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On special occasions such as festivals (there were many of these) they were given a holiday and bonuses which may have consisted of extra rations of food such as meat or poultry and other ‘luxuries’.When work on a royal tomb slowed down the workers were laid off for a time and records indicate that the craftsmen would often have been employed in more menial tasks.
The site has yielded a huge amount of information about the daily lives of the inhabitants, their families and relationships, as well as their working and living conditions.
The dwellings were not unlike some of the traditional houses on the West Bank today.
The door lintels and jambs of the houses were painted red and often inscribed with the name of the inhabitant’s family.
There are also records of disputes in the village – probably inevitable in a small isolated community.
One such dispute is recorded between two individuals, Amen-nakht and Paneb over the office of foreman after the death of Amen-nakht’s brother.
They settled all minor matters of crime or dispute so that only the more serious cases needed to go before the vizier’s court.
Much of our information comes from the workmen who were buried in pyramid tombs surrounding Deir el-Medina.
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).
However, it was to be the first of several such strikes over pay and conditions.
The village had its own judiciary system which was comprised of leading members of the community.
There were also disputes over settlement of property, non-payment for goods received, theft and blasphemy.