The Age of the Pharaohs: A Whirlwind History of Ancient Egypt [On Zoom]

ThursdayS October 19 to December 7, 2023 10:00 am to 12 noon

ZOOM Session


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Coordinator and Presenter: Laura Ranieri Roy

Course OverviewSpanning more than 3,000 years, Ancient Egypt is one of the greatest civilizations the world has known. Join us for a whirlwind journey - from the time before the Pyramids through the great birth of language and religious thought, through the Valley of the Kings and Tut’s golden treasures and Ramses triumphs. This course will take you on a rich and engaging adventure exploring the great kings, events, characters, beliefs and tremendous feats of art and architecture that characterized this magnificent era. 

October 19: Great Beginnings - Overview of Egyptian civilization - geography, the Nile and overview of chronologies. Will cover early settlers in Nile valley and the Predynastic and early Dynastic era. Learn about the early inhabitants along the Nile Valley. We will cover the very first towns, earliest tombs, a burgeoning crafts industry -- and early economy and trade. Upper and Lower Egypt were at this time distinct lands. What made them unique – and what events occurred to bring them together in unification? In particular, we will look at the regions of Abydos, Sakkara and Hierakonpolis.

October 26: The Glory Age: The Old Kingdom - We’ll look at the great Pyramid age - an era of unprecedented wealth and royal power which manifested in colossal building projects and the cult of the divine king. Learn about the great kings who established many of the traditions that shaped Egypt through its next 2500 years. What led to the Old Kingdom rise - and its fall? The focus will be on Lower Egypt - the sites of Sakkara, Dashur, Meidum, Giza, and more.

November 2: Sun Kings to Decline Old Kingdom - This week, we finish the 4th Dynasty and the immortal works of the “God” kings of Giza, including the Sphinx -- and then look at 5th and 6th Dynasties of Egypt, the rise of Sun Temples and Pyramid texts. We’ll explore various reasons for the decline of the great Old Kingdom - and the descent into the decentralized First Intermediate Period.

November 9: Topsy Turvy Times to Stability: First Intermediate Period and Middle Kingdom - What happened after the Old Kingdom? We will explore the first of Egypt's chaotic Intermediate periods and how it affected life, government, and art. Then we will discuss the great Middle Kingdom period - when Egypt's Kings became strong again. Let’s look at the wonderful towns, tombs and art that characterize this era. This was the golden age of writing and an age of flourishing literature - so we will look at some of the wonderful writings from the era. We will look at Lahun, Nubia, Abydos, Luxor and more.

November 16: From Hyksos Invasion to The Beginning of the Great New Kingdom - The invasion of the Hyksos (from the Levant) led to a very fragmented and divided Egypt - with different dynasties holding court over distinct geographic regions. The Hyksos, in fact, may have been Joseph’s people long before the time of Israel. We will learn about these unique people, their innovations -- and the great works and art that emerged from this chaotic era. We will also discuss the origins of the New Kingdom: the great new Dynasty from Luxor - and how they ultimately triumphed over the North (Hyksos) and South (The 'Nine bows') from Nubia.

November 23: The Golden Age of Egypt - New Kingdom 18th Dynasty Part 1 - From the remarkable building projects of Hatshepsut - the woman who would be King – to the Napoleon of Egypt, Thutmosis III through to the riches of Amenhotep the III. In this class, we’ll explore the first half of the greatest dynasty of all. Let’s meet this legendary cast of characters, understand the cult of Amun, explore the remarkable architecture and monuments. (We’ll look at some amazing ancient sites like the Temple of Karnak and Valley of the Kings.)

November 30: The Golden Age of Egypt - New Kingdom 18th Dynasty Part 2 Amarna period - It all began with Amenhotep III and continued with his son who called himself “Akhenaten”. In this exciting finale of the 18th dynasty, we delve into the madness of Akhenaten the heretic Pharaoh and his new religion of light. We’ll also look at King Tutankhamun and explore his amazing tomb – and the story of its discovery.

December 7: The Great Ramessides - The 19th Dynasty ushers in the "Ramses" line of Kings, a family of tough soldiers with superb talent on the battleground. From Seti and Ramses, the Great to Ramses III, Egypt continued to enjoy success on the world stage. Ramses the Great alone created some of Egypt’s most iconic monuments. We will look at marvels like the building of Abu Simbel, Medinet Habu - learn of the rise of Pi Ramses. We will also learn of "The Hittites (Battle of Kadesh), Sea Peoples the first labour strike - and the conspiracy behind the killing of the king the last great king of Egypt.

Committee Contact: Deb Forsyth-Petrov

Laura Ranieri Roy is an Egyptologist (MA University of Toronto, 2016), writer and founder-director of Ancient Egypt Alive She has excavated in Egypt at the site of Amarna and South Asasif - and at a classical Greek site in Bulgaria. She has taught at Ryerson’s Life Institute, LLIR at Glendon and other locations, and presented extensively on ancient Egypt at museums, symposiums and societies across North America – and online through Laura is also a professional writer and storyteller also creates and personally guides history-focused, in-depth tours to Egypt each year.