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University of Alcalá, 6-11 July 2020

(Cancelled: To be reschedulded)

The international Summer School “Reading Middle Egyptian Hieratic” 2020 is an academic program offered by the University of Alcalá (Madrid), aimed at training its participants to read and interpret literary and documentary texts of ancient Egypt (Middle Egyptian, 2000-1500 BC) in their original script (hieratic and hieroglyphs). The programme started initially at the University of Pisa in 2014.


The main goal of the summer school is to provide strong ability in reading and interpreting ancient Egyptian documents in hieratic and cursive hieroglyphs, beyond basic knowledge. This will be achieved through three different levels:
1) Decoding hieratic script (basic);
2) Intensive practice of reading (hieratic sources) supervised by teachers;
3) Focus on paleographic and grammatical issues related to the Middle Egyptian texts.

By investigating different types of documents, participants will acquire self confidence in approaching autonomously ancient Egyptian writings in Middle Egyptian, especially those written in hieratic.

All sessions will be taught by international leading experts with privileged access to current research: Dr. Gianluca Miniaci (University of Pisa); Dr. Ilona Regulski (British Museum); Dr. Carlos Gracia Zamacona (University of Alcalá, Madrid); Dr. Antonio Morales (University of Alcalá, Madrid).

1-MMA 2894_edited.jpg


The course will run from the 6th to the 11th of July, 2020.


The deadline for submission of applications is the 15th of May 2020 (for the process of application and the application form, see the section “How to Apply” below).

Target Audience

The course is open to EU (including University of Alcalá students) and non-EU applicants. Participants are expected to have a basic knowledge of Middle Egyptian (language and script). No previous knowledge of hieratic is required.

Course language

Classes will be all taught in English. No knowledge of Spanish is required.


The Commission of the University of Alcalá for the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) is evaluating at this point the structure and contents of the course. We will announce soon if the course will offer official European and National Credits for those interested on the ECTS system.


The international Summer School will take place from Monday 6 to Saturday 11 July, from 10:00 am to 17:30 pm. It consists of three main daily sessions: a. a session dealing with archaeological contexts and material cultural associated with the texts (10:00-11:00 am); b. a morning session working with a hieratic text, its paleography, grammatical issues, and doing hieratic exercises (11.30-13:30 pm); c. an afternoon session working with another texts, and again its paleography, grammar, and associated exercises (15.30-17:30 pm).

Introduction to the hieratic texts and grammar sections of the course

Hieratic is the handwritten counterpart to the hieroglyphic script and was used in the Middle Kingdom to write a wide range of non-monumental texts. This series of sessions provides an introduction to, and familiarization with, Middle Egyptian hieratic through a range of exercises and readings of original texts of a variety of types, including literary narratives, religious texts, legal documents, recipes for healing and protection, and letters.

The archaeological sessions will enlighten the archaeological and social contexts of the texts read in the class. It will mainly focus on an in-depth analysis of the material culture of Middle Kingdom.

In the textual sessions, students will be lead to develop, under the guidance of teachers, a proper methodology for interpreting and autonomously reading small parts of hieratic texts. The main goal is to provide an inductive approach (starting with concrete examples and asking learners to find rules) for developing self-confidence and independence. Every day, students will face two different texts in the two textual sessions. Consequently, they will have to handle different texts, which will allow students and the docents to face different problems in terms of understanding their format, style, paleography, ductus, grammar, and other significant features of the compositions.

Schedule of the Summer School Course

Monday, July 6

09:00-09:45: Presentation and overview of “Reading Middle Egyptian Hieratic”

By the organizers

Session 1A (10:00–11:00 h) – Archaeology

Instructor: Gianluca Miniaci

Archaeological contexts and material culture

Session 1B (11:30–13:30 h) – Hieratic text 1

Instructor: Carlos Gracia

Hymns to Sobek (pRamesseum VI)

Session 1C (15:30–17:30 h) – Hieratic text 2

Instructor: Antonio Morales

Apprentice writing board (MMA 28.9.4)

Tuesday, July 7

Session 2A (10:00–11:00 h) – Archaeology

Instructor: Gianluca Miniaci

Archaeological contexts and material culture

Session 2B (11:30–13:30 h) – Hieratic text 1

Instructor: Carlos Gracia

Sinuhe (Berlin P 3022)

