Katharina Zinn

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Dr Katharina Zinn Ph.D, M.A

Associate Professor in Egyptian Archaeology and Heritage

Tel: 01570-424929
E-mail: k.zinn@uwtsd.ac.uk



  • Associate Professor in Egyptian Archaeology and Heritage
  • Institute Manager of Research Degrees, Institute of Education and Humanities
  • Board of the Doctoral College
  • Institute Member of the Research Degrees Committee
  • Deputy Chair of the Admission Sub-Committee to RDC (ASC)
  • Director of Studies and supervisor for MRes, PhD and ProfDoc students in the areas of heritage, museum studies, Egyptology, archaeology and literacy
  • Mentor to applicants in the HEA Fellowship Scheme (F, SF)

My teaching and research interests lie in the areas of material culture and materiality, as well as heritage in its social and cultural aspects with special focus on museums and public engagement. I also cover identity and memory (historically and contemporary), religion, art and gender, using ancient Egypt as the civilisation which provides most of my case studies, and trace the modern reception of the past. I am also interested in literacy as social phenomenon.

I studied Library Science, followed by Egyptology, Media Science and Business at Leipzig University, Germany where I also did my PhD in Egyptology. In addition to the HE sector, I worked in libraries and museums in Germany, Egypt, USA and UK.

In 2006 I moved to the UK and taught Egyptology, archaeology and heritage at Cambridge University, Swansea University and UWTSD.

In addition to research and teaching, I have taken on several external roles. I am currently Chair of the Collection Committee of the Egypt Exploration Society and Member of the AHRC Review College. 

  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA)
  • Egypt Exploration Society (EES)
  • International Council Of Museums (ICOM): with voting membership to CIPEG (International Committee for Egyptology)
  • IAE (International Association of Egyptologists)
  • EES (Egypt Exploration Society)
  • SMA (Society of Museum Archaeology)

My teaching and research interests lie in the areas of material culture and its representation in museums, as well as heritage in its social and cultural contexts with special focus on museums and public engagement. I also cover identity and memory (historically and contemporary), religion, art and gender, using ancient Egypt as the civilisation which provides most of my case studies. I also trace the modern reception of the past. A large part of both of my teaching and research is focused on decolonising Egyptology, especially unpacking collections.

My current research project deals with narratives of tangible and intangible heritage based on object biographies of un-provenanced and forgotten museum objects. This project developed out of my current additional position as Associated Curator of the Oriental Collection of Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Merthyr Tydfil as well as several voluntary, curatorial or research positions in different museums previously.

I am combining student research (undergraduate and graduate level) with my own research agenda and curate an annual exhibition with objects from Cyfarthfa Castle including independent student research led by myself.

My teaching is research-led and focuses on the materiality of the Egyptian culture with an emphasis on art, religion and identity as well as theoretically informed interpretations of heritage and cultural memory. I am also looking at the feasibility of applications of anthropological theories and concepts to ancient cultures. My courses are covering ancient Egyptian religion, history and social history, art and architecture as well as interconnections with neighbouring countries. Furthermore, I give language classes on Middle Egyptian (hieroglyphs). I am also very active in covering the areas of museum, libraries and archives as part of heritage.

I currently supervise research students (MRes, PhD, ProfDoc) in the areas of Egyptology, heritage and museum studies.

I teach several module covering foundation studies, undergraduate and postgraduate modules.

  • Material Culture /Museology and Egyptology
  • The Egyptian Collection of the Cyfarthfa Castle, Merthyr Tydfil (Wales) – Cooperation with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David
  • Theoretically informed approaches to materiality and heritage
    • Heritage and identity (tangible/intangible heritage, cultural heritage)
    • Object biographies – Narratives of material culture
    • Lost / forgotten / unloved objects
    • Provenanced – unprovenanced objects
  • Anthropology of the Past: Anthropology, Egyptology and Ancient China – comparative aspects of Ancient Civilisations:
    • Art
    • (Non-)Materiality, New Materialism
    • Religion and Spirituality, Sacred Landscapes
    • Gender
    • Identity
    • Sensuality
    • FoodStuffs
  • Transmission of Knowledge and Aspects of Memory
    • Cultural Memory and Memory studies
    • Literacy as a cultural phenomenon
    • Libraries and Archives in Ancient Egypt
    • Knowledge and Wisdom in Ancient Egypt

My expertise falls into the following categories:

  • Egyptology: religion, gender, heritage, literacy, art
  • Museum studies: representations of the past, pop-up exhibitions, alternative (non-)academic narratives, object biographies, public engagement
  • Heritage: tangible and intangible cultural heritage, identity, decolonising heritage

I invite declarations of interest to supervise research students in these areas.

