Course syllabus



ANCHIST 252: Egyptian Religion

SEMESTER 1, 2018

15 points

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Course Convenor: 

Jennifer Hellum


Course delivery format:

3 hours of lecture

Mondays     9-10 am     Architecture - West, Room 201

Tuesdays    11-12 pm   Arts 1, Room 220

Fridays        12-1 pm     Architecture - West, Room 201


 Summary of Course Description:            

 This course will provide a thorough understanding of all facets of Egyptian religion, placing it within Egyptian society. It takes a largely thematic approach, examining different aspects of ancient Egyptian religion over the course of the semester. Certain pieces of evidence (such as funerary texts) will be looked at in chronological order; however, many lectures will encompass evidence from a wide time span, in order to present changes and continuity in beliefs and practices as evidenced from as wide a variety of sources as possible. 

This course is designed to make you think about the idea of faith in a polytheistic religion, and to understand that faith within the context of ancient Egyptian society. It is intended that you take away from this course an increased understanding and empathy for a very foreign religious belief system and practice. The course places a priority on critical thinking and judgement, by having you examine the relationships between a people and their deities, their ritual practices, and their understanding of the physical world. It will require you to engage with the material in the form of questions posed by me, case studies of various practices in Egyptian religion, and familiarity with the religious texts.


 Course outcomes:

The student who successfully completes this course will:

  1. gain heightened skills in critical thinking
  2. have increased appreciation for different belief systems
  3. engage with the ancient Egyptian world-view
  4. be able to put this critical apparatus to wider use and apply it to modern questions of religious debate and belief


 Assessment Summary:

10% quizzes (2 x 5% each) - 23 March and 27 April

20% test - 18 May

30% essay - 16 April

40% exam


Weekly Topics:

Week One:

26 Feb.: Introduction

27 Feb.: Overview of Egyptian religion

2 March:


Week Two:

5 March: Deities; Syncretism; Triads

6 March: Myths

9 March:


Week Three:

12 March: Cosmogonies: Heliopolitan, Memphite, Hermopolitan

13 March: Keeping ma’at

16 March:


Week Four:

19 March: Temples and Priests

20 March: Ritual, offerings, and festivals

23 March: QUIZ 1


Week Five:

26 March: Funerary Books: PTs, CTs, BoD

27 March: Class cancelled



Intersemester Break: 30 March – 14 April


Week Six:

16 April: Pyramid Texts: an indepth study– ESSAY DUE

17 April: FIP and MK funerary stelae 

20 April:


Week Seven:

23 April: Religion of the Commoners

24 April:  cancelled

27 April: QUIZ 2


Week Eight:

30 April: Pepi I and Personal Belief

1 May: The King in the Religion

4 May:


Week Nine:

7 May: Amarna Period Religion 1

8 May: Amarna Period Religion 2

11 May:


Week Ten:

14 May: Sacred Geographies

15 May: Solar Theology

18 May: TEST


Week Eleven:

21 May: Religious Art

22 May: Religious Art

25 May:


Week Twelve:

28 May: Religious Magic

29 May: Recap

1 June: Study guidance


Prescribed Texts:

Stephen Quirke, Exploring Religion in Ancient Egypt

 Workload and deadlines for submission of coursework:           

The University of Auckland's expectation is that students spend 10 hours per week on a 15-point course, including time in class and personal study. Students should manage their academic workload and other commitments accordingly. Deadlines for coursework are set by course convenors and will be advertised in course material. You should submit your work on time. In extreme circumstances, such as illness, you may seek an extension but you may be required to provide supporting information before the assignment is due. Late assignments without a pre-approved extension may be penalised by loss of marks – check course information for details.

Course summary:

Date Details