I began giving lectures online (via Zoom) when the world went into lockdown owing to the Coronavirus pandemic, and this has been successful enough that I’m planning to continue whether the world is in lockdown or not. To attend a talk you’ll need to register by clicking the links below. Attendance is limited and places are likely to fill up quickly.
If you have any questions please let me know via this page.
And if you’d like to know more about how the lockdown has affected my work as a self-employed Egyptologist, writer and broadcaster, or if you’d like to support my work please see here.
This autumn I’ll be giving a three-part mini-lecture series on my new book Egyptologists’ Notebooks which will be out on 1 October (in addition to various other lectures on which see further below). The lectures will cover the main themes and some of the most interesting characters involved. Join me for all three or just drop in for one or two – each one is designed to work on its own so if you miss any of them the others should still be perfectly comprehensible (and perhaps even enjoyable!). As always there will be an opportunity to ask questions afterwards. For more details or to register please see below.
EGYPTOLOGISTS’ NOTEBOOKS PART I: An Untouched Antique Land
Imagine a time before Egyptology, when Egypt was known to Europeans for its great ancient civilisation but only through the accounts of classical authors and the Bible. The earliest western visitors went to Egypt in the hope of seeing the pyramids, great cities, and perhaps the evidence of the presence of Joseph and Moses. Their expectations were sometimes exceeded, sometimes confounded: the pyramids were the great wonder of ancient repute, but Alexandria lay in ruins, and Memphis seemed lost. Nonetheless what they and their successors saw filled them with awe and some saw things Europeans were entirely unaware existed: imagine being among the first to see the ‘hundred gated Thebes’ of Homer, or the first to set eyes on Abu Simbel or Meroe…
STARRING: George Sandys, Frederik Ludwig Norden, Richard Pococke, Dominique Vivant Denon, Frédéric Cailliaud, John Gardner Wilkinson.
EGYPTOLOGISTS’ NOTEBOOKS PART II: Artists, Expeditions and Nationalist Competition
In 1798 a French expedition under Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt in order conquer and exploit the country and disrupt British access to India. The expedition was forced to withdraw the following year in the face of resistance from British and Ottoman troops but Napoleon had also brought with him a corps of artists and scientists – ‘savants’ – whose task was to create a grand ‘description’ of the natural environment of the country and its monuments. The record they created was the first comprehensive survey of the country’s archaeology. In the years that followed more and more Europeans settled in Egypt, and many sought to create their own accurate records of the country’s monuments, improving on the savants’ Description as more and more monuments were discovered and scholars able to read hieroglyphs demanded more inscriptions be copied with greater accuracy. These records were of enormous value in their time and all the more so since, as many of the monuments they saw have since been lost…
STARRING: William John Bankes, James Burton, Edward William Lane, Robert Hay, Jean-François Champollion, Nestor l’Hôte, Karl Richard Lepsius.
EGYPTOLOGISTS’ NOTEBOOKS PART III: Archaeology Begins
In the early nineteenth century the European powers considered the acquisition of ancient monuments for their respective national collections to be a fine way to bring glory upon themselves. And the bigger the collection, the bigger and finer or more exotic the pieces, the better. This led to intense competition, in particular between the British Consul, Henry Salt, and his French counterpart Bernardino Drovetti, both of whom were voracious collectors. Both employed a number of agents to uncover and remove antiquities, initiating the first archaeological excavations in the country. Salt and Drovetti both amassed multiple collections which were ultimately sold to the major museum in Europe, in particular in London, Paris and Turin. Two of their agents, Belzoni and Rifaud are responsible for the discovery of many of the great masterpieces of sculpture now in European museums. Their methods didn’t quite match up to the standards of today’s archaeologists but things were going to change…
STARRING: Giovanni Battista Belzoni, Jean-Jacques Rifaud, Joseph Hekekyan, Amelia Edwards, Flinders Petrie, Marianne Brocklehurst, Howard Carter, John Pendlebury, Bryan Emery.
Egyptology in an Hour
Tuesday 20 October, 6.30 – 7.30 pm
(Victoria, Australia time = 8.30 – 9.30 am UK time)
Hosted by Glen Eira Libraries. For more info or to register go here.
