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Research School Elective: Egyptian Epigraphy


Admission requirements

BA degree and excellent knowledge of Middle Egyptian. If you are interested in taking this course, but are not sure whether you fulfil the entry requirements, please contact the instructor.


The aim of this course is to introduce students to the techniques and practices of reading, editing, reproducing and handling original inscriptions in the Egyptian language in any of its scripts.

The ancient Egyptian language was written for more than four thousand years. The hieroglyphic script developed in the period around 3000 BC, together with its cursive hieratic version, and it survived into Late Antiquity. Coptic script took its place in the Roman period, but it developed out of the Greek script. In this course students will be instructed in the development of the scripts, and how to study this topic in the face of standardized fonts in the text editions. The relation of texts with the objects on which they are inscribed, including the walls of buildings, will also be discussed. The course will take into account recent developments in the study of paleography, both in hieroglyphs and in hieratic.

In addition, the course will offer practical training in preparing drawings of epigraphic material, which combines text with the study of objects and iconography. Recent developments in 3D-recording and the use of drawing tablets will be explored, as well as the traditional skills of copying with the use of paper and plastic.

The course consists of three parts. In part one, the student is introduced to the history of Egyptian paleography and the script’s most important developments. In part two, students will learn techniques of photographing, drawing and editing hieroglyphic and Coptic texts from specialists. For this part, we will work with the collection of plaster casts of reliefs from the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden that are housed in the NINO, and prepare line drawings, photographs, 3D imaging, and digital text markup. Part three consists of an individual project designed by the student and involving a particular text or relief in the RMO or elsewhere.

The course will be taught at Leiden (Institute of Area Studies) in the Spring term of 2018. It will bring together a diverse group of people, including Research MA students, PhD students and staff.

Course objectives

Course objectives of part 1 and 2 (5 EC):

  • to gain insight into the materiality of writing, paleography and principles of text composition in ancient Egypt;

  • to master techniques of editing and reproducing Egyptian hieroglyphic and Coptic texts, including skills in hand-drawing, tablet drawing, photography, 3D imaging and digital text markup;

  • to understand the paleographic developments of the hieroglyphic script over several millennia.

Course objectives of part 3 (5 EC):

  • to design and carry out an individual project involving a particular hieroglyphic or Coptic text or inscription written on an object;

  • to make a complete edition of an unpublished or inadequately published text or texts.


The timetable is available on the Classics and Ancient Civilizations website.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar.

Course Load

Total course load 10 ec x 28 hours= 280 hours;

  • contact hours: 26 hours (13×2h);

  • class preparation: 72 hours (12×6h);

  • oral presentation: 30 hours;

  • individual project: 152 hours.

Assessment method

  • participation: 20%;

  • oral presentation: 20%;

  • individual project (paper and research visit to museum): 60%.


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average


If the overall mark is unsatisfactory, only the paper of the individual project may be re-written. The mark for the oral presentation and participation will still count in that case.


Blackboard will be used.

Reading list


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration for Study abroad/Exchange students

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dhr. Prof. dr. O.E. (Olaf) Kaper


Research Master’s students Classics and Ancient Civilizations have to follow one or more courses offered by one of the National Research Schools up to 5 EC per academic year. Therefore it is obligatory for Research Master’s students to join one of the National Research Schools. The Faculty pays your membership fee.

Research MA students Egyptology become a member of OIKOS and take the Research School Course: Egyptian Epigraphy for 10 EC.

For further questions about the Research School membership please contact the student advisor Mrs. J.K. (Joëlle) Koning MA.