Cradle of writing, cradle of the state; stimulus to western antiquityand thus a precursor to European culture(s) today - these are only some of the relevant implications of ancient Egypt for present day society. For European observers a focus lies in examining the contrastive factors of ancient Egyptian culture, as well as in helping to understand ones’ own roots.
Egyptology - academically institutionalized since 1831 with the first chair for the discipline at the Collège de France - encompasses the whole of ancient Egyptian culture(s) over a period of several thousand years. The discipline covers the periods beginning with the prehistoric cultures in the 5th and 4th millennium B.C. through the Pharaonic Egyptian state (from ca. 3000 B.C. to the 4th century A.D.) to the Coptic (Christian) Period and their remains in the 1st millennium A.D..Over that time period the discipline covers the geographical areas of the Egyptian Nile Valley and also of neighboring Sudan, and the Sinai and the Eastern and Western Deserts lying along the Nile.
A special feature of German Egyptology, unlike other ancient culture studies that deal withonly a sub-area of a culture e.g. archaeology, philology, and/or history, is to include the entire culture. Students will make themselves familiar with the languages and writings, as well as art, history, religion and the archeological heritages of ancient Egypt. They learn to recognize and to describe the specific features of ancient Egyptian culture, to assess similarities to other cultures, and to understand the legacy of ancient Egypt as it has passed from antiquity to Western cultures in modern times.
At the Freie Universität Berlin, the BA course in Egyptology is a main focus area within Ancient Culture Studies. For the MA courseEgyptology is offered as a separate discipline with a philological and/or archeological focus.
The teaching of basic knowledge and current issues of cultural studies are of central interest in the course of study.
Learning the ancient Egyptian writings (hieroglyphic and hieratic, in addition to Demotic or Coptic) and languages (Early Egyptian, Old Egyptian, Middle Egyptian, Late Egyptian, Demotic or Coptic) is central to the philological field.
Theories and methods of Egyptian archaeology are connected with archaeology research. Moreover, there may be the possibility of participating in excavation through the Freie Universität Berlin.
Knowledge of modern languages is also important in both the philological and archeological fields.
Egyptology at the Freie Universität Berlin offers several advantages: excavations that are conducted by the professors of the Seminar, as well as proximity to the Egyptian Museum and to an academy project (das Altägyptische Wörterbuch). Thus there are good opportunities for practical experience and the specialized research publications of the seminar members attest to the important role of theory-building in theseminargroup.