Material Cultures of Prehistoric and Dynastic Egypt

Image used on Archaeoology of Ancient Egypt bookcover (CUP, 2006)

Leading an agenda for change

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. 

Hidden Hands (Duckworth, 2010)
The Archaeology of Early Egypt: Social Transformations in North-East Africa, 10,000 to 2650 BC (Cambridge University Press, 2006)


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)


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