Egyptian Art from Narmer to Kleopatra (3050 - 30 BCE)

This short course will highlight case studies focusing on art from ancient Egypt. The case studies cover the differences in art from a variety of periods of Egyptian history, ranging from the Early Dynastic period to the Ptolemaic period. These case studies include a focus on art from the ‘Pyramid Age’, the reign Amenhotep III and his son Tutankhamen, the enigmatic Psusennes, as well as the famous Kleopatra, the last Egyptian ruler.

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Course outline

Two topics per 2-hour session (introduction to topics, for holistic positioning of content, the content for each sub-session, and recap to cover ‘Intended Learning Objectives’ at the end of the sessions)

Proposed Lecture Topics:

1A – Narmer: early iconography and the foundations of lasting traditions

1B – Reading Egyptian Art: the purpose, audience, and reception of Egyptian art

2A – Khufu: the ‘peak’ of Egyptian creative skill

2B – Montuhotep II: the shifts in royal portrayal

3A – Tutankhamun: Egypt’s Golden Age

3B – Psusennes: foreign influence mixed with Egyptian traditions

4A – Kleopatra: interpretations of beauty and modern stereotypes of Ptolemaic Egyptian women

4B – The Smiting King: archetypical representations of Egyptian authority towards ‘others’

Learning outcomes

Attendees will leave the course having covered the following learning outcomes:

  • A grasp of the evolving nature of Egyptian presentation of the world around them, through the lens of different artistic techniques.
  • An understanding of non-Egyptian influence on how royal Egyptians presented themselves to their subjects and wider world.
  • An understanding of the possible purpose of the varied types of Egyptian art, and how this has been received through modern interpretation.
  • Growing knowledge of the non-static nature of Egyptian culture from the point of view of artistic representation over time

Who should attend?

The target audience for this are those interested in the culture of ancient Egypt, including their history and art.

The course provides content that is accessible for beginners or advanced students. Any part of the community is welcome, with no prior knowledge required. Attendees will be guided through the unique changes of Egyptian creativity and skill, which are underpinned by a historical context to holistically position the knowledge they learn during the course. We will cover different modes of art such as carved iconography, painting, sculpture, and rock-cut reliefs.

Attendees will also learn about how non-native, or foreign influences have impacted and changed later periods of Egyptian art. This is discussed with a growing knowledge and awareness of how we perceive the Egyptians, the purpose of their artistic endeavours.


  • 4 x sessions, Wednesday 18 March - Wednesday 8 April 2020, 6- 8pm
  • $145 incl. GST
  • The University of Auckland, City Campus
  • Presented by Caleb Hamilton

Seminar presenter

Caleb Hamilton

Caleb Hamilton

Caleb Hamilton is a University of Auckland alumni, with a BA, BA Hons, and MA all from this institution. He gained his PhD from Monash University, where he undertook research on the foreign interactions in Egypt during the Early Dynastic period. He has taught at the University of Auckland and Monash University, including courses on the material culture and history during the Early Dynastic period and Old Kingdom, focusing on death and burial practises, the New Kingdom, as well as the Third Intermediate Period to Ptolemaic Period. He has also taught ancient Egyptian language, and Greek and Roman history.


Caleb was a mentor with the Tuākana program at the University of Auckland, as well as the Junior Arts Programme, and the Indigenous Academic Enhancement Program at Monash University.


He has been a member of excavations in Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt. Recent publications include a discussion of serekhs of early Egyptian kings, the Egyptian presence in the Western Desert during the Early Dynastic period, and foreign interactions from this time. He is currently preparing two edited volumes, and a monograph based on his doctoral research.

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