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How did you become an Egyptologist?

 
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Scribe of Thoth
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:56 pm    Post subject: How did you become an Egyptologist? Reply with quote

In around a year and a half i will be heading off to university (college in the US), i'm still lingering around and struggling to decide which one to go to. I'm studying Archaeology and Ancient History at college in the UK at the moment.

I was interested to know if everyone who works in Egypt did an 8 year Master's Degree (if that is correct) , and if not, what qualifications you achieved to get you where you are now.

If everyone has done this Masters degree, i will have to do a lot more research or even just consider doing archaeology somewhere else instead, as i dont know how if i could manage studying for that long. As it is I know little of the situation.

Any advice would be really helpful, thanks guy and girls. Wink
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Daughter_Of_SETI
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry I can't help, but I'm not quite an Egyptologist...yet. Wink
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neseret
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2012 2:27 pm    Post subject: Re: How did you become an Egyptologist? Reply with quote

Scribe of Thoth wrote:
In around a year and a half i will be heading off to university (college in the US), i'm still lingering around and struggling to decide which one to go to. I'm studying Archaeology and Ancient History at college in the UK at the moment.

I was interested to know if everyone who works in Egypt did an 8 year Master's Degree (if that is correct) , and if not, what qualifications you achieved to get you where you are now.

If everyone has done this Masters degree, i will have to do a lot more research or even just consider doing archaeology somewhere else instead, as i dont know how if i could manage studying for that long. As it is I know little of the situation.

Any advice would be really helpful, thanks guy and girls. Wink


I missed this post when it first came out because, ironically, I was in Egypt performing my research for my doctorate in Egyptology.

So, let's take the UK model of education - after which I will contrast to the US model - and you can see how the system differs and works in both areas.

Of course, much of what I say here will depend upon where you go for undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate work.

UK:

You can achieve an undergraduate degree in Egyptology or a related subject at universities of

- Oxford
- Cambridge
- Birmingham
- Durham
- Liverpool
- Bristol
- Institute of Archaeology at the University of London, and
- University of Swansea in Wales
.

Please note this advice from the Theban Mapping Project Egyptologists:

In general, as an undergraduate, you should follow a liberal arts program. While a few universities do offer undergraduate degrees in Egyptology, such a degree is not required for those wishing to do a higher degree in Egyptology. However, at an undergraduate level, courses in art history, particularly ancient art will be helpful. You should also take courses in social sciences, especially ancient history, anthropology and archaeology. Some universities offer interdisciplinary programs in area studies, and if the Eastern Mediterranean is offered in such a program it is a good way to get a wide range of background courses complimentary to Egyptology.

Either during or before you get to university, you should learn French and German if available, take history and other humanities classes, and get a good grounding in sciences, computing, and courses to improve your writing and research skills. Read all that you can get on various aspects of ancient Egypt and the ancient Near East, including history, archaeology, art, religion and literature.

Languages form the foundation of any Egyptologist's knowledge: a reading knowledge of French and German are essential for advanced research in Egyptology, and you should take courses in these languages if you do not already have these skills. If you hope to eventually do archaeological work in Egypt, learning Arabic, either the classical form or the Egyptian dialect, will help. Greek or another ancient Near Eastern language may also be helpful for those interested in comparative work or specializing in the later periods of ancient Egyptian history.

Egyptologists usually specialize either in language or archaeology, although all must take at least some courses in both areas. As a specialist in the ancient Egyptian language, you will need to take courses in the various forms of the language (Old, Middle and Late Egyptian in both hieroglyphic and hieratic scripts, Demotic, and Coptic). If you decide to specialize in Egyptian archaeology, courses on art and architecture of ancient Egypt in different periods will be needed. Having some training in another specialty of use to archaeology can often increase your marketability, so consider learning surveying, photography, or drawing.


An undergraduate course will take you usually 4 years.