  • Trustee of the Egypt Exploration Society
  • Chair of the Collection Committee of the Egypt Exploration Society
  • Associate Curator for the Egyptian Collection of Cyfarthfa Castle Museums and Art Gallery, Merthyr Tydfil
  • Member of the Advisory Panel of Scarborough Museum Trust
  • Lead of the long-term project “The Oriental Collection of Cyfarthfa Castle Museums and Art Gallery”
  • Curator of annual temporary pop-up exhibitions (including the “Museum of Lies” project) with outreach and public engagement programme

Curated exhibitions

autumn 20210: Opening up the storage rooms together – The Egyptian Collection of Cyfarthfa Castle and the joined project with UWTSD, Cyfarthfa Castle Museum, Merthyr Tydfil (Yellow Room)

May – June 2022: Gendered Lives in Ancient Egypt – strong men, beautiful women? – UWTSD – including the Museum of Lies project

May 2019: Beyond the tomb? Ancient Egyptian Artefact from Cyfarthfa Castle Museum – UWTSD – including the Museum of Lies project

May – June 2018: "I have flown up in primeval time" – Ancient Egyptian Funerary Beliefs– UWTSD – including the Museum of Lies project

June 2017: The Materiality of the Ancient Egyptian Afterlife – UWTSD – including the Museum of Lies project

April – June 2017: Egyptomania – The Harry Hartley Southey Collection at Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Cyfarthfa Castle Museum, Merthyr Tydfil (New Gallery) (co-curated)

June 2016: Six feet under? Funerary aspects of Egyptian culture, UWTSD

May 2014: FoodStuffs – Food in time and space: Egypt – China – Wales - UWTSD

July 2013: “History, Politics and Kingship: Ancient Egypt and China in Merthyr Tydfill” - Roderic Bowen Libraries and Archive, Lampeter

June 2012: Scarabs and Dragons – A taste of Ancient Egypt in Lampeter – Roderic Bowen Libraries and Archive, Lampeter

Edited volumes

L. Steel, K. Zinn (eds.). Exploring the materiality of Food 'Stuffs': Transformations, symbolic consumption and embodiments. London: Routledge, 2017.

Jansen, T. Chinaliteratur in der Universitätsbibliothek Leipzig (1500-1939). Eine systematische Bibliographie [Books on China in the Leipzig University Library (1500-1939: A Systematic Bibliography]. Teil 1: Werke in westlichen Sprachen [Works in Western Languages]. With the collaboration of G. Schlesinger, R. Teschke and K. Zinn. Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 2003.

Articles and book chapters (Selection)

Creation and conservation of Sacred Landscapes: Amarna and Abydos – keeping the spirit alive? In: R. Haeussler, E.M. Betts, G. F. Chiai (eds.). Sacred Landscapes: Creation, Manipulation & Transformation. Oxford: Oxbow, 2020. 297-310.

The Museum of Lies: Incorrect facts or advancing knowledge of ancient Egypt? Journal of History and Cultures (2019) – Special Issue 10: Myth and Magic: Interdisciplinary Readings of the Reception of Ancient Egypt. 165-190. Available online  https://historyandcultures.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/journal-of-history-and-cultures-issue-10-nov-2019.pdf

Dance. In: L. Sabbahi (ed.). All Things Ancient Egypt: An Encyclopedia of the Ancient Egyptian World. Santa Barbara, Ca.: ABC-Clio, 2019; 119-123.

Libraries. In: L. Sabbahi (ed.). All Things Ancient Egypt: An Encyclopedia of the Ancient Egyptian World. Santa Barbara, Ca.: ABC-Clio, 2019; 307-311.

Scarab. In: L. Sabbahi (ed.). All Things Ancient Egypt: An Encyclopedia of the Ancient Egyptian World. Santa Barbara, Ca.: ABC-Clio, 2019; 463-465.

Literacy in Pharaonic Egypt: Orality and Literacy between Agency and Memory. In: A. Kolb (ed.). Literacy in Ancient Everyday Life - Schriftlichkeit im antiken Alltag. Berlin, Boston: De Guyter, 2018, 67-98.

