Excavating Egypt's History
History 203

Dr. Darlene Brooks-Hedstrom
Spring 2010
Wittenberg University

Egypt's History

The resources on the history of Egypt are many and varied, as is the history of the country. You will find that you may use books dealing with Egypt's history, religion or art when conducting your research. There are many resources in print and online for you to make use of and to help you with your research. This web page will provide you with some of the major resources in the field and will help you find your way around Thomas Library to find them. Thomas Library has a good collection of materials on the various aspects of Egypt's history and beyond our library are the OhioLINK libraries.

Primary sources versus secondary sources

What is the difference between a primary source and a secondary source? A primary source is typically one written or recorded by a participant in the event, while a secondary source is compiled by an author from primary or secondary sources. An example of a primary source in Egyptian history is a document written during that period. This may be a document such as a letter or an accounting of an event. A secondary source would be a book written by a historian about the history of Egypt.

Manuscripts and letters are primary sources as they were written by the person observing the event. Books may be comprised of primary sources such as copies of letters or documents relating to an event. Reports of events in ancient Egypt or reports made by the participants of excavations would be primary sources, even though they may be printed in books. Newspaper and magazine articles may be considered primary sources, if they are eye-witness accounts of an event. If not, then you may need to consider them a secondary source.

Finding Books

EZRA– Wittenberg’s library catalog

OhioLINK – Ohio academic libraries catalog

WorldCat – used for materials not found in the above catalogs

Subject Headings: Library of Congress Subject Headings

  • controlled language to allow for more uniform retrieval of information
  • some examples of LC Subject Headings for this subject
    • Akhenaten, King of Egypt
    • Art, Egyptian
    • Egypt--Antiquities
    • Egypt--Civilization--to 332 B.C.
    • Egypt--History--Eighteenth Dynasty, ca. 1570-1320 B.C.
    • Egypt--Religion
    • Nefertiti, Queen of Egypt, 14th cent. B.C.

Selected Reference Books

The Dictionary of Art
REF N 31 .D5 1996

Encyclopedia of Religion
REF BL 31 .E46 2005

Encyclopedia of World Art
REF N 31 .E53

The Oxford Encylopedia of Ancient Egypt
REF DT58 .O94 2001

Other Print Resources (a selective list)

The Book of the Pharaohs
Main DT58 .V4713 2003

The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt
Main DT58 .S55 1995

Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt
Main DT58 .B96 2002

Reserve Materials

Many other books on Egypt, Ahkenaten, Nefertiti and the 18th Dynasty have been placed on reserve in Thomas Library by Professor Brooks Hedstrom and can be found at the Circulation Desk. You can find these by searching for Reserves on EZRA. You can search for them by professor or by course. These books may only be checked out for a 24 hour period (1 day) and then must be returned or renewed. If you keep them out past the time they are due, you will begin accruing reserve material fines of $1.00 per day until they are returned.

Theses & Dissertations

In the course of your research you may encounter items described as "thesis" or "dissertation". These are the culmination of a masters or doctoral student's research. A thesis is written by a student completing a master's degree in a subject, while a dissertation is written by a student completing their doctoral studies. Many times a doctoral dissertation will ultimately be published (with certain revisions) as a book. A thesis or a dissertation is subject to a review of scholars in the field before it is accepted by the university providing the degree. These documents may prove to be good sources of information, as they often look at very specific issues or problems. Libraries (including Thomas Library) do not typically purchase copies of theses or dissertations, but they are may available through OhioLINK or Inter-Library Loan.

Proquest, a company in Ann Arbor, Michigan, provides microfilming and distribution of theses and dissertations. Their database, Digital Dissertations, may be searched to determine if a dissertation exists and if it is available. Some recent theses and dissertations are available online through this database.

Electronic Books

The library has access to a collection of electronic books which you may encounter as part of your research. They are identified with the words [Computer File] in the title.


Thomas Library has a large collection of microforms, including microfilm and microfiche. Occasionally an article or book you need may be in a microform format. The Library has microfilm and microfiche reader/printers that you can use to print the article or relevant pages of a book. The cost is $.15 per page.

Finding journal articles

Online Indexes

ABZU - according to the site this is a "guide to networked open access data relevant to the study and public presentation of the Ancient Near East and the Ancient Mediterranean world". It is a project of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University.

