Short Course

Introduction to Egyptian Cultural Astronomy

with Dr. Bernadette Brady

11 August – 8 September 2021

Sophia Centre Short Course

Egyptian cultural astronomy is more than the sun, gold and pyramids. It is also the Moon and silver, the blue of the sky, the notions of circular time, the never-ending working stars, the everchanging non-divine planets, and a collection of calendars, all of which created a unique but shifting sky view that ran for over three thousand years.

The sun, stars and Moon was interwoven with the Egyptians view of divine order, Ma'at and their representations were represented in funeral objects, texts and temple motifs in different ways over the long history of Pharaonic Egypt.

This course presents the Egyptian sacred sky as it appears on ceilings, coffin lids and in jewellery and provides you with an overview of the role of the sky in Egyptian cultural astronomy. The course begins with the Old Kingdom, the pyramids and the Egyptian notion of soul and the northern stars and follows this star focus through to the diagonal star clock of the Middle Kingdom. The dominance of Ra (the sun god) is explored in the New Kingdom along with the magnificent astronomical ceilings and the solar cult of Akhenaten. The course concludes with the Ptolemaic temples, where the Greek zodiac became blended with Egyptian astronomical images and ideas.


The course is taught live online (Zoom) and recorded to enable asynchronous learning. Each seminar will have time for Q & A’s.


All students will be able to log into the course page on Moodle where all the recordings of the lectures will be uploaded after each session. Also in this area are extensive support material plus a weekly discussion forum for additional questions or general comments.


The seminars will be held on a Wednesday at 16:00 – 18:00 BST (UK summer time). The first seminar is Wednesday 11 August 2021 and then every Wednesday to 8 September 2021.

Sophia Centre Short Course

Course Topics

(These may change a little as we go through the course).

Week 1 – The Old Kingdom: soul, stars and the solar temples

In this week the focus is on the fourth dynasty pyramids of the Old Kingdom and then those of the fifth and six dynasty with the ascent of the king’s soul to the stars. The beginning of the solar cult is explored with the fragmentary remains of the fifth dynasty solar temples.

Week 2 - The Middle Kingdom: calendars and diagonal star clocks

In this week the focus is on the Egyptian calendars, the civil and their religious lunar calendar. At this time two new themes developed in Egyptian cultural astronomy one being an emphasis on the stars through the diagonal star clocks and the other being the rise of Khonsu, the lunar deity.

Week 3 - The New Kingdom: ceilings and sky books

This week's focus is on the magnificent astronomical ceilings of New Kingdom starting with Senenmut and moving into the post-Amarna Ramesside period which also saw the emergence of the Books of the Sky.

Week 4 – The Amarna Period; Akhenaten, the Aten and his new city

The focus this week is the shift in cultural astronomy dictated by the dominance of the cult of the Aten - the cult of the Sun’s disc. This cult produced a new temple design, a new city layout and produced a new cosmological, the Hymn to the Aten.

Week 5 – The Ptolemaic period – Temples, Zodiacs and Osiris

This final seminar focuses on the influence of the Greeks and Romans on the Egyptian sky view as reflected in the beautiful astronomical ceilings of Dendera, and Esna. The course is then summarized with final questions and answers.

A certificate of attendance will be provided to students upon the completion of the short course.

Sophia Centre Short Course

Dr. Bernadette Brady holds a PhD in Anthropology (2012), MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology (2005) and a Certificate in Egyptology from Manchester University (2020). She is currently a lecturer on the online Master of Arts in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology for the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, UK. Bernadette was the course director for the 2019 Bloomsbury Summer School in Luxor on Egyptian Cultural Astronomy and has lectured widely on this subject.


The cost is £150 which covers all five lectures.

By registering I agree to follow the Sophia Project netiquette guide.

To register and pay, please click the blue button Make Payment.

The acknowledgement of payment from PayPal will be sent to the email address that you have registered with PayPal. The day before the course starts, the link to join the seminar will also be sent to this address. If you wish the link to be sent to a different email address, please contact

Student rate 10%

Students of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David get 10% discount for this short course. Please register and pay by clicking the button below.

You should register by Paypal if possible but, if you can't, email Dr Nick Campion and you can arrange to pay by cheque or bank transfer.

Terms and Condition

Fees and Refunds – Fees must be paid in full before the commencement of the course. Refunds will be made if a student withdraws from the course before it commences. There are no refunds after student logs into the Course Moodle page which is opened up two days before the course begins.

Forum conduct – All students are expected to be respectful of other students and the tutor in their forum post. The course tutor will remove any postings they consider to be inappropriate. The course tutor also reserves the right to block a student from posting on the forums if the student disregards a request by the tutor to revise their forum conduct.

Zoom conduct – Students attending the Zoom lectures live are expected to be focused on these lectures and only use the chat box for question directed at the lecture material. Students who misuse the chat box will be removed from the lecture.

Technology – It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that they have sufficient broadband and sufficient skills in operating their computer or tablet to enable them to engage with this online course.

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