Did you sleep well on your headrest? – Anthropological Perspectives on an Ancient Egyptian Implement. Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections 17(2018), 202–219.

Object Biographies and Political Expectations: Egyptian Artefacts, Welsh Heritage and the Regional Community Museum. In: G. Rosati and M.C. Guidotti (eds.). Proceedings of the 11th International Congress of Egyptologists, Florence, Italy 23-30 August 2015. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2017, 693-700.

Introduction: Exploring the materiality of Food 'Stuffs': Transformations, symbolic consumption and embodiments (together with L. Steel). In: L. Steel, K. Zinn (eds.). Exploring the materiality of Food 'Stuffs': Transformations, symbolic consumption and embodiments. London: Routledge, 2017, 1-11.

Lacklustre offering plates? Symbolic Food Consumption, Ritual, and Representations in ancient Egyptian funerary culture. In: L. Steel, K. Zinn (eds.). Exploring the materiality of Food 'Stuffs': Transformations, symbolic consumption and embodiments. London: Routledge, 2017, 205-225.

Women in Amarna: legendary royals, forgotten elite, unknown populace? In: S. Budin, J. Turfa (eds.). Women in antiquity: Real women across the Ancient World. London: Routledge, 2016, 255-275.

Shaping Welsh identity? – Egyptian Objects and Intangible Heritage. The Ancient Near East Today 4(2016)6. Available online http://asorblog.org/2016/06/08/11977/

Nofretete – eine Königin ihrer Zeit? In: M. Eldamaty, F. Hoffmann, M. Minas-Nerpel (eds.) Königinnen in Ägypten,. Vaterstetten: Brose, 2015, 27-67.

  • For more, please see https://lamp.academia.edu/KatharinaZinn
  • Beyond the tomb? Ancient Egyptian Artefact from Cyfarthfa Castle Museum – Lampeter: UWTSD, 2019.
  • "I have flown up in premieval time" – Ancient Egyptian Funerary Beliefs. Lampeter: UWTSD, 2018.
  • The Materiality of the Ancient Egyptian Afterlife. Lampeter: UWTSD, 2017.
  • Six feet under? Funerary aspects of Egyptian culture. Lampeter: UWTSD, 2016.
  • FoodStuffs – Food in time and space: Egypt – China – Wales. Lampeter: UWTSD, 2014.
  • History, Politics and Kingship: Ancient Egypt and China in Merthyr Tydfill. Lampeter: UWTSD, 2013.
  • Scarabs and Dragons: A taste of Ancient Egypt in Lampeter. Lampeter: UWTSD, 2012.

Exhibition catalogues (edited):

Project videos / Recordings of conference papers (available online)

2018. Into the Light – Art as a Creative Way to Deal with Egyptological & Archaeological Frontiers – Recording of Conference Paper, shared with artist Julie Davis (TAG Chester) https://youtu.be/SukpHT2VPSA

2018. The Museum of Lies – Interview with artist Julie Davis. Project Video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vz5yxPYPTU8&feature=youtu.be

  1. Narratives Against Forgetting: The archaeology of unloved objects. Recording of conference paper (TAG Cardiff). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxC-_6UG1bc&feature=youtu.be
  2. Bringing objects to life – the collaborative project between UWTSD, Faculty of Humanities and Performing Arts and Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Merthyr Tydfil. Project Video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ix6168O8TjE

In preparation

Monograph

Objects and Identity: “un-loved” cultural heritage in museums. (working title).

 Additional Information

Peer review

  • AHRC Peer Review College (academic and international) for Heritage, Archaeology and Egyptology
  • External Examiner MA Archaeology and Heritage Practice, MSc Sustainable Heritage Practice / Museums Practice, Chester University
  • External Examiner and Language Assessor for Egyptology, Cambridge University, Faculty of Human, Social and Political Science, Department of Archaeology

Research degrees examined:

4 research degrees theses examined for universities in the UK

Grants and funding:

2021- 2024 CI AHRC funded project Green Conservation of Cultural Heritage in Egypt (PI Prof S. Sreenivasaprasad, University of Bedfordshire), https://app.dimensions.ai/details/grant/grant.8673552

2017: European Association for Chinese Studies (EACS) grant (£1,500) for Summer School "Hidden in Plain Sight: Materiality, Meaning and Accessibility of Chinese Objects in Local Collections", UWTSD, 4-8/09/2017 (co-organised by T. Jansen, K. Zinn).

