Bloomsbury Summer School (text)

Bloomsbury Summer School

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Fascinated by ancient civilisations?

We offer anyone with any level of knowledge, inspiring short courses on Ancient Egypt and other areas of the Ancient World.

Summer School 2017 – programme in detail

Printed course programme cover

Monday 3 to Friday 7 July

Coptic: the next step

Course Director: Dr Bill Manley

In 2016 we staged our first ever Coptic course. It proved so popular that we have invited Bill Manley back to show you The Next Step, building on the knowledge and language skills you might have acquired on our 2016 course Coptic for Beginners. The Next Step is a brand new course, which concentrates on four exemplary groups of Coptic texts from the 4th century to the decades following the Arab invasion, including letters, narratives and the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas.

Please note: to take this course, you need not have taken the BSS course Coptic for Beginners, but The Next Step assumes you do have some experience in reading Coptic texts. As a general guide, you should be able to read a short narrative in Coptic using the Past Tense and Circumstantial. You will be invited to study various points of grammar and apply them from day one in reading ancient texts, using notes specially written for BSS. However, do not worry about the intensity of this course, there will be plenty of time for supervised practice, and for questions and answers with your tutor.


Monday 3 to Friday 7 July

Prepared for Eternity: ancient Egyptian mummies, ritual and representation

Course Director: Dr Campbell Price with Dr Lidija McKnight

Campbell Price, Curator of Egypt and Sudan at the Manchester Museum, taught his first course for BSS in 2016. It got such great reviews that we have invited him back, this time to focus on a topic that has always been a speciality of Manchester Egyptology. Following the success of his co-curated exhibition Gifts from the Gods: animal mummies revealed and his co-edited volume Mummies, Magic and Medicine in Ancient Egypt, Campbell brings us a new course on this fascinating aspect of Ancient Egyptian culture.

The Egyptian mummy is one of the most recognisable products of the ancient world. But how were mummies made? What did they mean to the Egyptians? And how are they studied today? This course focuses on the production of the mummified body, the magical maintenance of the spirit, and the use of objects and representations surrounding the mummy to protect it. Cutting edge technology can reveal much about the embalmer’s art, while numerous ancient sources give us an understanding of why the art of mummification was so culturally important, and why the image of the mummy is so recognisable today.

This course will include sessions taught in The British Museum and UCL’s Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, including special access to objects in the Petrie Museum.


Monday 10 to Friday 14 July

Hieroglyphs: the next step

Course Directors: Dr Bill Manley and Dr José R. Pérez-Accino

We are delighted to be offering once again our second-stage course in Egyptian Hieroglyphs. José Pérez-Accino and Bill Manley will return to show you The Next Step building on the knowledge and skills you might have acquired on the BSS course Hieroglyphs for Beginners. In a series of practical sessions you will be introduced to increasingly elaborate monuments, made for both kings and officials. In this way, you will learn more sophisticated aspects of hieroglyphic writing, including ways of talking about the king and gods; the past, present and future; and negative statements. Through the week you will enrich your understanding of different kinds of Ancient Egyptian monuments and expand your knowledge of Middle Egyptian.

Please note: you need not have taken the course Hieroglyphs for Beginners at BSS, but The Next Step assumes you do have some experience in reading Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions. As a general guide, you should already be able to read a basic offering-formula, such as the monuments on pages 46 and 48 of the course-book (below). However, do not worry about the intensity of the course, there will be plenty of time for supervised reading, and for contact with your tutors.

It is essential that students attending this course bring along a copy of the course book: Collier, M. &  Manley, B. (ideally 2003 revised edition, but earlier edition fine) How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs. British Museum Press.


Monday 10 to Friday 14 July

Reading Hieroglyphs: classic literature with a taste of hieratic

Course Directors: Dr Bill Manley & Dr José-R. Pérez-Accino

As ever, we are offering a brand new BSS course for those who love to discover Ancient Egypt by reading ancient texts. This year we will look at some of the most engaging and thoughtful literature of the Middle Kingdom, reading significant extracts from The Prophecy of Neferty and The Dialogue Between a Man and His Soul. In addition, you can choose to study a selection of passages in the original hieratic, and so improve your reading of this ancient language, while exploring distinctive ideas about life from the ‘Golden Age’ of Egyptian literature.

