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Egyptology and Assyriology

PhD Program in Egyptology and Assyriology

Brown is one of the premier institutions for the study of Egyptology, Assyriology, and the history of ancient science, and our PhD students train in the foundational areas of our disciplines: the languages, literatures, history, and material culture of Egypt and Mesopotamia in their wider environment. The department offers instruction in the core ancient languages that are essential for research in our fields: Akkadian (Babylonian and Assyrian, all stages), Egyptian (all stages), Hittite, and Sumerian; instruction in Arabic, Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Sanskrit, Syriac, and Ugaritic is available to our students at Brown as well. In addition to training in philology and critical research methods, our students also become conversant in the archaeological sequence, art and architecture, and repertoires of material culture found across the ancient Near East.

Brown’s doctoral program in Egyptology and Assyriology has a number of distinguishing features:

  • We offer in-depth disciplinary training that allows our students to pursue focused research in any one of our core fields: Assyriology, Egyptology, the history of ancient science, and the archaeology of Egypt and the Near East.
  • We encourage creative interdisciplinary work, including but not limited to research that bridges Egyptology, Assyriology, and the history of ancient science in innovative ways. Our doctoral students have the opportunity to do coursework in and cultivate stimulating intellectual relationships with faculty from Anthropology, Classics, History, the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, and Religious Studies. In addition Brown’s Graduate School has an Open Graduate Program that allows interested doctoral students at Brown to pursue a concurrent master’s degree in a secondary field that is outside the scope of their doctoral program.
  • We provide significant funding both in the department and across the university to support graduate students' original research. Our doctoral students have recently used support from the department and university to carry out research in museum collections in the US, Europe, and Africa; to participate in archaeological fieldwork (survey and excavation) in Egypt, Sudan, and Turkey; and to present the results of their research at international conferences and symposia.
  • We emphasize developing our students professionally and encourage students to reach important early career milestones during their time in the program, such as giving conference papers and submitting academic publications; to that end we have incorporated valuable professional academic skills into our curriculum and assessment.
  • We provide a variety of opportunities for our PhD students to train as teachers and develop valuable teaching skills that will be useful in a wide variety of educational settings, including research universities, museums, or teaching colleges focused on the liberal arts.

A few areas of particular interest to the department’s faculty include: ancient science (astronomy and astrology, timekeeping  and calendrics, divination and medicine); cultural interactions throughout the Mediterranean, Near East, and Africa in the second and first millennia BC; religion and ritual in the ancient Near East, from Egypt and Sudan to Anatolia and Mesopotamia; the history of the Egyptian language and its grammar; the origins and development of writing and the diffusion and reception of cuneiform, hieroglyphic, and alphabetic scripts in the ancient world; kingship and monumentality in ancient Egypt and Sudan; the integration of textual and archaeological methodologies; Coptic manuscripts; the ancient Near East in classical periods and Greek and Roman cultures’ perceptions of the more ancient past; Mesopotamian and Egyptian literature; ancient empires of the Near East in context; and the origins of Egyptian civilization.

PhD Tracks 

The department currently offers three tracks to the PhD: (1) Assyriology (2) Egyptology, and (3) History of the Exact Sciences in Antiquity. Each track has different course requirements, details of which may be found in the program's Graduate Student Handbook. Students who enter the program in one track may switch to another track providing they are still able to complete the coursework requirements by the end of their third year.

Further details about our graduate program may be found at