Courses

Not all of these courses are offered each semester; for current course listings, see the Yale College Course Catalog and the Graduate Bulletin. 

History, Art and Archeology Courses

Ancient Egypt, Part 1: Prehistory through Tutankhamun

Staff

  • The origins of Egyptology, review of its tools and resources, and an overview of the geology and geography of Egypt, followed by the history and culture of Egypt, from the Pre- and Protodynastic Periods, the Old Kingdom, First Intermediate Period, and Middle Kingdom, to the Second Intermediate Period and the Eighteenth Dynasty. Discussion of art, architecture, and religion of the various periods, with selected readings (in translation) from monuments and documents.
Ancient Egypt, Part 2: The Ramessides through the Arab Conquest

Staff

  • Continuation of Ancient Egypt, Part 1, Egypt from the founding of the Nineteenth Dynasty through the Arab conquest, including the Ramesside Period, the so-called Third Intermediate Period, the Saites, the two periods of Persian control, the Nectanebids, and the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods.
The Age of Akhenaton

John Coleman Darnell

  • Study of the unique period of Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaton (reigned ca. 1353–1336 B.C.E.), often termed the Amarna Revolution, from historical, literary, religious, artistic, and archaeological perspectives, considered within their wider Egyptian, ancient Near Eastern, African, and Mediterranean contexts. The course examines the international diplomacy and solar theology of the period, and places the famous artistic developments of Akhenaton in context.
Conflicts that Shaped Pharaonic Egypt

John Coleman Darnell

  • An overview of the history of ancient Egypt, from the Predynastic Period to the end of Byzantine rule on the Nile. Focus on periods of internal social and political fragmentation; examination of the struggles and mechanisms that led to the establishing and renewal of central authority on the Nile.
Magic and Ritual in ancient Egypt

John Coleman Darnell, Christina Geisen

  • Undergraduate and graduate seminar providing a profound overview of ancient Egyptian magic and its use in daily life, such as the interconnection of magic and medicine or as a means through which communication with the gods and the deceased was made possible. In addition, the course focuses on the diverse rituals (royal, temple, and funerary) and festivals of ancient Egypt, such as the Osiris mysteries at Abydos or the Opet festival and the Feast of the Valley at Thebes.
Egyptian Religion through the Ages

John Coleman Darnell

  • Topics in Egyptian religion including religious architecture; evidence for Protodynastic cults; foreigners in Egyptian religious celebrations; music and vocal expression in Egyptian religion; Re and Osiris; the Amarna interlude and the Ramesside solar religion; and the goddess of the eye of the sun. The approach is diachronic. Readings in English of primary and secondary sources.
Readings in Egyptian History

Staff

  • Graduate seminar covering topics in pharaonic history, culture, and society from the Old Kingdom through the end of the New Kingdom.
Egyptian Literature through the Ages

Staff

  • A survey of historical, fictional, autobiographical, poetic, and popular texts from ancient Egypt to modernity. Salient themes are juxtaposed in their ancient Egyptian and their medieval and modern Arabic treatments, with attention to the loss, revival, discontinuity, and reinterpretation of the texts.
Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia: Parallel Worlds

Eckart Frahm, John Darnell

  • An overview of the history of ancient Egypt and the Near East, from the origins of writing in the fourth millennium BCE to the Hellenistic age. Focus on the historical, cultural, and social developments that occurred contemporaneously in both civilizations.
Visible Language: Origins of Writing

Christina Geisen, Agnete Lassen

  • Exploration of writing in the ancient Near East and the profound effects this new method of communication had on human society. The focus is on Egypt and Mesopotamia, where advanced writing systems first developed and were used for millennia. The course provides fundamental understanding of how writing developed, what it was used for, and how it was transmitted, and it will explore how the written word impacts and changes literature, math, economy, social structures, and the human mind. The course will further cover how these writing systems were deciphered in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, and it will discuss the correlation of image and text. Further topics include the ancient understanding of language, the use of libraries, and the profession of scribe.
The Making of Monasticism

Staff

  • The history of Christian monasteries, hermits, ascetics, and monastic institutions and values in late antiquity, with special attention to the eastern Mediterranean world.
Ancient Egypt and Northeast Africa

John Coleman Darnell

  • Examination of approximately 10,000 years of Nile Valley cultural history, with an introduction to the historical and archaeological study of Egypt and Nubia. Consideration of the Nile Valley as the meeting place of the cultures and societies of northeast Africa. A variety of written and visual sources are used, including the collections of the Yale Peabody Museum and the Yale Art Gallery.
Introduction to Egyptian Ceramics

