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 Lisa and Bernard Selz Curator 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).
Empowered by experiential Egyptology and object-based learning
Student empowerment in Higher Education. Reflecting on teaching practice and learner engagement
Application of gamma-ray spectrometry in discovering the granitic monument of King Pepi I: a case study from Hierakonpolis, Aswan, Egypt
Pure and Applied Geophysics
The current survey aimed to relocate the so-called granitic ‘stela’ inscribed for King Pepi I. The monument was originally discovered in 1897–1898 by British Egyptologists excavating on an ancient mound located in the floodplain at the archaeological site of Hierakonpolis (modern Kom el-Ahmar) in the Aswan Governorate of Egypt. The original excavators were unable to remove it owing to its great weight and the monument was therefore left at the site. It remained partly exposed until 1989, when it was reburied to provide some protection from seasonal fluctuations in the water table. The exact location of the ‘stela’ was then lost, as the site is situated in the centre of the modern village of Kom el-Gemuwia and is covered with halfa grass and other debris. As part of a new project to conserve and record this historic monument and other stone relics on this water-logged site by the Hierakonpolis Expedition of the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, UK, a geophysical approach was used to establish their current locations. A detailed gamma-ray spectrometry survey was conducted across the area suggested by the archeologists. The measurements were analyzed and plotted in the form of maps, which were helpful in selecting certain locations for examination. The results of limited field excavations confirmed that the localized high-thorium-concentration anomalies were mainly related to the presence of the buried granite block. These results suggest that this method could be useful in the detection of granitic monuments at similar sites.
Gamma-ray spectrometry, Radioactive dose rate, Principle component analysis, Granitic monuments, King Pepi I
This book tells the story of the search for Tutankhamun's tomb and its discovery using Howard Carter's original excavation records that were deposited in the archives of the Griffith Institute at the University of Oxford.