Once completed, and provided you have a good academic record, you can proceed into your master's degree, either at your same university, or at a different one (normally this depends upon your subject interest and which university has professionals who specialise in that area). In this case,your subject for research should begin to focus mainly upon Egyptological topics, and here in a very focused way.* In the UK, graduate work is normally completed in 1 year; if you go to do your master's work in Europe (usually Germanyor France, although new Egyptology programmes in eastern European countries are quite good) this may take longer (particularly if you have to proceed in your studies in another language if not your native language).

As a master's student, you will have the opportunity to take additional coursework - some may even be required for the degree - but the majority of your time will be involved in research for your master's thesis, which can run from 10,000 - 25,000 words (depending upon the university's requirements). In the UK, you will periodically be subject to viva reviews by your professors, who are revewing a) if your research is proceeding well, b) that you are finding and using your resources well, and c) that you are actually performing the research (sadly, plagiarism has been known to occur even at the advanced levels). In the final grading of your master's work, your thesis, which should be on an original topic, will make up about 70% of your grade.

Provided that you have done well in your master's thesis, you may wish to proceed onto post-graduate work for a doctorate in the field. Here the topic will focus only in an Egyptological subject - art, religion, architecture, language, archaeology, ancient forensics (anthropological/pathological/medical), social history topics, materials and artefact research, etc. Depending upon your interest, you should have by this time researched which university (and in particular which professor at the university) would be of most assistance in helping you research and critique your doctoral subject.

For example, I have known for many years that I wanted to research the temple of Seti I at Abydos from a unique perspective, and based upon advice from my MA professors, personal research, and a great deal of reading, I found that the University of Oxford would meet my needs, not the least of which because my supervisor, John Baines, is considered one of the world's experts on this temple.

During your doctorate, you may take coursework at the university (usually at the graduate level) that will assist your research. This may be coursework in ancient Egyptian, Egyptian art, modern languages (for your research reading, as many terms will become more technical than a simple language course would teach you), but the majority of your time will be spent in research. Such research may require you to work in Egypt (particularly if your subject is archaeologically based), but trips to Egypt will nonetheless be required if your subject is a monument, tomb, or temple - or to research papyri which resides in that country. It would be a very rare topic in the Egyptological field which will not require a trip, if not multiple trips, to Egypt (so you will need to budget for such trips or apply for bursaries/grants to achieve the trips).

Depending upon your topic, a doctoral dissertation may take from 3-5 years, although it is not unusual for it to take longer. You will again experience periodic reviews by your department's faculty, particularly as you a) enter the full doctoral programme, b) confirm your doctoral status, and c) orally defend your doctoral thesis.

So, for the UK, setting aside a minimum of 8 years (from undergraduate --> doctorate) is usually the norm, with a maximum of 10-15 years being within the realm of possibility.

US:

You can study Egyptology and related subjects at the following locations in the US:

- Brown University (Rhode Island)
- John Hopkins University (Massachusetts)
- New York University
- University of California, Berkeley
- University of California, Los Angeles
- University of Chicago (Illinois)
- University of Memphis (Tennessee)
- University of Michigan
- University of Pennsylvania
- Yale University (Connecticut)


The undergraduate coursework takes the same amount as the UK undergraduate level (4 years).

However, at the graduate level, the usual minimum for an MA is 2 years, and sometimes 3. This is the case because Year 1 is set aside for taught coursework, and Year 2 for research.

At the doctoral level, I would say the amount is about the same (3-5 years) with the same proviso that it may take longer, depending upon how much research one has to do. I am aware of US citizens who took 12 years to complete only their doctoral work.

So, in the US, one would need to set aside a minimum of 9 years from undergraduate --> doctorate level, though a maximum of 12-15 years to complete to the doctoral level is not unknown.
=======================================
* When I began my MA work at the Institute of Archaeology at University College London, my fellow students has degrees in history, Victorian literature, the Classics, and so on. Only one person had an undergraduate degree in Egyptology. (For those wondering, I had an undergraduate degree in 3 topics: ancient history, philosophy, and religion, but also had over 20 years of university level teaching experience in ancient Egyptian art, culture and history.) By the end of our MA programme, however, we all had focused on specific areas of Egyptological interest - some of which was pulled from our undergraduate interests.

