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September 17, 2016
3:30 PM Classroom 2, Penn Museum

"Armed and Dangerous: An Iconography of Protective Middle and New Kingdom Demons"



Dr. Kasia Szpakowska


Associate Professor of Egyptology, Swansea University
Director of the Ancient Egyptian Demonology Project




One of the most obvious characteristics of Middle Kingdom iconography is the surfacing of new populations of beings, many of them creatively composite. They appear as both two and three-dimensional images on objects and as figurines themselves. Many are armed with weapons or potent religious icons, seemingly engaged in fierce warrior dances.  

During the New Kingdom, seemingly mundane household pieces of furniture also began to be decorated with strikingly similar imagery. However, these feature one remarkable transformation that is initially easily overlooked—they can wield weapons not only in their front or primary limbs, but also on their feet or secondary limbs. This particular idiosyncrasy is rare not only in Egyptian art but in the religious art of other cultures as well.

The goal of creating all these representations in the first place was to make visible and tangible powerful liminal beings capable of efficiently dispatching a range of anxieties, terrors, and afflictions that troubled the Egyptians in their everyday life. 

To make these publicly accessible, our Ancient Egyptian Demonology Project: 2K BC developed an online publicly accessible catalogue. Participants at the lecture will be introduced to this DemonBase: The Imaginal Realm of Ancient Egyptian Supernatural Beings. For a preview of the database, go to: http://www.demonthings.com/demonbase-ancient-egyptian-demons





Dr. Kasia Szpakowska is Associate Professor of Egyptology at Swansea University, and Director of the Ancient Egyptian Demonology Project: Second Millennium BCE (The Leverhulme Trust). Her research focuses on Ancient Egyptian private religious practices, dreams, gender and the archaeology of magic. She is an avid proponent of interdisciplinary research and digital humanities, and collaborates with engineers, artists, glaciologists and computer scientists. 

Currently she is investigating the role of apotropaic devices such as clay cobra figurines and images of supernatural beings as mechanisms for coping with physical and mental health afflictions Ancient Egyptians believed to have been caused by external demons.

She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa (1987), is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (London), and Vice President of the Friends of the Petrie Museum of Archaeology. Her publications include Daily Life in Ancient Egypt: Reconstructing Lahun and Behind Closed Eyes: Dreams and Nightmares in Ancient Egypt. Her TV work includes National Geographic’s The Egyptian Job and Discovery Kids’ Tutenstein.



*Entrance fees for most lectures are $10 for the general public, $7 for Penn Museum members and UPenn Staff & Faculty, $5 for Students with ID, and FREE for ARCE-PA members and children under 12 (Unless otherwise stated)

*Please note: ARCE-PA does not sell tickets for the monthly lectures. All entry fees will be taken at the door of the lecture venue at the ARCE-PA table (unless otherwise stated). 

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Save the Date for Our Fall 2016 Lectures!

October 15, 2016
Dr. Emily Teeter

Egyptologist, Research Associate and Coordinator of Special Exhibits at the Oriental Institute
"Crafts and Consumerism in Predynastic Egypt"

November 5, 2016
3:30 PM. Classroom 2, Penn Museum

Dr. Renée Friedman
Director, Hierakonpolis Expedition
"Fit for a King: Recent Discoveries in Predynastic Hierakonpolis, Egypt’s First Capital."


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