Katharina Zinn

Dr Katharina Zinn Ph.D, M.A

Senior Lecturer in Egyptian Archaeology and Heritage

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

  • Senior Lecturer in Egyptian Archaeology and Heritage
  • Programme Director BA Archaeology of Egypt and the Near East
  • Admissions Tutor: BA Archaeology of Egypt and the Near East, BA Ancient Civilizations, BA Ancient History and Archaeology
  • Coordinator of the project “Egyptian Artefacts from Cyfarthfa Castle Museums and Art Gallery”, curator of the annual temporary exhibitions
  • Senior Fellow of the HEA
  • Dr. phil. in Egyptology, University of Leipzig (Germany), 2008
  • M.A. in Egyptology – Egyptology (major), Communication- / Media-Sciences, and Economy, University of Leipzig (Germany), 1998
  • BA Library and Information Science, Leipzig University of Applied Science (Germany), 1993
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA)
  • American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR)
  • Egypt Exploration Society (EES)
  • International Council Of Museums (ICOM): with voting membership to CIPEG
  • Chartered Institution for Information Professionals (CILIP)

I am a Senior Lecturer for Egyptian Archaeology and Heritage, having previously taught years as Lecturer for Egyptology at Swansea University, Affiliated Lecturer and College Supervisor at Cambridge University as well as at the University of Leipzig, Germany.

My teaching is research-led and focuses on the materiality of the Egyptian culture with 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 neighboring countries. Furthermore, I gave language classes on Middle and Late Egyptian. I am also very active in covering the areas of museum, libraries and archives as part of heritage.


My current PhD student is working on “The Symbolism of the Rosette in Egypt, the Aegean and the East”.


I am responsible for the pathway Museums and Archives within the MA Heritage Practice offering the following modules:

Exhibiting the Past: Museums, Collections and Heritage: This course makes students acquainted with past (since ancient times) and present museums in the UK and world-wide, their organisational and financial structures, and issues and techniques associated with museum management, as well as the necessary practical knowledge and skills how to plan and set up exhibitions (convener).

Documenting the Past: Archives, Libraries and Heritage: Here, I provide students with an historical foundation for understanding contemporary record-keeping practices and give an introduction to the nature of records and archives; a practical overview of record-keeping practices. This is mainly seen under the aspect how the work of archives and libraries are interlinked with the heritage sector (convener).

I also contribute to the MA in Ancient Religions and convene the modules

Ancient Egyptian Religious Beliefs: This module provides an in-depth understanding of the theory and practice of ancient Egyptian religion and magic using adequate case studies in the comparative subject of ancient religions (convener).

Akhenaten and Amarna: Religion, culture and people: The module discusses the contradictory or controversial debate of this particular Egyptian henotheistic movement and provides knowledge of the religious changes during the Amarna Period in the historical context of the Egyptian New Kingdom (convener).

I am supervising MA research on Egyptian religion and art as well as heritage and museums.

From the academic year 2016/17 onwards, I will contribute also level 7 within the new MArch, Mediterranean Pathway (Integrated MA).


Funerary Beliefs of Ancient Egypt: This module applies theoretical approaches to religious beliefs, funerary ideas, agency, and ritual performance to a series of case studies from ancient Egypt and investigates hitherto unresearched Egyptian objects from Cyfarthfa Castle, Merthyr Tydfil (convener).


Ancient Civilisations: Comparative Analysis and Critical Perspectives: This innovative module develops comparative analytical and research skills by exploring the concepts of civilisation, society and culture as theoretical constructs and their application to specific examples. (co-taught, convener)

Hieroglyphs, Text and Society: This module examines the origins of writing and impact of literacy on communities of the Bronze Age Near East and Aegean. I am focusing on an introduction to Egyptian hieroglyphs looking at the offering formula. (co-taught)

Connected Worlds: Exploring Interactions between Egypt, the Aegean and the East: In this module students are introduced to theoretical perspectives of cultural contact and exchange. I am providing the case studies for Egypt. (co-taught)


What makes civilisations?

Pharaohs, Phoenicians and Peoples of the Sea: An introduction to the archaeology of the East Mediterranean, looking at a range of Bronze and Early Iron cultures from the region where I am covering Egypt and Nubia. (co-taught, convener)

I am also responsible for the weekly tutorials for students of the BA Archaeology of Egypt and the Near East and Ancient Civilisation with in the Study Skills Module (AHSK4001).

