Bloomsbury Summer School (text)

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.

2024 WINTER / SPRING AND SUMMER COURSES

Printed course programme cover

Download a PDF of the BSS 2024 brochure

To receive a paper copy, email your postal address to: kathryn@bloomsburysummerschool.co.uk

Winter & spring course list

Saturday 20 January (online only)
A TASTE OF GRAECO-ROMAN HIEROGLYPHS AND CRYPTOGRAPHIC WRITING with Dr Luigi Prada

Sunday 21 January (online only)
A TASTE OF DEMOTIC with Dr Luigi Prada

Sunday 7 April (online only)
A TASTE OF HIEROGLYPHS with Mr Kit Devine

Saturdays and Sundays, 6 – 7 and 13 – 14 April (online only)
DEMOTIC: A BEGINNERS’ COURSE with Dr Luigi Prada

Thursday 23 to Sunday 26 May (in person only)
EXPLORING ANCIENT EGYPT AT TURIN’S MUSEO EGIZIO with Dr Luigi Prada
NEW!! A special course in Turin, Italy! BOOKING NOW OPEN!!

Sunday 23 June (online only)
THE AWESOME EGYPTIANS: TEMPLES, TOMBS, AND MUMMIES with Dr Ken Griffin
NEW!! A special half-day course for youngsters ages 8 - 14 years old!

Summer course list

Monday 8 to Friday 12 July (in person and online)
FROM CHAVÍN, NASCA, AND MOCHE TO THE INCAS: AN IN-DEPTH JOURNEY INTO ANCIENT PERU with Dr Cecilia Pardo

Monday 8 to Friday 12 July (in person and online)
HIERATIC: READING HORUS AND SETH, LOVE POEMS, AND MORE with Dr Luigi Prada

Monday 15 to Friday 19 July (in person and online)
READING HIEROGLYPHS: A TOUCH OF THE CLASSICS with Dr José-Ramón Pérez-Accino and Dr Bill Manley

Monday 22 to Friday 26 July (in person and online)
ARCHAEOLOGY OF EMPIRE: EGYPT IN THE NEW KINGDOM with Dr Robert Morkot

Monday 22 to Friday 26 July (in person and online)
CUNEIFORM: ITS WRITING AND LANGUAGES with Dr Irving Finkel


Saturday 20 January


A TASTE OF GRAECO-ROMAN HIEROGLYPHS AND CRYPTOGRAPHIC WRITING

Course Director: Dr Luigi Prada (Uppsala University)

This is a 1-day course to be held online, and will also be available on video recording afterwards.

This course offers you the unique opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge of Graeco-Roman hieroglyphic texts — a fascinating subject rarely offered, even at the university level. Through this taster class, over a single day, you will be introduced to the main principles governing the hieroglyphic script at the time of Cleopatra and the Roman emperors, with its increased complexity and surprising creativity. Together, we will also look at and make sense of the most complex examples of such writings, which are found in cryptographic texts. You will learn how these intriguing scriptorial practices are rooted in earlier hieroglyphic writings from the Dynastic Period, including the New Kingdom. The writing examples that we will tackle together include the inscription of Somtutefnakht (narrating Alexander the Great’s conquest of Egypt), the inscriptions of the Ptolemaic High Priests of Ptah in Memphis, and obelisks erected by order of Roman emperors, to name but a few.

NB: Participants are expected to have knowledge — minimum one year’s study or have the complete the equivalent of the BSS courses BEGINNING HIEROGLYPHS and HIEROGLYPHS: THE NEXT STEP — of hieroglyphic Middle Egyptian.

Course Director info Timetable
Course fee: £35 per person
Recommended reading

All the necessary teaching material will be provided by the Course Director. If you so choose, you may familiarise yourself with the topic beforehand through the following readings:

NB: these also include studies relevant to the wider context of written culture in Graeco-Roman Egypt, and not specifically focused on philological problems.

