Egyptology in Oxford

Egyptology is taught at all levels, from undergraduate through masters to doctoral levels in the department of Egyptology and Near Eastern Studies of the Faculty of Oriental Studies, and there is a strong tradition of post-doctoral research on all aspects of Egyptian culture. Students are attached to colleges but almost all teaching is done centrally in the Griffith Institute. Teaching and research are supported by the Sackler Library, an unrivalled resource for Egyptian and Ancient Near Eastern literature, languages, history and archaeology that also houses primary collections of books on Assyriology, Ancient History, Classics, Art History, and Eastern Art.

However, in Oxford, Egyptology manifests itself all across the city, in the form of various buildings and institutions, often related to famous figures in the field.

Francis Llewellyn Griffith and the Griffith Institute. Francis Llewellyn Griffith (1862–1934) was the first professor of Egyptology at Oxford and founded the eponymous Griffith Institute that has been the home of Egyptology and Ancient Near East Studies at the University for over 75 years. As well as being a teaching space, it provides world-famous resources for the study of the history and culture of Ancient Egypt and the Near East, which can be accessed online. Among current projects, two are particularly noteworthy: the Digital Topographical Bibliography of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic texts, reliefs, and paintings (‘Porter & Moss’), which has been running for more than a century; and the Online Egyptological Bibliography (OEB) which makes more than 75,000 references dating from 1822 to 2015 available online as a subscription service. The Institute has also published numerous important books in Egyptology, including Gardiner’s Grammar.

The Institute also contains an archive that houses the papers of some of Egyptology’s greatest scholars, including Francis Llewellyn Griffith, Sir Alan Gardiner, and Jaroslav Černý; it is perhaps best known for Howard Carter’s archive and the records of his excavation of the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Elias Ashmole and the Ashmolean Museum’s Egyptian collection. Although Elias Ashmole was not an Egyptologist, his name is associated with the Ashmolean museum, founded in 1683, which holds an outstanding collection of Egyptian artefacts.

The Ashmolean—Britain’s first public museum—presented initially a collection of miscellaneous specimens and curiosity from all around the world. In the 19th century, its collections were merged with those of the University, to become what is today the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, and houses objects from Eastern and Western civilisations, from the Neolithic age to the present day, including an important collection of Egyptian and Nubian antiquities. As for its Egyptian collections, although the first objects arrived in the museum early in 1683, the majority come from British excavations conducted in Egypt from the 1880s to the late 1930s. Bodies such as the Egypt Exploration Fund and the British School of Archaeology in Egypt (directed by W. M. F. Petrie, the founder of Egyptian field-archaeology) received financial support from the University for their excavations. In the early 20th century, the University of Oxford sent expeditions to Lower Nubia, directed and largely funded by Francis Llewellyn Griffith. These excavations brought some material to the expanding collections of the museum. Sir Alan Gardiner, the greatest twentieth-century English philologist, also contributed to the development of the museum with donations of papyrus which joined the extensive collections of ostraca, wooden labels and writing boards of the museum and Bodleian Library. Other famous Egyptologists, Oxford scholars and individuals such as H. M. Kennard and J. Haworth have also enriched the Ashmolean holdings with many donations and bequests.

Sir Alan Gardiner, Thomas Eric Peet and The Queen’s College. The Queen’s College is one of the colleges in Oxford linked with Egyptology and it houses an Egyptological library, the Peet library, which can be used by all university members, and whose core was donated by Sir Alan Gardiner (1879–1963) in memory of Thomas Eric Peet (1882–1934). The Fellows of the College include the Professor of Egyptology, and Queen’s has a strong tradition of Egyptology undergraduate and graduate students; it offers a scholarship for postgraduate students beginning to study Egyptology at Oxford: the Barns Fund, named in memory of Prof J. W. B. Barns (1912–1974).

For more information:

Faculty of Oriental Studies:

Griffith Institute:;

Tutankhamun’s digitalized archives:

Online Egyptological Bibliography: and

Sackler Library:

Ashmolean Museum:

The Queen’s College:

Barns Fund:

Peet library: