History 302

MWF 9:00-9:50

Course Description:

Pyramids, sphinxes, and ankhs, oh my!  In this course, you will learn about the salient features of ancient Egyptian civilization, including its geography, history, religion, political structures and art.  We will examine ancient Egypt through an exploration of the primary sources used to reconstruct its history.  These primary sources are both textual AND visual, and include archaeological artifacts, images, and architectural features as well as a diverse array of written documents.  From the development of ancient Egyptian civilization in the 4th millennium B.C. to the age of pyramid-building in the 3rd millennium, to the imperial power of the Egyptian New Kingdom in the 2nd millennium, I hope that the “basics” of ancient Egyptian civilization and history will come alive to you in class and in course readings.


Course Objectives:  I hope that in the course of the semester you will: 


1. Explore the disciplines of history, Egyptology and archaeology and the assumptions and methods that historians bring to the past, namely by analyzing important primary and secondary sources.


2.  Achieve an understanding of an important non-Western civilization.


3.  Become familiar with a variety of different methodologies, sources, and ways of approaching ancient history and be able to compare and contrast the different approaches.


4.  Develop critical thinking, oral, and written skills in the progress of class discussions, thoughtful essay assignments, exams, and group presentations.


5.  Cultivate self-awareness and interest in other cultures as you consider how similar events and issues that faced people in the ancient world continue to confront us in our contemporary world.



Instructor:  Allison Thomason

Office:  1214 Peck Hall

Office Hours:  M,W, F  10:00-11:00 am, W 12:00-1:00 pm, or by appointment

Phone:  650-3685 (my office); 650-2414 (department office)



Expectations of Students, Classroom Conduct, and Attendance Policy: 

1)      Students are expected to arrive on time, attend class alertly, conduct yourself with respect for your fellow students and myself, and participate in class discussions.


2)       Consistent lateness to class, disrespectful treatment of or behavior towards others (e.g. whispering, note-passing), and early departures will seriously affect your grade and can result in involuntary withdrawal from the course (for policies on academic conduct, see SIUE’s Student Conduct Code:


3)      Lectures and readings may not cover the same material in the same manner, but you are responsible for the information contained in BOTH for your exams.  Since much of this class will involve VISUAL IMAGES seen in class (slides, maps, etc.), it is important for you to come to class.  If you have to miss a class, make sure that you get the notes from someone.


4)      In addition, I hope that you will contribute to the group and class discussions, and ask questions in class.  This will not only help your attendance and participation grade, but it will also help you to become more engaged in the class, and therefore more prepared for exams and more understanding of history.


5)      Pop quizzes will be given to check attendance and reading comprehension.



Attendance/Participation/Reading                     150 points

Map and Chronology Quiz                                  50 points

Written Assignment #1                         100 points

Written Assignment #2                         100 points

Midterm Exam                                     150 points

Final Exam                                                      200 points

Summaries for Presentations (per person)          150 points

Group Presentations (per person)                     100 points

TOTAL                                                         1000 points 


Written Assignments:

There will be two written assignments, which will be handed out in class.  Each must be 3 pages long, no more than double-spaced, 12-point font, and 1-inch margins.  The first assignment will be questions concerning the issue “Who were the Egyptians and why does it matter?”  The second assignment will deal with the video “This Old Pyramid”.


Group Presentations:

At the end of the semester, you will give group oral presentations on a topic of Egyptian social or cultural history chosen from the following list, or you may suggest your own topic, with the approval of the instructor:

Egyptomania in the 3rd millennium A.D., Private and Family Life, Images of Women in Egyptian Art, Social and Legal Roles of Women, Priests and Rituals, Scribes and Literacy, Music and Dance, Legal Institutions, Medicine and anatomy, Economy and Trade, Work: agriculture and crafts, Foreigners in Egypt; Egyptian temple architecture; Egyptian tomb architecture; Amarna art; Egyptian queens; reproduction, marriage and relationships…


This presentation must be well researched and organized, and each of you must contribute equally to both the research and presentation and demonstrate to me that this has happened in the presentation.  You will be graded individually on both your knowledge of the material, your contribution, and your style of presentation.  In addition, your peers will evaluate your effort in the group project and presentation.  I encourage you to use visual aids such as handouts, slides, computer images, and posters to enhance your presentation.


