176TS - Ancient Egyptian Religion

Brief Introduction

Ancient Egyptian religion is examined, from the national traditions reflected in massive temples and pyramids of Pharaoh to the private convictions seen in the modest votive offerings and simple burials of the common folk. The interaction of sacred and secular is considered through exploration of the role of the individual, society, and the state in shaping religious beliefs.
The nature and development of Egyptian funerary practice are also detailed, including the history and significance of tomb architecture, mummification, and the process of 'democratization' of the afterlife, as individuals gradually took hold of their own destinies after each at the expense of Royal prerogative.

Syllabus for 176TS

Links to Course Materials:

Brief Chronology
Symbolism of Materials


Temple Ritual
Opening of the Mouth
Raising of the Djed Pillar

If you are unable to participate in a performance:
Paper guidelines

Midterm Study Guide

Final Study Guide


Required Texts
The Complete Gods and Godesses of Ancient Egypt Richard Wilkinson. Thames & Hudson, London, 2003.
Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt
John H. Taylor. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2001.
The Literature of Ancient Egypt
William Kelly Simpson, et al. Yale Universiy Press, New Haven, 2003.
“They did take it with them.”
Stuart Tyson Smith. KMT Magazine,
Vol. 2:3, 1991, pp. 28-45.
Class News!

Final Exam Review Session:

BUCHN 1930, Mon. Dec. 6, 7:30 pm

TA Office Hours:

Jessika Akhmenkalns: Wednesdays & Thursdays from 11-12 in HSSB 2051

Mohamed Faroug Abdelrahman Ali: Thursdays 12-2, 1003 HSSB

Extra Credit: Go to a museum and describe five of their ancient Egyptian objects. Discuss their religious role and significance (ie: what sort of setting do they come from or were used in – temple, tomb?  What religious purpose did they serve?  Do they employ/reflect religious symbolism? Etc.), connecting them with themes discussed in the class.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Egyptian gallery closed for renovation).

Mummies at the California Science Center in Santa Ana.

Getty Villa in Malibu (Mummy portraits and art from Greco-Roman Egypt).

Egyptian Gallery of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Be sure to select only Egyptian objects. Note that because of the small number of pieces, extra effort will be required for full credit.

Worth from 2-5 points towards your final grade. For maximum credit use citations from books and articles (not web pages). Due not later than the Final Exam.