Study Day

Study Day 6 Feb with the Sophia Centre for the University of Wales Trinity Saint David

A Study Day is a special event designed to allow you to engage with the varied subjects covered in the MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology taught online throughout the world.

An Introduction to Egyptian Astronomy

Dr Bernadette Brady
University of Wales Trinity Saint David
School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology

The Study Day: Introduction to Egyptian Astronomy

The material evidence of Egypt leaves us with many tantalising clues concerning the astronomy of the Egyptians and its role in Egyptian culture. The Pyramid Text of the Old Kingdom reveals an astronomy which blended naked-eye observations of the heavens with religious beliefs and aspirations of the individuals and links the stars to the ascent of the soul. Evidence of the Coffin Text and diagonal star calendars reveals that this cultural astronomy and theology moved into the Middle Kingdom. By the New Kingdom the shifting Egyptian approach to astronomy shows innovations through the Ramesside star clocks and great astronomical ceilings of that period. By the Hellenistic period, however, the Dendera Zodiac reveals an Egyptian sky mixed with and finally consumed by the Hellenistic view of the heavens.

This Study Day is designed to introduce you to the Egyptian sky with its mythic, religious, and civic role in Egyptian society. It will begin with the pyramids of the Old Kingdom and carry through to the Hellenistic period.

By the end of the day you should be able to look at a piece of Egyptian astronomical art or design and recognise its probable intentions and major themes. Handouts will be provided to aid your own study after the event.

Time: 9:45 am - 5:30 pm Saturday 6 February, 2016

Fee: £25:00 - please register online

Booking is now closed

Web Site:

Location: UWTSD London Campus. Winchester House, 11 Cranmer Rd, London SW9 6EJ

UWTSD London is located within Kennington Business Park which is situated at the intersection of Brixton Road and Camberwell New Road. Oval tube station (Northern line) is a 150m walk away providing direct access to Waterloo, London Bridge and The City. There are also numerous bus links direct into The City and Victoria.

Note: There is no direct access to the building from Cranmer Road. Instead use the back entrance from the Kennington Business Park. There are two entrances into the park from Cranmer Road. The University of Wales Trinity Saint David is in Winchester House. From the entrance at closest end of Cranmer Road to the Oval, turn right when you are in the Park. From far entrance, turn left.

Check out Kensington Business Park on the map.

Lecturer: Bernadette Brady holds a PhD in Anthropology (2012) and MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology (2005). She is a tutor in the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, UK from 2008. Her main areas of research are within the field of ethnographical/astronomical work where she has published on the cultural influence of stars and the religious and cultural significant of the sky's movement. Some of her publications which are focused on the Egyptian use of the sky are 'The Egyptian Ascension mythology of the Pyramid Texts with the phases of the stars' (CRE XII proceedings, Oxbow 2012) and forthcoming, 'The So-called northern constellations of the New Kingdom sky' Presented at Malta 2014, (SEAC).

You can contract Bernadette on

Outline of the Study Day

9.45 am: Welcome

10 am - 11.15 am: The Old Kingdom. The Sky, Stars and Lakes

The Old Kingdom division of the sky into canals, lakes and marshes. The cosmic map of the stars, Nut and Geb and how the sky moves against this backdrop of the land of the heavens. The divinity of the heavens as reflected in the alignment of the fourth dynasty pyramids and the so called 'air shafts' of Khufu Great Pyramid. The cultural astronomy of the fifth and sixth dynasty Pyramid Texts with the ascent of the king's soul. The divine nature of different stars portrayed in their 'type', the unwearying stars, the immortal stars and the king's star. Right: Djoser (third dynasty) who spends eternity looking to the north.

11.15 am - 11:45 am: Coffee Break

11.45 am - 1:00 pm: Middle Kingdom - Calendars and the Diagonal Star Clocks

The role of calendars in the Middle Kingdom. The civic calendar of three seasons, the lunistellar calendar and the role played by the bright star, Sirius. The resulting Sothic Year and the Sothic Cycle. Counting the hours of the night. Reading the diagonal star clocks of the coffin texts and the cultural implications for the variations within these clocks. Right: Middle Kingdom diagonal star clock.

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm: Lunch. There is a place to eat lunch in the lecture room area. BYO lunch or there are cafes around the area of the campus.

2:00 pm - 3.15 pm: New Kingdom - Sky Books and Ceilings

The Books of the Sky in the New Kingdom. After the Amarna period the three books of the sky appear in the Egyptian corpus. These cosmological books related to the afterlife and are centred on Nut, who swallows the sun and gives birth to it each morning. The relationship that these books of the sky have to the calendar and stars of the Middle Kingdom coffin text. Right: The Fundamentals of the Course of the Stars.

The great astronomical ceiling of Senenmut and Seti I are explored and the implications of how the Egyptians of the New Kingdom viewed the planets, stars and constellations.

3:15 - 3:45 pm: Coffee Break

3:45 - 5:00 pm: New Kingdom to the Ptolemaic Period, star clocks and the zodiac

The Ramesside Star Clocks. How did these clocks work and some of the problems the Ramesside star clocks present modern scholars? We will also cover some simple celestial sky movements in this session in order to understand the clocks more fully. Right: One panel of a Ramesside Star Clock.

A clash of cultures. The domination of the Greek sky into the Egyptian constellations. The evidence of the Dendera Zodiac. The eventual loss of the Egyptian cartography and sky lore.

5:00 - 5:30 pm: Discussion

Welcome to the public outreach page of the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, with information about studying with the University, as well as links to related conferences, classes, publications and events. To go straight to the Sophia Centre's University page please go here.

Lampeter Campus

University of Wales Trinity Saint David
Lampeter Campus
Ceredigion SA48 7ED
Tel: 01570 422351

London Campus

University of Wales Trinity Saint David
London Campus, Winchester House
11 Cranmer Road
London, SW9 6EJ
Tel: 0207 566 7600

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