Egypt Galleries Tour

Follow along as we delve into 5,000 years of ancient Egypt. Drawing on some of the more than 40,000 objects in the Penn Museum’s Egyptian collection, we’ll follow the rise of the ancient Egyptian kingdom, learn about Egyptian medicine and protection practices, and discover the importance of Egyptian names. We’ll look at artifacts that teach us about the might of kings, the power of temples, the journey to the afterlife, and the networks and connections that linked Egypt to other ancient societies.

9 Tour Stops

Egypt Galleries Tour Introduction

For over a century, Penn Museum archaeologists have been uncovering the world of ancient Egypt. The Egyptian Collection includes around 50,000 artifacts representing about 5,000 years of Egyptian history—many of them excavated directly by the Penn Museum—along with archaeological records giving a detailed look into contexts and provenience.

Becoming Pharaoh: Kingship and the Rise of Ancient Egypt

The 5,000 years of ancient Egyptian history on display in the Penn Museum speak to the surprising continuity of Egyptian traditions over long periods. One remarkably stable Egyptian institution—and one of the most well-known—was the office of Pharaoh. On this stop, we’ll examine the origins of Egyptian kingship and its ideological underpinnings. We’ll also learn how to read depictions of pharaonic power and responsibility in Egyptian art.

Writing in Ancient Egypt

The early development of writing in Egypt offers modern Egyptologists abundant accounts of many facets of Egyptian life as told by the Egyptians themselves. Archaeological perspectives help us to understand not only the origins of writing, but also the important roles that the written word and its writers played in ancient Egyptian society.

Egyptian Names and Memory

Learning the names of the people we study allows archaeologists to encounter them as individuals with their own motivations, anxieties, and desires. Here we examine the importance of names in Egyptian cultural life and the role that they played in Egyptian notions of remembering and forgetting.

Egyptian Households and Daily Life

Archaeology enables us to explore not only the lives and experiences of social elites in the past, but also those of regular people. Here we pause to consider three artifacts in the galleries that help us understand three different aspects of day-to-day life in ancient Egypt.

Healing, Medicine, and Protection

Egyptian practices for healing the body and ensuring protection against harm were rooted in a complex worldview in which science, religion, and the natural world were not separate. The archaeological evidence of these practices gives us a clearer picture of how ancient Egyptians organized themselves and responded to the pressures of their time and place.

Temples, Priests, and the Gods

From the sunrise each morning to the journey to the next world, the gods were part of every aspect of ancient Egyptian life. Worshipping the gods was not only a means to protect cosmic harmony and Egyptian prosperity, but also an opportunity for pharaohs and priests to show off their worldly power.

Death and Afterlife

Life in ancient Egypt did not end at the moment of death. Here we explore what a carved stone door can tell us about the journey from life to death to afterlife.

Egypt in the Mediterranean and African Worlds

Throughout its history, Egypt has been a critical part of two interconnected networks of peoples, goods, and ideas: the Mediterranean and African worlds. On our last stop, we consider the impact Egypt had on other ancient societies—and the impacts they have had on Egypt.