After completing the lectures and readings for week 5, I decided to write my post on the city of Kahun. Kahun is an important site, and it was the first ancient Egyptian town that was ever excavated (Chapter 7). Kahun is unlike other towns in that it was not a town that was meant for regular life and the general population. Kahun was a temporary living site for the workers building the pyramid, Al-Lahun, and was abandoned on its 13th century completion. This worker’s village was build under the reign of King Senusret. Similarly to Antinoopolis, was disturbed after its abandonment.
Kahun was first excavated by Sir Flinders Petrie in the late 19th century, where he found papyri stating, “King Senusret is at peace”, signifying that the completion of the pyramid is what prompted these worker’s to be in Kahun. Sir Flinders Petrie found Kahun to be especially interesting in that it was much larger and more intricate than many other worker’s villages. Structures such as beamed houses and even porticoes were found in Kahun. There was also evidence that the King’s mortuary procedures took place in Kahun as religious figures were found to live in Kahun.
The village housed many people, and notably contained many lavish mansions including quarters that were suited for royalty. We know that Kahun is a worker’s village as many of the artifacts excavated were tools such as: fishing nets, hoes, rakes, mallets, flints, chisels, and knives. However, Kahun still had a functioning political and legal side as well. Kahun had not only a mayor, but also a house of legal proceedings and administrative offices. Documents such as land transfer deeds and wills were also found.
There were many documents and papyri found like the ones previously mentioned, but perhaps most interesting were the medical papyri found in Kahun. The medical papyri contain passages which outline examined conditions and treatments used to treat them by the people of Kahun [and likely other people of the time period]. These conditions range from tooth aches to sore muscles and even infertility.
The town of Kahun was a large working village that unmysteriously just disappeared after the completion of the Pyramid for Senusret. They left behind not only their advanced buildings and infrastruction, but their legal and periodic documents and medical papyri that tell us so much about the city and people of Kahun in the Middle Kingdom.
-Britannica Encyclopedia. Kahun, Egypt. 2012.
-Chapter 7: The Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period
-Parsons, M. Egypt: Kahun, Middle Kingdom Worker’s Village. African Travel Association, 1996.