Bloomsbury Summer School (text)

Bloomsbury Summer School

Ibis (mobile-only branding graphic)

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 2019 – programme in detail

Printed course programme cover

Monday 24 – Friday 28 June

Coptic for Beginners

Course Director: Dr Bill Manley

We are delighted that Dr Bill Manley is reprising his unique introduction to Coptic course for us this year. Coptic was the language of the early Christians of Egypt, and the final phase of the ancient language of the pharaohs. Our Beginners course offers you the knowledge and the practice required to begin reading important groups of ancient texts, highlighting the wisdom of the 4th-century desert fathers and the lives of monks and wealthy villagers at Thebes in the aftermath of the Arab invasion.

Please note: This is an introduction to the Coptic language and Coptic texts, and does not presuppose knowledge of Coptic or any other language. You will be invited to study various points of grammar and apply them, from day one, to reading ancient texts, using notes specially written for BSS. 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.

If you take this course you will be equipped to take our Reading Coptic course the following week (1 – 5 July).


Monday 1 – Friday 5 July

Reading Coptic

Course Director: Dr Bill Manley

Our hieroglyphs courses have been highly-regarded for many years, and we are thrilled that our recently-introduced Coptic courses are now so well appreciated too. We are pleased to announce that Dr Bill Manley will be teaching a brand-new course, designed to build on your elementary skills in reading Coptic. This new course written by Bill concentrates on exemplary groups of Coptic texts from the 4th century to the decades following the Arab invasion, including letters, narratives and sermons by notable authors such as Shenoute and Frange.

Our Coptic for Beginners course the previous week (24 – 28 June) would be good preparation for this course.

Please note: You need not have taken the course Coptic for Beginners at BSS, but Reading Coptic assumes you do have some experience in reading Coptic texts. As a general guide, you should already be able to read a short narrative including the Past Tense and Circumstantial. In this course 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 the course, there will be plenty of time for supervised practice of your Coptic, and for questions and answers with your tutor.


Monday 1 – Friday 5 July

Ancient Egypt Rediscovered: New methods and techniques in Egyptology

Course Directors: Dr Lidija McKnight and Dr Iwona Kozieradzka-Ogunmakin

** Fully booked **

Following on from the success of Lidija and Iwona’s 2018 BSS course on Saqqara, they return in 2019 to co-direct a course based on the investigation of the ancient Egyptian civilisation using modern techniques. An enduring fascination with Ancient Egypt drives enthusiasts and researchers alike to study the wealth of surviving evidence, to discover more about the lives, deaths and beliefs of these ancient peoples. Advancements in modern technology enable ancient archaeological sites, cultural artefacts, art and documentary sources to be interrogated in new and exciting ways. Most importantly, the emphasis is placed on the information that can be gained through non-invasive and non-destructive investigations, preserving the integrity of the material for the future.

This exciting new course presents a wide range of new methods and techniques used to investigate various aspects of ancient Egyptian archaeology: landscape; architecture; artefacts; human, animal and organic remains. Through a series of lectures, a museum visit, and an exciting facial reconstruction workshop delivered by world-leading experts, this course will demonstrate how these innovations contribute to, and enrich, our understanding of ancient Egypt and its people.

This course includes a museum visit, and a number of guest speakers, including Dr Cédric Gobeil, Dr Joyce Tyldesley, Prof. Paul Nicholson, Prof. Caroline Wilkinson and Dr Anna Garnett.


Monday 8 – Friday 12 July

Hieroglyphs: The next step

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

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

Please note: You need not have taken the course Hieroglyphs for Beginners at BSS, but Hieroglyphs: 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 during the course 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. (2003 revised edition, or earlier edition fine) How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs. British Museum Press.


Monday 8 July – Friday 12 July

Reading Hieroglyphs: Praise and betrayal

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

** Fully booked **

As ever, we are staging a course especially for those of you who love to discover Ancient Egypt through reading ancient texts. This year we are delighted to offer a brand new course based on a well known but not well understood event – the assassination of king Amenemhat I, founder of the 12th Dynasty. Together we will read the essential account from The Teaching of Amenemhat I and also delve into contemporary texts, which discuss distinctive beliefs and words regarding the king and his relationship with his courtiers and the people of Egypt. You may also choose to study certain passages in the original hieratic to improve your reading in both the ancient language and writing.

