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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Ancient Egypt: A history in six objects - University of Manchester | Coursera

Ancient Egypt: A history in six objects

This course provides a general introduction to the history of ancient Egypt, based on six key items selected from the collections of The Manchester Museum.


Eligible for

Statement of Accomplishment

Course at a Glance


About the Course

This course provides an introduction to ancient Egyptian history, using six items from the collections of The Manchester Museum. These items have been carefully chosen to reflect the development of the dynastic age through their origin, manufacture, decoration, and use. Week by week we will examine a different artefact and place it in its social and historical context. This will allow us to journey from Predynastic Egypt and its first king, Narmer, to Greco-Roman Egypt and its final queen, Cleopatra.

Course Syllabus

Week 1: Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt
As an introduction, you will learn a little about The Manchester Museum and its Egyptian collection and look at Egyptian geography. Our first examined artefact is a decorated Predynastic pot. This will lead you into a discussion of state formation, which includes a consideration of stone-working technologies and an introduction to the hieroglyphic script.

Week 2: Old Kingdom Egypt
In week 2, a ‘false door’ will open our discussion of tomb development in general, and the great Giza pyramids in particular. We will end this week by visiting the tomb of the local governor Ankhtifi and considering his important inscription.

Week 3: Middle Kingdom Egypt
This week you will meet the famous ‘spinning statue’ of the Manchester Museum. This will lead you into an exploration of aspects of daily life in ancient Egypt, including a visit to the pyramid-builders’ town of Kahun and an introduction to the intact tomb group belonging to the ‘Two Brothers’.

Week 4: New Kingdom Egypt
The study of a column recycled in the Ramesside Period in the fourth week will guide you into the age of wealth and empire. You will meet the soldier Ahmose, and the prominent royal women, Hatshepsut and Nefertiti.

Week 5: Third Intermediate Period and Late Period Egypt
In week 5 a cartonnage coffin will spark an exploration of the Egyptian approach to death towards the end of the dynastic period. We will read the myth of the healing goddess Isis and her resurrected husband Osiris, and examine burial customs and temple statues.

Week 6: Greco-Roman Egypt
This final week will start by examining a terracotta figure of the traditional Egyptian god Bes, who is now dressed like a Roman solder. With Egypt now heavily influenced by the wider Mediterranean world, we will consider the presentation and importance of both human and animal mummies. We will end our history by considering the evidence for the death of Egypt’s last queen, Cleopatra VII.

Recommended Background

All are welcome – those new to this area and those who have some prior knowledge of the history of ancient Egypt.

Suggested Readings

No pre-reading is required for the course, however you will be asked to undertake some reading during the course.

Course Format

To get the best experience from this course you will need to commit some time each week. We know from working with thousands of students over the years how difficult this can be when we have such busy lives. So we encourage students to spend about half an hour each day doing some work towards the course. This will include watching short videos, reading particular articles and taking part in a few discussions through the discussion boards. Most importantly we want you to enjoy learning a bit more on this topic.

Egyptology Online@Manchester:


Will I get a certificate when I finish this course?
If you work through the course and achieve a course average of 70% across the essential criteria listed below you will receive a statement of accomplishment:

  • Every week you will be asked to complete an automated multiple choice question quiz.
  • In week 6 you will be asked to submit your own object based history of ancient Egypt and then review the submissions of your peers.

Do I need any prior knowledge about ancient Egyptian history?
No. The short course has been developed for the general public who may or may not have some prior knowledge of ancient Egyptian history.

Do I need any special software or hardware to undertake the course?
For this course, all you need is an Internet connection and the time to think about the material presented.

How will I know if I can cope with the course?
The amount of time you spend on the course is completely up to you, but we really encourage you to try and find a few half-hour slots each week, adding up to a couple of hours study time.

Do I need to buy any textbooks?
No, the selected material will be provided.

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