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Mariam Ayad

  • Position: Associate Professor
  • Department: Department of Sociology, Egyptology and Anthropology
  • Email: m.ayad@aucegypt.edu
Brief Biography

A graduate of The American University of Cairo's (AUC) Egyptology program, Mariam Ayad '94 returned to AUC after many years of studying and working abroad. Prior to her return, Ayad was a tenured associate professor of art history and Egyptology at the University of Memphis, in the United States, where she also served as an assistant director of the Institute of Egyptian Art and Archaeology from 2003 to 2010.

At the University of Memphis, Ayad taught Middle and Late Egyptian grammar and Egyptian literature. She offered courses in Coptic and ancient Egyptian historical texts read in Hieratic. She also taught an introductory world art class.

At AUC, Ayad teaches a year-long course on Middle Egyptian grammar (Egyptian hieroglyphics) as well as graduate seminars on Egypt in the first millennium BC, Nubian cultures and society, and ancient Egyptian women in temple ritual.  Ayad also teaches an introduction to Coptic class, and has led classes focusing on ancient Egyptian literature and Late Egyptian historical texts. 

Ayad continues to serve as director of the Opening of the Mouth Epigraphic Project at the Tomb of Harwa (TT 37) in Luxor. She is also a peer reviewer for the American Journal of Archaeology, the Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt and AUC Press.

Ayad obtained her MA in ancient near eastern civilizations, specializing in the Egyptian language and literature, with a minor in Egyptian archaeology at the University of Toronto in 1996, before accepting a fellowship to pursue her PhD in Egyptology at Brown University in the United States.

At Brown, Ayad focused her research on ancient Egyptian mortuary texts, the third intermediate period and the role of women in temple hierarchy. Her dissertation, "The Funerary Texts of Amenirdis I: Analysis of their Layout and Purpose", successfully defended in December 2002, combined her three major areas of interest.

Research Interest
  • Social history and religion in the Third Intermediate and Late Periods
  • Transmission and layout of Egyptian funerary texts (including Opening of the Mouth, Pyramid and Coffin Texts, Solar Hymns, Books of the Hours of Night and Day) on New Kingdom and Third Intermediate Period monument
  • Status and Iconography of women in ancient Egypt
  • The role of ancient Egyptian women in temple ritual
  • The significance of the titles Gods Wife of Amun and God's Hand
  • Egyptian grammar and language (Old Egyptian through Coptic)
  • Survival of ancient Egyptian idioms in modern colloquial Egyptian Arabic
  • Epigraphy


  • God’s Wife, God’s Servant. London: Routledge, 2009


  • The Funerary Texts of Amenirdis I: Analysis of their Layout and Purpose (UMI Pub. No. 3087233)

Edited Volumes

  • Studies in Coptic Culture: Transmission and Interaction. Cairo and New York: AUC Press, 2016.
  • Coptic Culture: Past, Present and Future. Coptic Orthodox Church Center, UK, 2012.

