Everyday Life in an Ancient Egyptian Village

Course summary

  • Sat 28 Jul 2018 to Sat 04 Aug 2018
  • Oxford
  • Course fees vary depending on accommodation – please see ‘Fees’, below.
  • 10 CATS points
  • Course code O17I403CAR
  • oussa@conted.ox.ac.uk
  • +44 (0) 1865 270396
  • Closed to new applications

Everyday Life in an Ancient Egyptian Village


Spend a week delving into the extraordinary archaeological and textual evidence from Deir el-Medina, the unique New Kingdom Village of Pharaoh’s artisans responsible for tomb-building in the Valley of the Kings. Discover how the 500 villagers, of whom a remarkable 40 per cent - including some women - were literate, earnt their living, received water and fuel, prepared a nutritious diet, and laundered their clothes. Uncover hooliganism, petty crime, and binge drinking; explore love, sex, marriage, and adultery; and appreciate care for the elderly and disabled. Visit the Ashmolean Museum, including a privileged ‘behind-the-scenes’ object handling session.

Programme details

Session One:
Archaeological evidence

Session Two:
Textual evidence

Session Three:
Village Hierarchy

Session Four:
Earning a Living

Session Five:
Village Health Care

Session Six:
Doing the Laundry

Session Seven:
Eating and Partying

Session Eight:
The workman Sennudjem

Session Nine:
The hooligan Merysekhmet

Session Ten:
The scoundrel Paneb

Session Eleven:
The historian Qenhirkhopshef

Session Twelve:
The widow Naunakhte


Recommended reading

Bierbrier, M.  1982.  The Tomb-Builders of the Pharaohs.  British Museum Publications.

McDowell, A.G.  1999.  Village Life in Ancient Egypt: Laundry Lists and Love Songs.  Oxford University Press.

Note from Tutor: The above texts should be read in advance and brought to class.

Lesko, L.H (ed.).  1994.  Pharaoh’s Workers: The Villagers of Deir el-Medina.  Cornell University Press.

Meskell, L.  2002.  Private Life in New Kingdom Egypt.  Princeton University Press.

Romer, J.  1984.  Ancient Lives: The Story of the Pharaohs’ Tombmakers       .  Weidenfeld and Nicolson. 

Note from Tutor: The above books are for background reading only - it is not necessary to bring them to class.


Concessionary Fee (No Accomm., inc. Tuition, Lunch & Dinner): £680.00
Programme Fee (No Accommodation - inc. Tuition, Lunch & Dinner): £790.00
Programme Fee (Standard Single Room - inc. Tuition and Meals): £1375.00
Programme Fee (Standard Twin Room - inc. Tuition and Meals): £1155.00
Programme Fee (Superior Single Room - inc. Tuition and Meals): £1480.00
Programme Fee (Superior Twin Room - inc. Tuition and Meals): £1245.00

Course fees vary depending on accommodation – please see ‘Fees’, below.


Mrs Rosalind Janssen


Rosalind Janssen is currently a Lecturer in Education at UCL's  Institute of Education. She was previously a Curator in the Petrie Museum, and then a Lecturer in Egyptology at the Institute of Archaeology. She has published widely in Egyptology.

Course aims

This course aims to increase awareness of the archaeology and textual evidence from Deir el-Medina, and of the lives and roles of named personalities who resided in this village

Course Objectives

This course will enable students to:

  • describe the archaeological features of the site
  • assess the significance of the surviving textual evidence
  • recognise the contributions of key personalities involved in village life

Teaching methods

All summer school courses are taught through group seminars and individual tutorials. Students also conduct private study when not in class and there is a well stocked library at OUDCE to support individual research needs.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be expected to understand:

  • the interplay between archaeology and philology at Deir el-Medina
  • the construction of identity at Deir el-Medina through class, gender, age, occupation, and ethnicity
  • the similarities and differences between daily life in Deir el-Medina and that in the Western world today


And students will be expected to have gained and/or developed the following skills:

  • the confidence to engage in class discussion
  • the ability to engage with material culture
  • learning autonomy through the submission of coursework

Assessment methods

Students are assessed during the summer school by either a 1500 word written assignment or a presentation supported by individual documentation. To successfully gain credit (10 CATS points) students should attend all classes and complete the on-course assignment. There is also a pre-course assignment of 1000 words set. Although this does not count towards credit, it is seen as an important way of developing a student's ideas and therefore its completion is mandatory.


To enrol online, click 'Book Now', above.  To enrol by post, please see details of the application process.