[Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East] On the Literacy and Education of Ancient Egyptian Artists


Thursday, February 24, 2022, 6:00pm to 7:00pm



Dimitri Laboury, Associate Professor of Ancient Egyptian Art History, Archaeology, History and History of Religions; Research Director, Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research in Ancient Egyptian Art History and Archaeology; Director of the Ancient Egyptian Art Historical Research Unit, University of Liège, Belgium

Advance Registration Required.

One of the salient characteristics of ancient Egypt undoubtedly is its hieroglyphic script. The “code” to decipher this writing system was cracked precisely two hundred years ago, in 1822, by the brilliant French linguist Jean-François Champollion—the founding father of Egyptology. The complexity of Egyptian hieroglyphs resulted in a low literacy rate among the Pharaonic population. In this lecture, Dimitri Laboury will address the level(s) of literacy and scholarly education among the makers of the countless hieroglyphic monuments that help make ancient Egypt so famous. Was every ancient Egyptian artist capable of reading and writing hieroglyphs? And in that society, who were the real experts in hieroglyphic writing?

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About the Speaker

Dimitri Laboury is research director of the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research (F.R.S.-FNRS) and associate professor at the University of Liège, where he teaches ancient Egyptian art history, archaeology, history, and history of religion. Trained as an art historian and an Egyptologist, he has taken part in several archaeological expeditions in Egypt, notably in the Theban area, and codirects the Belgian archaeological mission in the Theban Necropolis. Thanks to a Research Incentive Grant of the FNRS, he has been leading an important project on painters and painterly practices in the Theban necropolis during the 18th Dynasty, studying ancient Egyptian artists, their practices, and social statuses in Pharaonic Egypt. His bibliography includes: La statuaire de Thoutmosis III. Essai d’interprétation d’un portrait royal dans son contexte historique (Aegyptiaca Leodiensia 5, Liège, 1998), an archaeological biography of Akhenaton (Pygmalion - Flammarion Editions, Paris, 2010), and The Oxford Handbook of Egyptian Epigraphy and Palaeography, coedited with Vanessa Davies (Oxford University Press, 2020).