Peer-reviewed Articles and Chapters in Books

  • Gender, Ritual, and Manipulation of Power: The God’s Wife of Amun (Dynasty 23-26) In: A. Lohwasser, M. Becker, A. I. Blöbaum (eds.), Prayer and Power. The God’s Wives of Amun in Egypt during the 1st Millennium BC. University of Münster, 25-27 June 2015. Münster: Institut für Ägyptologie und Koptologie Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, 2016.
  • Reading a Chapel, in: A. Lohwasser, M. Becker, A. I. Blöbaum (eds.), Prayer and Power. The God’s Wives of Amun in Egypt during the 1st Millennium BC. University of Münster, 25-27 June 2015. Münster:Institut für Ägyptologie und Koptologie Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, 2016.
  • The Pre-Christian Era, in: M. Lois Farag (ed.) Coptic Christian Heritage: History, Faith, and Culture. London: Routledge, 2013.
  • The Death of Coptic? A Reprisal in: M. Ayad (ed.), Coptic Culture: Past, Present and Future, Stevenage: CCOC, UK, 2012, 11-41.
  • Sacred Art -- What is it to 21st-Century Youth?, with Fadi Mikhail in: M. Ayad (ed.), Coptic Culture: Past, Present and Future, Stevenage: CCOC, UK, 2012, 215-219.
  • Re-figuring the Past: The Architecture of the Funerary Chapel of Amenirdis I at Medinet Habu: A Re-assessment. In: Zahi Hawass, Peter Der Manuelian, and Ramadan B. Hussein (eds.), Perspectives on Ancient Egypt: Studies in Honor of Edward Brovarski. Supplement aux annales annales du service des antiquities de l'Egypte 40. Cairo: Supreme Council of Antiquities, 2010, 53–64.
  • Coptic Liturgy, in: Nadja Tomoum (ed.), Coptic Art Revealed. Cairo: Supreme Council of Antiquities, 2010, 166-189.
  • The Pyramid Texts of Amenirdis I: Selection and Layout in: Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt 43 (2007): 71–92. “The Transition from Libyan to Nubian Rule: The Role of the God’s Wife of Amun” in: The Libyan Period in Egypt: Historical and Chronological Problems of the Third Intermediate Period. Eds. Gerard P.F. Broekman, R. J. Demarée and Olaf E. Kaper. Leiden: The Netherlands Institute for the Near East (NINO), 2009, 29–49.
  • Some Remarks on the Pyramid Texts Inscribed in the Chapel of Amenirdis I at Medinet Habu in: Essays Presented to Leonard H. Lesko upon his Retirement from the Wilbour Chair of Egyptology at Brown University, June 2005. Eds. Stephen E. Thompson and Peter Der Manuelian. Providence: Brown University, Department of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies, 2008, 1–13.
  • On the Identity and Role of the God’s Wife of Amun in Rites of Royal and Divine Dominion in: Journal of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities 34 (2007): 1–13.
  • The Selection and Layout of the Opening of the Mouth Scenes in the Chapel of Amenirdis I at Medinet Habu. Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt 41 (2004):113–134 [Published 2007]
  • Towards a Better Understanding of the ‘Opening of the Mouth Ritual in: Proceedings of the Ninth International Congress of Egyptologists. Eds. J-C Goyon and C. Cardin. Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 150. Leuven: Peeters, 2007, 109–116.
  • La sposa divina, la divina Adoratrice e il Clero di Amon durante la XXV dinastia, in: L’enigma di Harwa alla scoperta di un capolavoro del Rinascimento Egizio, eds. S. Einaudi and F. Tiradritti. Turin, 2004, 107–127.
  • Towards an Edition of the Chapel of Amenirdis I at Medinet Habu in: Nubian Studies 1998: Proceedings of the Ninth Conference of the International Society of Nubian Studies. August 21-26, 1998, Boston, Massachusetts. Ed. T. Kendall. Boston, 2004, 214–222.
  • Some Thoughts on the Disappearance of the Office of God’s Wife of Amun, Journal of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities 28 (2001): 1–14.
  • Nemty Nakht’s Warning to the Peasant, Göttinger Miszellen 152 (1996): 9–10.

Book Reviews

  • Review of Le tombeau de Pétosiris à Touna el-Gebel Relevé photograhique, by Nadine Cherpion, Jean-Pierre Corteggiani, and Jean-François Gout. Pp. v + 197, figs. 154, plans 2. Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, Cairo 2007. €82. ISBN 978-2-7247-0426-6 (paper). In: American Journal of Archaeology Online Reviews 114.3 (July 2010): (downloadable .pdf file).
  • Review of The Churches of Egypt: From the Journey of the Holy Family to the Present Day. By Gawdat Gabra and Gertrud J. M. van Loon (with Darlene L. Brooks Hedstrom). Edited by Carolyn Ludwig. Photographs by Sherif Sonbol. Cairo—New York: The American University in Cairo Press, 2007. ISBN: 9774161068. Pp. 328. In: Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt 45 (2009; in press)
  • Review of From Slave to Pharaoh: The Black Experience of Ancient Egypt by Donald B. Redford (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 2004) Archaeology Odyssey vol. 8 no. 5 (September/ October 2005): 46–48.
  • Review of Les texts de la pyramide de Pépy Ier. By Catherine Berger-el Naggar; Jean Leclant; Bernard Mathieu; and Isabelle Pierre-Croisiau. 2 vols. Mémoires de l’Institut français d’archéologie orientale 118/1-2. Cairo: Institut français d’archéologie orientale, 2001. Journal of the American Oriental Society 124.1 (2004): 27–28.

Encyclopedia and Popular Articles

  • In: Encyclopedia of Ancient History, Editors: Roger Bagnall and Salima Ikram (In Press):
    • Egypt, the Kushite Period
    • Geb
    • God's Wife of Amun
  • In: Encyclopedia of Society and Culture in the Ancient World, Editor in Chief: P. Bogucki:
    • Slaves and Slavery in Ancient Egypt
    • Festivals in Ancient Egypt
    • Government Organization in Ancient Egypt
    • Collapse and Abandonment in Ancient Egypt
    • War and Conquest in Ancient Egypt
  • In: World and its Peoples Encyclopedia, Set 1, Vol. 8, ed. C. Carpenter (New York, 2006):
    • The Old Kingdom and First Intermediate Period in Egypt,1032–1037

    • The Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period in Egypt, 1038–1040

    • The New Kingdom and Late Period, 1041–1049

    • Ptolemaic Egypt, 1050–1051

    • Roman Egypt,1052–1053