nl en

Religion of Ancient Egypt


Admission requirements



This course discusses the religion of ancient Egypt up to the end of the New Kingdom. In the first part of the course, taught by Kaper, the topics include: the Egyptian gods, the temples, the role of the king, mythology, mortuary beliefs, and magic. By examining many examples of the visual legacy of the ancient religion, the reasons for the animal component of Egyptian divine iconography will be discussed, and the central role of the king as a mediator between men and gods will be examined. The second half of the course, taught by Müller, will introduce the student to the field of household and community cults and rituals throughout ancient Egyptian history. By discussing the various definitions of private, popular and household religion, the student will become familiar with the difficulties of the field and recent approaches from an anthropological perspective. This second half of the course will further assess the dialectic between ritual and religion. Throughout the course, the physical remains of ritual will be studied and examined first-hand in light of recent theoretical developments. We will discuss evidence for official and private religion and its interplay in a broad range of examples. During a class visit to the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, we will study various objects related to private religion. In a paper, the student will focus on reading specific text types such as prayers, petitions and letters, in addition to discussions of translations, this paper will contextualize the archaeological evidence and lead to a comprehensive understanding of religion in ancient Egypt.

Course objectives

By the end of the class, students will be familiar with the principal features of the ancient Egyptian religion, including state and private cults. Students will be experienced in approaching a specific research topic through the study of iconography, objects, archaeological remains and textual evidence. A general knowledge of the history and culture of ancient Egypt will allow students to evaluate its sociopolitical role within its eastern Mediterranean setting.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

  • Research

Assessment method

Assessment and weighing

The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average of the following:

First written examination with essay questions: 30%
Second written examination with essay questions: 30%
Paper: 40%

To pass the course, students need a passing mark (“voldoende”, i.e. “5.50” or higher) for the course as a whole AND for the two written examinations.


Should one or both exams be failed, there will be one resit at the end of the course in the form of a written exam which will examine the contents of the entire course and will count for 60% of the final mark.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will be organized.

Reading list

Dunand, F. and Chr. Zivie-Coche, Gods and Men in Egypt 3000 BCE to 395 CE, Ithaca and London 2004 (first half of the book)

Further readings will be announced in the syllabus.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.

General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.

Registration Exchange

Exchange students having questions regarding registration, may contact the Humanities International Office.