Egypt's origins: Life and death in the Predynastic Period ADED3023E

  • Academic Session: 2019-20
  • School: Short Courses
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 3 (SCQF level 9)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes
  • Taught Wholly by Distance Learning: Yes

Short Description

The cultural landscape of Egypt in the Predynastic Period (from c. 5500-3100 BCE) had a character very different from the Egypt of the pharaohs that followed. Predynastic Egypt was characterised both in everyday life and in preparations for death by idiosyncrasy at the local level, which developed within a cultural framework which put local polities at the heart of international trading networks stretching across the ancient Near East. Agriculture, writing and kingship were all 'born' in this time. We will explore their origins and the catalysts behind their evolution, paying particular attention to the important cities of the Delta and the south, especially Hierakonpolis and Abydos.


This course is delivered entirely online.


Block 2

2 hours per week for 10 weeks

Delivered online - materials uploaded on Thursdays.

Requirements of Entry

Recommended: Egyptian history and/or archaeology courses at least at level one (SCQF level 7), and ideally at level two (SCQF level 8) also (e.g. Introduction to Ancient Egypt; Ancient Egyptian Archaeology; Life and Culture in Ancient Egypt).

Excluded Courses





Contribution to online class discussion forum each week (= at least two posts that initiate a discussion by asking a question, and contributions to others' posts): 10%

Object-focused or site-focused review (c. 1000 words; due in Week 6: 30%)

Essay (c. 2500 words; due at the end of the course: 60%).

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ familiarise students with historical and cultural developments in the Predynastic Period in ancient Egypt, focusing both on the lived and funerary spheres

■ problematise the development of the institutions and cultural traits that came to characterise pharaonic Egypt, e.g. kingship, literacy, trade, religion, art

■ trace a line of development between the Predynastic and later periods in Egyptian history in order to understand the latter's evolution, relying especially on site-specific case studies.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ identify and discuss key issues associated with the lived and funerary culture of Predynastic Egypt, including influences on its development from external cultures

■ critically analyse primary and secondary sources, focusing especially on material culture and landscape, and use them to form their own opinions

■ demonstrate a critical awareness of and outline key developments associated with Predynastic Egypt, including kingship, funerary culture, industry and trade.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.