Bowman, A. K. (1986 and following re-editions) Egypt After the Pharaohs: 332 BC – AD 642: From Alexander to the Arab Conquest. British Museum Press.

Engsheden, A. (2016) “Traditional Egyptian II (Ptolemaic, Roman)”. In UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, UCLA. Freely available online at: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/8g73w3gp.

Fairman, H. W. (1945) “An Introduction to the Study of Ptolemaic Signs and Their Values”. In BIFAO 43. Freely available online at: https://www.ifao.egnet.net/bifao/043/02

Hill, M. (2016) “Egypt in the Ptolemaic Period”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Freely available online at: https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ptol/hd_ptol.htm

Prada, L. (2018) “Multilingualism along the Nile”. In The Getty Iris Blog. J. Paul Getty Trust. Freely available online at: http://blogs.getty.edu/iris/multilingualism-along-the-nile

Riggs, C. (ed.) (2012) The Oxford Handbook of Roman Egypt. Oxford University Press.

Wilson, P. (1997) A Ptolemaic Lexikon. Peeters.


Sunday 21 January


A TASTE OF DEMOTIC

Course Director: Dr Luigi Prada (Uppsala University)

This is a 1-day course to be held online, and will also be available on video recording afterwards.

For a third of Egyptian antiquity, from the 7th century BCE to at least the 3rd century CE, demotic was the go-to, daily script for the ancient Egyptian language. Yet, curiously enough, it is hardly taught nowadays. This is mostly due to the misguided impression that this cursive script is “too hard” to learn. Well – this course will prove to you that this is not the case! Through this 1-day taster, you will be introduced to the main features of demotic, including its most common signs (starting from its so-called “alphabet”), as well as the basics of its grammar. By the end of the day, you will be able to identify independently a number of words and several signs or group-writings from a variety of original texts, including priestly decrees (the Rosetta Stone), literary texts, and documents from daily life, and you will also be able to date different demotic scribal hands.

Course Director info Timetable
Course fee: £35 per person
Recommended reading

All the necessary teaching material will be provided by the Course Director, but please make sure to download in advance the first item in this list (Thus Wrote ‘Onchsheshonqy):

Johnson, J. H. (2000, third edition) Thus Wrote ‘Onchsheshonqy: An introductory grammar of demotic. The Oriental Institute. Freely available online at: https://oi.uchicago.edu/research/publications/saoc/saoc-45-thus-wrote-onchsheshonqy-introductory-grammar-demotic (please ensure you have downloaded the PDF prior to the start of class).

Johnson, J. H. (ed.) (2001-2014) The Demotic Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. The Oriental Institute. Freely available at: https://oi.uchicago.edu/research/publications/demotic-dictionary-oriental-institute-university-chicago

Depauw, M. (1997) A Companion to Demotic Studies. Fondation égyptologique reine Elisabeth. Freely available online at: http://sites.dlib.nyu.edu/viewer/books/isaw_pbrx000028/1


Sunday 7 April


A TASTE OF HIEROGLYPHS

Course Director: Mr Kit Devine (University of Oxford)

This is a 1-day course to be held online, and will also be available on video recording afterwards.

For those of you intrigued by learning how to read hieroglyphs and perhaps wondering whether to take the plunge, this 1-day course will show you the basics behind reading ancient Egyptian and also give you a taste of the way we do things at Bloomsbury Summer School.

A TASTE OF HIEROGLYPHS assumes you have no prior experience in the subject but, through a series of presentations and reading sessions, we will show you how to read some pharaonic monuments on display in world-famous museums by the end of the day.

Course Director info Timetable
Course fee: £35 per person
Recommended reading

It would be a good idea on the day (but not essential) to have with you a copy of:

Collier, M. and Manley, B. (ideally the 2003 revised edition but the earlier edition is fine) How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs. British Museum Press. If you are interested to carry on learning Egyptian hieroglyphs, note that our 1-week course HIEROGLYPHS FOR BEGINNERS runs every other year or so and will be offered in July 2025 in person and live-streamed or to continue with our second stage course 'Hieroglyphs: The Next Step' (which will be held in person in July 2026), then you should be aware that this book is essential for both those courses.