Session 2C (15:30–17:30 h) – Hieratic text 2

Instructor: Antonio Morales

The Eloquent Peasant (Berlin P 10499 & 3023)

Wednesday, July 8

Session 3A (10:00–11:00 h) – Archaeology

Instructor: Gianluca Miniaci

Archaeological contexts and material culture

Session 3B (11:30–13:30 h) – Hieratic text 1

Instructor: Carlos Gracia

Hymns to Senwosret III (UC 32157)

Session 3C (17:00–18:30 h) – Visit to the Spanish National Archaeological Museum

Free tour to the Egyptian Collection at the National Archaeological Museum, Madrid (MAN)

This visit to the MAN will precede a special lecture by Ilona Regulski at the Museum at 19:00 h.

Thursday, July 9

Session 4A (10:00–11:00 h) – Archaeology

Instructor: Gianluca Miniaci

Archaeological contexts and material culture

Session 4B (11:30–13:30 h) – Hieratic text 1

Keynote speaker: Ilona Regulski (The British Museum)

The Middle Kingdom Assiut Papyri from the Berlin Museum

Session 4C (15:30–17:30 h) – Hieratic text 2

Instructor: Antonio Morales

Mortuary texts in Papyrus Gardiner II (BM EA 10676)

Friday, July 10

Session 5A (10:00–11:00 h) – Archaeology

Instructor: Gianluca Miniaci

Archaeological contexts and material culture

Session 5B (11:30–13:30 h) – Hieratic text 1

Instructor: Carlos Gracia

Protective magical formulae (Turin 54003)

Session 5C (15:30–17:30 h) – Hieratic text 2

Instructor: Antonio Morales

Medical prescription for women (UC 32057)

Saturday, July 11

Session 6A (10:00–11:00 h) – Archaeology

Instructor: Gianluca Miniaci

Archaeological contexts and material culture

Session 6B (11:30–13:30 h) – Hieratic text 1

Instructor: Carlos Gracia

Letter of Heqanakhte III (MMA 22.3.518)

Session 6C (15:30–17:30 h) – Hieratic text 2

Instructor: Antonio Morales

Letter of Sankhure (BM EA 10567)

Closing of the 4th International Summer School (17:30–18:00 h)

By organizers

Summer School Group Dinner


Photos are the courtesy of the Museum of Turin (Header, 1 & 3) and the Metropolitan Museum of New York (2 & 4)


“Reading Middle Egyptian Hieratic” and the Università di Pisa

In recent years, the University of Pisa and its Summer Schools in Humanities program have offered students and scholars an exceptional opportunity to learn, practice, and deepen their knowledge on Middle Egyptian hieratic script and texts. The idea was originally developed in 2014, with the Summer School "Ancient Egyptian Writing in Context" –offered at the University of Pisa by Egyptologists Gianluca Miniaci, Marilina Betrò, and Stephen Quirke– and took the form of a periodic summer school course with the name “Reading Middle Egyptian Hieratic” at the same institution in the following years 2017 and 2019.

In the last three editions, students, young researchers, interested scholars, and specialists have come together under the direction of Gianluca Miniaci for an intensive summer week to learn, discuss, and practice hieratic script and work on hieratic texts, mainly dealing with issues such as the format, style, paleography, grammar, readings, and interpretations from the texts. With the participation of several scholars working on hieratic texts (Marilina Betrò, Gianluca Miniaci, Antonio Morales, Rune Nyord, Stephen Quirke, Susanne Töpfer, and Stefano Vittori), the Summer School "Reading Middle Egyptian Hieratic" aimed at giving the opportunity to students, early scholars, and any interested learner to face the complexities of learning hieratic through theoretical and practical lessons, exercises, discussions, and text reading. The initiative has proved a valid and significant mean for students and scholars required to work with hieratic texts.

Based on the participants’ positive feedback, and the benefit of the initiative for those interested on hieratic texts, the University of Pisa welcomes the idea of organizing future summer schools at Pisa and elsewhere. As part of this new initiative, the University of Alcalá will be organizing the 4th International Summer School “Reading Middle Egyptian Hieratic” in 2020. The University of Pisa, the University of Alcalá, and other possible partners should continue the experience to facilitate the training, tools, and experience of any interested person.




