Dr Robert Morkot

Biography

I read Ancient History at University College London (1977-1980) where I specialised in Egyptology. There I benefitted from the teaching of Margaret Drower and Amelie Kuhrt in Near Eastern History; Harry Smith in Egyptology; Fergus Millar, Tim Cornell and John North in Greek, Hellenistic and Roman History. Following my degree I worked in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology at UCL, firstly registering material, then as Archivist working on the notebooks of Flinders Petrie.

My doctoral dissertation (London, UCL from 1983) examined the complex relationship between Kush (northern Sudan) and Egypt between 1500 and 700 BCE, and the effects of Egyptian ‘colonial’ rule on the formation of an indigenous state. As part of my studies I spent a year (1986-87) in East Germany, on a British Council Exchange Scholarship at the Humboldt University, Berlin. There I studied Meroitic with the leading authority, Fritz Hintze.

From 1987-1991 I was G.A. Wainwright Fellow in Near Eastern Archaeology attached to the Oriental Institute, University of Oxford. During this time I was working on material excavated by F.Ll. Griffith and Oxford University at sites in the northern Sudan during the 1920s and 1930s, now scattered in Museums around Britain and Europe.

In 1991, along with colleagues from the Institute of Archaeology in London, I.J. Thorpe, N. Kokkinos and J.A. Frankish, and led by Peter James, I contributed to Centuries of Darkness. (London: Jonathan Cape). This, rather dry, reassessment of the chronology of the Old World from the Bronze to Iron Ages was greeted with horror by many archaeologists (and derision by some). For such a dull subject, it became something of a succès de scandale , even being lampooned in The Times. Despite the hostility of many Egyptologists, the solution suggested to the archaeological problems highlighted (revising the chronology of Egypt), has gradually moved in the authors’ favour: the debate continues.

In addition to my academic papers and books, I have written a number of more ‘popular’ works including a guidebook to Egypt: a textbook - The Egyptians: an introduction (Routledge); The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Greece); The Empires of Ancient Egypt ( London: BBC) . I have written articles for reference works including: The Macmillan Dictionary of Art; The Oxford Classical Dictionary and The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt; and have worked as author, picture editor and adviser on a range of popular books about ancient Egypt and Greece. I have written many articles and reviews for the ASTENE Bulletin, and the ancient art and archaeology magazines Minerva and Egyptian Archaeology I have also worked for a ‘learned society’, a Quango, and in tourism.

I taught for many years in Adult and Continuing Education for The City University and The University of Surrey before joining the University of Exeter in 1996. At Exeter I developed the Certificate in Egyptology in the Department of Lifelong Learning. In addition to undergraduate lectures and a period as Teaching Assistant at University College London I have been a guest lecturer at the Humboldt-University Berlin, Leipzig University, and the University of Cassino. I regularly lecture to Egyptology and Archaeology Societies throughout the UK, and other organisations such as NADFAS.

Membership of Societies and Archaeological Organisations

  • The Society for Libyan Studies.
  • ASTENE (The Association for the Study of Travel in Egypt and the Near East).
  • The Friends of the Petrie Museum.
  • The Egypt Exploration Society.
  • BISI (formerly The British School of Archaeology in Iraq)
  • The Roman Society
  • The British School at Rome
  • The Society of Antiquaries of London