2017: UWTSD Research Assistance Grants (Individual Research Scheme): project “Egyptology and Anthropology”

2016: UWTSD Research Assistance Grants (Individual Research Scheme): project “The Oriental collection of Harry Hartley Southey” in the Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Merthyr Tydfil

2015: Grant for workshop participation, AHRC: Workshop: Preserving Egypt's Cultural Heritage: Mitigating Threats for a Sustainable Future, Cairo

2014: Exhibition Grant, Confucius Institute, UWTSD: Exhibition: Foodstuffs: the perception of food in Ancient Egypt, China and Wales

2013/14: Conference Grant, Wenner Gren Foundation: International conference “FoodStuffs”, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Lampeter Campus (co-organised by Dr E-J. Abbotts -PI, Dr L. Steel and Dr K. Zinn – both CI, $19,892)

2012/13: Exhibition Grant, Confucius Institute, UWTSD: Creation of the exhibition: History, Politics and Kingship in China and Ancient Egypt

2010/2011: Travel Grant, Mulvey Fund, University of Cambridge for museum project on scarabs in the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge

2009/2010: Travel Grant, Mulvey Fund, the University of Cambridge for museum project in Princeton (Lisht Material)

Conferences, panels, workshops and seminar series organised/convened (with granted funding)

  • 2017: Hidden in Plain Sight: Materiality, Meaning and Accessibility of Chinese Objects in Local Collections 04-08/09/2017: EACS (European Association of Chinese Studies) workshop; University of Wales Trinity Saint David – co-organiser
  • 2017: The Wales Nexus Conference, Symposium 9: “No, I cannot give you ready answers”: Students as researchers in embedded teaching, University of Wales Trinity Saint David (Swansea), 03-05/05/2017 - organiser
  • 2015: Embodied Encounters: Exploring the Materialities of FoodStuffs (2), 20–21/01/2015, University of Wales Trinity Saint David (Lampeter) – co-organiser
  • 2014: FoodStuffs: Exploring the Materialities of Foods, their Artefacts and their Environments, international conference, University of Wales Trinity St David (Lampeter), 19-23/05/2014 – co-organiser
  • 2011 – 2012: Research Seminar of the School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology, University of Wales Trinity Saint David: Experiencing Spaces: the Sacred and the Profane – organiser
  • 2008 – 2010: Egyptian World Seminars, McDonald Institute for Archaeology, Cambridge – co-organiser

Invited lectures (selection of the last 5 years)

