Kemet Klub

NA-Gebel el-Silsila


5 September-3 October 2022 with Associate Professor Maria Nilsson and John Ward

Gebel el-Silsila

5 week course: 5 September- 3 October 2022 Live lectures are Monday evenings: 7.30-9.00pm (UK times) or you can watch at a time to suit you via the recordings.

***Please note: This course has started, however you can still join & use the recordings to catch up on past lectures *** Additional note: As a mark of respect to Her Majesty The Queen, the lecture on 19th September will be postponed to Wednesday 21st September. ***

For centuries, scholars have regarded Gebel el-Silsila as a minor archaeological site of limited significance compared to the country’s many magnificent temples and tombs, but this outdated perception is slowly changing due to the work carried out by the current archaeological team, directed by Assoc. Prof. Maria Nilsson and Mr. John Ward. This course is set up to present Gebel el-Silsila – the site, the various chronological periods, discoveries and new results. We will introduce you to crocodile-god Sobek in his natural habitat, and above all – you will meet the people who built Egypt! 

Lecture 1: Prehistory 

Starting with the site’s Prehistory, the first lecture will deal with the earliest records from Kheny with evidence of the so-called Epipalaeolithic period, through to the Predynastic phases, and to the time of Egyptian state formation. We will explore the unique rock art of Silsila and Shatt el-Rigal, including an extraordinary representation of what could be one of the region’s earliest chieftains!

Lecture 2: Old Kingdom – Middle Kingdom

Continuing on the chronological journey of the site, the second lecture will deal with the earliest dynastic activity through to the Middle Kingdom. We will discuss the written references to the site, the establishment of a fortress, and investigate why Mentuhotep II had produced a monumental relief scene at the mouth of Shatt el-Rigal.

Lecture 3: New Kingdom part 1

As we proceed into the New Kingdom, we will explore the monumental change of activity in the area, when Gebel el-Silsila replaced Shatt el-Rigal as the main hub. From the days of Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III, Kheny becomes Egypt’s heart of industrial activity when the  golden Nubian sandstone replaces the previously favoured limestone. We will explore the quarries and various monuments of this period, including the rock-cut temple, the Temple of Sobek, a series of private shrines, as well as the necropolis.

Lecture 4: New Kingdom part 2

The fourth lecture will dive into the revolutionary time of Amenhotep III-IV with new details of the religious transformation and Atenism. Kheny holds several keys into the understanding of what happened both before and after the death of Akhenaten, and we will explore parts of the rebuilding of Egypt’s sacred edifices during the time of Tutankhamun and Horemheb. As elsewhere, Ramses II and his family left various monuments here too, and we will learn about the local festival calendar, centred around Sobek, Taweret and Hapi.

Lecture 5: Late and Graeco-Roman period

The final lecture will deal with primarily the early Roman period as not much is preserved from the Late and Ptolemaic periods. Quarrying and industrial administration with military presence and officers migrating from Gaul makes up some of the exciting topics to discuss, as do the enigmatic symbols that were carved into the quarries as a form of religious communication!

If you would like to support the work at Gebel el-Silsila just visit 

Maria Nilsson is a research fellow and associate professor at the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History at Lund University. She is the mission director of the Gebel el-Silsila Project since its start in 2012, including the areas of Nag el-Hammam and Shatt el-Rigal. Her primary research topics include the study of quarry marks/symbols and quarryscape epigraphy, as well as prehistoric rock art.


John Ward is a research assistant at the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History at Lund University. He is the assistant director of the Gebel el-Silsila Project since its start in 2012. His primary research topics include landscape archaeology, the study of quarryscape infrastructure and architecture at large.

Booking instructions

To book your place on this course you must add this product to your basket and go through the checkout process. You can pay with PayPal or your debit card, or you can select to post a cheque or make a bank transfer. Once your payment is received and complete you will have access to the Course Area by clicking ‘My Courses’ – top right corner of web page. 

The Zoom link is available in the Course Area. The lecture room is opened 30 minutes before the course begins. If you have any other queries please get in touch.

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