The Power of Antiquity in the Making of Modern Egypt


Thursday, April 21, 2022, 6:00pm to 7:00pm



Speaker Wendy Doyon standing outside.
Free Virtual Public Lecture

Wendy Doyon, Historian of Archaeology and Modern Egypt

Advance Registration Required.

Ancient Egypt conjures images of pharaonic temples, tombs, and pyramids, and perhaps, even the familiar illustrations from children’s books and magazines showing kilted workers on the Nile toiling away on their kings’ great monuments. But what is the relationship between these images—along with the deep history they evoke and the processes of discovery that made them visible—and the history of modern Egypt? In this talk, Wendy Doyon will discuss the relationship between state, archaeology, and labor in Mehmed (or Muhammad) Ali’s Egypt—an autonomous khedival, or viceregal, state within the late Ottoman Empire—and explain how the power of the Egyptian state in the nineteenth century was built, in large part, on the creation of modern antiquities land and the organization of Egyptian workers as state assets controlled by Mehmed Ali Pasha and his dynasty-building successors.

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About the Speaker

Wendy Doyon is an historian of archaeology and modern Egypt. She is currently writing a history of Egyptian archaeology and its political economy in nineteenth-century Egypt based on her doctoral research at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the co-creator and media manager of Abydos Archaeology, an educational program of the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU excavations at Abydos, Egypt, where she is also an NEH grant collaborator on “The Abydos Royal Breweries and the Emergence of Kingship in Egypt” research project. Her recent publications have appeared in the Journal of the American Oriental Society (JAOS), Unmasking Ideology in Imperial and Colonial Archaeology (Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press), Histories of Egyptology: Interdisciplinary Measures (Routledge), and British Museum Studies in Ancient Egypt and Sudan (BMSAES); she also writes regularly for the Abydos Archaeology blog at She holds a PhD in History from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in Museology from the University of Washington, and a BA in Linguistics and Anthropology from the University of Washington.