  • Collective literacy, knowledge systems and memory: blurring the lines between orality and literacy in ancient Egypt. Conference: Exchange of knowledge between literate cultures (Copenhagen, 19-21/07/2021)
  • When Nefertiti met the dinosaurs on a spaceship: alternate histories as comfortable middle ground for present discourses. Conference: Do Ancient Egyptians dream of electric sheep: The reception of Ancient Egypt in Science Fiction (Zoom / YouTube, 9-10/07/2021, live presentation 09/07/2021)
  • Museum of Lies: Alternative Narratives of Ancient Egyptian Objects. Talk, North East Ancient Egypt Society (NEAESoc) (Zoom, 22/05/2021)
  • Nefertiti as a religious icon – UWTSD Research Seminar Series on Religion. 27/10/2020
  • Tell tall tales? The Museum of Lies as collection of alternative narratives of Egyptian objects. EES Online Lecture. 05/05/2020 and 09/06/2020
  • Night, night! Sleeping tight on an ancient Egyptian headrest? EES Online Lecture. 05/05/2020 and 18/06/2020
  • Hopp, hopp, hopp – Into the Light?! The Museum of Lies as contribution to a discourse-framework about the emotional power of objects and storytelling. Research seminar: Past peoples – Present Worlds 20/11/2019, UETSD, Institute of Education and Humanities
  • Representing Women(hood)? Thinking about the corporeality, abstractness and functionality of the so-called paddle dolls and truncated female figurines; Women in Ancient Egypt: Current Research and Historical Trends, The American University in Cairo, 31/10-02/11/2019
  • So much choice for a good sleep: Headrests at the Egypt Centre, Swansea; Wonderful Things: The Material Culture of The Egypt Centre, Swansea (Conference to celebrate 20 years Egypt Centre), Swansea University 25-26/05/2019
  • Narrating the Extra, the Ordinary has: “Re-excavating” objects in storage rooms of local museums as part of an archaeology of unloved objects, Egyptological Workshop "Excavating the Extra-Ordinary - Challenges & merits of working with small finds" – Johann Gutenberg Universität Mainz, 08-09/04/2019
  • The corporeality of representations: models, patterns or beauty? Oxford Seminar Series – Ancient Near East and Egyptology, Oxford University, Oriental Institute, 06/02/2019
  • “Into the Light” – art as creative way to deal with Egyptological and archaeological frontiers within the Museum of Lies (co-presented with artist Julie Davis), TAG Chester 17-19/12/2018, Session: Creative Frontiers (including conference exhibition Creative Frontiers – with Erin Kavanagh)
  • Thinking about Materialities and Identities – how to approach unprovenanced objects; The Fourth British Egyptology Congress, 7th-9th September 2018, University of Manchester
  • Pop up or pop down to beat oblivion? – Reinvigorating dormant Egyptian collections outside and within non-Egyptian regional museums; Beating Barriers! Overcoming Obstacles to Achievement – CIPEG Annual meeting: The Egypt Centre – Swansea: 4th –7th 2018
  • Playing around with a few of your favourite things – forgotten Egyptian objects, lost provenance and the Museum of Lies; DISPLAYING EGYPT – Annual Egyptological Colloquium 2018 – British Museum, London, 19-20/07/2018 (poster presentation)
  • The Museum of Lies OR Evolving knowledge of ancient Egypt in the making; Tea with the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt and the Modern Imagination - 2018 Conference, Birmingham 28-30/06/2018
  • “Globalise or de-globalise, that is the question” – The problem of becoming Egyptian in pharaonic Egypt; Re-Thinking Globalisation in the Ancient World / Ailfeddwl Globaleiddio yn yr Hen Fyd, Lampeter, 09/05/2018
  • Did you sleep well? – the body, the senses and the ancient Egyptian headrest; SAA 83rd Annual Meeting of the Society of American Archaeologists, Washington (DC), 14/04/2018
  • Narratives against Forgetting: The Archaeology of unloved objects; Theoretical Archaeology Group Conference – TAG Cardiff 2017, panel: Archaeology of Forgetting, Cardiff University, 18-20/12/2017
  • Writing Object Biographies – Connecting tangible Egyptian objects with their audiences to create intangible heritage; Hidden in Plain Sight: Materiality, Meaning and Accessibility of Chinese Objects in Local Collections - EACS (European Association of Chinese Studies) workshop, Lampeter 04-08/09/2017
  • Sleeping hard on your headrest? – Egyptian objects under the lens of New Materialism; LADY WALLIS BUDGE SYMPOSIUM 2017: Egyptology and Anthropology – Historiography, theoretical exchange, and conceptual development, Christ’s College and the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research (University of Cambridge), 25–26/07/2017
  • Nefertiti – bad queen, potential king, divine goddess? A real woman in the mythical representation of her time and the legendary modern interpretation; Gregynog Conference 2017: Good Queens & Bad Queens: Royal Women in Antiquity and Beyond, 18-19 May 2017
  • The Egyptian collection of Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery: a cooperative project to connect tangible Egyptian objects with their audiences; MUPI (Museum – University-Partnership-Initiative) symposium, London, 14 March 2017 (discussed case study after poster presentation)
  • “And what is this scrap of wood…” OR How did the god lose his beard? – Connecting tangible Egyptian objects with their audiences to create intangible heritage, AHRC ECR-Conference: Past matters, Research futures, London, Royal Society, 12-13 December 2016
  • Literacy in pharaonic Egypt?, Konferenz: Literacy in ancient everyday life - Schriftlichkeit im antiken Alltag Zürich 10-12. November 2016, panel: Globale Perspektiven, 10 November 2016
  • Creation and conservation of Sacred Landscapes: two case studies from Ancient Egypt, Beijing Union University, 03/11/2016
  • Tangible objects in museums and their biographies as medium of intangible heritage – the case study of the “oriental” collection of Hartley Harry Southey in the Cyfarthfa Museum, Merthyr Tydfil, Beijing Union University, 01/11/2016
  • The small museum in the park and shaping local identity: The cultural heritage of tangible objects and their intangible biographies. Heritage Conference: The historical and cultural heritage of the Three Hills and Five Parks: Value and Function, Beijing, 31/10/2016
  • Whose heritage? – Forgotten Egyptian objects and re-imagining identity - examples from the regional Welsh community museum and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo; Challenging History conference, Cardiff University and Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales, 29-30 June 2016