Summaries for Group Presentations:

Each individual must hand in a two-page summary of the segment of the Group Presentation for which he or she will be responsible.  This summary must be well organized and must contain all the relevant information that you will discuss in your presentation.  In addition, it should list at least 3 pertinent and valid references that you consulted.


Make-up Policy:

Make-up quizzes (excluding pop quizzes) and exams will only be given in cases of unforeseen medical or family emergencies.  You will need to contact me prior to the exam time if you would like to be excused from an exam, and will be granted a make-up or not at my discretion.  Make-up exams must be taken within one week of the original exam date and the exam time will be scheduled at my discretion (in consultation with you).  If you do not show up for a quiz or an exam and I did not excuse you ahead of time, you will receive a zero (0) on the exam.


Plagiarism and Use of Internet:  

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's writing without giving credit to that individual. Plagiarism can take several forms. It can consist of paraphrase or word-by-word transcription; the uncited source can be a published work, from a web site or discussion group on the internet, or the unpublished work of another student or acquaintance. It is every student's responsibility to know what plagiarism is and to avoid committing it. If you are in doubt, it is better to document a source than not to. The penalty for this offense is quite serious, and can result in failure of an assignment, the course and potential withdrawal from the university.  For the Department of History’s information on plagiarism, see  For SIUE’s policies on academic conduct, see the Student Conduct Code:



Required Readings:

1)      Grimal, M.  A History of Ancient Egypt=Grimal (Textbook Rental)

2)      Kemp, B.  Ancient Egypt:  Anatomy of a Civilization=Kemp (Textbook Rental)

3)      Primary Documents in Translation (Handout)=Documents


4)      Visual Materials for Ancient Egypt (Handout)  *** BRING TO CLASS EVERY DAY***

5)      Other Handouts as noted below in class schedule


In addition, there will be a few general reference books available on reserve for this course for your general perusal, for studying exams, etc.:

1)      Baines and Malek, Atlas of Ancient Egypt

2)      Aldred, Akhnaten, King of Egypt

3)      Kemp, Ancient Egypt:  Anatomy of a Civilization

4)      Smith, The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt

5)      Lehner, The Complete Pyramids

6)      Tutankhamun Treasures:  a loan exhibition from the Department of antiquities of the United Arab Republic

7)      Robins, Women in Ancient Egypt

8)      O’Connor, et. al., Ancient Egypt:  A Social History

9)      Civilizations of the Ancient Near East (4-volume Reference set) 

In REFERENCE:  DS57.C55.1995


Tentative Class Schedule and Required Reading Assignments:

Class topics are subject to change, Exam dates and Assignment due dates are fixed and will not change.  Readings are all REQUIRED unless otherwise noted.  All reading assignments should be completed by the day under which they are placed in the syllabus. 


You will understand my lectures and contribute more if you read the sections that we will be discussing before you come to class.  After hearing the lecture, you might also choose to go BACK OVER the reading to familiarize yourself even more with the topics, names, and dates.


Week 1:                       Monday:  Orientation

(Aug. 23-27)                Wednesday:  Introduction to how to study Egyptian history

Friday:  Introduction to dating, archaeological concepts

                                    Reading:  Get a head start on next week’s reading


Week 2:                       Monday: Egypt in modern times:  discovery, relevance

(Aug. 30-Sept. 3          Reading:         Grimal, pp. 1-13

Wednesday:  DISCUSSION of race and ethnicity: Who were the Egyptians and why does it matter?

Reading:         Handouts: “Black Athena” debate

                        Handout:  “Ethnic Diversity in Ancient Egypt

Friday:  Geography and climate


Week 3:                       Monday: NO CLASS, Labor Day       

(Sept. 6-10)                 Wednesday:  language and religion

                                    Reading:  Grimal, 17-48

Friday:  Historical overview


                                    Reading:         Kemp, 1-15

                        Documents, “Memphite Theology of Creation”


Week 4:                       Monday: Early Dynastic period and state formation

(Sept. 13-17)               Reading:         Grimal, 49-59

                                                            Kemp, 19-46

                                    Wednesday:  Dynasties 0-2


Friday: Dynasty 2, 3:  Zoser at Saqqara

Reading:         Grimal, 60-67

                        Kemp, 47-63


Week 5:                       Monday:  Dynasty 4:  Snefru

(Sept. 20-24)               Reading:         Grimal, 67-69

                                    Wednesday:     Dynasty 4:  Giza

                                    Reading:         Grimal, 69-75

                                    Friday:  Dynasty 4:  Giza continued

Reading:         Handout on pyramid builders


Week 6:                       Monday:           Dynasties 5-6 and First Intermediate Period