Please note: Reading Hieroglyphs: Praise and Betrayal assumes you already have good experience of reading Middle Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions. Normally, we would expect you to have taken both 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 comfortable reading all the texts there. 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 15 July – Friday 19 July

Ancient Egypt in 100 People

Course Director: Dr Campbell Price

** Fully booked **

We are staging this new course in response to all the positive feedback following Dr Campbell Price’s sell-out course for us last year: Ancient Egypt in 100 Objects. So, by popular demand, he now moves from objects to people: interesting characters from Egypt’s ancient past.

Elite Ancient Egyptians strove to be remembered for eternity. This new course uses the significant evidence for ancient Egyptian individuals to chart a biographical history of the Pharaonic state through 100 people. Rather than kings and queens, we will examine the non-royal people who made a mark sufficiently indelible to be remembered more than 2000 years later. We will analyse the various strategies employed in élite self-presentation; the nature and extent of the evidence for the élite (as opposed to the non-élite); and the meanings of individuals’ names, in this exploration of text and image.

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


Monday 15 July – Friday 19 July

War, Strife and Conquistadors: Mesoamerica in the postclassic period

Course Director: Dr Elizabeth Baquedano

Last year we staged for the first time, an introduction to Mesomerican history and archaeology. Elizabeth Baquedano’s course was so popular we have decided to bring you a more focussed course on this part of the world, this time exploring the Mesoamerican Postclassic Period (AD 900-1521). This era was a fascinating one, combining innovation, creativity and strife. We examine a period of Mesoamerican history characterised by warfare among different peoples with larger populations than ever before. Archaeology reveals the defensive character of sites, and cities built with walls for protection. The art reflects this time of conflict - many sculptures and paintings depict fully armed warriors.

This course explores politics, religion and warfare, and how closely they were interwoven. This period of Mesomerican history is distinguished too by exciting cultural developments - new standardized forms of pictorial writing and iconography, and a new ritual ideology. We examine the material culture peculiar to this time of hostility – warriors feature in the iconography found, for example, on religious structures and musical instruments. Prepare too to study the nature of the Toltec capital, Tula; the Mayan cities of Chichen Itzá and Mayapan; as well as the Aztec and Tarascan Empires; and the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors in 1519.

This course includes teaching in The British Museum.


Monday 22 July – Friday 26 July

Ancient Assyria: Power and idealogy

Course Director: Professor Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones

** Fully booked **

If today the Assyrians are remembered at all, they are usually encountered through their image in the Bible in which they are found as an imperial power, which destroyed the kingdom of Israel and took the ‘twelve tribes’ into captivity. A generation later they attacked Jerusalem, the capital of Judah. It is this attack, which inspired Lord Byron to write:

The Assyrians came down like a wolf on the fold
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold.

Largely in consequence of the Bible and of Byron’s poem, the Assyrians have the reputation for ruthless savagery. They have been much maligned. Certainly the Assyrians could be merciless in their maintenance of order, but they were the defenders of civilisation, not barbarian destroyers.

This course explores the nature of life and thought during the time of Assyria’s apogee, when it ruled a huge empire and was governed from great cities such as Nineveh and Nimrud. Through a combination of textual studies, archaeology and the examination of material culture, this course explores the ideology of empire and of kingship, as well as the literature, art, religion, and daily life of the Assyrians. Attention will also be given to the archaeological ‘rediscovery’ of Assyria and analysis of the recent destruction of Assyrian sites by ISIS, with an eye to the future progress of Assyriological research.

This course includes a session taught in The British Museum.


Monday 22 July – Friday 26 July

Ancient Egyptian Literature in context: A voyage through history, culture and religion

Course Director: Dr Luigi Prada

There is no doubt that ancient Egyptian literature belongs to humanity’s cultural heritage, as one of the world’s greatest literary traditions. With a text production spanning more than three millennia, from its written beginnings in the Old Kingdom through to its Coptic manifestation in Late Antiquity, it can pride itself on an incredibly prolific and varied textual corpus, including myriad genres, from religious hymns to pornography. And yet, so many of ancient Egypt’s literary treasures are still hardly known outside the walls of academia.

This course will offer a full diachronic discussion of ancient Egyptian literature. Both its famous masterworks and its lesser-known gems will be presented and discussed in their historical context, through a series of lectures that will introduce the students to ancient Egyptian literary criticism, problems of interpretation of the original manuscripts, and—most importantly—to the social, cultural, and religious milieus from which these works of art originally stemmed. Participants will also discuss pre-assigned readings of original Egyptian texts with the course director, in order to develop their own skills as critical readers of ancient texts. No previous knowledge of Egyptian literature or language is required to attend this course (all texts will be read in English translation).

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