Bioarchaeology at Deir el-Medina

In 2012 through 2015, I worked on the mission at Deir el-Medina run by Dr. Cédric Gobeil of the Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale. During these two years, I studied over 500 human remains from several different tombs and contexts at the site.

Our main objectives during this mission were to document, conserve, and catalog the human remains for future study. The following chart shows our progress through the 2014 season on Theban Tomb (TT) 6 (Neferhotep and Nebnefer), 217 (Ipuy), and 291 (remains originally belonged in the tomb of Iry-Nefer). Remains were also found in the village during cleaning. The values represent the remains in their commingled state, and consequently include a mix of individual elements, complete mummies, and articulated regions of the body. This means that you should not use these numbers to estimate the number of individuals buried in these tombs at Deir el-Medina.

These human remains date from the 18th dynasty to the Greco-Roman period, and this research offers some of our first glimpses into the realities of life at Deir el-Medina. Data from the human remains at Deir el-Medina will be used to help us construct better ideas about health at the site. Specifically, they will inform us about:

  1. Demography
  2. Infectious disease
  3. Dental health
  4. Occupational stress
  5. Trauma


While the majority of my research focuses on the skeletonized remains at Deir el-Medina, I spent 2015 focusing on the mummified fragments in TT291. Salima Ikram joined our mission in order to x-ray these mummies. Over 100 mummified fragments were inventoried and 24 were recorded in detail (including x-rays).

– Anne Austin c