into an underground passage and a decorated burial chamber or chambers, depending on the individual's means and status. The main subterranean chamber usually had a vaulted roof and was very brightly decorated. Stelae were set into the mud-brick walls and a large stela, commemorating the deceased and depicting his funeral, was placed in the courtyard.
A tomb at the southern part of the settlement
A number of the tombs are still in an excellent state of preservation. Their decoration boast vivid colours against a rich yellow background possibly suggesting the colour of papyrus. The themes of the decorated walls are not scenes of daily life or funerary ceremonies but instead are devoted almost exclusively to texts and scenes from the Book of the Dead, borrowing from the same repertoire of religious scenes that appear on the walls of royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings.
As the Harpist's Song in the tomb of King Intef puts it:

"Increase your happiness!
Be not weary-hearted! Follow your heart and happiness!
Make your things on earth! Do not destroy your heart,
until that day of lamentation comes for you!
The Weary-hearted does not hear their lamentation;
mourning cannot save a man from the tomb-pit.         

Make holiday! Do not weary of it!
Look, no one can take his things with him.
Look, no one who has gone there returns again."

(translation from Parkinson,1991,146)
Inside the vaulted chapel
The surviving niche of Ramose's chapel complex of his
tomb no. 212.
Chapel north of the tomb 356
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List of Deir el-Medina tombs     

1   - Sennedjem, Servant in the Place of Truth under Seti I and Ramesses II (also link to
2   - Khabekhnet, Servant in the Place of Truth
3   - Pashedu, Servant in the Place of Truth on the west of Thebes (Also owner of tomb 326)       
4   - Qen (link to the Griffith Institute Archive), Chiseller of Amūn in the Place of Truth. (Perhaps also owner of tomb 337.)

        Rameses II         
5   - Neferabu, Servant in the Place of Truth on the west of Thebes. Ramesside
6   - Neferhotep and son Nebnefer (link to
7   - Ramose (link to (also tombs 212 and  250)
8   - Kha, architect of Amenhotep II
9   - Amenmose
10  - Kasa and Penbuy (link to the Griffith Institute Archive)
206 - Inpumheb, scribe of the Place of Truth
210 - Raweben
211 - Paneb
212 - Ramose, scribe of the Place of Truth (also tombs 7 and 250) (also link to
213 - Penamun
214 - Khawi, guard in the Place of Truth
215 - Amenemopet, scribe of the king in the Place of Truth (link to the Griffith Institute Archive)  (also tomb 265)
216 - Neferhotep, the foreman (link to
217 - Ipuy, sculptor under Ramesses II (link to the Griffith Institute Archive)
218 - Amenakhte and Iymway. Excavated by Bruyère in 1928
219 - Nebenmaat. Excavated by Bruyère in 1928
220 - Khaemteri. Excavated by Bruyère in 1928
250 - Ramose, scribe of the Place of Truth (link to (also tombs 7 and  212)
265 - Amenemopet, scribe of the king in the Place of Truth (also tomb 215)
266 - Amennakht, chief craftsman of the Lord of the Two Lands in the Place of Truth
267 - Hay, officer of workmen in the Place of Truth
268 - Nebnakhte (family tomb)
290 - Irynefer
291 - Nakhtmin or Nu
292 - Pashedu         
298 - Baki or Wennefer
299 - Inherkau (also tomb 359)
321 - Khaemopet
322 - Penshenabu
323 - Pashedu, draughtsman in the Place of Truth
325 - Simen
326 - Pashedu, foreman (also tomb 3)
327 - Turobay
328 - Hay
329 - Mose and Ipy
330 - Karo
335 - Nakhtamun (link to        
336 - Neferrenpet
337 - Eskhons and Qen, chiseller in the Place of Truth
338 - May
339 - Huy or Pashedu (Ramesside Period)
340 - Amenemhat (link to (also tomb 354)
354 - Amenemhat (also tomb 340)
355 - Amenpahapy
356 - Amonemuia. Excavated by Bruyère in 1928
357 - Tutihermaktuf. Excavated by Bruyère in 1929
359 - Inherkau, foreman in the Place of Truth under Ramesses III and IV (also tomb 299)(link to
360 - Qeh, foreman in the Place of Truth
361 - Huy, main carpenter in the Place of Truth