AIGYPTOS - this database of Egyptological literature is a product of the Institute of Egyptology at the University of Munich, in cooperation with the Department of Egyptology at the University of Heidelberg. You will find many of the citations to be in German, but a number are in English. This is not a full-text database so you will need to check availability using the "Journals The Library Has" feature to determine if we have access to the full-text or if you need to order the item through inter-library loan.

Art Abstracts - indexes and abstracts articles on art and art history. Coverage is from 1929 to the present.

Humanities Index Complete - indexes articles in archaeology, history, religion, theology and other disciplines. It includes full-text for over 770 journals and indexes over 2,000 titles.

JSTOR - JSTOR is an electronic full-text archive of journals in various disciplines, including history.

New York Times-Historical - contains the full-text of the New York Times from 1851 through 2006. More current coverage via the NYT should be accessed through Lexis-Nexis Academic or the New York Times website.

Religion and Philosophy Index - provides access to over 300 full-text journals with coverage back from 1975 to the present.

Religion Index - indexes over 1,400 journals and 14,000 edited works related to religious works. Coverage is from 1949 to the present.

Times of London Digital Archive - the Times of London is the major national newspaper in Great Britain, just as the New York Times is in the United States. The Times of London provides contemporary accounts of discoveries in Egypt, but from a different perspective than the New York Times.

Electronic Resources

ACLS Humanities E-Book - The American Council on Learned Societies has created an electronic book site that Wittenberg students have access to. Many of the books in the e-book collection may be copies of books we have in the collection, but there may be some items in this collection that we do not have that you can access electronically rather than requesting through inter-library loan. Check this site prior to requesting the book via ILL as it may save you time.

JSTOR - JSTOR is an electronic full-text archive of journals in various disciplines, including history.

Oxford Art Online - an online version of the print Dictionary of Art.

Scholarly vs. Popular Articles

When conducting research it is critical to know the difference between scholarly and popular articles. Depending on the class and the research topic faculty may not accept popular articles as a basis for your research. Be sure to talk with your professor if you have any questions about the articles you wish to use. The Library has a web page which can provide assistance to you in making the distinction between scholarly and popular articles.

Web Sites

Amarna Project - the official website of the Amarna Project, sponsored by The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at Cambridge University.

Digital Egypt for Universities - website developed by the University College London for the Petrie Museum (see their website below). The website provides a timeline, maps, and information on many aspects of Egypt and its history.

Eternal Egypt (Supreme Council of Antiquities) - website of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Egyptian Center for Documentation of Cultural and Natural Heritage this site provides a variety of resources.

The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology - affiliated with University College London, the museum houses over 80,000 objects relating to Egyptian and Sudanese history from prehistory to the Islamic period. Of special interest due to the digital images of the museum's holdings from the 18th Dynasty and over 6,000 images of artifacts from Amarna. Works best with IE5.5 or higher.

Theban Mapping Project - founded in 1978, the TMP is the largest Egyptological resource on the World Wide Web, including an atlas of the Valley of Kings and other research resources.

Inter-Library Loan (ILL)

As a student at Wittenberg you have access to a large number of resources, but sometimes the article you want is not available here or through full-text online or the book or video you want is not available here or in Ohiolink. When that happens you need to use our inter-library loan service. By using ILL you can request a copy of an article or a book or video from another library. Most journal articles may not be requested through Ohiolink so you will need to request them on the Thomas Library periodicals ILL form. Check with a Reference Librarian to see if the article you need is available through Ohiolink. Books and videos should be requested on the Thomas Library book ILL form. Items will be delivered at the Circulation desk where you can pick them up and use them. Remember, it can take a few weeks for ILL to be delivered so plan ahead.

Audio-Visual Resources

You may also find audio-visual resources which may be of use to you. These may be videotapes, DVDs, or audio recordings. These are housed in the Audio-Visual Department of the Library and may have special rules about their usage.

Personal Research Consultation (PeRC)

These are one hour appointments with a librarian to discuss your topic and how to proceed with your research. You may schedule them by e-mail, phone or in-person at the reference desk. Doug Lehman is the liaison librarian for the History Department.

Return to Thomas Library Web Page

Web page by Doug Lehman, Wittenberg University
e-mail: dlehman@wittenberg.edu
phone: 327-7016

March 19 , 2010