BA Archaeology and Anthropology

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Social Life in Ancient Egypt 

Course unit fact file
Unit code CAHE30072
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


While many museum exhibitions, documentaries and books have focused on the death and Afterlife of the ancient Egyptians, this unit will focus on the body of evidence for daily life and social interactions. It will consider how the Egyptians lived rather than how they died. It will use a mixture of archaeological, textual and iconographic material and focus in particular on sites such as Deir el-Medina to cover topics such as gender roles, inheritance patterns, family relationship, sexuality, the law and economy. The unit will consist of two weekly lectures combined with a weekly seminar.


  • to introduce students to the evidence for daily life and social interactions in ancient Egypt and enable the students to assess the relatively value and merit of the different types of sources.
  • to enhance the students’ ability to critically evaluate the evidence base for elite vs. non-elite people in ancient Egypt.
  • to provide a broader and more accurate representation of ancient Egyptian society than that projected through funerary archaeology alone.
  • to encourage students to develop a critical and independently minded approach to the analysis of archaeological, textual and iconographic data.

Knowledge and understanding

  • to provide a detailed overview of everyday life in an ancient Egyptian town or village in particular during the New Kingdom.
  • to demonstrate a detailed knowledge of ancient Egyptian family relationships and interactions.
  • to show an awareness of the different sources which can inform us about ancient Egyptian daily life.
  • to develop the ability to independently analyse written sources in translation and extract useful information from them with regards to social structures.

Intellectual skills

  • to conduct high quality guided research.
  • to present a clear and balanced academic argument in written form.
  • to present a piece of independent research to an audience of peers via a presentation.
  • to engage critically with scholarly arguments on the topic.

Practical skills

  • to effectively and independently manage time.
  • to construct an assemblage of relevant primary source material.
  • to construct a comprehensive bibliography of secondary sources on a relevant topic.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • to discuss pertinent research questions in an open forum.
  • to conduct independent research based on critical analysis of primary source material.
  • to construct and present a clear, reasoned argument in written form.

Employability skills

This course involves several useful employability skills, primary of which is the ability to conduct independent research, to distil information from a variety of sources, to critically evaluate these sources and use them to underpin a clear and coherent argument in written form.

Assessment methods

Assessment task Formative or Summative

Weighting within unit (if summative)

Essay Summative


Research presentation Summative



Resit Assessment

Assessment task


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback


Oral feedback in a dedicated seminar session and upon request during office hours


Recommended reading

•    Eyre, C. 2013. Use of Documents in Pharaonic Egypt. Oxford University Press.
•    Grajetzki, W. 2006. The Middle Kingdom of Ancient Egypt: History, Archaeology and Society. Duckworth.
•    Lloyd, A. B (ed.) 2014. Ancient Egypt: State and Society. Oxford University Press.
•    Meskell, L. 1999. Archaeologies of Social Life. Blackwell.
•    Szpakowska, K. M. 2008. Daily Life in Ancient Egypt: Recreating Lahun. Blackwell.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Nicky Nielsen Unit coordinator

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