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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: Ancient Egyptian Religion and the Afterlife (ODL) (PGHC11452)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course introduces ancient Egyptian religion and the pantheon of deities that are integral to our understanding of society and culture in Egypt. Religion in daily life will be explored, both in the home and also state religion, looking at archaeological evidence from a range of chronological contexts. The development of burial practices and the importance of belief systems from the earliest burials, up until Roman period burials will also be explored within this course.
Course description This course will allow students to become familiar with the Egyptian landscape, and with key temple layouts and locations, as well as a number of important cemetery sites distributed throughout the country. Key regions under discussion will include the multi-period sites of Abydos, the Memphite Necropolis (Cairo and environs) and Thebes (modern day Luxor), as well as single period sites such as Tell el-Amarna in Middle Egypt. The wide range of objects that were associated with religion in daily and funerary contexts will be studied, including letters to the dead, food offerings, and explore the very active relationship between the living to the dead that in Egyptian society.

The content of this course will reflect scholarly research into Egyptian religion from the earliest times right up until today, and discussion of changing scholarly opinion and interpretations will be flagged up during the course, including in our 'live' seminars.

Course syllabus:

1) Introduction to course aims, online courses, and an overview of the environment and broad chronological framework for ancient Egypt as essential for exploring the development and changes within Egyptian religion over time.
2) The Egyptian pantheon: the origins of the family of deities, their depictions, personifications, and associations.
3) Importance of solar deities within ancient Egypt and their development over time and integration within wider Egyptian religion.
4) Religious structures: the ancient Egyptian temple throughout time, its component elements, restricted and variably more open access, decorative components.
5) Religion within daily life: evidence for participation in the calendar of religious festivals through all levels of society, and the importance of the dead within daily life (Letters to the Dead; the Beautiful Festival of the Valley; visiting tombs during religious festivals).
6) Religion and rulers: the role of kings and queens within religion and their association with particular deities.
7) Ancient Egyptian afterlife: exploring belief systems through non-elite burial practices.
8) Royal burials and religion: changing features and decorative elements within royal tombs from the first rulers' tombs to pyramids.
9) Royal burials and religion: rock cut tombs, including the Valley of the Kings. Layout of decoration related to ritual.
10)Writing and the afterlife: Egyptian funerary texts, introducing the Pyramid Texts, Coffin Texts and the Books of the Dead.
11) Animal cults: investigating the range of associations between deities and animals, and the animal necropolises of Egypt.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate through discussions, postings, seminars and coursework that a detailed, up to date knowledge of the subject matter of the course has been gained and is understood.
  2. Demonstrate familiarity with the ability to locate sources relating to Egyptological research, in particular relating to religion, but in a broader sense too.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to work and critically analyse sources of texts (in translation), as well as other archaeological data to supports arguments and interpretations within coursework.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to interact in a balanced way with contemporaries when discussing evidence and interpretations within seminar situations and in online blog discussions.
Reading List
Arnold, D. and Shafer, B. E. 1998. Temples of Ancient Egypt. London: Tauris.
Dodson, A. and Ikram, S. 2008. The tomb in ancient Egypt. London: Thames & Hudson.
Forman, W. and Quirke, S. 1996. Hieroglyphs and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
Grajetzki, W. 2003. Burial customs in Ancient Egypt. London: Duckworth.
Ikram, S. (ed.) 2005. Divine Creatures. Cairo: AUC Press.
Lehner, M. 2008. The complete pyramids. London: Thames and Hudson. Quirke, S. 1992. Ancient Egyptian Religion. London: British Museum Press. Quirke, S. 2001. The cult of Ra: sun-worship in ancient Egypt. London: Thames and Hudson.
Shafer, B. E. 1991. Religion in ancient Egypt: gods, myths, and personal practice. London: Routledge.
Taylor, J. 2001. Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt. London: British Museum Press.
Teeter, E. 2012. Religion and Ritual in Ancient Egypt. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wilkinson, R. H. and Weeks, K. R. 2014-16. The Oxford Handbook of the Valley of the Kings. New York: Oxford University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Fine tuning an understanding of the methods and skills involved in academic research
- Developing the skills to examine and evaluate textual (in translation), pictorial and other archaeological sources
- Developing the ability to identify, define and analyse archaeological problems
- Gaining experience and enhanced ability to make a critical review of discussions, articles
- Being able to critique texts by scholars in light of the time and social circumstances of their writing
- Gaining the skills to extract key points from book chapters/articles
- Developing a knowledge of the subject area that takes in changes in its development over the past 150 years, and be aware of current themes
- Gaining a good understanding and appreciation of the importance of the ancient and environment within research
- Improving ability to conduct independent research using largely electronic sources, and investigate additional online sources
Course organiserDr Joanne Rowland
Tel: (0131 6)51 1925
Course secretaryMrs Lindsay Scott
Tel: (0131 6)50 9948
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