HTH.
_________________
Katherine Griffis-Greenberg

Doctoral Candidate
Oriental Institute
Oriental Studies
Doctoral Programme [Egyptology]
Oxford University
Oxford, United Kingdom
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jake26
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:40 pm    Post subject: thanks for the information on how to become an egyptologist Reply with quote

hay. great stuff thanks for this post and for for the question i have my self been wondering how to go about studying egyptology. this is very helpful thank you to both of you. Very Happy
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Sobek101
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 17, 2013 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

im not and im never going to be either
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waenre
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:58 pm    Post subject: Re: How did you become an Egyptologist? Reply with quote

neseret wrote:
Scribe of Thoth wrote:
In around a year and a half i will be heading off to university (college in the US), i'm still lingering around and struggling to decide which one to go to. I'm studying Archaeology and Ancient History at college in the UK at the moment.

I was interested to know if everyone who works in Egypt did an 8 year Master's Degree (if that is correct) , and if not, what qualifications you achieved to get you where you are now.

If everyone has done this Masters degree, i will have to do a lot more research or even just consider doing archaeology somewhere else instead, as i dont know how if i could manage studying for that long. As it is I know little of the situation.

Any advice would be really helpful, thanks guy and girls. Wink


I missed this post when it first came out because, ironically, I was in Egypt performing my research for my doctorate in Egyptology.

So, let's take the UK model of education - after which I will contrast to the US model - and you can see how the system differs and works in both areas.

Of course, much of what I say here will depend upon where you go for undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate work.

UK:

You can achieve an undergraduate degree in Egyptology or a related subject at universities of

- Oxford
- Cambridge
- Birmingham
- Durham
- Liverpool
- Bristol
- Institute of Archaeology at the University of London, and
- University of Swansea in Wales
.

Please note this advice from the Theban Mapping Project Egyptologists:

In general, as an undergraduate, you should follow a liberal arts program. While a few universities do offer undergraduate degrees in Egyptology, such a degree is not required for those wishing to do a higher degree in Egyptology. However, at an undergraduate level, courses in art history, particularly ancient art will be helpful. You should also take courses in social sciences, especially ancient history, anthropology and archaeology. Some universities offer interdisciplinary programs in area studies, and if the Eastern Mediterranean is offered in such a program it is a good way to get a wide range of background courses complimentary to Egyptology.

Either during or before you get to university, you should learn French and German if available, take history and other humanities classes, and get a good grounding in sciences, computing, and courses to improve your writing and research skills. Read all that you can get on various aspects of ancient Egypt and the ancient Near East, including history, archaeology, art, religion and literature.

Languages form the foundation of any Egyptologist's knowledge: a reading knowledge of French and German are essential for advanced research in Egyptology, and you should take courses in these languages if you do not already have these skills. If you hope to eventually do archaeological work in Egypt, learning Arabic, either the classical form or the Egyptian dialect, will help. Greek or another ancient Near Eastern language may also be helpful for those interested in comparative work or specializing in the later periods of ancient Egyptian history.

Egyptologists usually specialize either in language or archaeology, although all must take at least some courses in both areas. As a specialist in the ancient Egyptian language, you will need to take courses in the various forms of the language (Old, Middle and Late Egyptian in both hieroglyphic and hieratic scripts, Demotic, and Coptic). If you decide to specialize in Egyptian archaeology, courses on art and architecture of ancient Egypt in different periods will be needed. Having some training in another specialty of use to archaeology can often increase your marketability, so consider learning surveying, photography, or drawing.


An undergraduate course will take you usually 4 years.