Saturdays and Sundays, 6 – 7 and 13 – 14 April


DEMOTIC: A BEGINNERS’ COURSE

Course Director: Dr Luigi Prada (Uppsala University)

This is a 4-day course to be held online across two weekends, and will also be available on video recording afterwards.

Demotic is both the name for the script and for the phase of the ancient Egyptian language used between the 7th century BCE and the 3rd century CE in Egypt (with some sporadic use as late as the 5th century). Its script is known for being highly cursive, much more so than hieratic, and for being supposedly impenetrable. In this 4-day course, Luigi – an Egyptologist who specialises in demotic – will prove to you this is not the case! You will be introduced gradually to the features of the demotic script and grammar, and will learn how to recognise common signs and words. By the end of the course you will be able to read sentences from original texts. We will focus on Ptolemaic demotic, with particular attention to one famous demotic literary text, known as ‘The Instructions of ‘Onchsheshonqy’.

NB: This course can be attended by complete beginners, though do note that you will gain even more from it if you are already familiar with Egyptian hieroglyphs. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the BSS Director at kathryn@bloomsburysummerschool.com.

Course Director info Timetable
£240 per person
Recommended reading

All the necessary teaching material will be provided by the Course Director, but please make sure to download in advance the first item in this list (Thus Wrote ‘Onchsheshonqy):

Johnson, J. H. (2000, third edition) Thus Wrote ‘Onchsheshonqy: An Introductory Grammar of Demotic. The Oriental Institute. Freely available online at: https://oi.uchicago.edu/research/publications/saoc/saoc-45-thus-wrote-onchsheshonqy-introductory-grammar-demotic (please ensure you have downloaded the PDF prior to the start of class).

Erichsen, W. (1954) Demotisches Glossar. Ejnar Munksgaard. Freely available at: https://archive.org/details/demotischesgloss0000eric/page/n3/mode/2up

Johnson, J. H. (ed.) (2001-2014) The Demotic Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. The Oriental Institute. Freely available at: https://oi.uchicago.edu/research/publications/demotic-dictionary-oriental-institute-university-chicago

Depauw, M. (1997) A Companion to Demotic Studies. Fondation égyptologique reine Elisabeth. Freely available online at: http://sites.dlib.nyu.edu/viewer/books/isaw_pbrx000028/1


Thursday 23 to Sunday 26 May


EXPLORING ANCIENT EGYPT AT TURIN’S MUSEO EGIZIO

Course Director: Dr Luigi Prada (Uppsala University)

This course will be held in person in Turin, Italy.

The Museo Egizio (Egyptian Museum) in Turin, Italy, is one of only two large institutions in the world — alongside those in Cairo — to be exclusively dedicated to the antiquities of ancient Egypt. Founded in 1824, it is also the oldest such institution, and celebrates its 200th anniversary in 2024. Following the success of “BSS in Egypt”, this course is BSS’ first field course in Europe. Through a combination of lectures and visits to the museum, participants will discover the history of the Museo Egizio, admire its masterpieces, and familiarise themselves with the entire collection, as well as with a number of selected artefacts of particular historical significance.

Itinerary

Day 1: Flight direct from London Gatwick to Turin. Transfer by coach to the 4* Hotel Victoria & Iside Spa and check in for 3 nights;

Day 2: Morning lecture after breakfast (2 hours); Visit to the Museo Egizio (late morning and afternoon, with free time for a lunch break); Welcome dinner at a local restaurant;

Day 3: Morning lecture after breakfast (2 hours); Visit to the Museo Egizio (late morning and afternoon, with free time for a lunch break);

Day 4: Free day for sightseeing before transfer by coach to the airport for the return flight to London.

