BA in Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies: Egyptology Route


Bronze statuette of Imhotep, architect, sage, and scribe, dedicated by one Hapardais, ca. 6th century BCE; Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

The Egyptology route in the BA in Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies is designed to be both wide-ranging and flexible. It is a three-year course covering all principal aspects of the study of the field and at the same time allowing concentration on areas of particular interest. While the core of the teaching is in language and texts, the objective is to use written sources where appropriate as the point of departure for studying a wide range of phenomena. Moreover all the texts that are studied are preserved on ancient surfaces that were recovered through fieldwork and are archaeological artefacts in their own right.

Course Content

In the first year, Egyptian is studied intensively in the Middle Egyptian phase (c. 2000–1400 BC), starting with hieroglyphic writing and grammar, and moving quickly on to reading original ancient texts. There are general courses on Egyptian and Ancient Near Eastern civilization and history. Related topics are studied in detail through essay work and tutorials.

The course for the final examination is started in the second year, when students learn a second language chosen from the following: Akkadian, Arabic, Aramaic and Syriac, Classical Greek, Coptic, Hebrew (Biblical and Mishnaic), Old Iranian, Hittite, or Sumerian. The second language is treated in a broadly similar fashion to Egyptian, with work both on language and texts and on history and culture. Aspects that relate to Egyptian are studied, but not at the expense of a balanced approach to the second language. As an alternative to a second language, it is possible to take Egyptology with Archaeology and Anthropology as a second subject. This combination complements the study of Egyptology in a different way from the option of a second language, offering the opportunity to study in greater depth disciplines which are closely related to those used for much work on Egypt and the Ancient Near East.

Gilded wooden statue of Selket

During the second and third years Egyptian is continued with more advanced work in Middle Egyptian, as well as Old and Late Egyptian. The course structure is flexible, and it is possible to study special groups of texts and/or other materials belonging to categories not included in the main syllabus, or dating to different periods.

In their second and third years, students attend classes in the Ashmolean Museum which provide training in working directly with artefacts as well as the analysis of material culture. Students also learn hieratic, the cursive form of the hieroglyphic script, and, in the third year of the course, choose their own areas for more detailed study and research, including a dissertation. Dissertations and special subjects are often centred on historical, archaeological, or artistic topics, and may include additional areas of language or texts.

For further information please see the Course Handbook and Course Background documents, which are available here. The Course Handbook is a comprehensive introduction to all aspects of the BA in Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies. The short Course Background document provides preliminary information, including some suggested reading: