Richard Bruce Parkinson


Professor of Egyptology; Fellow of The Queen’s College 

Faculty / College Address:

Asian and Middle Eastern StudiesThe Queen's College


Research Interests:

My research interests centre round the interpretation of ancient Egyptian literature, especially the poetry of the classic age (1940–1640 BC). As well the philological study of manuscripts, I work on material contexts, actors’ perspectives, literary theory (‘new historicist’ and ‘material philology’ practices) and modern receptions in literature, art and film. I am interested in issues of performance practice, cultural power, and sexuality in Ancient Egyptian culture. I enjoy the experience of attempting an integrated reading of ancient texts, thinking about their context in the landscape, their performance, and their emotional and intellectual impact on their audiences (including us).

From my work as a museum curator at the British Museum (where projects included the display of the Rosetta Stone and the Nebamun wall-paintings), I am particularly concerned with issues of materiality in the interpretation of Ancient Egyptian culture. Drawing on my research on the ‘subaltern’ aspects of ancient poems, I publish on LGBTQ history across world cultures (but not in connection with the Faculty).

Current Projects:

Courses Taught:

  • History and culture of dynastic Egypt
  • Egyptian art and architecture
  • Egyptian artefacts
  • Egyptian language and texts
  • Hieratic

Recent Publications:

  • 2008 The Painted Tomb-Chapel of Nebamun. London: British Museum Press; Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.
  • 2008, ‘“Boasting about Hardness”: Constructions of Middle Kingdom Masculinity’. In C. Graves-Brown (ed.), ‘Don Your Wig for a Happy Hour’: Sex and Gender in Ancient Egypt, 115–42. Swansea: Classical Press of Wales.
  • 2008 with P. Usick, ‘The History of the Nebamun Wall-paintings: An Archival Investigation’. In A. Middleton and K. A. Uprichard (ed.), The Nebamun Wall Paintings: Conservation, Scientific Analysis and Display at the British Museum, 5–15. London: Archetype Publications.
  • 2009 Reading Ancient Egyptian Poetry: Among Other Histories. Chichester and Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • 2010 Hunefer and His Book of the Dead. London: British Museum Press.
  • 2010 ‘A Life Before the Afterlife’. Guardian and Observer supplement 6.11.2010, The Ancient World: Egypt, 4–11 (
  • 2010 with B. Leach, ‘Creating Borders: New Insights into Making the Papyrus of Ani’. BMSAES 15 ( leach_and_parkinson.aspx).
  • 2011 ‘A Papyrus from the House of Life at Akhetaten’. Egyptian Archaeology 38, 42–3.
  • 2011 with Tamás Bács, ‘Wall-paintings from the Tomb of Kynebu at Luxor’. Egyptian Archaeology 39, 41–3.
  • 2011 ‘What “Makes The Gun Go Off”?: The Role of the Voice in Two Middle Kingdom Poems’. In E. Meyer-Dietrich (ed.), Laut und Leise: Der Gebrauch von Stimme und Klang in historischen Kulturen,13–35.Reihe Mainzer Historische Kulturwissenschaften 7; Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag.
  • 2012 The Ramesseum Papyri. Online Research Catalogue; online_research_catalogues.aspx.
  • 2012 The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant: A Reader’s Commentary. Lingua Aegyptia Studia Monographica 10; Hamburg: Widmaier Verlag.
  • 2012 with L. Baylis, Four 12th Dynasty Literary Papyri (Pap. Berlin P. 3022–5): A Photographic Record. Berlin: Akademie Verlag.
  • 2012 ‘A “Great Unrecorded History”: Presenting LGBT History in a Museum for the World’:
  • 2012  ‘Performances: The Tale of Sinuhe’ [online publication of video of part of staged recital]. all_current_projects/the_ramesseum_papyri/performance_tale_of_sinuhe
  • 2013 A Little Gay History: Desire and Diversity across the World. London: British Museum Press; New York: Columbia University Press; French edition (trans. M. Pieroni), Le monde gay: une brève histoire illustrée. Rennes: Editions Ouest-France (
  • 2014 with Barbara Ewing 'The Queen Shrieks: The Shock of Ancient Egyptian Poetry' [Inaugural lecture].
  • 2015 ‘Glimpses of a Gay World History: From ancient Egypt to the Modern Museum’ [Southampton Stonewall Lecture 2015].
  • 2015 with B. Fay and K. Jansen-Winklen ‘Don't Do What I Did! An Early Middle Kingdom Block Statue with an Inscription Added Later for “The God’s Father …, The Royal Scribe and Prophet of Osiris … Seniu (snw-jww)”’.  Zeitschrift für Ägypytische Sprache und Altertumskunde  142, 33–44.
  • 2015 'Ancient Beauty and Modern Lives'.
  • 2015 'The Impact of Middle Kingdom Literature, Ancient and Modern' with catalogue entries, in A. Oppenheim et al. (ed.), Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, 180–7. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • 2016 'A Great Unrecorded History: LGBT History and World Cultures' [Oxford University LGBT History month lecture]
  • 2016 ‘“Now, Voyager”’: A Preface on the Poetics of Place’ in C. Alvarez et al (ed.), Current Research in Egyptology 2015: Proceedings of the Sixteenth Annual Symposium, 1-19.Oxford and Philadelphia: Oxbow Books.
  • 2016 with Melissa Downing 'The Tomb of the Ramesseum Papyri in the Newberry Papers, The Griffith Institute Oxford'. BMSAES 23 (
  • 2016 ‘A Little Gay History, from Ancient Egypt to the Modern Museum: A Personal View’, in R. Knoop and L. van den Hoonaard (ed.), Queering the Collections, 21–46. Amsterdam: Reinwardt Academie:
  • 2016 with Barbara Ewing 'The Life of Sinuhe':
  • 2016 ‘Framing an Ancient Literature: Material and Other Philologies of Middle Egyptian Poems’, in P. Ajouri, U. Kundert and C. Rohde (ed.), Rahmungen: Präsentationsformen und Kanoneffekte. Beiheft zur Zeitschrift für Deutsche Philologie 16 (2016), 19-35.
  • 2017 'Giving a Voice to Ancient Egyptian Poetry':
  • 2017 with Barbara Ewing 'Ancient Egyptian Poetry: The Tale of Sinuhe':
  • 2017 with Neal Spencer ‘The Teaching of Amenemhat I at Amara West: Egyptian Literacy Culture in Upper Nubia’. In N. Spencer, A. Stevens, and M. Binder (ed.), Nubia in the New Kingdom: Lived Experience, Pharaonic Control and Indigenous Traditions, 213–23. Leuven: Peeters.
  • 2017  ‘Invisible Archaeologies: Hidden Aspects of Daily Life in Ancient Egypt and Sudan’:
  • 2018 'LGBTQ Love and History: No Offence':
  • 2018 'Tales of Love and History: James Ivory in Conversation':
  • 2019 with Barbara Ewing 'Talking with the Soul: A Dialogue about Life and Death':
  • 2019 ‘Imaginary Histories: Ancient Egypt in the Writings of Marguerite Yourcenar and Philippe Derchain’, Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur 48, 207­–40.

  • 2019 ‘‘The First Gay Kiss?’: An Ancient Egyptian Monument’ in C. Brickell (ed.), Queer Objects (Otago University Press, Rutgers University Press, Manchester University Press), 22–7.

  • 2020  ‘“The Use of Old Objects”: Ancient Egypt and English Writers around 1920’. In E. Dobson and N. Tonks (ed.), Ancient Egypt in the Modern Imagination: Art,  Literature and Culture (I. B. Tauris), 199–213.

  • 2020  ‘The Sensory Worlds of Ancient Egypt’. In R. Skeates and J. Day (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Sensory Archaeology, 413–33. London, New York: Routledge.

  • 2020 with C. D. Hollings, ‘Two letters from Otto Neugebauer to Thomas Eric Peet on Ancient Egyptian Mathematics’. Historia mathematica in press. DOI: 10.1016/

  • 2020 C. D. Hollings, ‘Differing Approaches to Ancient Egyptian Mathematics’ London Mathematical Society Newsletter 490, 28–33 S  (

  • 2020 with C. D. Hollings (trans L. Manniche) ‘Ægyptisk matematik fortolket’, Papyrus 40.2.

  • 2022   with the Griffith Institute, Tutankhamun: Excavating the Archive. Bodleian Library Publishing.

  • 2022 with C. D. Hollings Parchment and Paper [the Peet library]:

  • 2022 ‘“Old Things Belonging to the Nation”: Forster, Antiquities and the Queer Museum’. Polish Journal of English Studies 7.2, 54–71 [].

  • 2022 with C. D. Hollings,  'Contrasting aims and approaches in the study of ancient Egyptian mathematics in the 1920s' ('Objectifs et approches contrastés dans l’étude des mathématiques de l’Égypte ancienne dans les années 1920'). Revue d'histoire des mathématiques 28(2) (2022), 183–286.

  • 2022 with Daniela Rosenow, ‘Tutankhamun: Excavating the Archive. Bodleian Library Friends’ Newsletter Spring 2022, 6–7 [and other similar pieces].

  • 2022 ‘Approaching Ancient Egyptian Poetry’. In I. Regulski (ed.), Hieroglyphs: Unlocking Ancient Egypt, 136–43. London: British Museum Press.

  • 2023 with C. D. Hollings,  ‘T. E. Peet, a Mathematician Among Egyptologists?’. In M. Zack and D. Waszek (ed.), Research in History and Philosophy of Mathematics: The CSHPM 2021 Volume, 183–98. Annals of the Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Mathematics/Société canadienne d’histoire et de philosophie des mathématiques; Basel: Birkhäuser. 

  • 2023, ‘A small stroke of hieratic and the grace of god: A note on Sinuhe B 147–8’. In Simone Gerhards et al. (ed.), Schöne Denkmäler sind entstanden: Studien zu Ehren von Ursula Verhoeven, 497–506. Heidelberg: Propylaeum

  • in press, ‘Sinuhe the Egyptian?’: D. Wallace (ed.), National Epics []


I enjoy supervising research about Ancient Egyptian poetry and textual culture, museology, reception studies, gender and sexuality, and I welcome applications on these areas. In the past, I have supervised (often jointly) doctoral theses on topics that include

Dialogue of Ipuwer and the Lord of All: edition, commentary, and analysis of P. Leiden I 344 recto’; ‘Representations of social identity and hierarchy in the elite culture of Middle Kingdom Egypt’; ‘Inscribing the pyramid of King Qakare Ibi: scribal practice and mortuary literature in late Old Kingdom Egypt’; ‘Beloved of the Ka: Personal names in the complex of Mereruka Meri at Saqqara’; ‘Terms of gendered representation: Reassessing the role of elite women in early‒mid 18th dynasty funerary iconography from Thebes and el-Kab’; ‘Goddesses in Ramessid Egypt : Representations of gender and gendered agency in the divine sphere’; ‘Receptions of a Middle Egyptian Poem: A Textual and material study of The Teaching of Amenemhat in the New Kingdom’.

Current PG supervision includes Ancient Egyptian metereology, Thirteenth dynasty kingship, and indications of material textuality in literary papyri.

Current Students:

Caitlin Jensen; Helen Neale; Hebatallah Ibrahim.

Photograph of Richard Parkinson