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Photographing Egypt, Greece, and the Near East


Admission requirements

MA, ResMA, PhD candidates, as well as Research Master and PhD students associated with OIKOS.


This course has three central purposes:
1. to provide a grounding in the history of photography and photographers working in Greece, the Middle East and Levant, and Egypt, particularly between the 19th century and the mid-20th century;
2. to critically assess the role of photography in historic and contemporary archaeology in these regions;
3. to provide a broad introduction to photographic theory and the anthropology of images. The course will also introduce examples of contemporary photographic and digital archaeological practice involving photography in the field.

During the course, students will develop indepth knowledge of the historical excavation and photographic documentation of three sites: the Athenian Acropolis in Greece, Ur in Iraq, and the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. Students will be challenged to consider how archaeologists have shaped the photographic frame and how the photographic frame shapes our knowledge of the ancient and modern history of these sites.
The course will include a pratical session with photographic obejcts from the Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten (NINO) archive. This will culminate a research presentation, based on objects from the NINO photographic collection (or another Dutch photographic archive) relating to the areas of focus for this course.

Course objectives

By the end of this course, you will:

  • Be familiar with recent discussions and literature in photographic theory, specifically related to the ancient world.

  • Have developed an understanding of the relationship between archaeology and photography in historical and contemporary practice.

  • Have developed practical skills in object-handling and description in a photographic archive.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

  • Seminar

  • Excursion

Assessment method


  • Written assignment (essay)

  • Book review assignment

  • Class presentation (digitial exhibition page)

  • Weekly reading task and class participation


  • Written assignment (essay): 40%

  • Book review assignment: 25%

  • Class presentation (digitial exhibition page): 25%

  • Weekly reading task and class participation: 10%


The resit assignment will be determined in consultation with the lecturer.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

To be announced. The following is a useful introduction:
Riggs, C. 2020. Archaeology and photography. In: G. Pasternak (ed), The Handbook of Photography Studies, London: Bloomsbury, pp. 187-205.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte.
Registration Contractonderwijs.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal


This course is part of the OIKOS program. If you want to take this course as part of OIKOS but are not a student at Leiden University, please contact for more information on how to enroll.