Course Director info
Course fee: £1,645pp (Single Supplement: £250)
Recommended reading

Online resources:

History of the Museo Egizio: www.museoegizio.it/en/discover/story

Collection and research: www.museoegizio.it/en/discover/collection

Books:

Greco, C. (ed.) (2016) Museo Egizio — Guide. Turin.

Greco, C. (ed.) (2016) Museo Egizio — Catalogue. Turin.

How to book

Bloomsbury Summer School are pleased to be partnering with Andante Travels, who will be handling all aspects of the booking process.

Please call Andante Travels' Private Groups Team to make your booking and deposit payment (£500 per person), Monday to Friday, 08:00 – 18:00 on +44 (0)1722 671 873.

Andante Travels can also be contacted at: groups@andantetravels.com

Or via their online chat facility: www.andantetravels.co.uk

  • If you are not based in the UK and / or don’t require flights to travel with the group from London, then please contact Andante Travels on 1 877 537 4091 and they can provide a price to join the course. A private transfer to / from the airport to the hotel can be quoted for on request.


Sunday 23 June


THE AWESOME EGYPTIANS: TEMPLES, TOMBS, AND MUMMIES

Course Director: Dr Ken Griffin (Swansea University)

This is a special short afternoon course to be held online for budding Egyptologists ages 8 – 14 years old.*

Ancient Egypt Egypt is one of the most fascinating civilizations in human history. Its people left behind a legacy of awe-inspiring temples, tombs, and mummies that continue to amaze us today. This course will explore the wonders of ancient Egypt, from the iconic pyramids of Giza to the hidden treasures of the Valley of the Kings. We will learn about the Egyptian gods and goddesses, the pharaohs who ruled with absolute power, and the everyday lives of the people. We will also discuss the mummification process and the significance of mummies in Egyptian culture. We will explore the magnificent temples that were built to honour the gods and goddesses, and the tombs that were created to ensure a safe passage to the afterlife. This course is aimed at children aged 8 – 14 who are interested in learning more about ancient Egypt. It will be a fun and informative journey through one of the most amazing civilisations in history. Parents / grandparents attend free of charge with their child / grandchild. The course will run online from 14:00 - 17:00 (UK time).

Course Director info
Course fee: £10 per child

Monday 8 to Friday 12 July


FROM CHAVÍN, NASCA, AND MOCHE TO THE INCAS: AN IN-DEPTH JOURNEY INTO ANCIENT PERU

Course Director: Dr Cecilia Pardo (British Museum)

This is a 5-day course to be held in person at UCL and live-streamed, and will also be available on video recording afterwards.

This course will explore the unique cultures that once flourished in the central Andean region — one of the six cradles of civilisation — from 1500 BCE until the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in the mid-16th century. Through dynamic and richly-illustrated lectures, you will explore the natural world and lifeways of the indigenous peoples of ancient Peru. Through museum objects and other archaeological evidence, you will learn how these societies managed to thrive in one of the most challenging and complex environments on the planet. From the mountains and highlands, to the river basins and coastal plains, this course will highlight the history, beliefs, and cultural practices of the different peoples who lived in these remarkable landscapes, and the importance of their legacy up until today. A particular highlight will be the opportunity to learn first-hand about working behind-the-scenes in museum contexts. Cecilia will share with you her experiences curating pre-Columbian exhibitions through interactive sessions and a guided visit to the British Museum.

Course Director info Timetable
In-person fee: £370 per person
Online fee: £290 per person
Recommended reading

Pardo, C. and Cooper, J. (2021) Peru: A journey in time. British Museum Press.

Pillsbury, J. T., Potts, T., and Richter, K. N. (eds) (2017) Golden Kingdoms: Luxury art in the ancient Americas. Getty Publications.

Silverman, H. and Proulx, D. A. (2002) The Nasca. Blackwell Publishing.

