Ancient Egypt
(Ancient Egypt study trip pix -- November 23 through December 7, 2007)
The Funerary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut.

The Temple of Deir El-Bahri is one of the more amazing temples in the whole of Egypt, due to its design and decorations. It was built of limestone, not sandstone like most of the other funerary temples of the New Kingdom period.

It is thought that Senimut, the genius architect who built this Temple, was inspired in his design by the plan of the neighboring mortuary Temple of the 12th Dynasty King, Neb-Hept-Re. The Temple was built for the great Queen Hatshepsut (18th Dynasty), to commemorate her achievements and to serve as a funerary Temple for her, as well as a sanctuary of the God, Amon Ra.

The Temple was seriously damaged and defaced, after Queen Hatshepsut's mysterious death, by the followers of Thutmoses III, her successor.  Reconstruction work by 20th / 21st century archeology teams continues.

Course information:
Ancient Egypt (History 303)  For course materials, click here.

There will be ten two hour sessions on Fridays from 10:30 AM until 12:30 PM.  The fisrst session will be on Friday, October 7, 2011, and subsequent sessions will be on consecetive Fridays until December 16.  There will be no class on November 25 (the day after Thanksgiving).   All classes will be held at George Mason University in Founder's Hall,  3351 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington VA (classroom to be determined). 
Click this line or on small map image to see larger map:

Course description:  Egypt is now in its seventh millennium, but we will only cover the first 55 hundred or so years (plus a few thousand more years of "prehistory".)  We are all familiar with the pyramids, the great sphinx, King Tut (and a few other "pharaohs"), and, if we watch television, we've seen films about ancient Egypt.  This course will try to get a little deeper into the thicket of reeds along the Nile.  For example, the reason the word "pharaohs" is in quotation marks in the previous sentence is that it started as a slang word in ancient Egypt.  The hieroglyphic signs that represent the sounds of "p" and "r" really mean "house" and a determinative hieroglyph is added to indicate "big".  From the 14th Dynasty onward, the ruler might be referred to as "paraoh" -- the "ph" (=f) at the beginning was a Greek corruption.  The 14th Dynasty ruled for about 100 years (ca. 1700 BC) during the dissolution of the Middle Kingdom.  It apparently wasn't until the 19th Dynasty that someone had the nerve to send a letter to Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten) using the word as a form of direct address.  (More on the etymology of "pharaoh" is at

We will NOT study all the Pharaohs (there are just too many -- see, but we will look at the major periods, a few important dynasties, some notable kings and queens, some aspects of the art, architecture, history, and culture, and, yes, those pyramids, and the great sphynx, and King Tut. 

No textbook is necessary:  the usual copious handouts will be provided and the internet links provided here and in the handouts will more than suffice.  If you really feel the need to hold physical books on Ancient Egypt, links to hundreds of scholarly reviews of Ancient Egypt books are available at this link (Bryn Mawr Classical Review).  My own favorite book on Ancient Egypt is the Oxford History of Ancient History by Ian Shaw, which is available on the internet for as little as $7.50, used, or $11, new -- click on this link for information.

Keep up with developments in Egyptian Archeology at this link: