NEST304

Egypt has fascinated both scholars and the general public since ancient times, and not without good reason.  We will, of course, discuss mummies, pyramids, and famous pharaohs from Hatshepsut, the female king, to Akhenaten, the so-called heretic king and first monotheist, and Tutankhamen the “boy king” whose intact tomb was found by Howard Carter in 1922–but they tell only part of the story. Egypt is one of the earliest civilizations and, despite its eventual conquest by a succession of imperial powers, it retained many aspects of its distinctive culture over a period of millennia, influencing the art, architecture, and culture of neighbours and conquerors alike. In this course we’ll trace the rise, development, and occasional collapse, of Egyptian society from its origins in the Neolithic period through to its incorporation into the Roman Empire.  In exploring ancient Egypt, we’ll look at the incredible finds recovered by archaeologists (and others) and how they changed through time–from the monumental tombs, temples and statues erected by powerful pharaohs, to the pottery and tools used in the daily lives of average Egyptians.  We’ll investigate Egyptian ideology including religion and myth, mortuary practices, and beliefs about life and death, and the traces these left in the archaeological record.  We’ll also consider the theories of “pyramidiots”, pseudoarchaeologists, and so-called “alternative historians” and how they stack up against the archaeological evidence.

Prerequisites: None