Recordings will be made available for those unable to attend the live sessions!

Image: Model of a Porch and Garden, The Metropolitan Museum of Art 20.3.13

In this course, Dr Sarah Doherty will tell the story of ancient Egyptian houses through time (c. 3000 BCE-300 CE), and explore what we know about the people who lived in these houses, and how changing family life led to some adapting their homes.

We will study the development of ancient Egyptian houses, learn where Egyptians chose to build their houses, and what materials and techniques they used in their construction. We will assess what evidence survives in the archaeological record and in texts for the people who lived in these houses.

By incorporating anthropology and evidence from archaeological excavations, we will endeavour to reconstruct Egyptian interior design, furniture choices, and paint schemes. What colours did the Egyptians use? Did the Egyptians have a “good room”? How did they keep cool during the heat of the summer? What was the average kitchen like? 

Finally, we will ascertain what we can find out about ancient Egyptian daily life, gender roles, belief systems, kinship and other socio-economic structures. Through the study of the small-scale household, we can gain greater insight into larger-scale concepts such as the operation of the ancient Egyptian state or agricultural complexes, and the individual experiences of past actors.

Arguably, Egypt is most celebrated for its stone temples and tombs. However, if walls could talk, it would be the homes, not the grand public buildings that would tell the best stories.

Some knowledge of the sites and periods of ancient Egypt would be useful for this course as it will cover a wide timespan of Egyptian history. Awareness of key archaeological sites such as Ain Asil, Deir el Medina, Tel el Amarna, Hierakonpolis, Merimde Beni Salama, Elephantine, Lahun, Tell el Farkha, and Amara West would be beneficial but not essential.



Dr Sarah K. Doherty is a Ceramicist for the Amarna Project’s Great Aten Temple, an Archaeological and Heritage Consultant in the UK Planning Sector and is Tutor in Archaeology at Oxford University. She undertook her BA and MA at UCL, and her PhD at Cardiff University focusing on Egyptian ceramics and technology. This was published in 2015 as The Origins and Use of the Potter's Wheel in Ancient Egypt. Sarah’s research interests include pottery, settlement archaeology, experimental reconstruction of ancient craft, ancient technology, historic landscapes as well as buildings.

Sarah has worked at a wide variety of sites in Egypt, Sudan and Europe. Key sites in Egypt and Sudan include Gebel el Silsila, Heit el Gurob, Amara West (Sudan), Amarna, Valley of the Kings. She is at her happiest digging up huge pots in New Kingdom sites.  

 Image: Garden Scene, Tomb of Ipuy, The Metropolitan Museum of Art 30.4.115

Course Outline

Thursday 25th August, 18:00-19:30 (UK time)
Week One - Is it a door or a window?
For our introductory week, we will cover the key concepts of settlement archaeology and the development of the house in Egypt. We will examine what evidence there is for early Egyptian houses in the archaeological record, and how archaeologists have interpreted the surviving material.

Thursday 1st September, 18:00-19:30 (UK time)
Week Two - House Building
For the second week, we will consider where the Egyptians built their houses, why they chose certain sites, and what were the methods of construction and materials that they used. Were they adequate for the Egyptian climate of hot summers and the occasional sandstorm?  How did the Egyptians keep their houses cool during the heat of the summer?

Thursday 8th September, 18:00-19:30 (UK time)
Week Three - Interior Designs
For the third week, having learnt how the Egyptians built their houses, we will turn our minds to the interior of the houses. We will endeavour to reconstruct Egyptian interior design, furniture choices, and paint schemes through surviving evidence in the archaeological record. What colours did the Egyptians use? Did the Egyptians have a “good room”? What was the average kitchen like?  

Thursday 15th September, 18:00-19:30 (UK time)
Week Four - The Lifespan of a house
This week, we will study in detail some case studies of Egyptian houses through time, from the Predynastic to Roman times. How did house design change over the centuries, and what can this tell us about the people who lived in them?  

Thursday 22nd September, 18:00-19:30 (UK time)
Week Five - House Ownership
In our final week, we will consider the evidence for the owners of houses. Were houses bought or inherited? We’ll explore what insights we can glean from textual and iconographic sources from the Old Kingdom onwards. 

 Image: Garden Scene, Tomb of Ipuy, The Metropolitan Museum of Art 07.231.10


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, then please ensure that you have already joined here. Subscriptions from members include a donation to support and promote Egypt’s cultural heritage. 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 Google Drive, where resources will be uploaded.

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

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