Ancient Egypt: where and when was it, and what made it the most instantly recognisable of all ancient civilisations, and the one that gets us all so interested? This is an Egyptologist’s take on what you need to know. Pyramids, obelisks, mummies, hieroglyphs, people with animal-heads standing side-on and walking like, well, Egyptians. Old Kingdom, New Kingdom, thirty Dynasties, a Kings’ Valley, a Queens’ Valley, two of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and some of its most famous names: Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamun, Ramesses, Alexander the Great and Cleopatra, all of them pharaoh of Egypt, one of them the inspiration for a play of Shakespeare’s, another for one of Hollywood’s most famous villains. Bring your bull-whip and don’t forget your hat…
Tutankhamun and the Ancient Egyptian Quest for Immortality
Tuesday 27 October, 6.30 – 7.30 pm
(Victoria, Australia time = 7.30 – 8.30 am UK time)
Hosted by Glen Eira Libraries. For more info or to register go here.
The discovery of the intact tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamun by Howard Carter in 1922 was the greatest moment in the history of archaeology. It brought to light more than 5,000 of the most exquisite objects to have survived from the ancient world, masterpieces which speak to the vision and imagination of the Egyptian artists and craftsmen, and their ability to work with a wide range of materials – wood, stone, ceramic and precious metals especially, of course, gold. Such beautiful objects need no more explanation – they can simply be enjoyed as exquisite works of art – but in fact every item was present in the tomb for a reason: they were the equipment the king would need for his journey to an eternal afterlife.
200 years of Egyptology: the good, the bad and the ugly
Friday 30 October 2020, 2.00 – 3.00 pm
Hosted by Thames and Hudson as part of the Council for British Archaeology Festival of Archaeology. For more info or to register go here.
Renowned Egyptologist Dr Chris Naunton explains what Egyptology has taught us about the ancient past, but also how its darker, colonialist side might help us to do things differently in the future.
Searching for the Lost Tombs of Egypt
21 November 2020
Hosted by the North East Ancient Egypt Society – see here for further details.
PREVIOUS ONLINE TALKS:
PEOPLE AT AMARNA. From Akhenaten and Nefertiti to John Pendlebury and Mary Chubb
Tuesday 14 April 2020, 12.00 pm (UK time)
Thursday 16 April 2020, 5.00 pm (UK time)
Tuesday 21 April 2020, 11.00 am (UK time)
Hosted by The Egypt Exploration Society.
A recorded version of this talk is now available via the Egypt Exploration Society’s YouTube channel and here (see below):
Tell el-Amarna is the name we give to the site of Akhetaten, the city founded by the heretic pharaoh Akhenaten as the capital of his new Egypt. His story has proven to be one of the most captivating from anywhere in the ancient world and yet it was almost completely unknown until less than two hundred years ago. Various travellers, expeditions and archaeologists have helped reveal the evidence for what happened in the relatively brief period of the city’s existence, and the contribution of the various EES expeditions in this is immense. In this talk we’ll look at the site, some of its history and the work of those who have revealed Amarna to be one of the most important ancient sites in the world.
For those who have joined / will be joining any of the ‘People at Amarna’ talks, a guide to further reading and other resources online is available here.
AFTER AKHENATEN. Nefertiti, Smenkhkare, and where were they all buried?
Monday 27 April 2020, 12.00 pm (UK time) FULLY BOOKED
Wednesday 29 April, 5.00 pm (UK time) FULLY BOOKED
*NEW DATE: Monday 4 May 2020, 5.00 pm (UK time).
What happened after Akhenaten’s death? Where was he buried? Who succeeded him? Could it have been Nefertiti? And who was Smenkhkare? Tantalising clues have been found at Amarna and in the Valley of Kings. But how to make sense of them?
For those who have joined / will be joining any of the ‘After Akhenaten’ talks, a guide to further reading and other resources online is available here.
EGYPT’S LOST PYRAMID
Wednesday 13 May 2020, 5.00 pm (UK time). FULLY BOOKED
Monday 18 May 2020, 12.00 pm (UK time). FULLY BOOKED
Wednesday 20 May 2020, 5.00 pm (UK time).
A recorded version of this talk is now available here:
In 2017 an Egyptian Mission discovered a previously unknown pyramid at the site of Dahshur & it seemed the burial chamber was intact… I was lucky enough to visit to make a film when the tomb was opened. This is the story.
The film was broadcast in the UK on Channel 4 in October 2019 and is available via All4 here. It subsequently appeared on the Smithsonian Channel in North America, see here. Do take a look a look, there will be a chance for you to ask any questions you might have at the end of the talks!
As with previous talks a guide to online resources and further reading is here.
THE KINGDOM OF KUSH
Wednesday 24 June 2020, 5.00 pm (UK time).
Friday 26 June 2020, 11.00 am (UK time).
