Importance of Religion in Dier El-Medina.

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Outline the role and importance of religion for the workers in Deir el-Medina. 1000 words minimum.

Within the society, Dier el-Medina, religion played a vital role for the workers. In many aspects religion was their ‘boss’ as they respected their religion immensely and many of their moral and social rules were obtained for religion. Religion also played a critical role on how women acted and were treated by the workers and their families. Religion has also created Dier el-Medina culturally, as it combined numerous spiritual and physical aspects of this society based around religion to create this eccentric sophisticated society.

The workers within Dier el-Medina were very sophisticated men, as they were often referred to as ‘artisans’ rather than workers. These men worked hard, long days in the Valley of the Kings constructing tombs for the greatest known Pharaohs. Although they were somewhat governed by superior artisans known as ‘foreman’, the workers followed the moral rules of religion. That is they were, ‘servants in the place of truth’, in which enabled them to work without stealing, conspiring against others, causing issues and the like as it was seen to be a sin if they committed those crimes. There were various beliefs in Deir el-Medina on how tombs should be made and decorated, there were two types of tombs, a free standing tomb and a cut out rock tombs. The difference between the two is obvious, as the free standing tomb is positioned outside freely with only a small section underground for the burial chamber where as cut out rock tombs were created within mountain sides and therefore the tombs were made inside mountains. In the Dier el-Medina society it didn’t matter which of these two ways the artisans built the tombs, as they were both considered sacred and ‘the will of the gods’. Within both types of tomb there was a special room created for the workers to ‘purify’ themselves to the pharaoh or now god, as after a pharaoh or king died they were transformed into the sun god, ‘Ra’ and the god of the underworld ‘Osiris’. The workers confessed any sin or regret to the god in order to help his journey through the underworld easier, they also confessed because they believed that it was unholy for the tomb to be built on ‘false foundations’. The way the artisans decorated and painted the tombs of the Pharaohs was also vitally important, as it also helped the pharaoh through his journey in the underworld and thus made it easier for him to achieve eternal life. The workers would decorate the tombs with paintings of the Pharaohs journey through the underworld, they would also paint his life – how loyal he was to his people, how he never sinned and remained holy and pure, how he has abided by every rule (all rules derived from religion). There are no accounts of the workers in Dier el-Medina being punished for disobeying the rules of the foreman (except tomb raiders, who were often strays) simply because they were forced to follow rules by their gods who they believed held their future. The impact of religion on the workers in Dier el-Medina was large, in kept them ‘inline’ and trustworthy.

The role of women in Deir el-Medina is practically based on religion. The way women are treated by their husbands and families, and the way in which women are to act is all based on extracts from religious texts and proceedings. The women were often left alone whilst their husbands worked in the nearby Valley of the Kings, in this time women undertook numerous jobs and responsibilities. Although there were social rankings within Dier el-Medina, such as, the ‘stray’ or un-married women, the servants, wives/mothers, and women with religious power, they were all entitled to be treated a certain way according to religious texts and thus the culture of Deir el-Medina. The highest ranking position of women in Dier el-Medina were the women who held some aspect of religious power such as chantress’s and singers with official...
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