Staff

  • Overview of ancient Egyptian pottery from the earliest predynastic through the Roman Period. Readings on ceramic analysis, fabric identification, and modes of manufacturing. Use of the collection in the Yale Peabody Museum and introduction to archaeological illustration.
Lives in Ancient Egypt: Society, Family and Gender

Staff

  • Introduction to the social history of ancient Egypt from 3,100 to 30 B.C.E. Focus on the lives of particular individuals attested in the textual and archaeological record, from pharaohs and queens to artists, soldiers, and farmers. Reading of primary sources in translation; course projects integrate ancient objects in Yale collections.

Language Courses

Introduction to Classical Hieroglyphic Egyptian

Miriam Muller

  • An introduction to the language of ancient pharaonic Egyptian (Middle Egyptian) and its hieroglyphic writing system, with readings of short historical, literary, and religious texts. Grammatical analysis with exercises in reading, translation, and composition. Prerequisite for all other Egyptian text courses.
Intermediate Egyptian I: Literary Texts

John Coleman Darnell

  • Close reading of Middle Egyptian literary texts, and an introduction to the hieratic (cursive) Egyptian script. Readings include the Middle Kingdom stories of Sinuhe and the Eloquent Peasant and excerpts from Wisdom Literature.
Intermediate Egyptian II: Historical Texts

John Coleman Darnell

  • Close reading of Middle Egyptian historical texts in original hieroglyphic script. Initial survey of ancient Egyptian historiography and grammatical forms peculiar to this genre of text.
Late Egyptian Stories 

Staff

  • Narrative tales from the New Kingdom, including the Tale of the Two Brothers, the Story of Apophis and Seqenenre, the Taking of Joppa, the Tale of Woe, etc., read primarily in the hieratic script. Introduction to the combination of Middle and Late Egyptian grammar that characterizes the literary production of the New Kingdom, with particular reference to Ramesside monumental inscriptions, including the papyrus versions of the Kadesh Battle texts.
Historical Texts of Egypt and Nubia 

John Coleman Darnell

  • Examination of textual sources that relate to interactions between Egypt and Nubia from the late Old Kingdom through the New Kingdom. Monumental texts include the Semna Stelae of Sesostris III, the Kurgus inscriptions of Thutmose I and Thutmose III, the Tombos Inscription of Thutmose I, and the Buhen Stela of Akhenaten. The autobiography of Harkhuf, Middle Kingdom expedition inscriptions, and the Second Intermediate Period stela of Ka provide a private perspective, and the hieratic documents of the Semna Dispatches illuminate the activities of the Middle Kingdom fortress system.
Ancient Egyptian Love Poetry

John Coleman Darnell

  • Egyptian love poetry, concentrating on the major documents. Most readings in hieratic, with discussions of the grammar of literary Late Egyptian, its relationship to non-literary Late Egyptian and late Middle Egyptian. Readings in comparative texts and investigation of iconographic parallels.
Coffin Texts

John Coleman Darnell

  • Readings of the religious texts of Middle Kingdom coffins. The course focuses on creation accounts, the Shu texts, spells of transformation, the Book of the Two Ways, etc. Readings in both normalized hieroglyphic transcription and original cursive hieroglyphic writing and study of coffin panels in the collection of the Yale Art Gallery.
Late Period Historical Texts: Napatan Historical Inscriptions

John Coleman Darnell

  • Close reading of Napatan historical texts, including the inscription of Katimala, the Piye Stela, the Dream Stela of Tanutamun, the Stela of Enthronement, the Stela of Excommunication, Kawa inscriptions, the Stela of Harsiotef, and the Stela of Nestasen. Discussion of the historical significance of the texts; analyses of grammatical material touching upon Nubian perceptions of Middle and Late Egyptian grammar and early Demotic grammar; hieratic-inspired orthographies, etc.
Temple Inscriptions: Medinet Habu

John Coleman Darnell

  • Overview of a complete temple from the New Kingdom, the “Temple of Millions of Years” of Ramesses III located on the west bank at Thebes. Readings of the full range of inscriptions from the temple, including bandau texts, historical inscriptions recounting the Sea Peoples invasion and other wars of Ramesses III, religious texts including the processions of Sokar and Min, etc. Additional readings cover supporting materials, such as passages from the Great Papyrus Harris, other monuments of Ramesses III, and late variants of the Book of the Dead.
Egyptian Rock Inscriptions