Once completed, and provided you have a good academic record, you can proceed into your master's degree, either at your same university, or at a different one (normally this depends upon your subject interest and which university has professionals who specialise in that area). In this case,your subject for research should begin to focus mainly upon Egyptological topics, and here in a very focused way.* In the UK, graduate work is normally completed in 1 year; if you go to do your master's work in Europe (usually Germanyor France, although new Egyptology programmes in eastern European countries are quite good) this may take longer (particularly if you have to proceed in your studies in another language if not your native language).

As a master's student, you will have the opportunity to take additional coursework - some may even be required for the degree - but the majority of your time will be involved in research for your master's thesis, which can run from 10,000 - 25,000 words (depending upon the university's requirements). In the UK, you will periodically be subject to viva reviews by your professors, who are revewing a) if your research is proceeding well, b) that you are finding and using your resources well, and c) that you are actually performing the research (sadly, plagiarism has been known to occur even at the advanced levels). In the final grading of your master's work, your thesis, which should be on an original topic, will make up about 70% of your grade.

Provided that you have done well in your master's thesis, you may wish to proceed onto post-graduate work for a doctorate in the field. Here the topic will focus only in an Egyptological subject - art, religion, architecture, language, archaeology, ancient forensics (anthropological/pathological/medical), social history topics, materials and artefact research, etc. Depending upon your interest, you should have by this time researched which university (and in particular which professor at the university) would be of most assistance in helping you research and critique your doctoral subject.

For example, I have known for many years that I wanted to research the temple of Seti I at Abydos from a unique perspective, and based upon advice from my MA professors, personal research, and a great deal of reading, I found that the University of Oxford would meet my needs, not the least of which because my supervisor, John Baines, is considered one of the world's experts on this temple.

During your doctorate, you may take coursework at the university (usually at the graduate level) that will assist your research. This may be coursework in ancient Egyptian, Egyptian art, modern languages (for your research reading, as many terms will become more technical than a simple language course would teach you), but the majority of your time will be spent in research. Such research may require you to work in Egypt (particularly if your subject is archaeologically based), but trips to Egypt will nonetheless be required if your subject is a monument, tomb, or temple - or to research papyri which resides in that country. It would be a very rare topic in the Egyptological field which will not require a trip, if not multiple trips, to Egypt (so you will need to budget for such trips or apply for bursaries/grants to achieve the trips).

Depending upon your topic, a doctoral dissertation may take from 3-5 years, although it is not unusual for it to take longer. You will again experience periodic reviews by your department's faculty, particularly as you a) enter the full doctoral programme, b) confirm your doctoral status, and c) orally defend your doctoral thesis.

So, for the UK, setting aside a minimum of 8 years (from undergraduate --> doctorate) is usually the norm, with a maximum of 10-15 years being within the realm of possibility.

US:

You can study Egyptology and related subjects at the following locations in the US:

- Brown University (Rhode Island)
- John Hopkins University (Massachusetts)
- New York University
- University of California, Berkeley
- University of California, Los Angeles
- University of Chicago (Illinois)
- University of Memphis (Tennessee)
- University of Michigan
- University of Pennsylvania
- Yale University (Connecticut)


The undergraduate coursework takes the same amount as the UK undergraduate level (4 years).

However, at the graduate level, the usual minimum for an MA is 2 years, and sometimes 3. This is the case because Year 1 is set aside for taught coursework, and Year 2 for research.

At the doctoral level, I would say the amount is about the same (3-5 years) with the same proviso that it may take longer, depending upon how much research one has to do. I am aware of US citizens who took 12 years to complete only their doctoral work.

So, in the US, one would need to set aside a minimum of 9 years from undergraduate --> doctorate level, though a maximum of 12-15 years to complete to the doctoral level is not unknown.
=======================================
* When I began my MA work at the Institute of Archaeology at University College London, my fellow students has degrees in history, Victorian literature, the Classics, and so on. Only one person had an undergraduate degree in Egyptology. (For those wondering, I had an undergraduate degree in 3 topics: ancient history, philosophy, and religion, but also had over 20 years of university level teaching experience in ancient Egyptian art, culture and history.) By the end of our MA programme, however, we all had focused on specific areas of Egyptological interest - some of which was pulled from our undergraduate interests.

