Kahun, also referred to as Lahun, is a significant ancient Egyptian town that holds the distinction of being one of the earliest towns to be excavated.
Kahun was an ancient Egyptian city located in the Faiyum region of the country, dating back to the Middle Kingdom period around 2000 BC. This fascinating city was founded by the Pharaoh Senusret II and served as a hub for his workers who were constructing his nearby pyramid.
This town differed from others in that it was not intended for everyday living for the general population.
Rather, Kahun served as a temporary site for workers involved in constructing the Al-Lahun pyramid. Its construction dates back to 1895 BC, during the Middle Kingdom period of ancient Egypt, under the reign of King Senusret II.
It is considered a worker’s village due to its purpose, and its location has made it an important historical site for understanding the daily lives of ancient Egyptian workers.
Kahun was home to thousands of people and served as a bustling administrative and commercial center, with well-planned streets, residential areas, and public buildings.
Its strategic location along the Nile River made it a vital hub for trade and commerce in ancient times, allowing goods and people to flow freely between Upper and Lower Egypt.
The city of Kahun was built with great care and attention to detail, featuring an intricate network of streets and houses that were carefully designed to maximize efficiency and convenience.
Public buildings such as temples and administrative centres were also constructed with great skill and precision, showcasing the incredible craftsmanship of the ancient Egyptians.
Today, the ruins of Kahun provide a glimpse into the daily life of the ancient Egyptians, offering visitors a unique opportunity to step back in time and explore this incredible historical site.
The city’s ruins include well-preserved houses, temples, and public buildings, as well as a wealth of artifacts and archaeological finds that shed light on the culture, society, and beliefs of the ancient Egyptians.
Visitors to Kahun can explore the city’s well-planned streets and houses, marvel at the intricate carvings and decorations adorning its temples and public buildings, and learn about the daily life and work of the ancient Egyptians.
The site is particularly well-known for its incredible collection of pottery, which provides a fascinating insight into the daily lives of the city’s inhabitants.
In this article, we will delve into the fascinating history of Kahun and the many wonders that can be discovered there.
We will explore the city’s origins and development, its unique layout and architecture, and the incredible artifacts and finds that have been discovered within its walls.
Whether you’re a history buff, an archaeology enthusiast, or simply curious about the wonders of the ancient world, Kahun is a must-see destination that will leave you in awe of the incredible achievements of the ancient Egyptians.
The structure of the town of Kahun
Compared to other worker’s villages and pyramid towns, Kahun was larger in size and more complex in its layout.
It consisted of beamed houses, porticoes, brick walls, and pottery. Interestingly, evidence suggests that the King’s mortuary procedures took place in Kahun, as religious figures and personnel responsible for the king’s mortuary cult lived in the village.
Despite being a worker’s village, Kahun had a functioning legal and political system, with a mayor, a house of legal proceedings, and administrative offices.
Legal documents, such as land transfer deeds and wills, were found, along with medical papyri containing treatments for various medical conditions, from toothaches to infertility.
These papyri fragments, totaling about 1000, cover both legal and medical matters. Additionally, Kahun housed many people and even had lavish mansions with exclusive quarters for royalty.
Excavated artifacts included tools such as fishing nets, rakes, hoes, mallets, flints, copper chisels with wooden handles, and knives.
The town of Kahun was rectangular in shape and surrounded by a brick wall that extended along the north, west, and partly along the east sides.
The walled town covered approximately 14 hectares, and its estimated population density suggests that it was rather overpopulated.
The town was much smaller than the settlement at Giza from the 4th dynasty. Within the town, there was a wall that separated the poor and rich residential areas.
The rich residential area had houses that were about fifty times bigger than the houses in the poorer part of town.
The streets throughout the town were laid out in straight lines, and the main street was 9 meters wide.
The streets and alleys in the workers’ districts were narrow, some as narrow as 1.5 meters, and had shallow stone channels running down the middle for drainage.
There wasn’t much room for gardens within the walls of the city as the streets and mud-brick buildings covered the entire area.
These are various area of the town of Kahun
- The Acropolis
- The Temple Area
- Storage Area
- The West Quarter (Workers’ Dwellings)
- The East Quarter (The Great Houses)
- The Acropolis
The acropolis was a prominent aspect of the town, situated on the highest point and enclosed by a wall. It was accessed via a staircase and was guarded by a guardhouse.
It contained column bases, suggesting it was a significant structure. It’s believed that this area may have been used as the King’s official residence during his visits, but it appears to have been deserted and transformed into a landfill relatively quickly.
- The Temple Area
Very little is left of the temple area, and it is thought that Ramesses II of the 19th Dynasty dismantled the temple, which was originally constructed from stone.
The stones from the temple were then reused in the construction of the Heracleopolis temple that belonged to Ramesses II.
Within the temple’s foundation deposit, various objects were discovered including pottery, tools like chisels and knives, as well as other objects.
- Storage Area
Situated to the south of the southern Great Houses, the store rooms were designed with a limited number of entrances, making them easily controllable and secure.
- The West Quarter: Workers’ Dwellings
The houses for the workers in Kahun were modest, having only two to four rooms on the ground floor and measuring between 44 to 60 square meters.
The flat roofs of these houses served as both living and storage spaces and were accessible by stairs. However, those houses adjoining the inner wall on the eastern side were larger, having up to seven rooms.
Some of the dwellings had conical granaries on the ground floor, and the doorways were arched over while supporting walls had traces of brick barrel-vaulting.
Most of the roofs were made of wooden planks supported by beams and plastered over with mud. Although mud was abundant, not all roofs were built as barrel-vaults due to limited space within walled cities.
Having a second floor doubled the living area, which was highly desirable in such a densely populated town.
In addition, as Egypt is a hot and dry country, there was no need to roof over the houses. Instead, after adding a parapet or railing, the flat roof served as a sleeping quarter for most of the year.
- The East Quarter: The Great Houses
During the Middle Kingdom era, a village called Kahun was built to house the high officials and their families who oversaw the construction of the nearby Al-Lahun pyramid.
The village consisted of nine large Great Houses, which served as both living quarters and offices for the officials.
These houses contained various rooms that were likely used for different purposes, such as group activities, food production, and administrative tasks related to the granary.
The village also had a large courtyard at its center and integrated residential units containing identifiable bedrooms. However, after the completion of the pyramid, the village was mysteriously abandoned, leaving behind its advanced infrastructure and documents such as legal and medical papyri that provide insight into the daily lives of the inhabitants.
In conclusion, Kahun is a remarkable testament to the ingenuity and skill of the ancient Egyptians. This worker’s village provides a unique glimpse into the daily lives of the people who helped to construct one of the most impressive pyramids in Egypt.
The city’s carefully planned layout and impressive architecture showcase the incredible attention to detail that the ancient Egyptians were known for, and the artifacts and finds that have been discovered there provide a fascinating insight into the culture, society, and beliefs of this ancient civilization.
Overall, a visit to Kahun is an unforgettable experience that offers a rare glimpse into the daily life of the ancient Egyptians and their incredible achievements in architecture, art, and technology.
It also gives visitors the opportunity to step back in time and witness firsthand the incredible achievements of one of the world’s most fascinating and enduring cultures.
As we continue to explore and uncover the wonders of ancient Egypt, places like Kahun will continue to captivate and inspire us, offering new insights into the lives of the people who built one of the greatest civilizations in human history.