Mark J. Smith

Position:

Professor of Egyptology; Lady Wallis Budge Fellow in Egyptology, University College 

Faculty / College Address:

Oriental Institute / University College

Email:

mark.smith@orinst.ox.ac.uk 

Research Interests:

  • Egyptian religion
  • Egyptian language and texts, especially demotic

Teaching

My teaching covers all aspects of ancient Egypt: history, civilization, archaeology, art, literature, religion, and society. I teach all phases of the Egyptian language, from Old Egyptian through to Coptic, and all ancient Egyptian scripts. In addition to Pharaonic and Graeco-Roman Egypt, I also teach about Egypt in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, covering early Christianity, the history of monasticism, Gnosticism, Manichaeism, and other topics.

Research

My research focuses on ancient Egyptian religion, in particular conceptions of the afterlife and how these changed and developed over time. The Egyptians sought to effect the transition from this world to the next by means of ritual texts recited for the benefit of the deceased during the mummification ceremonies performed in the house of embalming. Other texts were inscribed on papyrus or other materials and deposited in the tomb along with the dead so that they would have access to them and be able to use them in the afterlife. Large numbers of texts of both types lie unstudied in museum collections and elsewhere. My research involves seeking these out, reconstructing them from fragments where necessary, and studying and editing them for publication. Each has a valuable contribution to make to our understanding of what the ancient Egyptians imagined would happen to them after they died. I am also interested in the Egyptian language, especially the latest phases of it, the intellectual life of Egyptian priests of the Graeco-Roman Period, and the question of how traditional Egyptian religion finally came to an end.

Current Projects

Publication of ancient Egyptian ritual texts preserved in  Bodl. MS. Egypt. a. 3(P) (in collaboration with François-René Herbin)

Publication of demotic graffiti from the stone quarries of Gebel es-Silsila

Publications

Books

Following Osiris: Perspectives on the Osirian Afterlife from Four Millennia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).

Traversing Eternity: Texts for the Afterlife from Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Papyrus Harkness (MMA 31.9.7). Oxford: Griffith Institute Publications, 2005.

On the Primaeval Ocean. The Carlsberg Papyri 5. Carsten Niebuhr Institute Publications 26. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2002.

The Liturgy of Opening the Mouth for Breathing. Oxford: Griffith Institute Publications, 1993.

The Mortuary Texts of Papyrus BM 10507. Catalogue of Demotic Papyri in the British Museum 3. London: British Museum Publications, 1987.

Articles (last five years only)

‘A Further Demotic Source of Evidence for the Expulsion of Antiochos IV from Egypt: O. Hor 3 verso, lines 7−25’, in Festschrift for Sven Vleeming, in press.

‘A New Version of the Liturgy of Opening the Mouth for Breathing’, Proceedings of the Eighth International Congress of Demotists, Würzburg, 27–30 August 2002, in press.

‘Bodl. MS. Egypt. a. 3(P) and the Interface Between Temple Cult and Cult of the Dead’, in J.F. Quack (ed.), Ägyptische Rituale der griechisch-römischen Zeit (Tübingen: Mohr Siebek, 2014), pp. 145−55.

‘Orthographies of Middle Egyptian Verbal Forms in Demotic Texts’, in S. Vleeming (ed.), Aspects of Demotic Orthography (Leuven, Paris, Walpole: Peeters, 2013), pp. 117−26.

‘Osiris and the Deceased in Ancient Egypt: Perspectives from Four Millennia’, in Annuaire EPHE, Sciences religieuses 121 (2012−2013), pp. 87−101.

‘Thinker, God, Creator, or Earth Maker?’, in Festschrift for Christiane Zivie-Coche, in press.

‘Todesüberwendung und Leben nach dem Tod in ptolemäisch-römischer Zeit’, in J. Assmann and H. Roeder (eds.), Handbuch altägyptischen Religion (Leiden: Brill), in press.

‘Transformation and Justification: A Unique Adaptation of Book of the Dead Spell 125 in P. Louvre E 3452’, in Studies in Honor of Janet H. Johnson, in press.

‘Whose Ritual? Osirian Texts and Texts for the Deceased in P. BM EA 10209: A Case Study’, in B. Backes (ed.), Liturgische Texte für Osiris und Verstorbene im spätzeitlichen Ägypten. Beiträge zur funerären Theologie und ihrer schriftlichen Umsetzung (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2015), pp. 161–77

‘New Fragments of the Demotic Mut Text’, in R. Jasnow and K. Cooney (eds.), Joyful in Thebes: Egyptological Studies in Honor of Betsy M. Bryan (Atlanta: Lockwood Press, 2015), pp. 238−82. Written in collaboration with Richard Jasnow.

 ‘Bodl. MS. Egypt. a. 3(P) and the Interface Between Temple Cult and Cult of the Dead’, in J.F. Quack (ed.), Ägyptische Rituale der griechisch-römischen Zeit (Tübingen: Mohr Siebek, 2014), pp. 145−55.

‘Orthographies of Middle Egyptian Verbal Forms in Demotic Texts’, in S. Vleeming (ed.), Aspects of Demotic Orthography (Leuven, Paris, Walpole: Peeters, 2013), pp. 117−26.

‘History and Orthography: Reinterpreting the Demotic Evidence for Antiochos IV’s Expulsion from Egypt in 168 BCE’, in E. Frood and A. McDonald (eds.), Decorum and Experience: Essays in Ancient Culture for John Baines (Oxford, Griffith Institute, 2013), pp. 66−71.

‘Osiris and the Deceased in Ancient Egypt: Perspectives from Four Millennia’, in Annuaire EPHE, Sciences religieuses 121 (2012−2013), pp. 87−101.

‘Forschung in der Papyrussammlung – Past, Present and Future’, Jahrbuch der Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz 48 (2012), pp. 258−74.

‘New References to the Deceased as Wsir n NN from the Third Intermediate Period and the Earliest Reference to a Deceased Woman as 1.t-1r n NN’, RdE 63 (2012), pp. 193–202.

Photograph of Professor Mark Smith
List of site pages