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“Calm and Serene - that is the Valley of the Artisans”

Valley of the Artisans (Deir el-Medina)
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Private Tour: Valley of the Nobles and Valley of the Artisans - Deir el-Medina...
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Full Day Tour in Luxor: Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut Temple, Karnak and...
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Ranked #8 of 85 things to do in Luxor
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Reviewed 29 July 2011

The best place to go to. I have visited this site many many times and never get tired of going. The atmosphere is lovely. Just sit and imaging the workers trekking across the mountains to the Valley of the Kings to start their day's work.

In the valley everything is so quiet and calm.

Thank Somethingelse
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 20 August 2009

I had negotiated with my guide to take me to Hatshepsut's Temple and Ramese III's palace, and he said that a visit to the valley of the artisans was included. Well. I wasn't expecting much, and at first sight all there seemed to be were waist high brick walls showing the layout of the village and the workmen's houses. However, when I descended into the Nobles' tombs I was amazed.
I had already been to the Valley of the Kings and although the wall paintings were impressive, they were almosy entirely stylised potraits of the Pharaoh and the Gods. Now here, in spaces about the size of an average dining room, were pictures showing how ordinary folk lived, sitting with their families, harvesting the fields, listening to music from a blind harpist. The animals, including baboons, cow and falcons are beautifully drawn with exquisite detail. and the ferocious rabbit-eared cat is worth the entry fee alone!
The freshness of the colours and freedom of execution (compared to the rigidity of the frecos in the Pharaohs' tombs) is amazing. These pictures more than any others bring ancient Egypt to life.
Yes, previous posters, you may have found it hot, and the climb down to the tombs hazardous. Well I visited in June with temperatures in the 40s, and had no problems negotiating the steps - and I'm in my 60s!

1  Thank doodlefish
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 April 2009

My visit to Deir al-Medina was on a March mid-morning and already the sun was hot. Most of the village is excavated and visitors can clearly see rooms, stairways, small open courts, streets, and other details that bring daily life for these people within our grasp.

I visited two of the workmen's tombs in the necropolis above...the Tomb of Sennedjem and the Tomb of Inherkhau. Both were small and accessed by narrow and steep stairs down into the rock. Only fifteen visitors were allowed inside at one time and visitors are advised to watch their footing as steps are uneven.

The freshness of the painting in Sennedjem's tomb (No. 1) is remarkable. The yellow ochre walls depict Sennedjem and his wife worshipping the gods, picking fruit, and tilling the fields. There are farm animals, birds, lush countrysides, and domestic scenes in clear view. Plexi-glass screens protect the painting from those who might want to touch. This is probably the best preserved tomb I visited while in Egypt and I suggest that any visitor try to see it.

The Tomb of Inherkhau (No. 359) is not in the same pristine condition, but it's also good to see. In the upper chamber is a very fine ceiling painting of grapes ready for harvest and just beyond is the famous cat of Heliopolis in the burial chamber. This tomb belonged to the "foreman of the mayor of the Two Lands."

Once back out of the tomb, visit the open air bookshop shaded by a roof. The views of the village from here are quite good and the books, post cards, and other items on sale are fixed price. I bought a very nice guide of the Luxor sites by Kent Weeks who has been excavating KV5 for almost fifteen years now.

Don't miss this site.

7  Thank redeco
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 May 2008

When entering Deir el-Medina (the modern Arabic name for the ruins of the village of the artisans), you have probably already visited the large tombs of the kings over in Valley of the Kings. If you ever wondered what those artisans did when they were not building for the king, you can see it here. They built tombs for themselves.

At first sight there is not much to see in Deir el-Medina. From the small parking lot, you walk a few meters to the wall enclosing the rather dull looking remains of the artisans houses. Here lived an average of 60 families through most of what Egyptologists call New Kingdom (from circa 1500 - 1000 BC). The men were employed more or less directly by pharao to build his tomb in Valley of the Kings, and they spent much of their work week in a base camp half way between the village and the Valley of the Kings. Remains of the camp can still be seen if you want to venture across the mountains (do not do this during the midday heat, early mornings are best). During the work week the wives, the children and the elderly lived in the village, looking after household chores etc.

During the weekends the artisans went home and worked on their own tombs. The tombs are very tiny, often cut deeply into the soft rock, and decorated in the most delicate manner. The hillside is dotted with artisan's tombs, but only three of them are open to the public:

The Tomb of Pashedu (Tomb number TT 3), The Tomb of Sennedjem (Tomb number TT 1) and finally The Tomb of In herkhau (Tomb number TT 359).

In Pashedu's tomb you will see exquisite paintings of Anubis (a jackal associated with the god of embalming) resting, of various other gods, for instance Osiris, god of the netherworld, sitting on a throne. The most famous painting from this tomb is the one showing Pashedu kneeling underneath a palm-tree planted on the edge of a dam. The hieroglyphic texts behind this scene is from The Book of the Dead.

Sennedjem's tomb is cut deep into the hillside. You then enter a small principal chamber painted with a beautiful yellow background color. The paintings are of various gods and goddesses and of Sennedjem and his wife. Even though the tombs of Deir el-Medina er very small, it was not unusual for several members of one family to be buried in the same tomb. In Sennedjem's tomb there were found at least 20 mummies.

The last tomb available for visitors is Inherkhau's tomb. The wall paintings are somewhat ruined, but there are many wonderful details. Look at the patterns on the ceiling, made to look like carpets or mats. One of the famous scenes in this tomb is the one showing the cat of Heliopolis (associated with the sun) slaying the snake called Apohis, who was, actually, the arch enemy of the sun.

All the tombs are rather small, and it is not adviceable for people suffering from claustrophobia to try and enter these tombs. You have to climp deeply and steeply to reach the tomb chambers.

At the opposite end of the ruins of the village lies a much younger temple. It is from the Ptolemaic Period (circa 331 - 31 BC) and is dedicated the goddess Hathor.

A large pit near the village was found in the early 1900's containg thousands of ostraca, limestone flakes, with journals, letters, accounts etc from Deir el-Medina, giving the scientists a very good idea about what life was like in Ancient Egypt between 1500 - 1000 BC.

The bookshop sells excellent books on Deir el-Medina and Egyptology in general, postcards and refreshments. And there is plenty of shade next to the bookshop. Go to Deir el-Medina for a glimpse into the daily life of an Ancient Egyptian. Bring a trustworthy guidebook.

10  Thank LouiseAl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 September 2006

Last week I visited the Valley of the Artisans near Luxor. It is close to the more famous Valley of the Kings.

The Valley of the Artisans is an amazing place, for here the men lived who decorated the nearby royal tombs. They worked for nine days and on their day off they worked on their own tombs. The surviving tomb decorations are quite beautiful, showing scenes from the everyday lives of the occupants, as well as the usual collection of Egyptian gods.

The remains of the village itelf are fascinating, with 3000 year old pieces of ancient Egyptian pottery covering the ground. While you're there take a look at the mini-pyramids and the Ptolemaic temple.

Glenn Christodoulou

8  Thank Glenn_C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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