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Egyptology: The Pyramids in Context: Between Ancient Mysteries and Modern Myths

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Course DatesMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRNRegistration
June 29, 2020 - July 29, 20206/29 - 7/29OnlineOpenVictoria Almansa
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Course Description

No ancient world monument is more iconic than the Egyptian pyramids of Giza. Have you ever wondered why Egyptian pharaohs chose to build their tombs as pyramids? How does the interior of a pyramid look like? Are there any secret chambers still awaiting discovery under the Great Sphinx?

In this course, we will shed light on famous pyramid mysteries and tell modern myths apart from the truth. Explore 3D reconstructions of ancient pyramid towns, join a real archaeological excavation in Giza for a day, and discover what was like to live by the pyramids in 2500 BCE without leaving your house! As an Online student, you will be able to set your own schedule and learn all you ever wanted to know about the pyramids from anywhere.

Pyramids appear in different periods and locations of Egypt, but their origin and apotheosis are associated with the Old Kingdom (2575-2150 BCE) in Lower Egypt. This course sets out to be a comprehensive analysis of the Old Kingdom pyramids and the historical and symbolic context that produced them. We will investigate archaeological remains in order to understand their development, construction techniques, burial treasures, mummies, and everyday life in the pyramid towns. Additionally, we will read ancient texts describing magical rituals performed inside these imposing structures, and investigate the private journal of the official who was overseeing their building.

If you are considering this course, you are probably already fascinated and intrigued by these impressive Egyptian monuments. We will examine common myths and widespread misconceptions in a structured manner, while still maintaining your interest and appreciation for these wonders. What were the pyramid builders eating? Were they poor or rich? How were they treated by the king? This course wants to show the real face of the pyramids and the people who worked on and lived by them. You may wonder how and why such colossal tombs were built, what the extensive hieroglyphic texts written in their walls want to transmit, and how ancient people interacted with them in their everyday life. All these questions will be answered, and we will discuss other enigmas that have not been yet solved.

See your instructor Victoria Almansa-Villatoro talk about your course:



The course outline and discussions are designed to make you reflect about modern misconceptions regarding ancient Egypt. We will look at real and tangible examples of pharaonic production which will enable a modern-day reconstruction of the tale of life and death in the Old Kingdom. In addition, the online setting of this course provides me with the unique opportunity and means to show you, in real-time, actual material and architecture from my on-going work at an archaeological excavation in Giza.

After completing this course, you will be familiar with the key concepts of Egyptian material and textual production. This knowledge is a valuable skill for future archaeologists and art historians. The discussions and exercises, such as the composition of a mock grant-proposal to secure project funds, will bolster your critical thinking process and your writing skills, both essential elements in a successful academic or professional career. Moreover, our debates about colonialism, otherization, and heritage will provide a new perspective for your own informed opinion about current important problems involving eurocentrism, or the traffic of antiquities.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this course. You will only need a computer with internet access.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEEG0911
  • Length: 4 weeks

Program Information

Summer@Brown Online

Non-credit, seminar-style courses in the liberal arts and sciences, taught fully online to students worldwide. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2020.

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