More than 3000 years ago a village was established at Thebes on the west bank of the Nile. Situated amid a barren and arid landscape, it housed the workers who created the tombs of the Pharaohs and the Valley of the Kings. It was through death and the ritual of burial that the Pharaohs became gods, and their elaborately carved and decorated temples were an essential part of this mystical process. Stonemasons, painters, sculptors, quarrymen, lived with their wives and children in the village, and worked closely together in the sacred valley. As well as building the magnificent tombs of the Pharaohs, they built their own tombs, erected temples for the village gods, and wrote prayers and recorded their thoughts on stone and papyri. This is the story of the Egyptian tomb-makers who, shortly after the death of Ramesses II, staged the first industrial action in recorded history. As the wealth of the Pharaohs dwindled, the tomb- makers began to plunder the very tombs they had built, helping to plunge Egypt into a spiral of decline and anarchy from which she never recovered.
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