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Egyptian Archaeology

Egyptian Archaeology

Please see also the MPhil in Egyptology for additional Egyptology courses



Dr Kate Spence

Other staff teaching on this course:

Dr Hratch Papazian


The Course

This MPhil teaches the historical archaeology of ancient Egypt. The course alternates between years. In 2018–19 the focus will be on the New Kingdom and later periods of Egyptian history (c. 1550 BC–330 BC) while in 2019–20 we will cover the processes of state formation to the beginning of the New Kingdom (c. 3500 BC–1550 BC). Within this chronological framework a series of interlinking topics will be treated including:

  • Historical records and frameworks of interpretation
  • The nature of political power and its expression
  • Interconnections and foreign trade
  • Technology, production and exchange
  • Society and settlement
  • State and private religion
  • Mortuary practices
  • Knowledge, identity and belief
  • Monumental architecture
  • Art and material culture

A strong emphasis will be placed on integrating textual, archaeological and artistic records throughout the course. This course option is appropriate both for students new to the subject of Egyptian Archaeology and for students with a background in Egyptology wishing to develop their knowledge of archaeological theory and practice.


The Structure

The structure of this MPhil follows the general structure of the MPhil in Archaeology. For their three modules, students take:

  • One module in Egyptian Archaeology. Either G17/G18 or G19 assessed through an unseen examination (67%) and an essay of not more than 3000 words length (33%) or two essays of not more than 4000 words length (50% each) respectively.
  • Core Archaeology (G02) is a seminar-based module shared with most other MPhil in Archaeology students which reviews fundamental concepts in archaeological theory and practice and provides a shared basis for approaching archaeology. This module is assessed through an unseen examination (67%) and an essay of not more than 3000 words length (33%).
  • Any other module(s) taught within the Department of Archaeology, subject to the instructor's consent and the approval of the MPhil in Archaeology co-ordinator. This allows the student to take a wide range of modules, including methodological courses in archaeological techniques and analyses, other area or period based courses, and thematic courses in museums and heritage.


In addition, students take the Research Skills module and write a 15,000 word dissertation on a topic in Egyptian archaeology. The dissertation offers a chance to undertake an independent, original research project under the guidance of academic staff; most will be based on published literature but some may be based on laboratory analyses, fieldwork, studies of museum collections, or analysis of existing databases.


Recent MPhil Dissertations

Some recent MPhil dissertations topics in Egyptian Archaeology include:

  • Analysis of the palatial architecture of the early New Kingdom
  • Analysis of waterways in the Delta
  • Interpretation of ka-chapels at Dakhla oasis

This MPhil option sometimes offers the possibility of practical work with the large Egyptology collections in the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Fitzwilliam Museum.


For further information contact Dr Kate Spence, co-ordinator for this option.