The Reception of Ancient Egypt in Modern Society

Explore and discuss the phenomenon of ‘Egyptomania’ that influenced the early twentieth century


Course outline:

This short course regards the history, religion, and material culture of ancient Egypt and its reception and influence on modern society. We will discuss the phenomenon of ‘Egyptomania’ that influenced the early twentieth century after the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, including the orientalism of Egypt as presented in western literature, architecture, and film. Other topics include the influence on pop-culture of a modern era, and a discourse on post-colonial interpretations of Egyptian culture and the lens that we use to engage with this material, as well as the current academic emphasis to decolonise Egyptology. We will also discuss the connection between Egypt and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Who should attend?

This course is designed with content that is accessible for beginners and as an introduction to ancient Egyptian culture, and to further advanced those who are interested in this wider topic. It will benefit those who wish to understand the influence this fascinating culture has had on the world through the last few centuries, especially the twentieth century. It is hoped that the material discussed here will engage those curious about how we view ancient Egyptian through a variety of modes and mediums, and to help question whether we do so in a correct manner. Attendees will be guided through the various topics with the hope to engage their interests through discussion and presentation, and to better understand why they are drawn to ancient Egyptian culture.

Learning outcomes:

On completion of this course participants will have gained a better understanding of the following; 

  • An appreciation of the influence of Egyptian culture on modern society
  • an understanding of the architectural impact Egyptian design and forms have had through the twentieth century
  • learners will be better equipped to view ancient Egyptian material culture with knowledge of how the bias of colonialism shaped our understanding and recording of this material
  • an understanding of the impact New Zealand has had on Egypt during the early- mid twentieth century
  • growing knowledge of why Egyptian culture has fascinated modern society based on an understanding of its historical context



  • 4 x Thursdays, 13 April - 4 May 2021, 6:00 - 8:00pm
  • $145.00 incl. GST
  • The University of Auckland, City Campus
  • Presented by Caleb Hamilton

Seminar presenter

Dr Caleb Hamilton

Dr Caleb Hamilton

Honorary Academic

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 is currently an Honorary Research Fellow in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Auckland and a Teaching Associate at Monash University. This is his third Public Programmes course, touching on various topics of Egyptology, archaeology, history, and the reception of ancient Egypt in modern society.

He was 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 a monograph based on his doctoral research.

Related seminars