Material Culture /Museology and Egyptology:

  • Object biographies – Narratives of material culture
  • Heritage and identity (tangible / intangible heritage)
  • The Egyptian Collection of the Cyfarthfa Castle, Merthyr Tydfil (Wales) – Cooperation with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David
  • Knowledge, memory studies and wisdom
  • Libraries and Archives in Ancient Egypt
  • Anthropology and Egyptology – Ancient civilisations

I see myself as having broad historical, cultural, and religious research interests that cross disciplines and time periods, having been trained in Egyptology, as a media-historian, and librarian. This is combined with a long-standing interest in interdisciplinary and comparative approaches to cultural phenomena, especially those of ancient Egypt. Knowledge and its rootedness in society is an area that I am keen to expand. I am applying methodologies influenced by Egyptology, archaeology, anthropology, museology and media studies.

Besides my ability to use a wide range of textual sources, I am especially interested in ancient representations and the anthropology of art, archaeology and material culture, mainly focusing on museum environments with several stints and projects in the Ägyptisches Museum der Universität Leipzig, the Roemer- und Pelizaeus-Museum Hildesheim, the Princeton University Art Museum (Department of Ancient Art), the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge as well as the Egypt Center, Swansea. At the moment, I am acting as Associate Curator for the Egyptian Collection, Cyfarthfa Castle Museum, Merthyr Tydfil.

This collection was the starting point to go beyond Egyptological aspects of material culture and research a second life and additional identities objects can acquire in a new environments spread over time and space. In which way are getting these objects entangled, do they create or participate in different identities in new cultural contexts? This functioned in intercultural and interconnective contexts within the ancient world, but is this also possible when transferring ancient objects into modern worlds when tangible ancient heritage might inspire modern intangible heritage. This ideas are currently presented at national seminar series (UWTSD, Swansea University) and international conferences (ASOR Annual Meetings in San Diego and Atlanta 2014 and 2015, International Congress of Egyptologists 2015, Workshop on Preserving Egypt's Cultural Heritage: Mitigating Threats for a Sustainable Future in Cairo 2015).

This interdisciplinarity has also resulted most recently in two follow up workshops on Embodied Encounters: Exploring the Materialities of Food ‘Stuffs’ in May 2014 and January 2015 (co-organised with Dr Emma-Jayne Abbots and Dr Louise Steel) and a publication of an edited volume of papers given at the first of these workshops (co-edited with Dr. Louise Steel). 

Curated exhibitions

June 2015: ‘Six feet under? Funerary aspects of Egyptian culture’ (in preparation)

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

Professional Expertise in museums

October 2006 – July 2010:

Research Volunteer in the Egyptian section of the Antiquities Department, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Project: Scarabs in the Fitzwilliam Museum

July 2005 – September 2010:

Curatorial Research Associate in Egyptian Art in the Department of Ancient Art of the Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ (USA).

February 2005 – June 2005:

Research Assistant in the Department of Ancient Art of the Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ (USA).

October 2000 – March 2001:

Research Associate, University of Leipzig, Ägyptisches Museum

October 1997:

Freelance research associate at the Educational Department of the Roemer- und Pelizaeus-Museum Hildesheim/Germany.

February 1997 – March 1997:

Temporary employee, University of Leipzig, Ägyptisches Museum (Museum Education)

February 1996, August 1994:

Student research assistant, University of Leipzig, Ägyptisches Museum

June 2011–present:

  • Associate Curator for the Egyptian Collection of Cyfarthfa Castle Museums and Art Gallery, Merthyr Tydfil
  • 2013–2015 Subject advisor (museum studies) at the LAMPETER MUSEUM body

Commissioned and in preparation:

Women in Amarna. In: S. Budin, J. Turfa (eds.). Women in Antiquity: Real Women Across the Ancient World. London: Routledge, 2016 or 2017.

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, 2016.

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”: Symbolic Consumption and Embodiment(s). London: Routledge, 2016. 

Edited Volumes (with L. Steel)

Exploring the Materiality of Food "Stuffs": Symbolic Consumption and Embodiment(s). London: Routledge. (scheduled publication 2016)

Published Articles (selected)

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

Libraries, Pharaonic Egypt; Magic, Pharaonic Egypt; Literacy, Pharaonic Egypt; Khepry; Education, Pharaonic Egypt; Cults: divine. All in: Encyclopedia of Ancient World, ed. by R. Bagnall, et.al. Oxford: Blackwell, 2012.

Temples, Palaces and Libraries – a search for their alliance between archaeological and textual evidence. In: Fifth Symposium on Egyptian Royal Ideology: Palace and Temple – Architecture, Decoration, Ritual, ed. by K. Spence and R. Gundlach. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2011. 181-202.

