Institute of Archaeology


Material Cultures of Prehistoric and Dynastic Egypt and Sudan

The Institute of Archaeology is at the forefront of current research on the material cultures of prehistoric and dynastic Egypt, owing not least to the collections of the Petrie Museum, and their central role in the development of Egyptian archaeology. Researchers at the Institute also have an exceptional track record of applying novel methodologies—derived from diverse areas of the social and historical sciences—to Egyptian material. They have been similarly at the forefront of innovative approaches to the history of archaeology in Egypt (as well as neighbouring regions of Africa and Asia), including critical evaluations of earlier methodologies (including field, museum, and university contexts) and their impact upon contemporary understandings and representations of the past.


  • September 2015 IoA fieldwork in Middle Egypt. Informal seminar to be given by Richard Bussmann on 2 December 2015.
  • The incredulity of 'belief': obscuring ancient religionshe incredulity of 'belief': obscuring ancient religions. Informal seminar to be given by Jason Davies on 25 November 2015.
  • Egypt and Rome. Lecture to be given by Alan Bowman on 17 November 2015.
  • Mummified baboons and long-distance maritime trade. Informal seminar to be given by Nathaniel Dominy on 28 October 2015.
  • Coptic iconography: the contemporary style. Informal seminar to be given by Stéphane René on 20 October 2015.
  • The Figurative Power of Prayer The “Ode to the Goddess” (EA 194) as a theological justification of the god’s wife of Amun as an institution at the end of the 20th Dynasty. Informal seminar given by Amr El Hawary on 7 October 2015.
  • Archaeology, Heritage and people in Middle Egypt: new UCL initiatives. Seminar given by Richard Bussmann, Beverley Butler & Stephen Quirke (UCL) on 9 June 2015.
  • Vision and Conceptualisation in ancient Egyptian art. Seminar given by Rune Nyord (University of Cambridge) on 2 June 2015.
  • Silos and grain management in Ancient Egypt. Seminar given by Martina Bardonova (Prague University) on 18 March 2015.
  • Syene: The Development of the Town from Pharaonic Times onwards Recent Discoveries of the Swiss-Egyptian Joint Mission at Old Aswan. Seminar given by Wolfgang Müller (Swiss Institute in Cairo) on 10 October 2014. 
  • Fruits seem more beautiful than they actually are if they are floating in a glass bowl" (Plinius) - Egyptian glass of the first millennium AD: an archaeological and scientific approach. Seminar given by Daniela Rosenow on 27 March 2014. 
  • From Neolithisation to state formation in Egypt: Introducing two new UCL research projects. Seminar given by Noriyuki Shirai and Grazia A. Di Pietro on 30 January 2014.  
  • The Fayum Depression 10,000-6000 BP: New Results and Analysis of Egyptian Epi-Palaeolithic and Neolithic Deposits. Seminar given by Simon Holdaway at SOAS on 28 October 2013.
  • Informal discussion event on Beyond Nature and Culture in Ancient Egypt? at the UCL Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology on 18 October 2013. 
  • Forming Material Egypt: Institute of Archaeology Annual Conference 20-21 May 2013. 
  • History Rewritten: Ancient Egyptian Art revived through post-revolutionary graffiti in Cairo. Seminar given by Soraya Morayef on 2 May 2013.  
  • The research network held a workshop on Collecting Rural Egypt in the Early 20th Century at the UCL Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology on 12 December 2012. 

Related outputs

  • 'A New Chronology for the Formation of the Egyptian State': a 3-year project funded by the Leverhume Trust, in collaboration with the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit. Building upon the recent completion of the Oxford Unit's chronometric dating of dynastic Egypt (published in Science), this project commenced in 2010 with the aim of providing a comprehensive new chronology for the period ranging from Neolithic to Early Dynastic (c.5000 to 2600 BC).
  • ‘Birth Tusks: protecting mother and child in Egypt 1850-1750 BC’: among the distinctive Egyptian products of the 2nd millennium BC are planed long sections from hippopotamus tusks, with figures incised or carved in relief, on one, sometimes both flat surfaces. Preliminary cataloguing indicates that these "birth tusks‟ were produced in the late Middle Bronze Age only, as part of a broader array of birth-related materials (1850-1750 BC). The project seeks (1) to deploy the laboratory facilities of the Institute to examine evidence for use in traces of wear, and to develop the interdisciplinary interface for investigation of the object category, (2) to consider relations between the archaeology of Egypt and adjacent regions, where tusks and their impact can be found (south to Kerma, north to Ugarit and Ebla), and (3) to work at the interface of archaeology and Medical Anthropology, under the UCL Grand Challenges 'Intercultural Interactions' and 'Global Health'.
  • ‘Administrative praxis in the formation of the Egyptian state’: aims at redefining the role of administration during the state formation period in Egypt. It takes the documentation and analysis of an unpublished corpus of seals and seal impressions from the town of Hierakonpolis as a basis for exploring administration as a social practice. Contrary to restricted philological approaches the focus will be on the materiality of administration encompassing the correlation between inscriptions and objects sealed, reconsidering the archaeological, social, and functional contexts of administrative data, framing the use of writing in the broader context of communicative practices, and exploring the socio- cultural profile of administrative actors named in the seal inscriptions through comparison to funerary data, e. g. tomb inscriptions, burial equipments, and cemetery organisation. The project develops a social anthropological view on Egyptian administration and opens the Egyptology-centred field to neighbouring disciplines within and outside UCL.
  • 'The Human Form in Transition: Anthropomorphic Figurines of Prehistoric and Early Dynastic Egypt': a legacy to the Institute from Professor Peter Ucko and Dr Barbara Adams, this corpus represents their unfinished work on the comprehensive documentation and comparative interpretation of anthropomorphic figures from early Egypt. The material is a bequest from Dr Jane Hubert, who serves as advisor to the group on developing a strategy for its publication and further investigation. The archive includes important contributions on figurines from all the major prehistoric/Early Dynastic field projects underway in Egypt, down to 2005.
  • R. Bußmann, Die Provinztempel Ägyptens von der 0. bis zur 11. Dynastie. Archäologie und Geschichte einer gesellschaftlichen Institution zwischen Residenz und Provinz (Brill, 2010)