I grew up in Kent, where I still have family. I did both my BA (in what was then called Ancient Egyptian) and graduate study in Oxford (New College, Linacre, and Worcester), moving to the University of Durham as Lecturer in Egyptology in 1970. In 1976 I returned to Oxford and became a Professorial Fellow of Queen’s, and have thus been a member of the College for more than forty years. I have also had the good fortune to hold visiting appointments in institutions in a number of countries. Queen’s has been associated with Egyptology since soon after 1900, and it has the unique resource of the Peet Library, which is used by people from the whole University. In 2013 I retired, but I retain a close connection with the College.


My research ranges over several areas in Egyptology, in part because much of it has been stimulated by teaching on diverse subjects. I often participate in interdisciplinary symposia and publications. My principal areas of interest are Egyptian art, literature, religion, self-presentation, the position of writing in Egyptian society, and modelling social forms. In developing ideas relating to these themes, I make use of texts, images, archaeological data, and various theoretical approaches. I am currently working on a review of practices relating to decorum and on a synthesis deriving from several decades of research on Egyptian biographical self-presentation.

Current Projects:

  • Volume on Egyptian biographical self-presentation
  • Synthesis of studies on Egyptian kingship


Please visit John’s Faculty of Oriental Studies profile page for a list of publications.