Altägyptische Tempelbibliotheken. In: Die Bibliothek des Weissen Klosters: Leben und Lesen in frühchrist-lichen Ägypten: Katalog zur Ausstellung im Papyrusmuseum der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek Wien. Wien: Phoibos, 2008. 81-91.

Libraries, Archives, and the Organization of Collective Wisdom in Ancient Egypt. In: Proceedings of the VIIth Current Research in Egyptology Symposium, ed. by M. Cannata. Oxford: Oxbow, 2007. 169-176.


  • Confucius Institute, UWTSD - Exhibition: Foodstuffs: the perception of food in Ancient Egypt, China and Wales, 2014: £900
  • Wenner Gren Foundation – International conference “FoodStuffs”, UWTSD (co-organised by Dr E-J. Abbotts, Dr L. Steel and Dr K. Zinn), 2013-2015 : $19,928.
  • Confucius Institute, UWTSD - Exhibition: Creation of the exhibition: History, Politics and Kingship in China and Ancient Egypt, 2013: £400
  • Mulvey Fund, University of Cambridge – Travel Grant: museum project on scarabs in the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge), 2012: £350
  • Mulvey Fund, University of Cambridge – Travel Grant: museum project in Princeton University Art Museum (Lisht Material), 2010: £800

Examination of Research Degrees

  • PhDs: Swansea University (2013 and 2014)

Contribution to programme validation (internal and external)

2015 External Examiner in validation of the programme ‘Postgraduate Certificate in Heritage and Public History in collaboration with the Black Country Living Museum,’ Newman University in Birmingham

2011–2014 Internal team leader or team member of validation panels for new MA, MRes and BA programmes (MA Heritage practice, MA Engaged Anthropology, MRes Heritage and Archaeology, BA Ancient Civilisations, BA Archaeology of Egypt and the Near East, BA Heritage)

Keynote lectures (since 2005)

“Bibliotheken, Archive und Erinnerungskultur im Alten Ägypten“. Annual conference of the Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Orientalische Altertumswissenschaft „Bibliotheken im Altertum“, Bern, 5-6 March 2011. 

Invited Speaker - Conference and Seminar Papers (selected since 2005)

“From being an overseer of cattle in Egypt to shaping Welsh identity: tangible objects and their biographies as medium of intangible heritage”, ASOR Annual Meeting November 2015, Atlanta, workshop: “Object Biography for Archaeologists II: The Object as Magnet - Year Two of a continuing investigation”.

“Object Biographies and Political Expectations: Egyptian Artefacts, Welsh Heritage and the Regional Community Museum”, International Congress of Egyptologists (ICE) XI Florence, 29 August 2015, Session: Museums and Collections

“Nefertiti - a women of her time or a timeless women? Aspects of gender in ancient Egypt and its modern reception.” Research Seminar of the School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology: “New Research of the School of AHA”, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Lampeter, 03 December 2014 and Egypt Centre Research Seminar Series, 03 March 2015.

 “Isis, Horus and Osiris - a Divine Family in Wales? Object biographies of un-provenanced Egyptian artefacts OR How to create a narrative of objects in the Egyptian collection of Cyfarthfa Castle Museum, Merthyr Tydfil”, ASOR Annual Meeting 20 November 2014, San Diego; Workshop: “Object Biography for Archaeologists: A Practical Workshop”

“Creation and Conservation of Sacred Landscapes: Amarna and Abydos - keeping the spirit alive?”, conference: Sacred Landscapes: Creation, Transformation and Manipulation, Lampeter, 6 May 2014, Panel 4: Sacred landscapes, identity and territorial organisation

 “How to deal with (stylised) bugs? Ancient Egyptian scarabs as material culture and textual evidence”.  Conference: “Diwylliant Pethau: the Culture of Things”. University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Lampeter, 25 May 2011.

“Bibliotheken, Archive und Erinnerungskultur im Alten Ägypten“. Annual conference of the Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Orientalische Altertumswissenschaft „Bibliotheken im Altertum“, Bern, 5-6 March 2011.

“Amun in Cambridge?  Cryptographic Writings, Secondary Archaeology in Museums and the Problem of Faked Objects”. Egypt Centre, Swansea, 17 October 2010.

“Temples, Palaces and Libraries – a search for their alliance between archaeological and textual evidence”. Fifth Symposium on Egyptian Royal Ideology, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research (Cambridge), Cambridge 15–18th of July 2007.

“Cultural memory and the organization of collective wisdom in Ancient Egypt”. Egyptian World Seminar Series, Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Cambridge, 7 March 2007.

“Libraries, archives, and the organization of collective wisdom in Ancient Egypt”. 7th CRE 2006, University of Oxford, 7April 2006.