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Prof Richard Bruce Parkinson

Fellow in Egyptology

Professor of Egyptology


I grew up in County Durham, went to Barnard Castle School and then studied Egyptology as an undergraduate at Queen’s. I stayed on to do a doctorate, and then taught at the Oriental Institute for a few terms before spending two years as a junior research fellow at University College. Oxford. I left this to become a curator in the Egyptian department at the British Museum for 23 years (where projects included the display of the Rosetta Stone and the Nebamun wall-paintings) before coming back to Queen’s in 2013.


Much of my teaching is done centrally in the Griffith Institute and the Ashmolean Museum, where I teach a range of undergraduate and graduate courses, including lectures and tutorials on the history and culture of dynastic Egypt, Egyptian art and architecture, as well as museum classes studying artefacts. My favourite are classes where we read texts together. I supervise graduate students on a range of topics, and especially welcome literary ones.


My main interest is ancient Egyptian poetry of the classic age (1940–1640 BC), and my research is very closely linked to my teaching of texts. As well as the philological study of manuscripts, I work on material contexts, actors’ perspectives, literary theory and modern receptions in literature, art and film. I am interested in issues of performance practice, cultural power, and sexuality in Ancient Egyptian culture, and from this I’ve also published on LGBT history across world cultures. I enjoy the experience of attempting an integrated reading of ancient texts, thinking about their emotional and intellectual impact on their audiences (both ancient and modern), and am working on a new commentary on The Tale of Sinuhe.


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 (Swansea: Classical Press of Wales 2008)115–142 

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 (London: Archetype Publications 2008), 5–15

Reading Ancient Egyptian Poetry: Among Other Histories. Chichester and Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell 2009

‘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’. British Museum Studies in Ancient Egypt and Sudan 15 ( leach_and_parkinson.aspx) 2010

‘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 (.Reihe Mainzer Historische Kulturwissenschaften 7; Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag 2011), 13–35

The Ramesseum 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

‘Performances: The Tale of Sinuhe’: all_current_projects/the_ramesseum_papyri/performance_tale_of_sinuhe 2012

A Little Gay History: Desire and Diversity across the World. London: British Museum Press; New York: Columbia University Press 2013

with Barbara Ewing ‘The Queen Shrieks: The Shock of Ancient Egyptian Poetry’: 2014

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 (2015), 33–44

'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. 2015

'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. 2016

'Giving a Voice to Ancient Egyptian Poetry': 2017