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Ancient Egyptian Religion and Magic

This course is expected to run but has not yet been scheduled.

Course Description

Ancient Egyptian temples stand as enduring remnants of Egypt's religious past. From the Great Pyramids of Giza to pit graves of the non-elite, from the great palaces and temples of kings and gods like Karnak and Luxor to private shrines in houses, this course invites you to partake in the reconstruction of ancient Egypt's religion. By analyzing Egyptian texts, statues, archaeology, tombs, temples, paintings and artifacts of personal piety, we will work together to understand and interpret the significances of these artifacts and sites as they relate to ancient Egyptian religion and culture. This class is designed for anyone interested in Egypt, religions of the ancient world, history of the ancient Mediterranean or anyone who simply wants to learn about the religion of one of the most incredible and ancient civilizations in the history of the world.

We will begin by reading secondary literature outlining the basics of Egyptian history, in order to situate you within the historical landscape of ancient Egyptian religion, "who did what, when and where." We will ask ourselves "what is religion?!" There will be discussions addressing where in the archaeological record we can find evidence of this dynamic, unique and complex belief system. We will then thematically cover concepts each day including (but not limited to) creation myths, kingship, temples, magic, family and household religion, the Amarna period of Atenism, death and the afterlife, the tomb, mummification, and how the Greek and subsequent Roman conquests of Egypt affected and interpreted Egyptian religion.

I. Basic understanding of ancient Egyptian religion and culture and the ability to communicate these incredible and often complex concepts to others

II. Background for further research: It is not expected that you memorize everything we talk about in class, but by the end of this course you should be familiar enough with the sources so that you can do further research if interested. Additionally, you will be able to walk into a museum with an Egyptian collection and feel comfortable talking about most of the artifacts on display.

III. Develop critical thinking skills and modes of analysis : A key goal of this course is to exercise your critical thinking skills. The intent is not to have you memorize facts, but to enable you to think critically about secondary literature, analyze artifacts, texts, etc., develop your own interpretations and effectively communicate your argument. This is a skill which ideally can be applied to a variety of fields of study and is absolutely necessary for success in college.