HTH.


Neseret,

Great post and good information.

I recall that you had another post describiing the job prospects for those with degrees in Egyptology.

It might be useful to Scribe of Thoth to read that post. As I remember, job prospects/pay weren't tthat good. I searched for the post, but was unable to find it.

Thanks in advance.

waenre
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neseret
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 6:28 pm    Post subject: Re: How did you become an Egyptologist? Reply with quote

waenre wrote:
Great post and good information.

I recall that you had another post describiing the job prospects for those with degrees in Egyptology.

It might be useful to Scribe of Thoth to read that post. As I remember, job prospects/pay weren't tthat good. I searched for the post, but was unable to find it.


As I recall, I have never really said much about how much pay Egyptologists make: it varies, depending upon where they get a job and what they do in said job (academic, museum, independent consultant, etc.). Academia pays probably the best of the lot, but museums do pay for expertise as well, and on occasion, consulting Egyptologists don't do too badly, either.

Some Egyptologists work in totally different areas than Egyptology: I recall, from some years ago, one very good Egyptologist who made his day-to-day living as a plumber. He researched and published in the field rather extensively, usually in after-hours of his day job.

However, on the whole, I'd say that most Egyptologists try and work either in the field of Egyptology, or in a related field (archaeology, history, anthropology, etc.).

Dr. Sarah Parcak, for example, has a doctorate and MA in Egyptian archaeology from Cambridge, as well as an undergraduate degree in Egyptology from Yale, and is presently working in the Anthropology Department at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (which makes sense as Archaeology is a subsection of this department at UAB). I recall some years ago another Egyptologist - whose name escapes me at the moment - who worked in Biblical History at a seminary in the US. So, Egyptologists go and work where they can best use their background and skills.

In general, I did say this about prospects and pay, once:

Of course, competition in the Egyptological field is rough: there are probably no more than 2500 Egyptologists in the world, and so, when a job opening happens, there's a wild scramble for the position.

If it's a job in the university or a museum, you can make a decent living wage: you won't probably make millions by any means, even if you publish some popular books, but you will not starve, and you can probably afford a house and a family on what you make.

If you're strictly the field archaeologist sort, you may not make as much money as the other positions, but if you can finagle not only dig funds, but find a way to live well onsite for your needs, it's not that uncomfortable a position.


I think if anyone wants to become an Egyptologist badly enough, they should go into it with a clear understanding that it is a limited field: there are only so many Egyptological positions in the world.

However, if you accept this, understanding that you probably will need to travel worldwide as part of your career (and you will still need to go to Egypt, on occasion, of course), then I would say you should go for it.
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Katherine Griffis-Greenberg

Doctoral Candidate
Oriental Institute
Oriental Studies
Doctoral Programme [Egyptology]
Oxford University
Oxford, United Kingdom
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waenre
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 8:02 pm    Post subject: Re: How did you become an Egyptologist? Reply with quote

neseret wrote:


Of course, competition in the Egyptological field is rough: there are probably no more than 2500 Egyptologists in the world, and so, when a job opening happens, there's a wild scramble for the position.

If it's a job in the university or a museum, you can make a decent living wage: you won't probably make millions by any means, even if you publish some popular books, but you will not starve, and you can probably afford a house and a family on what you make.

If you're strictly the field archaeologist sort, you may not make as much money as the other positions, but if you can finagle not only dig funds, but find a way to live well onsite for your needs, it's not that uncomfortable a position.


I think if anyone wants to become an Egyptologist badly enough, they should go into it with a clear understanding that it is a limited field: there are only so many Egyptological positions in the world.

However, if you accept this, understanding that you probably will need to travel worldwide as part of your career (and you will still need to go to Egypt, on occasion, of course), then I would say you should go for it.


Neseret,

This was the info I was trying to find.

Thanks much.

waenre
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