Assistant Keeper for Ancient Egypt and Sudan

Dr Liam McNamara

Dr Liam McNamara



Research Summary
My research interests centre on the archaeology and material culture of ancient Egypt and Sudan. I specialise in the late Predynastic and Early Dynastic periods (late 4th–early 3rd millennium BC), for which the Ashmolean holds the most significant collections anywhere in the world outside Egypt. I focus on the dynamics of the transformation to statehood, whereby Egypt became a unified polity ruled by a single king, and the processes by which dynastic traditions in art, religion, and written language became established. My current work re-examines a major group of early votive objects and the temples from which they are presumed to originate. I am also interested in the history of museums, particularly the relationship between archaeological fieldwork, object distribution and the development of museum collections, as well as the disciplinary histories of archaeology, anthropology and Egyptology.


Liam McNamara is Assistant Keeper for Ancient Egypt and Sudan at the Ashmolean Museum and Director of the Griffith Institute at the University of Oxford. He was Lead Curator on the redevelopment of the Museum’s Egypt and Nubia galleries which opened to the public in November 2011. Prior to his appointment at the Ashmolean in August 2010, he was a Project Curator in the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan at the British Museum. Liam also co-curated (with Paul Collins) the temporary exhibition Discovering Tutankhamun at the Ashmolean from 24th July–2nd November 2014.

Liam is Assistant Director of the Ashmolean’s Expeditions to Hierakonpolis and Elkab in Egypt. He has worked as an archaeological illustrator and field archaeologist on excavations at Kom Firin in the western Nile Delta (directed by Neal Spencer) and at Hierakonpolis in southern Egypt (directed by Renée Friedman). He has also worked on an epigraphic survey of sites in northern Sudan with the British Museum (directed by Vivian Davies).


Featured Publications 
2014, with P. Collins. Discovering Tutankhamun (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum).

2008. The revetted mound at Hierakonpolis and early kingship: a re-interpretation [in:] B. Midant-Reynes and Y. Tristant (eds.) Egypt at its Origins 2. Proceedings of the International Conference "Origin of the State: Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt", Toulouse, 5th–8th September 2005. Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 172 (Leuven: Peeters): 901–936.

2007, with J. Baines. The twin stelae of Suty and Hor [in:] Z. Hawass and J. E. Richards (eds.) The Archaeology and Art of Ancient Egypt: Essays in Honor of David B. O'Connor (Cairo: Supreme Council of Antiquities Press): 63–79.

2006. Review of D. Wengrow, The Archaeology of Early Egypt: Social Transformations in North-East Africa, 10,000–2650 BC (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2006). Antiquity 80: 1014–1016.

Temporary suspension of special access/enquiries
Collections for Ancient Egypt and Sudan
1 January–23 April 2018

The reserve collections for Ancient Egypt and Sudan will be temporarily closed from 1 January until 23 April 2018 while the curator, Liam McNamara, is away on research leave and undertaking archaeological fieldwork at Hierakonpolis in Egypt. It will not be possible to provide access to the collections or respond to enquiries during this period. The permanent galleries, however, will remain open and unaffected.

We regret that any enquiries received during this period will not be answered and should be re-sent after 23 April 2018. The Department of Antiquities will attempt to facilitate all research requests and enquiries as soon as possible after the curator’s return. We recognise the international importance of these collections and sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this unavoidable suspension of access may cause.

Enquiries regarding photography for image orders and reproduction rights should be sent to the Picture Library.

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