PLEASE NOTE: There is no mandatory charge for this event but registration is on a ‘pay what you like’ basis. If you would like to make a small contribution I would be very grateful; you can do so via PayPal or Monzo (no sign up required in either case).
Thank you and see you at the talk!
The Kingdom of Kush: Egypt’s mighty rival in the south. Egypt expanded into the territory to its south at various times in history, built monuments there and influenced the beliefs and practices of the people they encountered. But the influence went both ways; at times the tables turned and the Kingdom of Kush, centring on the cities of Kerma and later Napata and Meroe, became more powerful than Egypt. Kings of Kush even came to rule Egypt as the Twenty-fifth Dynasty. They retreated after a century of rule but continued to thrive in the middle Nile Valley for centuries more, burying their rules under distinctively tall pyramids. This is their story.
The usual guide to further reading and online resources is available here.
SEARCHING FOR IMHOTEP
Wednesday 3 June 2020, 12.00 pm (UK time).
Monday 8 June 2020, 5.00 pm (UK time).
*EXTRA DATE: Sunday 5 July, 6.00 – 8.00 (UK time).
This event will be hosted by The Explorers Club. A big thank you to Sarah Janes for the invitation!
A recorded version of this talk is now available via The Explorers’ Club on YouTube.
Imhotep. The name has been made famous by Hollywood mummy movies but the real-life man of this name was perhaps even more extraordinary. He is credited with designing the Step Pyramid, the very first of these iconic monuments, and long after his death he became a folk hero, and eventually a god. Despite his status, his tomb has never been found. Two thousand years after he lived, the ancients made thousands of offerings to him around a group of tombs of Imhotep’s time. Could one of them have been the final resting place of the man himself?
For anyone wanting to follow up any of the specific issues discussed, a guide to online resources and further reading is here.
CAUSING HIS NAME TO LIVE: the ancient Egyptian quest for immortality
Sunday 19 July, 7.00 pm (UK time)
Hosted by New Day Culture. REGISTER HERE.
The discovery of the intact tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamun by Howard Carter in 1922 was the greatest moment in the history of archaeology. It brought to light more than 5,000 of the most exquisite objects to have survived from the ancient world, masterpieces which speak to the vision and imagination of the Egyptian artists and craftsmen, and their ability to work with a wide range of materials – wood, stone, ceramic and precious metals especially, of course, gold. Such beautiful objects need no more explanation – they can simply be enjoyed as exquisite works of art – but in fact every item was present in the tomb for a reason: they were the equipment the king would need for his journey to an eternal afterlife. This is the story of how he got there.
ALEXANDER THE GREAT. Buried three times in Egypt… But where are those tombs?
Friday 31 July, 11.00 am (UK time). Fee £4.
Wednesday 5 August, 5.00 pm (UK time). Fee £4. REGISTER HERE
Alexander the Great conquered vast amounts of territory and came to rule a greater empire than had ever existed up that time. Along the way he chased the reviled Persians out of Egypt and was welcomed as pharaoh. He stayed in the country for just a few months and never returned, dying a few years later in Babylon. But his body was brought to Egypt for burial by his eventual successor, the general Ptolemy, no doubt in a suitably grand monument. Classical authors tell of visits by Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, Hadrian and others, but the tomb (or tombs…) has never been located. Where was it, and could it yet be found?
TUTANKHAMUN’S TURBULENT REIGN
Saturday 15 August, 9.00 pm (UK time)
Hosted by New Day Culture.
It’s often thought that Tutankhamun was a pharaoh of minimal significance: he was just a boy when he came to the throne, he died only a few years later as a young adult, and almost nothing was known about him until his tomb was found to be, by chance, intact. But in fact his reign represents a pivotal moment in Egyptian history. He was born in the midst of the revolution of his predecessor, Akhenaten, whose image – along with that of his queen Nefertiti – is a grotesque parody of the serene beauty of traditional Egyptian art, who asked his people to forget almost all their gods, and moved thousands to a brand new capital city in the desert. It didn’t last, and it was during Tutankhamun’s reign that Egypt emerged from its punk rock phase and normal service was resumed.
Weds 30 September at 7.00 pm. This will be a very informal affair which takes the place of a real-life launch event. I’ll be giving a short presentation, and I’ll also be joined by SALLY NICHOLLS, the picture researcher I worked with in putting the images together. We’ll both be explaining how the book came about and what creating it involved, and trying to keep tearful thank yous to a minimum 🙂 I’m hoping to rope in a couple of others who worked on the book as well – more details as I get them. Bring a drink, and help us to celebrate publication!
This is a FREE event, ALL WELCOME. To register please go here.