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

In this 5-week course, we will examine the famous text The Instruction of Dua-Khety or “The Satire of the Trades” in which father Dua-Khety advises his son on the positives of being a scribe as a profession, and the horrors of every other job. This is perhaps the earliest form of literary satire, in which 22 chapters are devoted to the perils of other forms of work. It goes into great gory detail including the smells, dirt, and toil of lots of different labour-intensive work, such as the ulcerous fingers of the field hand or the inflamed eyes of the furnace tender. The Satire of the Trades is almost certainly meant to be humorous, but are there nuggets of reality and useful pieces of information about these early professions?  Was being a scribe really as cushy as the text suggests?  

This course is not a re-assessment of the excellent translations already undertaken by Quirke, Hoch, and Parkinson amongst others (available to read here), but an examination of the archaeological and ethnographic evidence for these trades. This course will apply experimental reconstructions of the trades and assess from other sources of information, such as comparisons to Ancient, Medieval and Modern trades, images, videos, and texts.  

Finally, we will aim to answer the age-old question; which was the WORST job in ancient Egypt??  

Course Dates

Online lessons will be held live at the following times (UK):

Thursday 4th November, 18:00-19:30
Thursday 11th November, 18:00-19:30
Thursday 18th November, 18:00-19:30
Thursday 25th November, 18:00-19:30
Thursday 2nd December, 18:00-19:30

Recordings of the live sessions will be made available to attendees following the weekly session for those unable to attend in person. 

Carpenters (banner image) and Brickmakers (above) from the Tomb of Rekhmire (TT 100)New Kingdom, facsimile by Nina de Garis Davies, housed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


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 an Archaeology Tutor 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.  


20% of your ticket fee will go toward the Society’s Education and Training 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, 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 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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