Professor of Egyptology, Università di PIsa

Doctor in Egyptology from the University of Pisa, Gianluca Miniaci is Associate Professor in Egyptology at the same university, director of the archaeological mission to Zawyet el-Maiyitin (Menya, Egypt), deputy-director of the University of Pisa excavation at Thebes, in the cemetery of Dra Abu el-Naga. He is editor-in-chief of the international series Middle Kingdom Studies (Golden House Publications, London), of the Journal of Egyptian History (Brill, Leiden), and of the series Ancient Egypt in Context (Cambridge University Press).
He has been Marie Curie Research Fellow at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris, and at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL, London. He has extensively published on the history, archaeology and the funerary culture in ancient Egypt.


Candidates are invited to submit a passport copy (pdf), a short Curriculum Vitae (pdf), and the application form, which you can retrieve here (on google forms).

Upon reception of passport copy, cv and application form, the Summer School organization will confirm acceptance (within two weeks time).

If accepted, the participant will receive instructions for registration payment and will have to send proof of payment.

Deadline for registration in the Summer School is 15 May, 2020.

Instructions for payment will be sent by email to the selected candidates.

Minimum students required: 8

Maximum students accepted: 15

Registration fee: 400 €∗

∗ Students affiliated with the University of Alcalá should pay a fee of 350 €


The course offers four grants of 125 €.

All students are eligible to apply for a grant to partially cover the registration fee. However, postdoctoral participants cannot apply for these grants. One grant will be devoted only to students of the University of Alcalá.

The grants will be distributed on a competitive basis, taking into account: i) the academic quality of the student; and ii) the country of provenance, privileging economically disadvantaged areas.

The decision will be made by the Organizing Committee and communicated directly to the three awarded participants.

The cost of the Summer School Course includes

  • Participation to all the classes

  • Materials, photocopies, and exercises

  • Access to the National Museum of Archaeology (Madrid)

  • Access to the keynote talk by Dr. Regulski at the 

    National Museum of Archaeology (Madrid)

The cost of the Summer School Course does not include

  • Travel expenses to and from Alcalá (Madrid, Spain)

  • Accommodation and meals in Alcalá (assistance in finding accommodation at an affordable price is provided below)

Participants to the Summer School will be assisted by Dr. Carlos Gracia Zamacona ( and Dr. Antonio J. Morales ( in all the administrative phases, personal requests, and course questions.


The city of Alcalá de Henares is 30 km away from Madrid, the capital of Spain. Alcalá is a city of astonishing beauty, recognized as a World Heritage Centre, largely because of the historical and architectural significance of its University. The origins of the University of Alcalá go back to Medieval times, although it was during the first years of the Sixteenth Century when the city took its place as a mayor centre of Humanism, during the Renaissance. Part of this glorious past is nowadays reflected in the monumentality of its main buildings. The most important of them is the Mayor College of San Ildefonso, which nowadays is the central building of the University Govern. It is in this impressive building where we will be hosting our Summer School course.

Alcalá is one of the most important touristic sites in the Community of Madrid. Engaging locations such as the house of Miguel de Cervantes, the famous author of Don Quijote de la Mancha, the well preserved Roman archaeological site of Complutum, the cathedral of Alcalá, the Episcopal palace, and the city walls are just a few examples of charming places that one can visit within the city.

If you would like to know more about such a lovely city, we suggest you to visit: and


From the airport

If you are traveling by plane, the best option is to flight to Adolfo Súarez Madrid-Barajas International Airport, which is only 20 km away from the city of Alcalá. There are several options to proceed from the airport to Alcalá:

  • By bus

The bus is the cheapest and easier option to get from the airport to Alcalá. The prize of the one-way ticket is 3,60 €. The ride lasts around 40 minutes from the airport to downtown Alcalá. Information about schedule and routes is available here:

  • If you are landing in terminals T1 and T2, you should take Bus 824, which travels directly to the city of Alcalá de Henares.

