Ancient Egypt in Medieval Arabic writings

5-6pm (UK) / 7-8pm (Egypt)

Image: A stela of King Amenemhat II (c. 1928-1895 BCE, 12th Dynasty) as copied in Abu Al-Qasim Al-'Iraqi (MS Add 25724 British Library)

“The Egyptian’s didn’t care about their pre-Islamic heritage until the Europeans arrived.” Heard this before? In this talk, Dr Okasha El Daly will overturn this long-held misconception by uniting Egyptology and Islamic Studies. By analysing Medieval Arabic sources, it is clear that inhabitants and travellers in Egypt following the Muslim conquest in the seventh century CE had a great interest in the monuments, scripts, and religion of ancient times. Their knowledge of Greek and Coptic sources coupled with an understanding of local practices mean that these often-overlooked sources preserve a unique record of Egypt’s past and are in need of further study.

This talk is based on Dr El Daly’s book of the same name.

Dr Okasha El Daly gained a PhD in 2003 from the Institute of Archaeology, (UCL) in culture heritage with a pioneering thesis that focused on the history of archaeology in medieval Islamic Civilisation searching for the roots of Egyptology among medieval Arab scholars who took deep interest in the study of Egyptian culture and environment which led to their exploration of Egyptian hieroglyphs and attempting to unlock its secrets long before Champollion. 

He was a Project Director of the Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project (QSAP), Qatar Museums and a member and rapporteur of the Scientific Board.

He was the Director of Projects at the Foundation for Science, Technology & Civilization, UK supervising its pioneering exhibition “1001 Inventions”, which is an international interactive exhibition showing the history of sciences and extent of the of scientific progress in Islamic Civilisation. The foundation stone of this exhibition was the pioneering book “1001 Inventions: Muslim Heritage in Our World”.

He edited, reviewed, translated and authored several works in archaeology, history of science, culture heritage and museum studies in both English and Arabic.

He taught history of Ancient Egypt, Ancient Near East, archaeology, culture heritage, history of science in Islamic Civilisation in the UK, Egypt and Qatar.

He is a member of about 20 different international culture heritage organisations including ICOM and ICOMOS. He is also an Honorary Research Fellow at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL. Okasha is currently Head of Acquisitions at Qatar University Press.

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This is a live lecture and will not be offered as a recording. 

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