Lisa and Bernard Selz Curator for Ancient Egypt and Sudan

Liam McNamara

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 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).