Symposium 2022 – ‘shifting sands: change over time in ancient Egypt’

Annual Birmingham Egyptology Symposium

6th May 2022
University of Birmingham, UK

The ninth edition of the Birmingham Egyptology Symposium – held in its hybrid form both online and in-person – was focused on changes that defined ancient Egypt and was titled “Shifting Sands: Change Over Time in Ancient Egypt”.

The event was characterised by fascinating lectures and engaging activities, such as the visit at the Eton Myers Collection, scheduled during the lunch break.

After the opening greetings by Edward Mushett Cole, the very first panel of the Symposium started with the amazing presentation “One of these things is not like the others: Changes in the composition of wooden funerary models post excavation” by Sam Powell, who focused on her remarkable work conducted on funerary figurines held in UK institutions, and the difficulties related to the identification of their provenance.

In “Shedding Light on Egyptian Mirrors: new insight into their manufacture”, the second presentation of the day, Elizabeth Thomas discussed the impressive results of her analyses on ancient techniques used to realise Egyptian mirrors.

Yossra Ibrahim, the third speaker of the day, presented the major transformations over time of stellar illustrations, in her awesome “The Ancient Egyptian Celestial Diagram: Between Change and Continuity”.

The last speech of the first panel was the brilliant “The Changing Role of Divine Nursing Scenes in Ancient Egyptian Religion and Kingship: Examining the Decorative and Physical Context of these Scenes in Temples and Tombs”, during which Cannon Fairbairn analysed the motif of divine breastfeeding in relation to its iconographic context.

After the lunch break, the second panel of the Symposium was opened by Valentina Santini, who presented “Shift or Immovable Sands? ‘Anti-Atenism’ in Private Religion during the Amarna Period”, providing fascinating insight into the difficulties to “label” in a specific category the religious beliefs of Amarna common citizens.

Rachel McLaughlin, in her fantastic speech titled “Cyclical Change in the Development of the Egyptian Verbal Construction”, analysed the linguistic changes that characterised synthetic and analytic forms in ancient Egyptian verbs.

The presentation “Tracking the Untamed: Developments of the Griffin Motif from the Predynastic Period to the Middle Kingdom” aimed attention at the impressive research conducted by Jake Colloff on the figure of the gryphon and its multiple values during the course of the centuries.

The break was dedicated to the display of Antje Zygalski’s poster “Wooden Canopic Boxes with pr-nw lid – Development of the lid construction till the end of the New Kingdom (and the practical use in working with object remains)”, focused on a series of remarkable findings identified in the TT C. 3 in Sheik Abd el-Qurna.

Josefin Percival presented “Searching for meaning: Initial findings of a corpus-based study on the diachronic development of adjectives in Earlier and Later Egyptian” and discussed her impressive work on mapping the diachronic changes in adjectives from Old Egyptian to Coptic.

“Ascend to the Imperishables: The Rise of Stellar Eschatology at the Dawn of State Formation”, by Marla Szwec, was the last speech before the Keynote Lecture. Marla’s awesome talk was focused on the emergence of stellar eschatology and its changing during the passing of time.

The excellent Keynote Lecture was addressed by Tony Leahy, Honorary Research Fellow in Classics, Ancient History, and Archaeology at the University of Birmingham. The presentation, titled “The puzzle of the ‘Salakhana’ tomb”, was an exceptional analysis on the findings discovered in this funerary monument at Assiut. 

The concluding remarks by Leire Olabarria became the perfect occasion to make a quick assessment of the fantastic conference that culminated in a final Egyptology quiz, during which everyone had a lot of fun!

Organisers and attendees with our symposium mascot Bab the Baboon!

We’d like to extend a big thank you to all our speakers, helpers and attendees, both online and in person.

Abstracts can be found here:

As well as the presentations, there was an optional tour of the Eton Myers collection (including a temporary exhibition Sacred Words: writing and ancient Egypt). Further details, including a highlights video can be found here:


We also had a poster presentation for the conference which can be viewed here:

For further details please contact:

NB Further information about the event will be also shared via our Facebook event page.