Benson, E. P. (2012) The World of the Moche on the North Coast of Peru. University of Texas Press.

Alconini, S. and Covey, A. (eds) (2018) The Oxford Handbook of the Incas. Oxford University Press.


Monday 8 to Friday 12 July


HIERATIC: READING HORUS AND SETH, LOVE POEMS, AND MORE

Course Director: Dr Luigi Prada (Uppsala University)

This is a 5-day course to be held in person at UCL and live-streamed, and will also be available on video recording afterwards.

Following the success of our 2022 introduction to Hieratic,* Luigi is offering a new class this summer, giving students the opportunity to read more texts in their hieratic original, the cursive script of pharaonic Egypt. We will read together texts in both Middle and Late Egyptian, beginning with one of ancient Egypt’s literary masterpieces, ‘The Contendings of Horus and Seth'. Readings will also include New Kingdom love poems and a selection of other texts. The course will also provide a brief refresher on how to read hieratic and Late Egyptian. Students who did not follow the previous course are warmly welcome but are expected to have knowledge — minimum one year’s study — of hieroglyphic Middle Egyptian. A session to examine original artefacts at the British Museum will also be included.

* If you missed the introductory course, fear not! The course materials and videos are available here! If you have yet to acquire the necessary Middle Egyptian, you may wish to take our step 1 and step 2 hieroglyphs courses via video.

BEGINNING HIEROGLYPHS (step 1) (Also to be taught in person and online in 2025).

HIEROGLYPHS: THE NEXT STEP (step 2)

Course Director info
In-person fee: £370 per person
Online fee: £290 per person
Recommended reading

This course is based on handouts specially prepared for BSS. Your Course Director will provide the necessary teaching material.

NB: The standard reference for hieratic signs is:

Möller, G. (1909–1936) Hieratische Paläographie. Bd. I–IV. Osnabrück. (PDFs)


Monday 15 to Friday 19 July


READING HIEROGLYPHS: A TOUCH OF THE CLASSICS

Course Co-Directors: Dr José-Ramón Pérez-Accino (Complutense University) and Dr Bill Manley (Egiptología Complutense)

This is a 5-day course to be held in person at UCL and live-streamed, and will also be available on video recording afterwards.

As usual we have set aside a brand new course for those of you who love to experience the culture of pharaonic Egypt firsthand by reading the ancient texts. This time, in response to the feedback from our classrooms, we will take a long look at a pair of Egyptian classics which are themed around travels, troubles, and unexpected developments: The Story of the Shipwrecked Sailor and The Tale of Wenamun.

Happily, this year’s Reading Hieroglyphs course returns to our London classrooms. However, in response to ever-increasing demand for READING HIEROGLYPHS, we are going to use a hybrid arrangement to run the course online as well.

Our READING HIEROGLYPHS courses assume you already have a good reading knowledge of Egyptian hieroglyphic texts. Normally we expect you to have taken both of the BSS courses HIEROGLYPHS FOR BEGINNERS (first stage) and HIEROGLYPHS: THE NEXT STEP (second stage) beforehand. As a rule of thumb, before you come along you should be comfortable reading all of the texts in How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs (see Recommended reading). Do not worry about the intensity of this course: throughout the week there will be plenty of time for your own work and for questions and answers with your tutors.

Course Director info Course Director info
In-person fee: £370 per person
Online fee: £290 per person
Recommended reading

Collier, M. and Manley, B. (2003) How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs. Revised Edition. British Museum Press.

This is the required course book, and you must bring a copy to each class (the first or second edition is equally useful). The following book is not essential but you may find it helpful to bring a copy with you, if you happen to have one.

Faulkner, R. O. (1962) A Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian. Griffith Institute.


Monday 22 to Friday 26 July


ARCHAEOLOGY OF EMPIRE: EGYPT IN THE NEW KINGDOM

Course Director: Dr Robert Morkot (Friends of the Petrie Museum)

This is a 5-day course to be held in person at UCL and live-streamed, and will also be available on video recording afterwards.

