Institute of Archaeology

Society and Culture in Ancient Egypt

The course introduces students to major long-term developments of ancient Egyptian society and culture. It covers texts, art, and material culture from the Early Dynastic period to late Antique Christianisation (ca. 3000 BC to 500 AD) and includes analysis of tombs, temples and settlements. The phenomena considered are related to theories and research paradigms developed in the social and cultural sciences, including the concepts of cultural paradigms, Great and Little Tradition, representation, social practice, thick description, canonisation, colonisation, appropriation, and ethnohistory. It will be discussed how they can be applied to Egyptian material and how the study of ancient Egypt can contribute to an understanding of early complex societies in general. The focus on cultural diversity beyond elite culture and the progressive diachronic framework are designed to bring into focus the social and cultural dynamics of ancient Egyptian society.

Aims of the course

  • To introduce Egyptian society and culture to students from a wide range of disciplines, including archaeology, history, and anthropology on an advanced level
  • To provide an in-depth analysis of social and cultural mechanisms of Egyptian society in a long-term perspective
  • To connect Egyptology to wider discussions in the social and cultural sciences
  • To define innovative research designs in the context of ancient Egypt


After successful completion of the course students should

  • Understand long-term developments and mechanisms in Egyptian society
  • Be able to combine texts, images, and material culture within coherent frameworks of interpretation
  • Be able to apply research models of the social and cultural sciences to data from ancient Egypt
  • Know approaches to society and culture relevant for early complex civilizations
  • Demonstrate a critical awareness of the potential of Ancient Egypt for understanding early complex civilizations
  • Be able to produce logical and structured arguments supported by relevant evidence

Learning Outcomes

  • After completion of the course students should
  • Be able to assess critically multiple sources
  • Be able to use independently research tools in Egyptian archaeology
  • Be able to use real data sets for independent problem-solving
  • Have experience in the oral and written presentation of complex thoughts on a professional level
  • Demonstrate the ability to manage and integrate different research tasks

Teaching Methods

The course is taught through a series of 10 weekly two-hour thematic seminar sessions. The teaching design is primarily interactive including discussion, mindmapping, group work and short presentations by students.

Course information

For registered students


  • Running in 2017-18

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