Death by Nile: Punishing Policemen at Deir el-Medina

By Jennifer Cromwell Three papyri from the village Deir el-Medina, dating to the late New Kingdom, reveal a shocking event: the punishment of two policemen – medjay – with death by drowning in the Nile. Each letter is written from “the general of Pharaoh”, by his scribe Qenkhnum, to three people: the Scribe of the Necropolis,Continue reading “Death by Nile: Punishing Policemen at Deir el-Medina”

The First Recorded Strike in History

By Jenny Cromwell In year 29 of the reign of Rameses III, the workmen of the village of Deir el-Medina – state workers who were responsible for the construction of the royal tombs – went on strike. Consistent late payments and poor working conditions forced them to lay down their tools and walk out ofContinue reading “The First Recorded Strike in History”

Love in an Orchard

Jennifer Cromwell The scene: young lovers escape the heat of the early afternoon soon for the shade of an orchard. Concealed among the shadows, sheltered under the trees, they lose themselves in each other. Nobody is present to witness their tryst, except for the trees. From the New Kingdom (ca. 1,539–1,075 BCE) survives a smallContinue reading “Love in an Orchard”

Nomads, Mercenaries, and Goldmines: Desert Politics in the Ramesside Period

Julien Cooper When we think of Egypt’s wealth, our mind often wanders to geological riches. Most of this wealth originated in the Eastern Desert: the gold of Tutankhamun’s mask, the famous Egyptian eye-paints of kohl or malachite, or even the majestic purple porphyry columns that today hold up the roof in the Hagia Sophia inContinue reading “Nomads, Mercenaries, and Goldmines: Desert Politics in the Ramesside Period”

Ebony and Meretseger: On a New Kingdom Herd of Cows

Jennifer Cromwell A sale document from the Fayum showed us that Roman soldiers living here named their cows, as discussed in a previous post. But, they were not the first people in Egypt to do so – Egyptians had been naming their cows for millennia beforehand! On the back of a magical text from New Kingdom Thebes,Continue reading “Ebony and Meretseger: On a New Kingdom Herd of Cows”

Mob Rule and Personal Relations in an Egyptian Village

Jennifer Cromwell One night, an angry mob marched across the Egyptian village Deir el-Medina with the intention of beating up a woman. The woman’s crime? She had been sleeping with a married man for the past eight months.  “Your people – their old and their young, both men and women – were on the move atContinue reading “Mob Rule and Personal Relations in an Egyptian Village”

A Stingy Boss and a Lack of Beer

Jennifer Cromwell Deir el-Medina in western Thebes was home to a community of skilled workers, who were responsible for constructing and decorating the royal tombs of the period, in the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens. One draftsman from the village, Prehotep, perhaps after a particularly hard shift, just wanted toContinue reading “A Stingy Boss and a Lack of Beer”

His Mind is Shrouded in Darkness

Jennifer Cromwell Perhaps one of the best-known aspects of the Egyptian mummification process is that the brain was removed from the body and discarded. The brain’s function and importance were not understood. Instead, the heart was not only recognised as a beating organ that pumped blood, for the ancient Egyptian it was also the sourceContinue reading “His Mind is Shrouded in Darkness”

A Donkey Called Rameses

Jennifer Cromwell In the village of Deir el-Medina, the home of the workmen who built the royal tombs of the Valley of the Kings, donkeys were big business. While scenes from the New Kingdom show pharaoh riding a horse-drawn chariot into battle, neither horses nor camels played a part in the day-to-day lives of villagersContinue reading “A Donkey Called Rameses”