From 1550 BCE, Egypt established an empire in western Asia and in Nubia (Kush). The 500 years of the Egyptian New Kingdom (1600 – 1050 BCE; Late Bronze Age of the Near East) saw changes in warfare, society, and religion. This was a time of some of Egypt’s most famous pharaohs – Thutmose III, Hatshepsut, Amenhotep III, Akhenaten, and Ramesses II. In this course, we will explore in detail the archaeological and historical evidence for Egypt’s empire, and how it has been interpreted: earlier Egyptologists had no problem seeing this period as ‘empire’ but more recently archaeologists have questioned what the nature of Egyptian rule was. In order to address these topics, some broader issues about ‘empire’ and culture will be discussed. Themes such as imperial collapse, successor states, and cultural legacy will also be examined. Join Dr Morkot for a fascinating exploration of the vast range of surviving evidence and how we interpret it.

Course Director info
In-person fee: £370 per person
Online fee: £290 per person
Recommended reading

Alcock, S. E., D’Altroy, T. N., Morrison, K. D., and Sinopoli, C. M. (eds) (2001) Empires: Perspectives from archaeology and history. Cambridge University Press.

Cohen, R. and Westbrook, R. (eds) (2000) Amarna Diplomacy: The beginnings of international relations. The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Morenz, L. D. and Popko, L. (2010) The Second Intermediate Period and the New Kingdom in Lloyd, A. B. (ed.) A Companion to Ancient Egypt. John Wiley & Sons.

Shaw, I. (ed.) (2000) The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press.
-- Chapter 9, Bryan, B. M. The 18th Dynasty Before the Amarna Period, (c.1550 – 1352 BC), 218–271.
-- Chapter 10, van Dijk, J. The Amarna Period and the Later New Kingdom (c.1352 – 1069 BC), 272–313.


Monday 22 to Friday 26 July


CUNEIFORM: ITS WRITING AND LANGUAGES

Course Director: Dr Irving Finkel (The British Museum)

This is a 5-day course to be held in person at UCL and live-streamed, and will also be available on video recording afterwards.

This course will plunge adventurously into the world of cuneiform and consider all the reasons why it is so important and interesting. Irving will lead you through the origins and development of the cuneiform script over more than 3000 years, and how it works; the diverse uses to which cuneiform was put; the different languages that it was used for; and some of the amazing discoveries that have been made. You will read inscriptions in Sumerian and Akkadian in a way that will explain the writing fearlessly and communicate the difference between Sumerian and Akkadian, the primary cuneiform languages. Other topics will be: the school and its curriculum; healing the sick; telling the future; and the survival of Mesopotamian knowledge at the end of the story. There will be some real tablets for handling, one session on how to write cuneiform on clay with lolly-sticks, and an exclusive British Museum tour for those who are still undaunted.

Course Director info
In-person fee: £370 per person
Online fee: £290 per person
Recommended reading

Edzard, D. O. (2003) Sumerian Grammar. Brill.

Kramer, S. N. (1956) From the Tablets of Sumer. Falcon's Wing Press.

Miller, D. B. and Shipp, R. M. (2014 [1996]) An Akkadian Handbook: Helps, paradigms, glossary, logograms, and sign list. Pennsylvania State University Press.

Postgate, J. N. (ed.) (2007) Languages of Iraq: Ancient and modern. University of Cambridge Press.

Volk, K. (1999) Sumerian Reading Book. PDF freely available: https://dn790003.ca.archive.org/0/items/ASumerianReader/ASumerianReader.pdf

Worthington, M. (2012 [2010]) Complete Babylonian: A teach yourself guide. McGraw-Hill.

Zolyomi, G. (2017) An Introduction to the Grammar of Sumerian. Eötvös University Press. PDF freely available: https://publication/327051649_An_Introduction_to_the_Grammar_of_Sumerian