Tombs and pits excavated by Bruyère in 1928
1102 - 19th dynasty
1119 - Ramesside tomb -
1129 - 18th dynasty
1130 - situated 9 m north of the court of TT337
1131 - situated 4 m at 6 degrees north of TT337. 18th dynasty objects found
1132 - situated 10 m north of No 1130
1133 - situated 9 m from TT3. 5 steps staircase, simple chamber, amphorae fragments found
1134 - situated east of TT1133
1135 - situated 10 m east of TT325 chapel
1136 - situated 8.20 m south-west of TT325 chapel
1137 - situated 5.35 m north-east of TT337 court. 18th dynasty brick and 18th dynasty hieratic inscription found found
1138 - Nakhy and Amenwahsu. Situated south of TT325 chapel. 18th dynasty. 64 funerary cones found
1139 - situated 14 m north of TT337
1140 - 18th dynasty
1141 - situated 8 m east of 1139
1142 - situated 5 m east of TT337
1143 - situated 8.7 m east of 1140. Pit 2.9 m deep. Pottery fragments found
1144 - situated 5 m nort-east of 1139. Pit 3.45 m deep. 18th dynasty. Pottery fragments found
1145 - situated 13 m east of TT 340. Pit 3.65 m deep. 18th dynasty. Pottery
1146 - rectangular, 3.2 m long
1147 -
1148 - style of the 18th dynasty
1149 - situated 8.7 m north of TT329 court and 8.2 m west of TT250 chapel
1150 - north of TT250. Brick with cartouche of Tuthmosis IV (1419-1386 BC) found. 18th dynasty
1151 - fragments of pottery found
1159 - pit 1. Hermes, pit 2. Sennefer
1160 - situated south of TT250. 18th dynasty
1162 - 18th dynasty
1163 - 18th and 19th dynasty. Brick with cartouche of Tuthmosis I (1524-1518 BC)
1161 - 18th dynasty, pit 3.90 m, 1 vertical chamber
1164 - 18th, 19th dynasty. Pottery found. The owner identified as Aamek
1165 - 18th dynasty
1166 - name of the owner lost, 18th dynasty
1168 - 18th dynasty
1169 - 18th dynasty
1170 - 18th dynasty.
1176 - 18th dynasty
1180 - 18th dynasty
1181 - 18th dynasty
1182 - 18th dynasty
1206 - anonymous


The text on this page was written by Lenka Peacock using the sources below.
Photography © Lenka and Andy Peacock

1. Benderitter, Thierry:
2. Bruyère, Bernard : Tombes Thebaines. La Necropole de Deir el-Medineh. Tom 1. Cairo : 1926.

3. Bruyère, Bernard: Rapport sur les Fouilles de Deir el Medineh (1928)

Le Caire : Imprimerie de l'Institut Francais d'Archeologie Orientale, 1929.
4. David, A. Rosalie: The pyramid builders of ancient Egypt : a modern investigation of Pharaoh's workforce.
London : Routledge, 1986.
5. Deir el-Medina in the third millenniuim AD : a tribute to Jac. J. Janssen / edited by R. J. Demarée and A. Egberts
Leiden : Nederlands Instituut voor Het Nabije Oosten, 2000.
6. Janssen, Rosalind and Janssen, Jac. J.: Growing up and getting old in ancient Egypt
London : Golden House Publications, 2007.
Parkinson, Richard: Voices from Ancient Egypt
London : British Museum Press, 1991.

8. Shaw, Ian: British Museum dictionary of ancient Egypt. London : British Museum Press, 1995.

9. Taylor, John H.: Death and the afterlife in ancient Egypt London : British Museum Press, 2001.
10. Waseda University Institute of Egyptology web site at

11. Weeks, Kent R.: The treasures of Luxor and the Valley of the Kings

Cercelli : White Star Publishers, 2005

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