Top 10 Egyptologists to Follow
There is no one criteria that determines whether a given egyptologist, or scholar of antiquity, is in any top 10. Many would have you believe that teaching, published research, or field work should determine one’s professional standing vis-a-vis other academics. In our top 10, the only requirement is being active across social media, stoking interest in Egypt and all things ancient. The first egyptologists were undoubtedly ancient Egyptians, as there are records of Middle Kingdom Egyptian royalty, such as pharaoh Thutmose IV and prince Khaemwaset who restored the Great Sphinx at Giza and various pyramids, statues and tombs of earlier pharaohs. In the modern day, egyptology extends far beyond conservation, and has become extremely technical.
Egyptology as a field of study is fairly temporally circumscribed. Specifically, as a study of history, language, literature, religion, architecture, and art, egyptology is roughly confined to the period of 5000 B.C. to about 400 A.D.
Modern egyptology does not only rely on scholarly research, documentation and field work, but also combines all sorts of imaging and scanning technology, as well as the experimental recreation of ancient artifacts and spaces. It should be noted that Egypt’s famous, and perhaps also infamous, Ministry of State for Antiquities controls excavations in the modern day. By managing permits for digs, the ministry has the power to make or break an egyptologist’s career prospects. Egypt’s public opinion-conscious authorities are often conflicted between allowing the scholars of foreign countries to claim discoveries on Egyptian soil as their own while Egyptian scholars come up short, and putting up the money themselves to fund expeditions. Since digs can take months and require participants to be both paid, housed and fed, the costs are often significant.
Dr. Kara Cooney, USA
1Kara is the most active and most followed egyptologist on social media, and perfect if you want to stay up-to-date on new discoveries, publications, and theories. She also starred in several documentary series, and published a radical account of female pharaoh Hatshepsut’s remarkable reign. A true celebrity in the field.
Dr. Salima Ikram, Egypt
2Salima’s specialty is mummies. Any documentary on the subject is likely to feature her prominently. Her research on animal mummies is especially astounding, as it is alleged anything that moved was fair game for offering-peddling embalmers in the Ptolemaic period. Her work in Egypt’s El Kab site is riveting.
Dr. Kamil Zachert, Poland
3Kamil is part of the Polish archaeological mission in Luxor. He works with the “Cliff Mission”, which is attempting to study the cliffs behind Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple. He is an avid blogger and provides incredible insight on archaeological digs in Luxor and daily life in present-day Egypt.
Dr. Zahi Hawass, Egypt
4Zahi is the most famous Egyptian. His iconic Indiana Jones hat, tv series, and spots in most ancient Egyptian documentaries has made him a living legend. He has a genuine enthusiasm for archaeology, and was once the Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs. Even if you hate his temper and bravado, his work to repatriate stolen antiquities earns him a top spot in any ranking.
Dr. Joann Fletcher, UK
5Joann has appeared in a number of documentaries on queen Cleopatra and Nefertiti, worked to identify mummies, and written extensively on everyday ancient Egyptian lifestyles. Her work on hairstyles, tattoos and the lives of ordinary ancient Egyptians has made the ancient period that much current and relatable.
Dr. Paul Harrison, UK
6A BBC personality, Paul has worked closely with the Past Preservers organization, various magazines, and has published extensively. His work is not just confined to egyptology and his social media posts inform on a variety of subjects, Great Britain included.
Dr. Rita Lucarelli, USA
7Rita’s early specialties were ancient Egyptian funerary religion, but she has since written on a number of subjects. Projects such as 3D imaging of coffins, and theorizing to what extent ancient Egyptians conceived of the supernatural with respect to spirits and demons make her work fascinating.
Dr. Kathleen Martinez, Dominican
8Kathleen works extensively at the dig at Taposiris Magna, a Ptolemaic temple complex West of the city of Alexandria. She’s is famous for her mission to find Cleopatra VII Philopator – the famous queen who allied herself first with Julius Caesar and then with Marc Anthony. The search for the lost Queen’s tomb continues.
Dr. Sarah Parcak, USA
9Sarah’s work in remote sensing technology, dubbed “space archaeology” has revolutionized approaches to excavations in Egypt. Thanks to her work, potential sites can now be identified from high-resolution satellite imagery. Sarah overseas digs in the Fayoum Oasis and the Eastern Delta.
Dr. Christopher Naunton, UK
10Chris is a bit of everything. A broadcaster, publisher, tv personality, and scholar – all at the same time. He has several BBC documentaries in the pipeline and is extensively involved with various organizations promoting the study of ancient Egypt in the United Kingdom.
Although the determinants for the top 10 egyptologists on social media are fluid and variable, the following have distinguished themselves through a combination of riveting writing, superb photography, the thoroughness of their research reportage.
The list is in no way an exhaustive compilation of the top egyptologists out there, but it is a collection of some of the best English-language scholars with a strong focus on sharing their work, opinions, and observations through social media. Should you come across one that is missing from our list, bring it to our attention and we will see if they should be added.
Have we missed one?