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

Were there disabled people in ancient Egypt? Was disability and impairment common in ancient Egypt, or is Tutankhamun our only example? Taught by a disabled Egyptologist during Disability History Month, this course will examine what evidence we have for disability and bodily difference in ancient Egypt and Egyptology dating from the Predynastic Period to Ptolemaic Egypt (c. 5300-30 BCE). Disability and bodily difference will be explored through a variety of archaeological remains, artistic, skeletal, and textual materials. This course will also explore the many historical misconceptions present around disability in Egyptology and our society today.

A painted family portrait limestone statue of the dwarf person Seneb with his wife Senities, and their two children. Seneb sits next to his wife who holds him in a tender embrace, while their two children stand between them.

Image: A painted family portrait limestone statue of the dwarf person Seneb with his wife Senities, and their two children, (Credit: Djehouty).

By the end of the course, participants will have a basic understanding of disability and bodily difference in ancient Egypt and be able to independently identify it on trips to museums, or in examinations of art and artefacts. Additionally, they will have a grounded understanding of disability studies, disability etiquette, and be comfortable talking about and interacting with disabled people in society today. Participants will have a firm grasp on how ableism and disablism have influenced research on ancient Egypt and our interpretations and understandings of the ancient world. As discussed, disability and bodily difference in ancient Egyptian materials is everywhere, but one has to be aware of both to notice them. 

This course is open to all interested and passionate about ancient Egypt and the ancient world, as well as those interested in disability history. No prior knowledge of ancient Egypt or disability studies is necessary, although a basic understanding of Egyptian chronology would be helpful. 



Cropped head shot of a white woman with shoulder length brown curly hair, and brown eyes. She is wearing blue & pink glasses, and a black jumper with a sparkly multi-colour ancient Egyptian style collar and scarab earrings. She looks at the camera and smiles. She is indoors and standing before a painted papyrus featuring ancient Egyptian scenes of the Book of the Dead.  Alexandra F. Morris holds a BA in Archaeological Studies, Art History, and Anthropology with minors in Classics and History from SUNY Potsdam. She has a MA in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MA in Museum Studies from New York University. Her PhD is in History from Teesside University and her dissertation was titled, “Plato’s Stepchildren: Disability in Ptolemaic Egypt and the Hellenistic World (332-30 BCE).” She is currently an Associate Lecturer in Heritage and the Humanities at the University of Lincoln, an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham, and Access Guide with the DPO Diversity and Ability. Her research is on disability in ancient Egypt and creating inclusive museums. Alexandra is also a Co-Founder of the UK Disability History and Heritage Hub, Co-Chair of CripAntiquity, Co-Chair of Communications for the Board of Directors of the Museum Education Roundtable, serves on the Editorial Board for Asterion Hub, and is Chair of the Lewisboro, NY Advisory Committee for the Disabled. She is co-editing the book Disability in Ancient Egypt and Egyptology: All Our Yesterdays, and authoring the monograph Disability in the Ptolemaic and Hellenistic World, 332-30 BCE: Plato's Stepchildren, both under contract with Routledge. She has cerebral palsy and dyspraxia.

Course Outline

Please note that main content will be delivered between 18:00-19:30, though some optional participation (quizzes, Q&A, etc.) may continue beyond that time. 

A nude blue faience amulet of Harpocrates standing in a crouch gait pose. Both arms are by his side. Frontal view, and the amulet is supported by a gold wire stand.A nude blue faience amulet of Harpocrates standing in a crouch gait pose. Both arms are by his side. Right side view, and the amulet is supported by a gold wire stand.

Image: A nude blue faience amulet of Harpocrates standing in a crouch gait pose, (The Metropolitan Museum of Art 44.4.29).

Thursday 16th November, 18:00-19:30 (UK time)
Week One - Introduction: How Do We Talk About Disability Past and Present?
In this class, we will explore disability studies, models of disability, and examine how disability and bodily difference has been discussed in ancient Egypt. We will also examine personal biases (both conscious and unconscious), and start to see to see how this has affected interpretations of disability and bodily difference in the ancient world. 

    Thursday 23rd November, 18:00-19:30 (UK time)
    Week Two - Disabled Gods and Medicine
    In this class, we will begin to examine and understand the ancient Egyptian worldview as seen through their mythology and religious beliefs. We will look at how this effected the ancient Egyptian understandings of disability, bodily difference, and medicine. Key concepts covered will include Ma’at, Set/Isfet, and creation myths. 

    Thursday 30th November, 18:00-19:30 (UK time)
    Week Three - Disability in Pharaonic Egypt
    This class will provide an overview of artistic, skeletal, textual, and archaeological evidence relating primarily to physical disability during the Pharaonic Period. This will range from the Predynastic Period-Late Period. 

    Thursday 7th December, 18:00-19:30 (UK time)
    Week Four - Tutankhamun
    This class will examine the evidence we have for Tutankhamun’s disabilities in depth. It will also explore other instances of disability representation as seen in his tomb, and the larger Amarna Period. It will implicitly address the many misconceptions about Tutankhamun and disability present in the public consciousness today.

    Thursday 14th December, 18:00-19:30 (UK time)
    Week Five - Disability in Ptolemaic Egypt and Wrap-Up
    Our final class will explore disability during Ptolemaic Egypt by placing it in the context of the larger Hellenistic World. What changed under Greek rule? Did things change? How did the Greeks adapt to the Egyptian concept of disability and bodily difference and vice versa? Is what we think we know about disability and ancient Greece true? Or is this more historical misconception? This class will also serve as a wrap-up for the entire course. 

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

    Image: Terracotta figure of a child walking with the aid of a wheeled frame, (British Museum. 1996,0712.2).


    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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