75732 - Egyptology (LM)

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Docente: Marco Zecchi
  • Credits: 12
  • SSD: L-OR/02
  • Language: Italian

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students knows the general lines of Egyptology. They are also able to recognize and interpret some aspects of Egyptian civilization and learn the methodologies for dealing with a research.

Course contents

The course is divided into two parts.

The first part of the course is an introduction to the language and hieroglyphic writing of ancient Egypt. In particular, it will focus on the following aspects;
- the hieroglyphs (phonetic signs, determinatives, ideograms);
- the noun;
- the personal pronouns;
- introduction to the non-verbal and verbal sentences

Translation and commentary of a hieroglyphic text in Middle Egyptian.

The second part of the course focuses on the study and analysis of some important aspects of the ancient Egyptian religion, in particular the identities, images and functions of the gods; some key figures of the Egyptian pantheon, such as Osiris, Horus, Isis, Seth, Sobek, Ra and Amon; the strong connections between the divine world and kingship; the rituals performed in the temples and the personal forms of piety, through which Egyptians were able to establish a direct relation with the divine; cosmogonies and the afterlife; architecture and function of the temples in the dynastic and Greco-Roman Period.

Students attending the course for 6CFU can choose either the first part or the second part of the course.

Non-attending students do not prepare the first part dedicated to the Egyptian language (see related bibliography). Non-attending students who still wish to prepare the part dedicated to the language are invited to contact the teacher.


P. Allen, Middle Egyptian. An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs, Cambridge University Press 2014;


Two books from the list:

J. Assmann, The Mind of Egypt. History and Meaning in the Time of the Pharaos, New York 2002;

L. Coulon (ed.), Le culte d'Osiris au Ier millénaire av. J.C. Découvertes et travaux récents, Cairo 2010;

F. Dunand - C. Zivie-Coche, Dei e uomini nell'Egitto antico, Roma 2003;

M. Kemboly, The question of evil in ancient Egypt, London 2002;

D. O'Connor, Egypt's First Pharaohs and the Cult of Osiris, London 2009;

S. Quirke, Exploring religion in Ancient Egypt, Oxford 2015;

B. E. Shafer (ed.), Temples of Ancient Egypt, Cairo 2005;

H. Te Velde, Seth. God of Confusion, Leiden 1977;

L. Weiss, Religious practice at Deir el-Medina, Leuven 2015;

M. Zecchi, Sobek of Shedet. The Crocodile God in the Fayyum in the Dynastic Period, Todi 2010.

M. Zecchi, Adorare Aten. Testi dalla corte del faraone Akhenaren, Bologna 2019. 


Non-attending students will study three volumes chosen from the same list. (Other titles will be suggested during the lessons)


Teaching methods

Frontal lessons. For the part of the course dedicated to the Egyptian language, a text of the Middle Kingdom in hieroglyphic writing will be read, analyzed and commented in class.

Assessment methods

Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending.

First part of the course: students will have the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge on some aspects of the grammar of the Egyptian language (Middle Egyptian): different typologies of hieroglyphs; the noun; personal pronouns and non-verbal and verbal sentences. Students who demonstrate a solid command of the Egyptian language and an equally good awareness of its grammatical aspects receive an excellent mark. Students with a lesser degree of linguistic competence receive a lower mark. Students who apply their grammatical knowledge mechanically, without showing an adequate awareness of the connections between grammar, meaning and context, who have not acquired the capacity to analyze a text do not pass the exam.


Second part: students will have the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge on different aspects of the reign of Akhenaten, of the worship and nature of the god Aten, of the importance of the city of Akhetaten and of the relations between Egypt and the Near East at the end of the XVIIIth dynasty.

Students with a high capability to comment on aspects of the reign of Akhenaten and the religion of the Aten and who demonstrate good critical abilities and an understanding of the chosen bibliography and who express themselves with a language accurate and appropriate to the discipline will receive an excellent mark. Students with a capability to comment on aspects of the program and who demonstrate critical abilities and an understanding of the chosen bibliography and who express themselves with a language appropriate to the discipline will receive a good mark. Students who show to have memorized the main points of the subject, not accompanied by a particular critical ability and who will use a language not always appropriate to the discipline will pass the exam.

Students with a lack of knowledge of the discipline and who have not acquired the capacity to analyse the bibliography will not pass the exam.

Teaching tools

Power point and internet resources.

Office hours

See the website of Marco Zecchi


Quality education Gender equality

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.