Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

ARCH3039 More than Pyramids & Pharaohs? Ancient Egypt in Context

Module Overview

The module provides an introduction to the history and archaeology of ancient Egypt. The module provides a broad sweep of Egyptian history from the Predynastic through to later periods. It introduces aspects of death, burial and commemoration, compares and contrasts these topics through the different Egyptian time periods, and places them into broader social view. Specific focus is placed upon Abydos and Amarna and their relative importance in the history of Egypt. Comparisons are also made between the Egyptological records developed from historical texts and papyri with those derived from other branches of archaeology. In addition, the module locates ancient Egypt within the wider world – both in terms of the present day and the past, but also in relation to neighbouring geographic areas. The impact and representation of ancient Egypt on the modern world is also considered in terms of Egyptianising of architecture, Egyptomania and museum development.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • understanding of the Ancient Egyptian timeframe in terms of history and archaeology
  • Evaluation of differing forms of textual and material based evidence that provides the framework for understanding ancient Egypt
  • An appreciation of the ways in which the dead and living were integrated into Egyptian life.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analyse and interpret evidence for the Egyptian lifecourse within broader social, economic, political and cultural contexts
  • Become more confident in understanding the broader impact of ancient Egypt in developing western thought, architecture and film etc.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Work successfully in a group
  • Make/contribute to group presentations with confidence
  • Present research to a specific (non-academic) audience


Typically, the module will cover the following themes: Egyptian history – the framework of time in ancient Egypt. This will include an introduction to the Dynasties and the Kingdoms, and will also place these in a chronometric framework. Abydos and the earliest Pharaohs. Although Abydos existed during the Predynastic, the sacred city developed in the period immediately after state formation, and included temples and the royal cemetery of Umm el-Qa'ab. Power and the person – Pharaohs and the people. This will include evaluations of State structures, writing and religion, and their relative importance in different periods. Amarna and the New Kingdom. This session will discuss the heretical views of Akhenaten, the foundation and abandonment of Amarna, and the resultant changes enacted by Tutankhamen in relation to their impact upon Egypt and its neighbours. Hatshephsut and other important people from the New Kingdom will also be introduced. Building the city. This will focus on quarrying & stone transportation / construction. Hierakonpolis, Amarna and Piramesses will be used as examples. Art & Imagery. In addition to analyses of changing patterns of art and representation in ancient Egypt, after the lecture the students will present summaries of the hand-outs that they will have produced about sites or people in ancient Egypt. Funerary space & funerary landscapes. The session will focus on death, burial & commemoration in terms of variation through time and location. Living with the Dead. The changing patterns and processes involved in mummification, memorial and the body will be discussed. Medicine and Health. The session will compare and contrast the evidence for concepts of health and disease from the medical papyri with the actual bioarchaeological evidence. The Egyptian life course, identity and ethnicity. Aspects of growing up and getting old will be studied. In addition, the ancient Egyptian recognition of others will be assessed both in terms of dwarfing and disability and in relation to race and ethnicity. Egypt & the wider world. Egypt will be placed in its wider geographic and temporal context. This will include its relationship with Kush and the Mediterranean. Seafaring and the importance of harbours such as Alexandria will also be considered. Representing Egypt. The understanding and representation of ancient Egypt in western thought will be studied. This will include its importance in terms of museums and architecture. The last week will also include peer review of the educational resource being developed for assignment 2.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching will primarily be undertaken through lectures and discussions at the end of the lectures. One session will consist primarily of formative short presentations by individual students on a specific ancient Egyptian person or site (the associated individual hand-out to be developed by you will form Assessment 1). One final session will comprise a workshop and review session of the educational resource they are required to develop for Assessment 2. In a group, you will be required to develop an education resource (be it a webpage, blog, poster or model museum display) to educate others about one of the topics covered in the syllabus. The final session will include a workshop with formative feedback on the planned resource in advance of the final submission. Teaching methods include Lectures Student-led discussion in groups Student led presentations Learning activities include: Lecture and class-based activities supported by hand-outs and slides Additional reading supported by reading lists Some informal self-learning through Web-based resources Student-led groupwork leading to the development of an educational resource based on one of the topics covered during the module. This will form assignment 2.

Preparation for scheduled sessions36
Wider reading or practice40
Completion of assessment task48
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Kemp BJ (2006). Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilization. (2nd Edition). 

Ian Shaw (2000). The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt.. 

UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology.

Baines J & J Málek (2000). Cultural atlas of Ancient Egypt. Revised edition.. 

Hierakonpolis online.

Dodson A & S Ikram (2008). The Tomb in Ancient Egypt. 

Ikram S & A Dodson (1998). The Mummy in Ancient Egypt. 

Amarna project.

Bard KA (2008). An Introduction to the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Assessment 60%
Assessment  () 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Assessment 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


There are no additional costs to students.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings