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Living in a City of the Dead: A Selection of Topographical and Administrative Terms in the Documents of the Theban Necropolis


Ventura, Raphael (1986). Living in a City of the Dead: A Selection of Topographical and Administrative Terms in the Documents of the Theban Necropolis. Freiburg, Switzerland / Göttingen, Germany: Universitätsverlag / Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Abstract

The village of Deir el-Medina in Western Thebes has yielded an enormous quantity of written documents composed by the local scribes throughout the Ramesside Period. These documents illuminate sharply the living conditions and the activities of a unique community of workmen, whose lives were devoted to the preparation and safeguarding of the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings.
By the very nature of their activities, the workmen of Deir el-Medina and their families had knowledge of a most preciously kept secret, that of the whereabouts of the hidden, rock-cut royal tombs and their layout. To avoid the diffusion of this information to potential tomb-robbers, the Egyptian administration devised a whole series of measures which brought about an almost total isolation for the workmen and their family. Under these extreme conditions, a special society developed, unparalleled elsewhere in Egypt, which was self-sufficient in many respects.
To understand thoroughly the documents of this site, one has to familiarize oneself with the carious topographical and administrative terms recurring in them, which, having been locally coined, held little meaning to outsiders and even less to the modern investigator.
The purpose of this book has been to define the most basic among these terms by using internal evidence only, and by carefully differentiating between their official and colloquial uses.
By providing a set of well researched and abundantly documented basic terms, the author has been able to reveal a coherent picture of life and work in the desert under very restricting and yet bearable conditions. The emphasis put by Cerny on the royal tomb under construction is shown to be excessive, and the village of Deir el-Medina comes out as a center of activity not less important, in the eyes of its inhabitants, than the Valley of the Kings.

Abstract

The village of Deir el-Medina in Western Thebes has yielded an enormous quantity of written documents composed by the local scribes throughout the Ramesside Period. These documents illuminate sharply the living conditions and the activities of a unique community of workmen, whose lives were devoted to the preparation and safeguarding of the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings.
By the very nature of their activities, the workmen of Deir el-Medina and their families had knowledge of a most preciously kept secret, that of the whereabouts of the hidden, rock-cut royal tombs and their layout. To avoid the diffusion of this information to potential tomb-robbers, the Egyptian administration devised a whole series of measures which brought about an almost total isolation for the workmen and their family. Under these extreme conditions, a special society developed, unparalleled elsewhere in Egypt, which was self-sufficient in many respects.
To understand thoroughly the documents of this site, one has to familiarize oneself with the carious topographical and administrative terms recurring in them, which, having been locally coined, held little meaning to outsiders and even less to the modern investigator.
The purpose of this book has been to define the most basic among these terms by using internal evidence only, and by carefully differentiating between their official and colloquial uses.
By providing a set of well researched and abundantly documented basic terms, the author has been able to reveal a coherent picture of life and work in the desert under very restricting and yet bearable conditions. The emphasis put by Cerny on the royal tomb under construction is shown to be excessive, and the village of Deir el-Medina comes out as a center of activity not less important, in the eyes of its inhabitants, than the Valley of the Kings.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Monograph
Communities & Collections:Special Collections > Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis
Dewey Decimal Classification:200 Religion
290 Other religions
930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499)
Language:English
Date:1986
Deposited On:24 Apr 2018 09:45
Last Modified:31 Jul 2018 06:30
Publisher:Universitätsverlag / Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht
Series Name:Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis
Volume:69
Number of Pages:227
ISBN:3-7278-0355-X
Additional Information:Digitalisat erstellt durch Florina Tischhauser, Religionswissenschaftliches Seminar, Universität Zürich
OA Status:Green
Related URLs:https://www.zora.uzh.ch/54117/

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