Please note: this course assumes you already have good experience of reading Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions. Normally we would expect you to have already taken both the BSS courses Hieroglyphs for Beginners (first stage) and Hieroglyphs: The Next Step (second stage), though this is not mandatory. As a general guide, before you come along you should have worked through all of How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs (see ‘Recommended Reading’), and be familiar with reading all the texts in it. However, do not worry about the intensity of the course, during the week there will be plenty of time for your own supervised work and contact with your tutors.


Monday 17 July to Friday 21 July

The Ancient Near East in 100 Objects

Course Director: Professor Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones

If you enjoy exploring museums and considering the stories behind ancient objects, this is the course for you. Objects are good to think with. By examining ‘things’ we can begin to understand how societies and cultures articulate themselves. In this lively and fascinating course we will examine the object-world of the Ancient Near East (Mesopotamia, the Levant, Anatolia, Iran, and Egypt), exploring the socio-cultural, political, and economic histories of these formative civilisations. We will explore objects great and small – from colossal statues to beads and gemstones; examine objects rich and humble – from gold coffins to pottery fragments; encounter objects beautiful and bizarre – from jewelled crowns to mummified monkeys. Through 100 objects we will experience how life was lived in the past - rulership, warfare, dress, food, health, faith, animals, literature, entertainment, superstition – and how ancient peoples conceived of their worlds.

This course will include sessions taught in The British Museum and UCL’s Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology.


Monday 17 July to Friday 21 July

The Subtle Science: Magic in ancient Egypt

Course Director: Dr Joanna Kyffin

Every human culture has some form of ‘magic’, and many of those magical beliefs and practices originate in Ancient Egypt. To the modern ear, the word ‘magic’ has lost some of its authority, through confusion with the practice of conjuring or stage magic, and through the (artificial) distinction from religion and medicine. However, to an ancient Egyptian, magic was part of the fabric of their existence, and magicians were respected and powerful citizens. In this course we will explore the history of magic in Ancient Egypt through texts, objects and practice, and seek to reintegrate magic into our understanding of Egyptian culture. We will trace how the Egyptians’ belief in magic, and their practice of it, have reverberated through many other times and cultures. We will explore the holistic world of Egyptian magic-religion-medicine, and learn what it meant to be a magician in Ancient Egypt, and why their belief in their magical objects, practices and spells was so fundamental and enduring. 

Joanna’s doctoral thesis was an exploration of Ancient Egyptian magical texts, making her the perfect person to teach our first course on Magic in Ancient Egypt, a course which will include sessions taught in The British Museum and UCL’s Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology.


Monday 24 July to Friday 28 July

Technologies of Ancient Egyptian Writing

Course Director: Dr Kathryn Piquette

For the first time at BSS, a course exploring the material world of ancient Egyptian writing, including the materials, tools and techniques deployed by scribes and other writers, whether pressing a seal into soft clay, pulling an ink pen across papyrus, or pushing a chisel across stone, bone or wood. You will learn about the complex relationships between the physical imperatives, mechanical laws and cultural choices bound up in past writing practice, bodily performance and sensory experience. You will consider the practical and symbolic implications of these facets of writing for different audiences – whether living, dead or divine. You will also consider the techniques that gave rise to hieroglyphic, hieratic and demotic writing, with hands-on work using modern papyrus and rush pens.

This course will include guest lectures, practical demonstrations, a session in UCL’s Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, and an exclusive visit to UCL’s Multi-Modal Digitisation Suite where you will witness first-hand how hidden text can be made visible with advanced imaging technologies.


Monday 24 July to Friday 28 July

Underwater Archaeology of the Eastern Mediterranean: shipwrecks, sunken cities, drowned landscapes and the ancient world

Course Director: Mr Peter Campbell

Underwater archaeologist Peter Campbell gave such a fascinating and well-delivered lecture at our 2016 study day on Shipwrecks and Sunken Cities that we have invited him back to teach a whole course for us. We are delighted that he has agreed. His course explores the contributions of underwater archaeology to the study of Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean. Submerged sites offer unique insight into life in the past, often sealed in time capsule-like deposits and containing well-preserved organic remains not found on land. This course examines the major shipwrecks and sunken cities that have been found by underwater archaeologists, and the new information yielded by these extraordinary sites. Take this course and you will enjoy lectures on: Culture Underwater: An Introduction to Our Submerged Past; A Dynamic Planet: Paleolandscapes and Morphological Change in the Mediterranean; Sunken Cities in Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean; Water Cults: Religion and Cosmology Underwater; Shipwrecks in the Eastern Mediterranean.