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smd.t lists / document lists for the service personnel of Deir el-Medina

(Kathrin Gabler)

Additional material to “Kathrin Gabler, Who’s who around Deir el-Medina. Untersuchungen zur Organisation, Prosopographie und Entwicklung des Versorgungspersonals für die Arbeitersiedlung und das Tal der Könige (EU 31; Leiden / Leuven, 2018).“


The tables and lists originally comprised a large part of the second volume of my PhD which was successfully defended at the LMU Munich in 2016. For the printed version the name lists of this second volume were incorporated into the volume Egyptologische Uitgaven 31, while extended lists of documents relating to the smd.t / n bnr / n pA xr are available as a supplement in open access format and for download on the homepage of the Deir el-Medina database. The omission of the longest tables from the book had practical reasons for print, and the individual PDFs allow a better comparison with references given in EU 31. For the opportunity to upload the files to the DMD Leiden I am grateful to R. J. Demarée, B.JJ. Haring and H. van den Berg.

Summary of EU 31

The ‘Who’s who around Deir el-Medina’ investigates the service personnel (smd.t) of the Deir el-Medina community for the first time in a holistic approach: all its potential members and their tasks are studied on the basis of about 1500 sources, mostly hieratic administrative documents from the Ramesside period. Around 600 men were identified who supplied the community of workmen with food and material. They belonged to 12 different job categories which can be divided into two main groups: 1. those who held jobs or titles attested mostly in texts from Deir el-Medina, and 2. those who held jobs or titles well-known from different sources throughout the history of Ancient Egypt. The members of the first group (woodcutters, water-carriers and gypsum-makers) only needed a strong physical constitution and knowledge of Deir el-Medina, its work and the purpose of the settlement; by contrast the members of the second group (fishermen, gardeners, potters, washermen, confectioners and coppersmiths) required special knowledge, training and experience, as well as access and proximity to certain materials, resources and equipment.

The diachronic presentation of the material, which includes also information from other periods and sources, shows that the smd.t n pA xr developed in the reign of Ramesses II. Previous simple tasks of group 1, which were originally performed by youngsters of the workmen’s families, were combined with the traditionally external duties of specialists from group 2. The model for the smd.t of Deir el-Medina was copied from other institutions that followed similar organisational principles. Around three generations after the introduction of this working system, we can observe a grown social structure among the different job groups at the beginning of the 20th dynasty. This structure can be reconstructed in a detailed way due to the well preserved texts from the reigns of Ramesses III and IV. The formation and composition of the service personnel was highly influenced by geographical, administrative, social, political and economic developments of Deir el-Medina in the 19th and 20th dynasty. Therefore the smd.t n pA xr was a flexible group whose composition and work load was changed and adjusted several times.

The results mainly gained from textual evidence could be combined with the available information from the occupation phases of the settlement, the tombs and structures in the Valley of the Kings and in the Valley of the Queens as well as with the mortuary temples and correlated with the state of preservation of different sources.

The study presents a complex picture of Deir el-Medina. The diachronic approach gives insights into changes and developments during the Ramesside period which reveal a constant transition among the jobs groups and titles in and around the community of workmen over a period of about 250 years.


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