Ellen Morris headshot

Ellen Morris

Associate Professor of Ancient Studies Chair, Classical Studies Graduate Program


Classics and Ancient Studies, First Year Foundation


219b Milbank
Thursdays 3-5



Ellen Morris has published extensively on subjects related to ancient Egyptian imperialism, including The Architecture of Imperialism: Military Bases and the Evolution of Foreign Policy in Egypt’s New Kingdom (Brill, 2005), Ancient Egyptian Imperialism (Wiley-Blackwell, 2018), and numerous articles. Her ongoing research interests and other publications, however, focus on the dynamics of political fragmentation, state formation, sexuality and sacred performance, retainer sacrifice, landscape theory, and divine kingship (most of her publications are accessible at https://barnard.academia.edu/EllenMorris). She has excavated in the Nile Valley at Abydos and Mendes, and at the site of Amheida in the Dakhleh Oasis. Morris did her graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania and earned her B.A. from Barnard College in Ancient Studies.

  • Imperialism in Egypt and the ancient Near East
  • Social history of ancient Egypt
  • Sexuality, power, and performance
  • Political fragmentation

Professor Morris teaches lecture courses on the archaeology and society of ancient Egypt (Identity and Society in Ancient Egypt, The Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, Egypt in the Classical World). She teaches a seminar on the archaeology of the Southern Levant as well as a First Year Seminar entitled On Dreams and Nightmares. In 2020 she'll be teaching three online immersive classes. Fall A: Society and Environment in the Ancient Mediterranean World; Fall B: The Archaeology of Crisis: The Collapse of the Late Bronze Age in the Eastern Mediterranean World; Summer A: Race and Ethnicity in the Greco-Roman World.


2018 Ancient Egyptian Imperialism. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell Press.

2005 The Architecture of Imperialism: Military Bases and the Evolution of Foreign Policy in Egypt’s New Kingdom. Probleme der Ägyptologie 22. Leiden: E.J. Brill.

2022. Daggers and axes for the queen: considering Ahhotep’s weapons in their cultural context. In The Treasure of the Egyptian Queen Ahhotep and International Relations at the Turn of the Middle Bronze Age (1550 B.C., eds. G. Miniaci and P. Lacovara. Middle Kingdom Studies 11, London: Golden House Productions, 165-186.

2020a. Machiavellian masculinities: historicizing and contextualizing the “civilizing process” in ancient Egypt. Journal of Egyptian History 13.1-2. Special Issue: “Egyptology and Global History,” 127-168.

2020b. Writing trauma: Ipuwer and the curation of cultural memory. In “An Excellent Fortress for his Armies, a Refuge for the People”: Egyptological, Archaeological, and Biblical Studies in Honor of James K. Hoffmeier, eds. R. E. Averbeck and K. L. Younger, Jr. University Park, PA: Penn State University Press/Eisenbrauns, 231-252.

2019. Ancient Egyptian exceptionalism: fragility, flexibility, and the art of not collapsing. In The Evolution of Fragility: Setting the Terms, ed. N. Yoffee. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, 61-87.

2018. Théorie insulaire et affordances des oasis du désert égyptien, trans. Lise Garond. In Mer et désert de l’Antiquité à nos jours: visions croisées, ed. G. Tallet and T. Sauzeau. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 63-90.

2017a. Middle Kingdom clappers, dancers, birth magic, and the reinvention of ritual. In Company of Images: Modelling the Imaginary World of Middle Kingdom Egypt (2000-1500 BC), ed. Gianluca Miniaci, Marilina Betrò, Stephen Quirke. Leuven: Peeters Publishers, pp. 285-335.

2017b. Prevention through deterrence along Egypt’s northeastern border. Or the politics of a weaponized desert. Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies 5.2: 133-147.

2015a. Egypt, Ugarit, the god Ba’al, and the puzzle of a royal rebuff. In The Crossroads II, Or There and Back Again. Proceedings of an International Conference on the Relations of Egypt and the Near East in the Bronze Age, Prague 15-18, 2014, ed. J. Mynářová. Prague: Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Arts, pp. 315-351.

2015b. Exchange, extraction, and the politics of ideological money laundering in Egypt’s New Kingdom Empire. In Policies of Exchange: Political Systems and Modes of Interaction in the Aegean and the Near East in the 2nd Millennium B.C.E., Proceedings of the International Symposium at the University of Freiburg Institute for Archaeological Studies, 30th May-2nd June 2012, ed. B. Eder and R. Pruzsinszky. Oriental and European Archaeology v. 2. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences Press, pp. 167-190.

2014. Mitanni enslaved: prisoners of war, pride, and productivity in a new imperial regime. In Creativity and Innovation in the Reign of Hatshepsut, eds. J. Galán, B. M. Bryan, and P. F. Dorman. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 361-379.

2013a. (Un)Dying loyalty: meditations on retainer sacrifice in Ancient Egypt and elsewhere. In Violence and Civilization: Studies of Social Violence in History and Prehistory, ed. Rod Campbell. Providence: Joukowsky Institute Publications, pp. 61-93.

2013b. Propaganda and performance at the dawn of the state. In Experiencing Power, Generating Authority: Cosmos, Politics, and the Ideology of Kingship in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, ed. J. A. Hill, et al. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum Press, pp. 33-64.

2011. Paddle dolls and performance in ancient Egypt. Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt 47: 71-103.

2010a. Insularity and island identity in the oases bordering Egypt’s Great Sand Sea. In Thebes and Beyond: Studies in Honour of Kent R. Weeks, ed. Zahi Hawass and Salima Ikram. Cairo: Supreme Council of Antiquities Press, pp. 129-144.

2010b. The pharaoh and pharaonic office. In The Blackwell Companion to Ancient Egypt, ed. A.B. Lloyd. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 201-217.

2010c. Opportunism in contested lands, B.C. and A.D. Or how Abdi-Ashirta, Aziru, and Padsha Khan Zadran got away with murder. In Millions of Jubilees: Studies in Honor of David Silverman, vol. I, ed. Zahi Hawass and Jennifer Houser Wegner. Cairo: Supreme Council of Antiquities Press, pp. 413-438.

2007a. Sacred and obscene laughter in The Contendings of Horus and Seth, in Egyptian inversions of everyday life, and in the context of cultic competition. In Egyptian Stories: A British Egyptological Tribute to Alan B. Lloyd, ed. Thomas Schneider and Kasia Szpakowska. Alter Orient und Altes Testament Series. Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, pp. 197-224.

2007b. On the ownership of the Saqqara mastabas and the allotment of political and ideological power at the dawn of the state. In The Archaeology and Art of Ancient Egypt: Essays in Honor of David B. O’Connor, vol. II, ed. Zahi Hawass and Janet Richards. Cairo: Supreme Council of Antiquities Press, pp. 171-190.

2007c. Sacrifice for the state: royal funerals and the rites at Macramallah’s Rectangle. In Performing Death. Social Analyses of Ancient Funerary Traditions in the Mediterranean, ed. Nicola Laneri. Chicago: Oriental Institute, pp. 15-37.

2006a. Lo, nobles lament, the poor rejoice. Social order inverted in First Intermediate Period Egypt. In After Collapse: The Regeneration of Complex Societies, ed. Glenn Schwartz and John Nichols. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, pp. 58-71.

2006b. Bowing and scraping in the Ancient Near East: an investigation into obsequiousness in the Amarna Letters. Journal of Near Eastern Studies 65: 179-195.

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