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University of Pennsylvania

Introduction to Ancient Egypt and Its Civilization

University of Pennsylvania via Coursera


Colossal pyramids, imposing temples, golden treasures, enigmatic hieroglyphs, powerful pharaohs, strange gods, and mysterious mummies are features of Ancient Egyptian culture that have fascinated people over the millennia. The Bible refers to its gods, rulers, and pyramids. Neighboring cultures in the ancient Near East and Mediterranean wrote about its god-like kings and its seemingly endless supply of gold. The Greeks and Romans describe aspects of Egypt's culture and history.

As the 19th century began, the Napoleonic campaign in Egypt highlighted the wonders of this ancient land, and public interest soared. Not long after, Champollion deciphered Egypt's hieroglyphs and paved the way for other scholars to reveal that Egyptian texts dealt with medicine, dentistry, veterinary practices, mathematics, literature, and accounting, and many other topics. Then, early in the 20th century, Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun and its fabulous contents. Exhibitions of this treasure a few decades later resulted in the world's first blockbuster, and its revival in the 21st century has kept interest alive.

Join Dr. David Silverman, Professor of Egyptology at Penn, Curator in Charge of the Egyptian Section of the Penn Museum, and curator of the Tutankhamun exhibitions on a guided tour of the mysteries and wonders of this ancient land. He has developed this online course and set it in the galleries of the world famous Penn Museum. He uses many original Egyptian artifacts to illustrate his lectures as he guides students as they make their own discovery of this fascinating culture.


  • Welcome to the Course
    • This module includes a discussion thread to introduce yourself, and suggested readings and resources.
  • History and Chronology
  • The Pharaoh and Kingship
  • Gods and Goddesses
  • The Pyramids and the Sphinx
  • Mummies and Mummification

Taught by

David P. Silverman


4.3 rating, based on 6 Class Central reviews

4.6 rating at Coursera based on 2641 ratings

Start your review of Introduction to Ancient Egypt and Its Civilization

  • Christine Bolduc

    Christine Bolduc completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.

    Great introductory course on a fascinating subject by a very knowledgeable professor. The presentation style is a bit dry but the content is top notch. You get a good overview of the history and culture. Generous sharing of images, excellent support material in the references.
  • Anonymous
    The only concern I have is with the transcripts. The punctuation and spelling are not that great. Needs to be proofread and re-typed. Spelling is HUGELY important when dealing with names and places in Ancient Egypt.
  • Helen Hillier

    Helen Hillier completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    This course is a great introduction to a fascinating chapter of civilisation. Since completing the course I now have the confidence to tackle more in depth texts on Egyptian culture and religion.
  • Dave Rawlings completed this course, spending 5 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    I felt the presentation was somewhat staid and not always well structured. Nevertheless a useful introduction to the subject matter.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    The presentations are not well structured. There are many repetitive elements. It did provide an overview, but was less informative than a nice documentary.
  • Georgakopoulou Vicky

    Georgakopoulou Vicky completed this course.

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