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Meira Gold

PhD student

College: Wolfson

Supervisors: Jim Secord and Richard Staley (advisor)

Thesis: Mobilizing the field in Victorian Egyptology, 1850-1906

My PhD explores how archaeological field recording practices became vital for both constructing knowledge about ancient Egypt and legitimizing Britain’s imperial interests in modern Egypt. I examine the paper methods by which Victorians mobilized immobile materials such as large monuments, architecture, and soil itself — things that were not necessarily transportable but equally important for intellectual conquest as the Pharaonic antiquities and mummies that were shipped wholesale to museums across Britain. Tracing a crucial development in Victorian Egyptology from an activity that could be practiced in London through a network of informants and collectors to one that required first-hand field experience, I argue that both the archaeological “site” as a concept and “fieldwork” as a practice were designed to claim scientific authority over Egypt, past and present.

Research interests: 19th-century histories of archaeology, Egyptology, fieldwork and collecting; recording and visualization practices; geographies of knowledge


2018. "Ancient Egypt and the geological antiquity of man, 1847-1863," History of Science.


2016. Jason Thompson, Wonderful Things: A History of Egyptology 1: From Antiquity to 1881 (Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 2015). Journal of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities 41: 112-116.

Selected Talks

“Stored and Forgotten? 19th century objects from Memphis and Heliopolis.” Annual Egyptological Colloquium, Displaying Egypt, British Museum, July 2018.

“The first Geological Chronology of Ancient Egypt and the Antiquity of Man.” Cabinet of Natural History Seminar, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, January 2018.

“The first geo-chronology of ancient Egypt and the antiquity of man, c. 1850-61.” History of Science Society Annual Meeting, Toronto, November 2017.

"Armchair Egyptology? Investigating antiquity from afar in the mid 19th century.” Lady Wallis Budge Symposium, Egyptology and Anthropology, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, July 2017.

“Long-distance archaeology: Fieldworkers and scholars in mid-19th century British Egyptology.” British Society for the History of Science Annual meeting, University of York, July 2017.

“’Between plundering and Scientific Work:’ Documenting, visualizing, and ordering Tell el Yahudiyeh, 1905-6.” History of Archaeology Research Network Annual Conference, Swedish Institute for Classical Studies in Rome, October 2016.

“Explorers, collectors, and armchair archaeologists: British field practices at Tell el-Yahudiyeh, 1870-1880.” Global Histories of Archaeologists in the Field conference, University of London, April 2016.

“Mapping the field: Armchair Archaeology at Tell el-Yahudiyeh, 1870-1880.” The Object Habit: Legacies of Fieldwork and the Museum conference, Institute of Archaeology, University College London, April 2016.


I currently supervise HPS Paper 2: History of Anthropology. I have previously supervised Part 1b History of Science, Part II modules on Empire, nature and race, Science and empire, and evolution, and primary source essays on Franz Boas and early 20th century anthropology.


I have an Hons BA with high distinction in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations and Archaeology from the University of Toronto (2009-13) and an MA in Egyptology from the University of Toronto (2013-14).