(Sept. 27-Oct. 1)         Reading:         Grimal, 76-123

                                                            Documents, “Pyramid Texts”

                                                            Documents, “Autobiography of Ankhtify”

                                    Wednesday: Video, “Pyramid”, instructor at Conference

                                    Reading:         Grimal, 124-136

                                    Friday:  Video, continued, instructor at Conference

                                    Reading:         Grimal, 136-161


Week 7:                       Monday: Middle Kingdom

(Oct. 4-8)                    Reading:         Grimal, 161-181

                                                            Documents, “Prophecies of Neferti”

                                    Wednesday:  Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period:  Hyksos

                                    Reading:         Grimal, 182-195

                                                            Kemp, 149-180

                                                            Documents, Three “Hyksos” sections

Friday:  Early 18th Dynasty



Week 8:                       Monday:  Hatchepsut and Tutmosis III

(Oct. 11-15)                Reading:         Grimal, 199-221

                                                            Documents, “Annals of Tutmosis III”

                                    Wednesday:  Amunhotep III and the Egyptian Empire

                                    Reading:         Grimal, 221-225

                                                            Kemp, 183-217

                                    Friday:  MIDTERM EXAM


Week 9:                       Monday: Akhnaten and Amarna

(Oct. 18-22)                Reading:         Grimal, 226-241

                                                            Documents, “The Great Hymn to the Aten”

                                    Wednesday: Amarna, continued

                                    Reading:         Kemp, 261-273

                                    Friday:  VIDEO:  Tutankhamun

                                    TOPICS for Group Presentations ASSIGNED TODAY

Reading:         Kemp, 274-317



Week 10:                     Monday:  Tutankhamun, continued

(Oct. 25-29)                Reading:         Grimal, 241-244

                                    Wednesday:  Valley of the Kings, Queens, and Nobles

                                    Reading:         Grimal, 245-250

Friday: Library Session:  “Researching the Ancient World


Week 11:                     Monday:  The Egyptian Empire in Palestine

(Nov. 1-5)                   Reading:         Documents, “Amarna Letters”

                                    Wednesday:  Ramesses II,

Reading:  Grimal, 250-267

                                                     Documents, “Battle of Qadesh”

Friday: Merneptah and the Exodus, Ramesses III and the Sea Peoples

Reading:         Grimal, 267-277

                        Documents, “Israel Stele”



Week 12:                     Monday: Regular folks in the New Kingdom:  village of Deir el-Medineh

(Nov. 8-12)                 Reading:         Grimal, 277-292

                                    Wednesday:  Late Period:  Nubians, Libyans, Assyrians

                                    Reading:         Grimal, 334-366

                                    Friday:  Tips on Group Presentations; Ptolemaic Egypt

                                    Reading:         Documents, “Plutarch on Cleopatra”                                        


Week 13                      Monday: VIDEO:  Cleopatra

(Nov. 15-19)               Summaries for Group Presentations due (Groups 1-6)

                        Wednesday:  VIDEO:  Cleopatra

                                    Sometime this week:  EXTRA VIDEO SESSION at NIGHT for Cleopatra

            (For 25 points of EXTRA CREDIT)

                                    Friday:  VIDEO and DISCUSSION:  Cleopatra


Week 14                      NO CLASS, Thanksgiving Break

(Nov. 22-26)


Week 15                      Monday:  Group Presentations 1-2

(Nov. 29-Dec. 3)         Summaries for Group Presentations due (Groups 7-10)

                        Wednesday:  Group Presentations:  3-4

Friday:  Group Presentations:  5-6

Reading:         Study for Final, Work on Presentations


Week 16:                     Monday:  Group Presentations:  7-8

(Dec. 6-10)                  Wednesday:  Group Presentations: 9-10

                                    Friday:  Course Summary

                                    Reading:         Study for Final


Week 17:                     FINAL EXAM:  Monday, Dec. 13, 8:00-9:40 am