The Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of History Department of History
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HIST4390 Ancient Egypt: History, Art, Religion and Modern Perceptions

Semester 1 (2020-2021)

Lecture TimeThursday 10:30am-12:15pm


Lecturer HUANG Tzu-hsuan (

Teaching Assistant ZHANG Zhao (

Course Description

This course is designed to give the students basic knowledge of the culture of ancient Egypt. Subjects such as history, art, religion, literature, society, science and technology will be discussed. In addition, the students will also learn through the example of Egypt how our modern perception of ancient culture was formed, subjects such as the changing images of Egypt throughout history in the West, and the modern appropriation of Egyptian themes in art, literature and cinema will be part of the discussion. It is hoped that, by taking this class, the students could obtain a solid and factual based understanding of ancient Egyptian culture, learn to appreciate a different and distant society and culture, and to develop the ability to reflect upon the nature of history and how history and historical knowledge could be formed and utilized or distorted for different objectives.


Course outline for 13 weeks




Required readings



l   Overview on ancient Egypt and its relation to us and the Global nowadays



The Myth of Egypt throughout History

l   Greek and European Views of a Mythical Egypt

l   The Mystery Unveiled: The Story of Modern Egyptology

l   蒲慕州, 第一章

l   Ian Shaw, Chapter 1


The Basic Facts

l   Geography and Climate

l   Race and Language

l   Sources of History

l   蒲慕州, 第二章

l   Ian Shaw, Chapters 2-3


Political Organization

l   The “Unification” of Egypt

l   The Organization of Government

l   The Provincial administration

l   The Army and Empire building

l   蒲慕州, 第三章

l   Ian Shaw, Chapter 4


The Pyramids

l   The Beginning of Stone Architecture

l   The Evolution of the King’s Tombs

l   Technological aspects of the Pyramids

l   蒲慕州, 第四章

l   Ian Shaw, Chapter 5

l   Smith, Chapters 4-7


Religious Beliefs

l   Religion: Definition Problems

l   The Pyramid Texts and Religious Systems

l   The Nature of the Gods

l   The Egyptian Temple and Funerary Cults

l   Ethics and Religion

l   蒲慕州, 第五章

l   H. Frankfort, Chapters 1-4


Daily life of the commoners

l   Agriculture and food

l   Husbandry and fishing

l   Domestic industries  

l   Entertainment and sport

l   Kasia Szpakowska, Chapters 4-5

l   Montet, Chapters IV, V, VI


Egypt as a Political Power

l   The Beginning of the Egyptian Empire

l   The Amarna Period

l   The Remesside Period

l   The Late Period

l   蒲慕州, 第八章

l   Ian Shaw, Chapters 8-9


The Principle of Egyptian Art

l   Rules of Painting and Sculpture

l   Canon and Proportion

l   Color and Material

l   Function and Esthetics

l   Architecture

l   蒲慕州, 第九章;

l   Smith, Chapters 8-10



l   Biography

l   Stories

l   Poetry

l   Religious literature

l   Official texts

l   蒲慕州, 第六,七章

l   Ian Shaw, Chapter 7

l   Harris, Chapter 9


Science and Technology

l   Writing system

l   Stone Masonry

l   Medicine

l   Mathematics

l   Harris, Chapters 2, 4, 5


The Transformation of Egyptian Civilization

l   The Late Period (21-26 Dynasties)

l   The Persian and Assyrian Conquest

l   The Ptolemaic period

l   The Roman period

l   The Arab Conquest

l   蒲慕州, 第十,十一章

l   Ian Shaw, Chapters 12-15


The Modern myth of Ancient Egypt

l   Art

l   Literature

l   Cinema

l   S. MacDonald & M. Rice, Chapters 1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 10

Assessment & Assignments





1.     Attendance


l   1.75 point/week x13 weeks

22.75 points

2.     Participation of discussion


l   1.25 point/week x13 weeks

16.25 points

3.     Mid-term Paper


l   Potential and extensibility of title/subject/question: 6 points

l   Structure: 5 points

l   Quotations and references: 6 points

l   Writing and analysis: 5 points

l   Conclusion: 5 points

27 points

4.     Final Paper


l   Depth of extension on mid-term paper: 7 points

l   Structure: 7 points

l   Quotations and references: 7 points

l   Writing and analysis: 7 points

l   Conclusion: 6 points

34 points

Regulations for assessment:

