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Spotlight conversations is a new series of monthly events exploring thought-provoking ideas inspired by the Museum’s exhibitions and collections.

Join Egyptian–Australians and ancient Egypt subject specialists, inspired by our Discovering Ancient Egypt exhibition.

Bookings essential, costs apply

Statues outside a pyramid in a desert landscape.
Burial grounds at Saqqara, Egypt

Enduring Egypt

Thursday 7 March 2024, 6–7.30pm

Buy Enduring Egypt tickets

Egypt has endured since antiquity, developing into a rich and sophisticated culture influenced by different belief systems, from ancient understandings of the afterlife to the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Islamic faith.

Join us for a conversation exploring the cultural and religious traditions that have shaped Egypt’s remarkable history from the ancient past to the present.

Featuring historians  Dr Lisa Agaiby and Professor Malcolm Choat and journalist Farid Farid in conversation with National Museum of Australia curator Dr Lily Withycombe.

Portrait of Lisa Agaiby.

Dr Lisa Agaiby is Senior Lecturer in Coptic Studies and Academic Dean of St Athanasius College, University of Divinity, Melbourne. Her areas of interest include early Egyptian monasticism, archaeology, manuscript studies and Christian–Arabic studies.

Lisa is leading a pioneering project to digitise and catalogue the rich collection of manuscripts at the ancient Coptic monastery of St Paul the Hermit at the Red Sea in Egypt.

Portrait of Malcolm Chant.

Professor Malcolm Choat is Head of the Department of History and Archaeology in the Faculty of Arts at Macquarie University, Sydney. His research focuses on early Christianity, monasticism, scribal practice, and magic in Roman and Late Antique Egypt, which he studies via Greek and Coptic papyri.

Malcolm's current research interests also deal with discourses of authenticity, debates over cultural heritage, and the reception of the ancient world, in particular how it is experienced today and our interactions with the nations and peoples whose pasts we study.

Lily Withycombe

Dr Lily Withycombe is a curator at the National Museum of Australia. With a background in Roman archaeology, she has worked on international loan exhibitions such as Rome: City and Empire and Ancient Greeks: Athletes, Warriors and Heroes, as well as Discovering Ancient Egypt.

Lily is particularly interested in making such exhibitions relevant to Australian audiences and exploring how ancient pasts can illuminate the present.

Previous conversations

Why does ancient Egypt fascinate us?

Thursday 8 February 2024, 6–7.30pm

People have long been fascinated by ancient Egypt, a complex and intriguing society and culture which spanned more than 3,000 years and created works of art and engineering feats that still amaze us today.

This conversation explored why, from antiquity to the present day, we are so obsessed with ancient Egypt. The panel critically examined why ancient Egypt continues to hold a place in our collective imaginations and how the fascination with this society and culture has manifested itself in Australia and around the world over centuries.

With archaeologists Shahy Radwan, Ali Ibrahim and Anna-Latifa Mourad-Cizek and Egyptologist Julia Hamilton in conversation with National Museum of Australia senior curator Craig Middleton.

Portrait of Shahy Radwan.

Shahy Radwan is an Egyptian archaeologist dedicated to studying the human connections and impact of ancient Egyptian civilisation. Shahy studied archaeology at Cairo University and worked as a curator at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation.

Shahy is continuing her research at Flinders University in Adelaide. In 2022, Shahy was the sole Egyptian woman in Australia selected for a Leadership Fellowship under the Egyptian Women Abroad program, recognising her role in representing Egypt's culture and identity on the global stage.

Portrait of Julia Hamilton.

Dr Julia Hamilton is an Egyptologist from Aotearoa New Zealand who joined Macquarie University, Sydney, in 2022 as Lecturer in Egyptology. Julia was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Egyptology at Leiden University and completed a DPhil in Egyptology at the The Queen’s College, Oxford.

Julia has a particular interest in the visual and multi-modal nature of ancient Egyptian language, especially graffiti and the study of names. She is working on a publication with Bloomsbury, titled The Lives and Afterlives of Ancient Egyptian Names.

Portrait of Anna-Latifa Mourad-Cizek.

Dr Anna-Latifa Mourad-Cizek is an archaeologist and historian who explores links between cultural encounters and socio-cultural transformations. Her research focuses on relations between ancient Egypt and Western Asia during the Third and Second Millennia BCE.

Dr Mourad-Cizek has worked with archaeological expeditions in Australia and Egypt. She teaches archaeology at the University of Sydney and holds honorary research fellowships at Macquarie University and the Australian Institute of Archaeology.

Portrait of Ali Ibrahim.

Ali Ibrahim is an archaeologist specialising in the conservation and restoration of cultural materials and heritage buildings. He has worked at the Grand Egyptian Museum and on archaeological sites in Egypt and Chile.

Ali moved to Australia in 2021 to further his studies at the University of Sydney. He is an assistant curator at the Chau Chak Wing Museum, working on a project interpreting the Egyptian collection and connecting with the Egyptian community in Sydney.

Portrait of Craig Middleton.

Craig Middleton is a senior curator at the National Museum of Australia and an honorary lecturer at the Australian National University. He has wide ranging interests in Australian social history, histories of LGBTIQ+ people and communities, and critical museology.

Craig believes in the role of arts and culture to strengthen communities, combat social exclusion, and support a healthy and active democracy. Craig is the lead coordinating curator of Discovering Ancient Egypt.

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