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To become an Egyptologist

For those who wish to embrace the Egyptian career, several courses are possible and we want to emphasize from the outset, what will be our leitmotiv, that this job requires to have several strings to his bow.


If today one becomes an Egyptologist - in principle - only after having defended a thesis, one can also approach our discipline with a training of historian, archaeologist, architect, biologist, librarian and we let's move on. For example, a topographer will work on the site of Ayn Soukhna, a palynologist on that of Douch or an architect in the complex of Karnak. We should add that these specialties also have the advantage of being useful on archaeological sites around the world.


 In other words, for high school students who are considering a career in Egyptology, the sector (L, eco or S) chosen for the baccalaureate (general or technological) does not matter. The best is to choose the subjects in which you feel the most comfortable to calmly approach the university course. Small reminder: only general or technological baccalaureates open the doors of the university. Unless you subsequently pass the DAEU (Diploma of access to university studies).



Important detail: learning German and English is a keystone of Egyptological training. Anglo-Saxon and German teams are particularly active. However, too many students are currently faced with a plethora of publications in these languages ​​and it is unfortunate to have to add hours of translation to an already substantial workload in master's or thesis. You cannot go around the obstacle.


To continue on the linguistic question, it is recommended to start learning the Egyptian language - preferably the Egyptian way to start - before being confronted with the research work of a master's thesis. In the land of Champollion, is it necessary to remind people of the importance of language in approaching Egyptian civilization? To do this, French universities and schools with courses in Egyptology (Paris-Sorbonne, Lille 3, Lyon 2, Montpellier III, Strasbourg, École du Louvre) have set up language courses. For example, Paris-Sorbonne offers from the L3 a Middle Egyptian course, doubled as a master of seminars hieratic and sometimes neo-Egyptian, while students from Strasbourg are initiated to all states of language, the ancient Egyptian to Coptic. If you want to anticipate your university course, you can also use private organizations (such asKhufu Institute Paris) or to local associations, which you will find in our section scientific partners ". Obviously, you can also do it on your own, equipped with the grammars that are offered to you on the market (B. Mathieu and P. Grandet, J. Winand and M. Malaise, Cl. Obsomer, the English grammars of JP Allen or, older, AH Gardiner etc.).


Moreover, it is fundamental to participate in a few archaeological sites to gain experience in the field. The merits of the direct relation to the object and the learning of excavation techniques can not be over-praised. It may be possible to consider training in restoration through summer courses. The most diverse baggage is a valuable asset in a sphere where there are few positions for many suitors. It is possible for college students to take advantage of their compulsory internship to discover the universe of libraries for example. We can also get closer to archaeological institutions like theINRAP  or private archeology companies to get started.


As for the university curriculum, the royal route, different institutions provide training in Egyptology.


In order to forge a solid working method, students are strongly advised to undertake a preparatory class for the grandes écoles (CPGE), at the end of which they will take the competitive examination for the École normale supérieure (ENS Lyon or Ulm ) or the School of Charters. At the same time as the CPGE, students can register in cumulative - that is to say, they do not follow the courses and do not take the partial ones - in a university. Thus, at the end of the preparatory stage, they can continue their studies in their home university, without having to start over from the beginning thanks to the system of equivalences / compensation.


The preferred university courses for approaching Egyptology are history, art history and archeology and classical literature. There are links from one discipline to another, which allow a student to change streams during the course. Nothing is final. However, it is important to choose well not only the course - a student wishing to study the Greco-Roman period, for example, should consider the question of classical letters, to learn about papyrology or to improve in Latin and Greek - but also the university which one wishes to integrate according to the centers of interest which will govern the choice of the subject of master and, possibly, of thesis. Here is the list of university establishments and the links to the web page in which they specify their research axes:

-        Paris-Sorbonne ;

-        Strasbourg ;

-        Light-Lyon 2 (with a special curriculum, the DUESE)

-        Charles de Gaulle-Lille 3 ;

-        Paul Valery-Montpellier III ;

and from the master only:

-        The School of Advanced Studies (EPHE) in Paris.

 Since the specialization in Egyptology strictly speaking only really intervenes in master's degree, it is possible to undertake a degree in history or history of art and archeology in the faculty of your choice, before go to another institution at the entrance to the master. Provided, of course, to already have some background to claim this master, as highlighted above.

Universities are not the only institutions offering courses in Egyptology. You can also integrate:

- theÉcole du Louvre (only by competition).

Once started a university course of 3e In the cycle, various professional opportunities are available not only to increase one's experience, but also to sustain oneself.

Few students have the chance to win a doctoral contract through which the university finances their research by paying them a salary, often for courses. This system nevertheless implies the completion of their work within a period of three years. For others, it is often necessary to find other resources, such as the occasional library or museum or university vacations. In this way, the College of France has recruited students to treat the fund bequeathed by Professor Leclant or the Rodin Museum is currently using self-entrepreneur students to inventory its Egyptian collections. In addition, there are local associations that sometimes recruit professors of hieroglyphics or civilization from the ranks of doctoral students. To close this panel of examples, note that many young people also apply as receptionists or supervisors in museums.

As far as the courses are concerned, PhD students interested in an ATER (temporary teaching and research associate) position must know that one of the essential criteria in some universities remains the success of aggregation. teaching an excellent level. Since an associate has the obligation to teach, under pain of losing the benefit of his assistance, the holders of the precious sesame can also teach in the secondary, mode of financing non-negligible during long studies.

To continue on the theme of competitions, students who do not feel called to teach can try the competitions Heritage (curator or conservation attaché for example). The École du Louvre and some universities have opened preparatory classes in this perspective.

Others have decided to move towards publishing or restoration to return to Egyptology later.


            We mentioned the doctoral contract awarded by the university to students deemed promising, other awards or prizes are added to the list of aids. Thus the Academy of inscriptions and belles-lettres crowns once a year the research of one or more students by awarding the Vandier scholarship. In addition, it is possible for PhD students to apply to IFAO (twice during their work) for a one-month fellowship to complete their on-site research, thus gaining access to the sites and to one of the richer libraries of Egyptology. The Institute helps them to obtain access authorizations on sites that are not open to the public and allowing them to meet specialists whose attendance will be useful for their future as their research. Universities, for their part, also have budgets to allow students who request it to make certain trips abroad.


            As will be understood, the life of a doctoral student is rarely limited to library research. In addition to the food activities mentioned above, there are others that anticipate the expected career, such as writing articles, individual conferences or participating in symposia.


            After completing their thesis, newly graduated PhDs have different options for starting their careers. In this way, every four years, the IFAO recruits boarders, that is to say young researchers whose work axes must be in its guideline and who submit a feasible project during the time of their contract. . Still others are offered a post-doctoral contract (fixed term) which complements their thesis while offering them the possibility of joining a team as a full member. Another example, some young doctors are also trying to join the CNRS by competitive examination.


We have just given you a brief overview of the possibilities open to you to undertake studies in Egyptology. It is obviously far from cross-checking all the questions you can ask yourself. Therefore, if you still have questions, do not hesitate to contact us for more details.