This online course will introduce attendees to the urban history of Egypt from some of the earliest settlements of the northern Nile through to case studies from present day. Together we will consider themes such as the natural environment’s impact on urbanism in the northern reaches of the Nile, broader networks of communication and trade beyond the boundaries of modern Egypt, the daily lives of residents, and the role of state and belief in the development of twenty of Egypt’s towns and cities.

Drs Carl Graves and Stephanie Boonstra, as well as several guest speakers, will use archaeology, archives, and personal experience to bring the ancient urban setting of Egypt back to life, to hear the stories of those that lived there then and today. 

No prior knowledge is required, and this course is aimed at beginners. Suggestions for further reading will be provided at each session (online access and pdfs will be prioritised). Each session will usually consist of a one-hour lecture with two fifteen-minute breaks for questions. 

Update (2nd June 2021): Recordings of the live sessions will be made available to attendees following the weekly session for those unable to attend in-person. 

Reading: Tutors will refer regularly to The Complete Cities of Ancient Egypt by Dr Steven Snape available from Thames & Hudson. Course participants will be sent a discount code (25% off) in the first week of the course so that they can follow along with the course itself. 

Course outline (subject to change)

Thursday 17th June 2021, 18:00-19:30 (UK)
Week one – Pre to Early Dynastic Egypt: The natural setting and early state formation
Towns/cities: Hierakonpolis, Nagada, Elephantine

Thursday 24th June 2021, 18:00-19:30 (UK)
Week two – The Old Kingdom: State centralisation and labour management
Towns/cities: Memphis, Heit el-Ghurab (Giza)

Thursday 1st July 2021, 18:00-19:30 (UK)
Week three – The Middle Kingdom to Second Intermediate Period: State control and expansion
Towns/cities: Lahun, Wah-Sut, Buhen

Thursday 8th July 2021, 18:00-19:30 (UK)
Week four – Second Intermediate Period to New Kingdom: Monumental building works and local economy
Special guest speaker: Prof Nadine Moeller (Yale University, USA)
Towns/cities: Thebes, Edfu 

Thursday 15th July 2021, 18:00-19:30 (UK)
Week five – New Kingdom: Urban planning, trade, and industry
Towns/cities: Amarna, Deir el-Medina

Thursday 22nd July 2021, 18:00-19:30 (UK)
Week six – New Kingdom: Military conquests and new foundations
Towns/cities: Pr-Ramesses, Amara West

Thursday 29th July 2021 – reading week, no lesson

Thursday 5th August 2021, 18:00-19:30 (UK)
Week seven – Late Period: Multicultural societies and new archaeological techniques
Special guest speaker: Dr Penny Wilson (Durham University, UK)
Towns/cities: Tanis, Sais, Naukratis

Thursday 12th August 2021, 18:00-19:30 (UK)
Week eight – Graeco-Roman Egypt: The eastern Mediterranean world and syncretism
Special guest speaker: Ziad Morsy (University of Southampton, UK and Alexandria University, Egypt)
Towns/cities: Alexandria, Oxyrhynchus, Babylon

Thursday 19th August 2021, 18:00-19:30 (UK)
Week nine – Late antiquity and the Medieval Period: Christian and Islamic Egypt
Special guest speaker: Dr Omniya Abdel Barr (Egyptian Heritage Rescue Foundation and Victoria & Albert Museum)
Towns/cities: Fustat, Cairo 

Thursday 26th August 2021, 18:00-19:30 (UK)
Week ten – Modern Egypt: Colonial rule and population displacement
Special guest speakers: Prof Mohamed Gamal Abdelmonem (Nottingham Trent University, UK) and Prof Gad El-Qady (National Research Institute of Astronomy & Geophysics, Egypt)
Towns/cities: Cairo, Qurna, New Capital


Stephanie Boonstra is the Collections Manager and Managing Editor of the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology at the EES. She completed her PhD at the University of Birmingham in 2019 which looked at the production of amulets in the early 18th Dynasty in Egypt. Her research interests focus largely on the archaeological evidence of production found within ancient settlements in Egypt.

Carl Graves is the Director of the EES and completed his PhD at the University of Birmingham in 2017 on the topic of the Middle Kingdom cultural landscape of the 16th nome of Upper Egypt. His previous research has focused on settlement archaeology and daily life in ancient Egypt.


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.

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

Donate By contributing to the Egypt Exploration Society, you help to ensure that its valuable work in Egyptology continues. We depend on your generosity and donations of any size are gratefully received. Find out more

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