  • If you are landing in terminals T3 and T4, then you should take the airport transfer bus (free service), which will take you to terminals T2 and T1, where you can take Bus 824 to Alcalá de Henares.

Be aware that you will have to deposit by yourself your own luggage in the lower compartment of the bus. Then you can get on the bus and pay your ticket directly to the driver. If you are traveling by yourself, do not pay with bills higher than 5 €, since drivers do not usually carry any change and may not have cash for your change.

  • By train:

There is no direct connection between the airport and Alcalá. This means that you will need to travel by train first to Madrid and then transfer to the line running to Alcalá de Henares.

The train station is located at terminal T4. If you are landing in terminals T1, T2 or T3, then you will need to take the transfer airport free bus to terminal T4.

From the Airport Train Station (in terminal T4), you can take any train in the direction of Principe Pío. After five stations (up to Atocha), you can get off in Atocha and take a short distance train (in Spanish “Cercanías”) to Alcalá de Henares: basically, line C-7 (to Alcalá de Henares) and line C-2 (to Guadalajara, passing by Alcalá de Henares).

  • By subway:

Since there is no subway network connecting with Alcalá, taking the subway in the airport is not a good option. If you take the subway, then you will need to go to Madrid, and after several changes you will arrive to Atocha train station, where you will be able to take a train from line C-7 or C-2. We recommend not to take the subway.

  • By taxi:

Taking a taxi is, of course, the most comfortable and easier way, but it is also the most expensive option. A taxi will cost you around 40-50€, and could be considered the best and easiest option if you were traveling with a group of 3-5 persons.

From Madrid

If you are flying to any other Spanish airport than Barajas Airport or you choose to travel by train or bus to Madrid, then you will need to get to the train station of Atocha in Madrid, where you will be able to take a short distance train (lines C-7 and C-2) or a bus to Alcalá.

In case you would like to take the train, please see the instructions above.

If you prefer to take the bus, several bus-lines cover the distance between Madrid and Alcalá de Henares. Besides the aforementioned Bus 824, which stops at the airport, four other buses can take you to Alcalá. Buses 223, 227, and 229 operate during daytime, while Bus N202 works during night-time. All of them depart from the “Avenida de América” bus station and reach the city of Alcalá.

You can check schedules and routes in the following website:

If you prefer to take a taxi, see instructions above. The taxi fare to Alcalá will be similar whether you take the bus from the airport or from Madrid itself.


We have collected the most remarkable offers of the University Accommodation Services for those who would like to secure accommodation at the city of Alcalá de Henares during the Summer School course. We invite you to look for alternative options through the main lodging reservation services online (,,, etc). For those interested on making a reservation in one of the university residences, they must write an email addressed to the particular residence office, identifying yourself as a visiting researcher for an international course at the University of Alcalá. We encourage you to scrutinize these options and contact any residence as soon as possible since the number of rooms at the university is limited.


Residencia Universitaria Cardenal Cisneros

Address: Avenida Jesuítas 34, 28805 Alcalá de Henares


Telephone: (+34) 91 882 98 26


Offer (approx. prices):

Room with bathroom and kitchen (1 person) – 35€

Room with bathroom (1 person) – 32€

Residencia Universitaria CRUSA

Address: Ciudad Residencial Universitaria, S/N Campus UAH, 28805, Alcalá de Henares


Telephone: (+34) 918801487


Offer (approx. prices):

Double room (2 persons) – 32€

Single room (1 person) – 20€

Residencia Universitaria San Ildefonso

Address: Inside the building of the conference venue (Major college of Saint Ildephonse).



Offer (approx. prices):

Single room with breakfast – 30€

Double room with breakfast – 40€

Residencia Universitaria Lope de Vega

Address: Calle Colegios 5, 28801 Alcalá de Henares


Telephone: (+34) 91 206 29 00


Offer (approx. prices):

Double room without breakfast – 29,88€ (per person)

Single room without breakfast – 36,48€

Reading Middle Egyptian Hieratic – 4th International Summer School

University of Alcalá 2020

Organized by:

MORTEXVAR: Earlier Egyptian Mortuary Texts Variability

Atracción de Talento Programme, Comunidad de Madrid (2018-T1/HUM-10215) University of Alcalá

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