John Coleman Darnell

  • Examination of Egyptian petroglyphs from a variety of sites in and around Egypt, concentrating on inscriptions. Readings from Eastern Desert and Nubian graffiti, as well as other recently discovered sites in the Western Desert. The texts range in date from the Predynastic through the Roman Period, and include hieroglyphic and hieratic documents of religious and historical import.
Ptolemaic and Roman Hieroglyphic Texts

John Coleman Darnell

  • An introduction to the Egyptian inscriptions of the Ptolemaic and Roman periods, concentrating on temple inscriptions. Readings include selections from the temples of Dendera, El-Qala, Medinet Habu, Qasr el-Aguz, Deir el-Shelwit, Esna, Edfu, Kom Ombo, Philae, etc. An introduction to the study of the normalized cryptography of many of these texts, and also an examination of a number of other text corpora, including the trilingual decrees and private steale.
Ancient Egyptian Epistolography

John Coleman Darnell

  • Readings (in hieroglyphic and hieratic scripts) of Egyptian letters, from the Old Kingdom through the Third Intermediate Period, including the Letters to the Dead, Kahun Letters, and Late Ramesside Letters.
Ancient Egyptian Cosmographic Texts

John Coleman Darnell

  • Close reading of Egyptian cosmographic books, including the King as Solar Priest, the Book of the Creation of the Solar Disk, the Book of Nut, the Book of the Day and the Night, and the Enigmatic Netherworld Books of the Solar-Osirian Unity.
Egyptian Religious Texts: The Ancient Egyptian Netherworld Books

John Coleman Darnell

  • Study of the Underworld texts from the royal tombs of the New Kingdom. Readings from the Amduat, the Book of Gates, the Book of Caverns, the Book of the Creation of the Solar Disk, the Book of the Day and the Night, the cryptographic Books of the Solar-Osirian Unity, the Book of the Heavenly Cow, and the Book of Nut. Discussions of the significance of these texts for understanding Egyptian religion, and the possible contribution of these compositions to the Hermetica and Christian Gnosticism.
Selected Egyptian Wisdom Texts

Staff

  • Readings from the genre of teachings and wisdom literature, including the Instruction of Amenemhat I, Ptahhotep, Lamentations of Khakheperresoneb, the Prophecy of Neferti, the Instruction of Merikare and others. Discussions of political and social significance of the compositions, historicity, and intertextuality.
Ramesside Texts

John Coleman Darnell

  • Readings of Ramesside monumental inscriptions, mostly of historical significance. Focus on the inscriptions from the reigns of Sety I, Ramesses II, and Merneptah, including the Wadi Mia Temple inscriptions of Sety I, the stela of Sety I for Ramesses I; the Inscription of Ramesses II for Sety I at Abydos, the Kom el-Ahmar Stela and the Kadesh texts of Ramesses II; the Amada Stela and Triumph Stela of Merneptah. Discussions of late Middle Egyptian grammar and orthography, historical significance, etc.
Introduction to Demotic

Staff

  • Introduction to the script and grammar of demotic, including readings of the Instruction of Onkhsheshonqy and excerpts from the bilingual decrees.
Demotic Texts

Staff

  • Readings from the stories of Setne-Khaemwaset, temple oath ostraca, Papyrus Dodgson, demotic “graffiti,” and the ostraca of Hor, etc., as well as secondary literature covering the culture and history of the Graeco-Roman Period.
Texts from the Amarna Period

John Coleman Darnell

  • Close reading of texts from the reigns of Amunhotep III, Akhenaton, Tutankhamun, Aye, and Horemheb, with particular attention to the religious, social, and historical implications of the written record. Hieroglyphic texts include the jubilee scenes of Amunhotep III in the tomb of Kheruef, the boundary stelae of Akhenaton, the Great Hymn to the Aton, the Restoration Stela of Tutankhamun, and selections from the Decree of Horemhab.
Biblical Coptic: Elementary Course

Staff

Introduction to Gnostic Texts in Coptic

Harold W. Attridge

  • Readings in Gnostic and Valentinian literature from Nag Hammadi, in several dialects of Coptic. Prerequisite: reading knowledge of Coptic.
Egyptian Monastic Literature in Coptic

Stephen Davis

  • Readings in the early Egyptian classics of Christian asceticism in Sahidic Coptic, including the desert fathers and Shenute. Prerequisite: reading knowledge of Coptic.