Ancient Egypt: Drama, Spectacle and Remarkable Characters

Kara Cooney
Kara Cooney

Kara Cooney is an Egyptologist and Professor at UCLA. In 2002, she was Kress Fellow at the National Gallery of Art and worked on the Cairo Museum exhibition “Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt.” In 2005, she acted as fellow curator for Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs at the LA County Museum of Art. She also worked on two Discovery Channel documentary series: “Out of Egypt” and “Egypt’s Lost Queen.”


June 29, 2022, 4:00 pm

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Encore Presentation

(Includes Live Professor Q & A!)


Why is ancient Egypt so compelling to us today? Why do we care so much about the gold, the pyramids, the hieroglyphic script, the mummies, and the extraordinary leaders like Nefertiti, Ramses, and Hatshepsut, people who flourished so many thousands of years ago? This remarkable new class will examine how Egypt is utterly unique on this planet, a protected realm full of riches beyond reckoning and agricultural resources that allowed an unassailable divine kingship to develop. We will examine the spectacle of monumental statuary, of pyramids, of coffins made of hundreds of pounds of solid gold, and of granite and sandstone pillared halls – the supports of a totalitarian regime with a veritable God-King at the helm. We will ask why the ancient Egyptians preserved so many bodies, carefully embalming the wealthy and elite into mummies, while preserving so little of the private information from their minds. Ancient Egypt remains for us a place of mystery, fascination, and contradictions, but if we pierce the carefully woven veil before our eyes, we can also see the humanity of these extraordinary people.


Recommended Reading:

The Good Kings: Absolute Power in Ancient Egypt and the Modern World, by Kara Cooney

The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Egypt, by Bill Manley

The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt: The History of a Civilisation from 3000 BC to Cleopatra, by Toby Wilkinson


Discussion Questions:

1)    Do you think the Egyptians were “just like us,” or were ancient people vastly different?

2)    Do you think Akhenaten invented the world’s first monotheism? What was his purpose with his new religion?

3)    Why do we continue to talk about the Great Pyramids as supernatural?





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