The object of study: Egyptology, anthropology and archaeology at the University of Oxford, 1860–1960.


In his inaugural lecture given at the University of Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum on 8 May 1901, Francis Llewellyn Griffi th (1862-1934), Reader of Egyptology, outlined his vision for the future of the discipline. It was an address that was full of optimism for the manner in which his specialist subject would contribute to the developing science of anthropology. Yet, as the twentieth century progressed, disciplinary boundaries became far less permeable, and Egyptology found itself increasingly isolated from other subjects. Accounting for such disciplinary cleavages is not simple, and Griffi th’s perspective highlights only one moment in the complex and entangled relationship of Egyptology, archaeology, and anthropology. His address also highlights one very particular social and intellectual setting for the academic enactment of Egyptology: the University of Oxford. A brief case study of aspects of Egyptology at this institution within the context of British Egyptology and anthropology forms the basis for this chapter

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