  1. On attendance:
    1. Attend every session of the lecture.
    2. Finish the course readings before lecture.
  2. On participation of discussion: Actively participate in the discussion sections held in lecture.
  3. On mid-term paper:
    1. Finish and hand in a mid-term paper in time.
    2. The subject of the paper: should be discussed with the lecturer at least 3 weeks earlier of the deadline.
    3. Length: the text body should be at least 10 pages (cover page excluded if there is one), but the overall length should be no more than 40 pages.
  4. On final paper:
    1. Finish and hand in a final paper in time.
    2. The subject of the paper: should be the extension of the mid-term paper and discussed with the lecturer no more than 3 weeks after the submission of the mid-term paper.
    3. Length: The text body should be at least 12 pages (cover page excluded if there is one), but the overall length should be no more than 60 pages.
  5. On paper format:
    1. Language of main text: English.
    2. A content table listed below/after the title is required.
    3. The text amount of quotation should be below 1/4 of the whole main text body.
    4. Font: Arial or Times (New) Roman in English and PMingLiU in Chinese.
    5. Text size: 12 pt.
    6. Paragraph: 1.5 line spacing, before and after spacing: 6 pt.
    7. Reference format: footnote preferred.
    8. Bibliography: at least 5 pieces.
    9. Page format: A4 size with 2.54cm/1inch at four margins and page number at bottom of the pages.
    10. Non-textual content: pictures, tables, charts, and drawings required as reference in research should be well numbered and placed at the end of the text body.
    11. More rules and guidance please follow online version of the Chicago Manual of Style (see:

Backup plan for assessment

  • Face-to-face teaching would be replaced by online teaching.
  • The discussion of taught content and students’ paper topics could also be maintained as online tutoring, if needed.
  • The delivery of mid-term and final papers could be practiced through email, and printed hardcopy can be spared.

Required readings

  1. 蒲慕州,《法老的國度》(台北:麥田,2001).
  2. Ian Shaw, The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).
  3. S. Smith (rev. by W. K. Simpson), The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965, 1981).
  4. Frankfort, Ancient Egyptian Religion (New York: Harper & Row, 1961).
  5. Szpakowska, Kasia Maria, Daily Life in Ancient Egypt: Recreating Lahun (Blackwell Publishing, 2008).
  6. Montet, Everyday Life in Egypt in the days of Ramesses the Great (London: Edward Arnold, 1958)
  7. R. Harris, The Legacy of Egypt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971).
  8. MacDonald and M. Rice eds., Consuming Ancient Egypt (London: University College Press: 2003).

Recommanded Readings

  1. H. Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs. (Oxford University Press, 1969).
  2. G. Trigger et. al., Ancient Egypt, A Social History. (Cambridge University Press, 1983).
  3. J. Kemp, Ancient Egypt, Anatomy of a Civilization. (London: Routledge, 1991).
  4. Grimal, A History of Ancient Egypt (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992).
  5. 蒲慕州,《尼羅河畔的文采:古埃及文選》(台北:遠流,1993)
  6. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature 3 vols. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973-80).
Honesty in Academic Work

Attention is drawn to University policy and regulations on honesty in academic work, and to the disciplinary guidelines and procedures applicable to breaches of such policy and regulations. Details may be found at

With each assignment, students will be required to submit a signed declaration that they are aware of these policies, regulations, guidelines and procedures.

  • In the case of group projects, all members of the group should be asked to sign the declaration, each of whom is responsible and liable to disciplinary actions, irrespective of whether he/she has signed the declaration and whether he/she has contributed, directly or indirectly, to the problematic contents.
  • For assignments in the form of a computer-generated document that is principally text-based and submitted via VeriGuide, the statement, in the form of a receipt, will be issued by the system upon students’ uploading of the soft copy of the assignment.

Assignments without the properly signed declaration will not be graded by teachers.

Only the final version of the assignment should be submitted via VeriGuide.

The submission of a piece of work, or a part of a piece of work, for more than one purpose (e.g. to satisfy the requirements in two different courses) without declaration to this effect shall be regarded as having committed undeclared multiple submissions. It is common and acceptable to reuse a turn of phrase or a sentence or two from one’s own work; but wholesale reuse is problematic. In any case, agreement from the course teacher(s) concerned should be obtained prior to the submission of the piece of work.

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