What is Egyptology?

Egyptology is the study of the history and culture of ancient Egypt through texts and archaeology, traditionally the period from invention of writing to the advent of Christianity (c. 3000 BC – 500 AD).

Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia are the two earliest historical societies, and Egypt provides a unique opportunity to study man’s earliest history and development over the course of more than three millennia.

At the same time, the rich archaeological and textual record allows for the study of virtually all aspects of human existence, ranging from social life, religion, art and literature, economy and trade, to political history.

Egyptology in Copenhagen

The Egyptological department at the University of Copenhagen was established in 1924, but courses in Egyptology had been taught on a regular basis since the 1880s.

The department has enjoyed a strong international profile since its beginning. It is today a world centre for Egyptian papyrology, and hosts or coordinates several important projects, focussing on both literary and administrative texts from the Middle Kingdom through to the Roman Period (c. 2000 BC – 250 AD).

The department has a wide range of resources that offer a distinctive environment for students. In addition to a world-class Egyptological library, the department houses the Papyrus Carlsberg Collection which includes the remains of the only surviving temple library from ancient Egypt. The collection is regularly used for both teaching and research-oriented student activities, including a recent series of MA and PhD dissertations on unpublished papyri which are scheduled to appear in the Carlsberg Papyri series.

Copenhagen has several significant collections of Egyptian antiquities outside the department, and the department has a long history of collaboration with the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, the National Museum, and Thorvaldsen’s Museum.

The department currently runs or is involved in excavations at several sites in Egypt and the Sudan. Fredrik Hagen is the co-director (with Ian Shaw, Liverpool) of the Copenhagen-Liverpool excavations of the New Kingdom palace-city at Gurob. Rachael Dann is the co-director (with Geoff Emberling, Michigan) of the International Kurru Archaeological Project and Kim Ryholt is a member of the Italian excavations of the city of Tebtunis (dir. Claudio Gallazzi) and coordinates the publication of the thousands of demotic papyrus fragments being found there. Many students participate in these and other excavations in Egypt and the Sudan.


Dr Kim Ryholt (professor) specialises in Egyptian literature and political history. His research projects focus on literary texts from the last millennium of the pharaonic era (c. 800 BC - 300 AD) in the demotic and hieratic scripts with special emphasis on the Tebtunis temple library, the only large-scale institutional library that has survived from ancient Egypt. He is also the director of the Papyrus Carlsberg Collection and the associated publication projects.

Dr Fredrik Hagen (associate professor) specialises in Middle and New Kingdom history (c. 2000-1000 BC). His research projects focus on literature and socio-economic history, including the editing of unpublished hieratic papyri and ostraca, including a palace archive from Gurob and material from Deir el-Medina.

Dr Rachael Dann (associate professor) specialises in the archaeology of the Napatan period (c. 9th – 4th century BC) and the X-Group period (c.350-550 AD). Her research focusses on the archaeology of the 25th Dynasty site at El Kurru in Sudan. Her research interests include the Archaeology of Death, embodiment and archaeology of the senses and the potential relationships between art, aesthetics and archaeology.

Study Programmes


The courses provides students with a broad introduction to ancient Egyptian archaeology and culture, and an in-depth training in the classical stage of the language (Middle Egyptian), enabling them to read and study ancient texts independently.

Language of instruction

The primary language of instruction is English, although courses may be taught in Danish if no international student is present. All examinations can be conducted in English or the Scandinavian languages, as preferred. The student is expected to read literature in English, German and French.

You can find a list of current and upcoming courses taught in English on the Faculty’s course catalogue.