Now with recordings available for those unable to attend the live sessions!

Even in ancient times, Egypt was renowned as a country of powerful women. Millennia have passed since the likes of Nefertiti and Cleopatra made their mark on history, yet such figures continue to captivate our imaginations, being sources of curiosity and even inspiration to people across the world. Behind the legends and mystique lies a fascinating, complex reality, a deep and evolving history of how the Egyptians understood and expressed women’s power.

This course explores some of the diverse forms that feminine power took in ancient Egypt – from queens to female pharaohs, commoners to goddesses – and does so in an engaging way that’s accessible to beginners. Using archaeology, artwork, and texts in translation, we will study key examples from across the scope of pharaonic history, dating from some of the earliest periods to some of the latest (c. 2950 – 30 BCE) and even into the modern age. We’ll refer to sites and materials from across Egypt and beyond, though in line with the wider trends that shape Egyptian archaeology, Upper Egypt and other southern regions will feature more regularly in our discussions, due to higher rates of preservation in these areas.

You will learn about some of the key figures in Egyptian history and religion, develop a sense of Egyptian chronology as a whole, and will become familiar with a range of different evidence types. Furthermore, you will build your ability to critically evaluate sources and their interpretations. This means questioning how we know things, and asking ourselves whether we might be imposing our own assumptions onto the evidence, a skill that is highly valued in Egyptology and in many other fields.

Join us this Women’s History Month and discover the many faces of feminine power in ancient Egypt!

Tutor

Dr Edward Scrivens completed his doctoral research at The Queen’s College, University of Oxford, where he held the prestigious Barns Studentship in Egyptology. His thesis examined how goddesses were depicted in the wall scenes of tombs and temples during the Ramessid period (c. 1295-1069 BCE), using iconography and the complex spatial language of Egyptian art to consider how gender roles were understood to function in the divine world. Following the completion of his doctorate, Dr Scrivens lectured as Tutor in Egyptology at Swansea University, and currently operates as an independent scholar alongside his artistic work as a comedian and drag performer. In addition to his academic publications (e.g. in the journal Zeitschrift für ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde and the recently-published book Women in Transition: Crossing Boundaries, Crossing Borders), Dr Scrivens has an active record of outreach work, believing that quality teaching about Egyptian heritage should be accessible to all, regardless of personal or academic background.

Course Dates

Thursday 3rd March, 18:00-19:30 (UK) time
Week one - What Makes a Queen?
In this introductory session we will cover some of the groundwork for the course, including a bit of geographical and historical context, and we’ll explore the role of an Egyptian queen by looking at some notable examples.

Thursday 10th March, 18:00-19:30 (UK) time
Week two - Female Kings
Many royal women in Egypt were queens, but some were kings. This week we’ll learn about female pharaohs, and will investigate an ongoing historical mystery: did queen Nefertiti become KING Nefertiti?

Thursday 17th March, 18:00-19:30 (UK) time
Week three - Goddesses: Queens of Heaven
We can’t ignore the divine realm when learning about feminine power in ancient Egypt. Gods and goddesses were just as real to the Egyptians as the Nile itself, and were understood to be part of a universal society that included humans and the dead. In this session we’ll look at some key goddesses, their myths, and the symbols associated with them, tying this in to what we learned in previous weeks. 

Thursday 24th March, 18:00-19:30 (UK) time
Week four - From Commoners to High Priestesses: Women’s Power Outside The Palace
When considering feminine power in Egypt, it’s tempting to focus exclusively on the people at the top of the political ladder. Yet this is only part of the story. In this session we will explore some of the roles and experiences held by women from different contexts in of Egyptian society, including the famous workers’ village of Deir el-Medina and the priesthood of the Amun, the supreme god of the New Kingdom. What kinds of power did these women have, and how was it shaped by factors like social status?

Thursday 31st March, 18:00-19:30 (UK) time
Week five - Temptresses, Curiosities, Girl Bosses: (Re)Imaginings of Egyptian Feminine Power in Other Cultures
For the final session in the course, we will think about how these powerful women (and goddesses) have been interpreted by people outside of Egypt, from antiquity right up to the present day. In doing so we’ll reflect on how we imagine and portray ancient Egyptian women, what that says about our own society, and the importance of recognising these assumptions within ourselves and our work as Egyptologists.

Tickets

20% of your ticket fee will go toward the Society’s Research FundThank you.

Members of the Egypt Exploration Society can book at a heavily discounted rate. If you’re not yet a member but would like to join in order to receive this discount, we are offering up to five months free for new members signing up with this course (your subscription would last until March 2023)! Please ensure that you have joined here, and purchase your EES subscription and course tickets on the same day for this promotion to be valid. If you are a Cairo Associate, then please contact our Cairo Office to reserve your discounted tickets: [email protected] 

Register for your place in advance using the links below. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the course. Links for joining the event will be sent by email. If you do not receive your email, then please check your junk folders before contacting the Egypt Exploration Society. The course will be held on our Zoom platform and attendees will be able to interact by asking questions, using the chat and polls. It is not necessary to have a working webcam or microphone for this course. The online course will be complemented by Slack, where resources will be uploaded and participants can further discuss the course.

Please ensure that you have read our guide to attending EES online events before the course begins.

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