The Queen's College
DPhil Oriental Studies (Egyptology)
Ontology and iconography in Egyptian religious compositions: composite figures in the Amduat, Book of Two Ways, and apotropaic wands c. 2000–1400 BCE
jordan.miller [at] ames.ox.ac.uk
After a first degree in Egyptology and Assyriology at Oxford (BA, 2017), I developed a specialization in approaches to Egyptian and Western visual cultures (MSt, 2018) and began integrating Egyptian material with work in social anthropology (DPhil, 2022).
- Ancient Egyptian concepts of image and body
- Materiality, multimodality, sensory experience
- Ancient Egyptian religion, mainly second millennium BCE
My research centres on how ancient Egyptians conceptualized what we call 'images'. Ancient practices and understandings are not easily mapped onto modern concepts, so I explore new ways of approaching the Egyptian material by considering how people in various cultures identify, classify, and interrelate beings in the world. This combines approaches from social anthropology, art history, and sensory archaeology with traditional methods of philology and iconography.
I presented aspects of this work in my doctoral thesis (supervised by John Baines and Elizabeth Frood). This employed 'composite' figures, which conjoin elements of human and animal bodies or parts of inanimate objects, as case studies.
Another strand of my research deals with the social dimensions of religious knowledge, particularly the transmission of visual imagery. I concentrate on issues of format, materiality, and display.
Lectures, classes, and tutorials for the Faculty:
- Egyptian History and Civilization to 30 BCE
- Egyptian Art and Architecture
- Middle Egyptian
- Late Egyptian
- Akkadian: Amarna Letters
Custom tutorial series for visiting undergraduates:
- Egyptian Archaeology
- Gender and Sexuality in Ancient Egypt
- Topics in New Kingdom Studies
I have also contributed to teaching across the wider University in the following roles:
- Junior Teaching Fellow, Ashmolean Museum (2019–2020)
- Public Engagement Research Associate, Ashmolean Museum (2019–2021)
- Board Member, Early Text Cultures Research Network (2020–2022)
- Co-curation of Egyptian and Egyptological material at The Queen's College, Oxford (links below)
- Sub-editor, Online Egyptological Bibliography (2020–2023)
- Research Assistant, School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford and Seshat: Global History Databank (2022)
Articles and Chapters:
forthcoming. A predynastic Egyptian fish–antelope composite figure. Journal of Egyptian Archaeology. [c. 6,300 words]
forthcoming. Geographies of knowledge: on serpent limbs and loose ends. In: E. Panaite (ed.), Meeting the other: transfers and interactions around the Nile valley. Polish Publications in Mediterranean Archaeology. Leuven: Peeters. [c. 6,100 words]
in review. Graphic worlds in the Book of Two Ways. In: S. Quirke, R. Lucarelli, and H. Rashwan (eds), Rethinking the visual aesthetics of ancient Egyptian writing. Oxford: Archaeopress. [c. 8,000 words]
2022. Patterns and practices of sign-form variation: selected examples of the qjs logogram from the Fifth to Nineteenth Dynasties. Zeitschrift für Ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde 149 (2): 213–227. DOI: 10.1515/zaes-2021-0001
2021. Emblematic representation on ancient Egyptian apotropaic wands. Archaeological Review from Cambridge 36 (2): 119–141. DOI: 10.17863/CAM.86209
2019. Tracking serpopards from Hierakonpolis onward. Nekhen News 31: 24–25.
in prep. Ballesteros, B., D. Giordani, J. Miller, J. Parkhouse, and F. Pischedda (eds). Writing Orality: proceedings of the Early Text Cultures seminar, Hilary Term 2021. [Themed volume of Manuscript and Text Cultures. Proposal accepted; open-access publication expected 2023.]
2021. Talking Emotions: humanizing our images of ancient Egypt. Blog post, The Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities. <https://torch.ox.ac.uk/article/talking-emotions-humanizing-our-images-of-ancient-egypt>
2021. The ancient Egyptian Book of Two Ways. Database of Religious History, Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia. <https://religiondatabase.org/browse/1124/>
2021. The ancient Egyptian Amduat: tomb of Thutmose III. Database of Religious History, Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia. <https://religiondatabase.org/browse/1056/>
2019 (with A.-K. Gill). Catalogue of the Queen's College collection on display in the Peet Library <https://www.queens.ox.ac.uk/special-collections>
2019 (co-curated with R.B. Parkinson). Ancient Egyptian at Queen's <https://www.queens.ox.ac.uk/ancient-egyptian-queens>
Talks and Media:
2023 (upcoming). 'Creating and experiencing the Amduat catalogue'. Looking Beyond the Text: Scribal Practices in Ancient Egypt (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz).
2023 (upcoming). 'Experiencing and embodying Egyptian and Maya hieroglyphic writing' (poster). International Congress of Egyptologists XIII (International Association of Egyptologists and Leiden University).
2023 (upcoming). 'Bodies of ink and images of flesh: an interdisciplinary approach to ancient Egyptian ontology'. Current Research in Egyptology 2023 (University of Basel).
2022. 'Ontology and experiences of ancient Egyptian religious images'. Invited lecture, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
2022. 'Egyptian image–body concepts across comparatist discourses'. Egyptology in Dialogue: Historical Bodies in Relations of Comparisons and Negotiations (Emory University).
2022. 'Compiling Egyptian underworlds: modelling sources and ritual practice for the Amduat catalogue of king Thutmose III' (poster). Making Lists in the Ancient World: Memory, Status, Identity (University of Tartu).
2022. 'Understanding composite forms of Egyptian divine beings'. Invited lecture, Essex Egyptology Group and Thames Valley Ancient Egypt Society.
2021. 'Graphic syntax and ontology in the Book of Two Ways'. Rethinking the Visual Aesthetics of Ancient Egyptian Writing (UCL Institute of Archaeology and University of California, Berkeley).
2021. 'Swimming in the sand: Anticipation by a Nubian grave'. Podcast for the series Talking Emotions (University of Oxford) <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPGPqfJdd9w>
2021. 'Red images in the Amduat of Thutmose III'. Current Research in Egyptology XXI (University of the Aegean).
2021. 'Geographies of knowledge: on the transmission and reception of a serpent-limbed figure'. Meeting the Other: Transfers and cultural interactions around the Nile valley (Polish Centre for Mediterranean Archaeology and Institut français d'archéologie orientale).
2021. 'Ancient Egyptian cosmogonies: Pyramid Texts'. Cosmogonies in Early Text Cultures (University of Oxford).
2021. 'Inscribing ancient Egyptian underworlds'. Invited lecture for Oxford Archaeological Society (University of Oxford).
2020. 'Red images in the Amduat of Thutmose III'. Invited lecture for Centre for Manuscript and Text Cultures (University of Oxford).
2019. 'Composite figures in Egyptian art: modelling relationships between selected religious compositions'. Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology Work-in-Progress Seminar (University of Liverpool).
2019. 'Composite snakes in second millennium iconographies: Amduat, apotropaic wands, and the Book of Two Ways'. Egypt's heartland: Regional perspectives on Hierakonpolis, Elkab and Edfu (Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford).
2018. 'Fantastic beasts and how to view them: from concept to representation in ancient Egyptian art'. Harris Manchester–Homerton Graduate Research Day (University of Cambridge.
2017. 'Intertwined, intermezzo: the serpopard in context'. Egyptology Graduate Conference (Brown University).