Kathryn Howley

Lila Acheson Wallace Assistant Professor of Ancient Egyptian Art

PhD Egyptology, Brown University; BA (Hons) Classics and Egyptology, University of Oxford

I am an archaeologist and art historian of ancient Egypt and Sudan, particularly interested in questions of materiality and intercultural interaction. I am fascinated not only by how and why material culture crosses borders, but also by the active role that material culture plays in negotiating intercultural contact. My current research uses theoretical frameworks drawn from anthropology and art history in addition to more traditional Egyptological methodologies in order to reconstruct the roles that Egyptian material culture played in Nubian society in the first millennium BC, and investigate how foreign material culture was used to negotiate indigenous social systems in Nubia. My first book, The Royal Tombs of Nuri: interaction and material culture exchange between Kush and Egypt c. 650-580 BC, will appear in 2019 in Brill’s Harvard Egyptology Series.

My research is supported by my current fieldwork project at the mid-first millennium BC Amun Temple of Taharqa, a Nubian king who also ruled over Egypt, at Sanam in Sudan. The project investigates how Egyptian material culture was used at Sanam to reinforce Nubian systems of economy and status, and is currently occupied with investigating faience production areas around the temple, as well as using digital methods to epigraphically record the decoration within the temple. It has been supported by grants from the Levy White Foundation and the Egypt Exploration Society.

The Nile Valley offers an amazing quantity, variety and time depth of evidence for the human past, and I am therefore convinced that ancient Egyptian evidence should be integrated into wider debates in the humanities and social sciences. My recent co-edited volume, Egyptology and Anthropology (published open access by the Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections), brings together papers from a 2017 symposium on the future of the engagement between the two fields. There is a developing movement in Egyptology to adopt a more self-reflexive and critical stance to the constitution of the discipline, and encouraging an awareness of the large degree to which our “knowledge” of ancient Egypt is influenced by our own cultural background is an important aspect of my teaching.

My interest in material culture has led to extensive work in and with museums, researching collections and also in curatorial and educational roles. I am particularly interested in object-based teaching methods and look forward to utilizing the world-class Egyptology collections of New York in my teaching at the IFA, as well as examining the influential role that museums have had in shaping both the public conception of ancient Egypt and the academic direction of Egyptology.

I come to the IFA after two years as Lady Wallis Budge Junior Research Fellow in Egyptology at Christ’s College, University of Cambridge, and previous positions teaching art history at the Rhode Island School of Design and the University of East Anglia in the UK.