OVERVIEW OF EGYPTOLOGY

Egyptology is the study of ancient Egyptian culture, history and society. The time span covered by the field is generally from the Predynastic period, dating to the fifth millennium BCE, to the extinction of the ancient religious practices and language, around the fourth century CE.  New research is pushing the study of the foundations of the proto-Egyptian state back into the sixth millennium BCE.

Egyptology involves the study of politics, religion, art, language, literature, medical practices, economic and manufacturing practices, architecture and land use, military dynamics, and foreign policy. It covers a range of diverse interests from agricultural and animal husbandry practices, to child rearing, to magic.

 
 
Overview of Egyptology
Fieldwork
Specialties:
  Bioarchaeology
  Conservation of Artifacts, Monuments and Mummies
  Education
  Epigraphy
  Experimental Archaeology
  Museum Curation
  Philology
  Underwater Archaeology
The Ancient Egyptian Language: Not Just Hieroglyphs
Becoming an Egyptologist

The core scientific background of Egyptology is archaeology, but many other scientific fields now play an important part in the field, including  anthropology, biology, botany, chemistry, dendrochronology, forensic sciences, geology, osteology, and zoology, to name but a few.

A host of technology-based sciences now assist with everything from computer imaging and database management to geolocation (GPS), geophysical surveys, satellite mapping, CT scanning, and provenance analysis. 

The most traditional, and best known part of Egyptology, is fieldwork: exploring and excavating sites to uncover new artifacts, monuments, texts, and ancient rubbish heaps.  To learn more about fieldwork, click here.

In addition, there are many specialty branches of Egyptology. To learn more about any of them, click the links below: 

Bioarchaeology
Conservation of Artifacts and Mummies

Epigraphy
Experimental Archaeology
                                                                                
Museum Curation
Philology
Underwater Archaeology

Note: Lectures on many of these varied aspects of Egyptology are part of the ARCE Orange County chapter?s free monthly lecture series. Our speaker schedule is available here.


Bioarchaeology
Bioarchaeology (also known as osteoarchaeology or paleo-osteology) is the study of human skeletal remains from archaeological sites. Bioarchaeologists can learn much about the diet, health, and work habits of ancient peoples by studying mummies and skeletal remains. They employ techniques that are also applied in forensic science. DNA analysis of ancient remains is also a component of bioarchaeology. A related field, palaeopathology, is the study of ancient diseases.

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Conservation of Artifacts, Monuments and Mummies           
Conservation is an important component of Egyptology, as its primary goal is to preserve the cultural heritage of the world for future generations. Conservators are specially-trained professionals who examine, treat, repair, and preserve ancient artifacts and monuments. Conservators work on the conservation of artifacts, buildings, or even digital media, and may specialize in caring for particular materials, such as ivory, metals, pigments, or textiles. Conservators also preserve and conserve human and animal remains from ancient Egypt in the form of mummies. Learn more about ARCE?s conservation training and projects here.

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Education
Another important career choice within Egyptology is the education of the next generation of Egyptologists. A vast number of colleges and universities offer undergraduate courses in the Ancient Near East. A handful of US universities offer a PhD program, as do Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, Egypt and others.  


Epigraphy
Epigraphy is the study of inscriptions (or epigraphs) as writing. Epigraphers frequently work on-site, reading, copying, translating, and studying ancient inscriptions in painstaking detail. One of the best known and longest-running epigraphic projects in Egypt is the Epigraphic Survey led by the University of Chicago. To read more about the Epigraphic Survey and other ARCE-sponsored epigraphy projects, please visit the ARCE website and University of Chicago Epigraphic Survey site.

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Experimental Archaeology
Experimental archaeology allows modern researchers to develop and test hypotheses about ancient cultures using archaeological source material. Experimental archaeologists utilize numerous techniques, including creating replica structures and artifacts using only historically accurate techniques and materials, re-enacting historical events, and burying and then excavating modern replica material in order to observe the impact of time and the environment on the replicas. Some examples of experimental archaeology in Egypt include Mark Lehner, Patrick McGovern, and Delwen Samuel?s bread- and beer-making experiments, Paul T. Nicholson?s construction and firing of experimental kilns at Amarna, and Salima Ikram?s experiments with animal mummification and mud trays from KV 63.

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Museum Curation
Curators are specialists who are responsible for the collections of a museum or other cultural heritage institution. Curators are involved in the acquisition, description, preservation, interpretation, and exhibition of works of art. They may also conduct original research on the collections in their care and present their findings at conferences, in public lectures, or in publications.

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Philology
Philology is the study of language in written historical sources. Some Egyptologists work primarily in library and museum archives studying ancient writings, and hardly ever dig in the field, if at all. Technology is making the modern philologist?s work easier every day with large, sometimes as-yet unstudied archives now appearing online. One example is the online interface called Papyri.info http://www.papyri.info/, which features the Papyrological Navigator. The Papyrological Navigator enables philologists to simultaneously search a wide variety of papyri housed in collections around the world and to retrieve digital photographs, transcriptions, and translations of the papyri when available.

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Underwater Archaeology
Underwater archaeology is archaeology practiced underwater with the assistance of divers and diving equipment. For deeper sites, submarines and remote sensing tools like Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) are required. Underwater archaeology is not only concerned with shipwrecks, but with all types of submerged monuments and artifacts. Underwater archaeology conducted in the bay of Alexandria has greatly advanced our understanding of ancient Alexandria, capital of the Ptolemaic empire.

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