We are pleased to announce that the Royal Ontario Museum’s Gayle Gibson will be teaching a four-week course during April, 2018 entitled The Best of Times, The Worst of Times: The First and Second Intermediate Periods. Register online here.


Wednesday evenings in April (4, 11, 18, 25) – 7 to 9 pm


Room 200B
4 Bancroft Ave, Toronto (UofT)

How much?

  • $ 100 for SSEA member
  • $ 125 for Non-member
  • $ 50 for Students

To express interest in this course, please email us with your contact information at: sseatoronto@gmail.com

To register for this course, please email us with your contact information and send a cheque payable to SSEA Toronto by mail to:

SSEA Toronto
PO Box 19004 RPO Walmer
360A Bloor St W
Toronto, ON M5S 3C9

Course Outline

Ancient Egyptian history can be seen as a story of the center and the provinces, sometimes unified, sometimes separate.  The periods of strong central government are called Kingdoms – Old, Middle and New, while the centuries without a single, dominant ruler are called Intermediate Periods.  How bad was it to be without a divine king?  Did art and literature cease?  How did decentralization affect the lives of ordinary people?  How much of the image of Intermediate Periods as centuries of chaos, carnage and civil war is royal propaganda?

Week I: Things Fall Apart – or do they? (Dynasty VI-VIII)

By the end of the Sixth Dynasty, the age of great pyramids was over. Provincial strong men controlled local resources and built elaborate tombs for themselves.  According to the Dialogue of Ipuwer, “Laughter is ruined, and no longer sounds.  There is only groaning throughout the land, mixed with laments.”  What caused the fall of the great dynasty of Memphis?  Was it really such a bad thing?

Week II: Hungry Donkeys, Eloquent Peasants, and The Great Hero (Dynasty IX-XI)

Without omnipotent pharaohs, was Egyptian culture more egalitarian or just plain chaotic and barbaric?  We’ll examine some of the contemporary evidence for Big Men like Ankhtyfy, and small kings like Merikare, as well as the Middle Kingdom literature that recalled the era as one of violence and disruption.

Week III: Crocodile Kings and the Kingdom of Kerma (Dynasty XIII)

What caused the end of the glorious Middle Kingdom?  Was it climate change, or a cultural challenge from hitherto marginalized peoples to the south and north?  We’ll examine how Egyptian kings responded to the rising power of Nubia and the increased presence of people from Syria and the Aegean.  And we’ll try to understand why Sobek was so popular.

Week IV: Re-establishing Maat, or, Might Makes Right (Hyksos and Dynasty XVII)

Rulers of Foreign Lands built palaces in Lower Egypt and brought new ideas, new art, and technological innovations to Egypt.  Though the Hyksos kings adapted Egyptian names and culture to some extent, their rule was unacceptable to Upper Egypt, and anathematized in later times.  What did they do wrong?   How important was the eruption of Thera in the Aegean to Egyptian history?  Was reunification another word for tyranny?

About the Instructor

Gayle Gibson is the former President of the SSEA and is a current trustee. She was a teacher at the Royal Ontario Museum and is now a Department Associate with the Egyptian Department at the ROM. She has lectured widely in North America and is well known from many television appearances.

(Photo: Stela of Nenu from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s