Walk Like an Egyptian: talk presented by NELC Student Luiza da Silva

February 24, 2021 | 2:00PM

Walk Like an Egyptian: Understanding Egyptian Art in its Ancient and Modern Contexts with NELC Ph.D Student Luiza Osorio G. da Silva


Animal-headed gods, brightly painted coffins, hieroglyphic writing: most people would immediately recognize these pieces of ancient Egypt. Ever-present in modern museums and popular culture, Egyptian art is frequently sensationalized and simplified in equal measure. It is also really just a piece of ancient Egypt, rather than the whole picture, and in order to properly understand it we must consider it in its original context, divorced from its modern representations. What was the real purpose of Tutankhamun’s mask, and how does its new display in a museum alter its meaning? Were the innumerous statues of gods now exhibited in museums all over the world meant to be seen by wide audiences? What did it mean to “walk like an Egyptian”?

In this talk, we will look through spectacular buildings and objects, some of which will be recognized as “art” more readily than others, while considering how these ancient contexts and materials were connected to ancient Egyptian notions of religion, magic, and power. By approaching these glimmers of the ancient world through the ancient Egyptian perspective, this talk will uncover the complexity and beauty of Egyptian art, and in so doing it will question the biases with which it is approached in the modern world.

Luiza Osorio G. Silva is a PhD student in Egyptian Archaeology at the University of Chicago. Her main research interests include ancient Egyptian kingship and monumentality, including royal legitimization strategies, and the contexts and audiences for art and architecture. She has conducted archaeological fieldwork in Italy, Peru, Brazil, and Jordan, as well as worked with Egyptian collections in several museums, in both curatorial and educator capacities.

This lecture is supported by PATHS, a Mellon-funded initiative that adds professional dimension to the academic training received by UChicago Ph.D. students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences.

Presented by the University of Chicago Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Oak Park Public Library, and the PATHS program at UChicagoGRAD.