Biography

I am a historian of archaeology, photography, and ancient Egyptian art. I am interested in how different people, at different times, have imagined, studied, and represented the culture we know as ‘ancient Egypt’. My current research focuses on the history of photography and archaeology, using archives from the 1920s excavation of Tutankhamun’s tomb. I am currently finishing a book called Photographing Tutankhamun, which will appear in late 2018 in the Bloomsbury series Photography, History: History, Photography, edited by Elizabeth Edwards, Jennifer Tucker, and Patricia Hayes. I have curated an exhibition of the same name, which was at The Collection, Lincoln from November 2017 to February 2018 and is at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, from June to September 2018. You can follow progress on my blog, www.photographing-tutankhamun.com.

I have also written extensively about ancient Egyptian art, religion, and material culture, including issues of cultural identity and exchange when Egypt was part of the Roman Empire. My book Unwrapping Ancient Egypt (Bloomsbury 2014) focused on the importance of textiles in Egyptian mummification and other religious rituals – and offered a critique of how Egyptology has conducted mummy unwrappings from the 18th century to the present day. This book was first runner-up in the 2015 BKFS prize for books in Middle Eastern Studies; it was also long-listed for the Textile Society of America's R. L. Shep Ethnic Textiles award.

For further information, and access to some of my published academic work and journalism, see my page on academia.edu (external link).

Career History

I have been based at UEA since 2007. During this time, my research has been supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK), the British Academy, and the Leverhulme Trust. I have held fellowships at All Souls College and The Queen's College, Oxford, and I was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, London in 2008.

Earlier in my career, I was the curator of the Egyptian collection at the Manchester Museum - one of the largest collections of Egyptian antiquities in the UK. I also worked with Egyptian, Near Eastern, and Classical collections at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and at the Museum of Classical Archaeology in Cambridge.

Academic Background

B.A. Archaeology; Brown University 1993

M.A. Ancient Mediterranean Archaeology and Art; University of California-Berkeley 1995

DPhil. Oriental Studies (Egyptology); Oxford University 2001

All Publications

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Riggs, C.

(2017)

In the Shadows: The Study of Ancient Egyptian Art,

in Orientalistische Literaturzeitung

112

(4-5)

pp. 293–300

Full Text

(Book/Film/Article review)

(Published)


Riggs, C.

(2017)

Tutankhamun: The Original Photographs,

Rupert Wace Ancient Art/The Gower Press

ISBN 9780957506442

UEA Repository

(Book)

(Published)


Riggs, C.

(2017)

Loose bodies: Reserve collections, curatorial reservations, and the ancient Egyptian dead,

in Museum Storage and Meaning: Tales from the Crypt.

Routledge

pp. 253-262

ISBN 9781138065970

Full Text UEA Repository

(Chapter)

(Published)


Riggs, C.

(2017)

Shouldering the past: Photography, archaeology, and collective effort at the tomb of Tutankhamun,

in History of Science

55

(3)

pp. 336-363

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Riggs, C.

(2017)

Egypt: Lost Civilizations,

Reaktion Books

ISBN 9781780237268

Full Text UEA Repository

(Book)

(Published)


Riggs, C.

(2017)

The body in the box: archiving the Egyptian mummy,

in Archival Science

17

(2)

pp. 125–150

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Riggs, C.

(2017)

Objects in the photographic archive: Between the field and the museum in Egyptian archaeology,

in Museum History Journal

10

(2)

pp. 140-161

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Riggs, C.

(2017)

Nuns and Guns: Thoughts on Heritage, Histories, and Egyptology,

in Review of Middle East Studies

51

(2)

pp. 221-227

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Riggs, C.

(2016)

An autopsic art: 'Dr Granville's mummy' in the Royal Society archives,

in Notes and Records

70

(2)

pp. 107-133

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Riggs, C.

(2016)

Photography and antiquity in the archive, or how Howard Carter moved the road to the Valley of the Kings,

in History of Photography

40

(3)

pp. 267-282

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Riggs, C.

(2016)

Beautiful Burials, Beautiful Skulls: The Aesthetics of the Egyptian Mummy,

in British Journal of Aesthetics

56

(3)

pp. 247-263

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Riggs, C.

(2015)

Egypt,

in The Oxford Handbook of Roman Sculpture.

Oxford University Press

pp. 552-568

ISBN 9780199921829

Full Text UEA Repository

(Chapter)

(Published)


Riggs, C.

(2014)

Discussing knowledge in the making,

in Histories of Egyptology : Interdisciplinary Measures.

Routledge

pp. 129-138

ISBN 9780415843690

Full Text UEA Repository

(Chapter)

(Published)


Riggs, C.

(2014)

Unwrapping Ancient Egypt,

Bloomsbury Academic

ISBN 9780857855077

Full Text UEA Repository

(Book)

(Published)


Riggs, C.

(2014)

Ancient Egyptian Art and Architecture: A Very Short Introduction,

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780199682782

UEA Repository

(Book)

(Published)


Riggs, C.

(2013)

Colonial Visions: Egyptian Antiquities and Contested Histories in the Cairo Museum,

in Museum Worlds: Advances in Research

1

(1)

pp. 65-84

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Riggs, C.

(2013)

Greco-Roman Egypt,

in World Archaeology at the Pitt Rivers Museum: a characterization.

Archaeopress

pp. 115-121

Full Text UEA Repository

(Chapter)

(Published)


Riggs, C.

(2013)

A Roman Period child's mummy in the Saffron Walden Museum,

in Journal of Egyptian Archaeology

99

pp. 265-70

UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Riggs, C.

(2013)

Mourning women and decorum in ancient Egyptian art,

in Decorum and experience: Essays in ancient culture for John Baines.

pp. 156-62

ISBN 978-0-900416-92-7

UEA Repository

(Chapter)

(Published)


Riggs, C., Baines, J.

(2012)

Ethnicity,

in UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


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Key Research Interests

  • Uses of photography in late 19th-early 20th century Egyptian archaeology
  • Critical and post-colonial histories of Egyptology and archaeology
  • Textiles, wrapping practices, and the body in ancient Egypt
  • Ancient Egyptian art of any period, and especially Roman Egypt
  • Museum studies, history of collecting, cultural heritage

Current and Recent Research Projects

1. The Photographic Archive of the Tomb of Tutankhamun

Supported by a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship (2015), a Visiting Fellowship at All Souls College, Oxford (2015), and a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship (2016), this project examines the extensive photographic archive compiled during the excavation and study of the tomb of Tutankhamun. The excavation records and glass plate negatives housed in the Griffith Institute at Oxford University provide the basis of a study examining how photography informed method and meaning-making at every stage of the archaeological process. Photography was also crucial in mythologizing the ‘find of the century’ for the public eye, influencing cultural trends and nationalist politics in 1920s Egypt and beyond.

2. Egypt: Lost Civilizations

Just published by Reaktion Books and the University of Chicago Press, this richly illustrated study takes a fresh and innovative look at the history and legacy of ancient Egypt – the ancient culture perhaps most closely associated in the public mind with marvels, ‘mysteries’, and endurance, yet very poorly understood in terms of its subsequent history and its relationship to the modern world. Considering the significance ancient Egypt has had in cultures from the Roman Empire, to the medieval Arab world, to the Victorian era, the book asks what is ‘lost’ when we understand that the past is created in the present – and that each present remakes the past in its own image?

Teaching Interests

  • Ancient Egyptian art
  • Archaeology and material culture studies
  • History of museums and collecting
  • History of photography

Research supervision

Interested in supervising research students in all areas of ancient Egyptian art and archaeology, including topics related to histories of the disciplines, collecting, visual studies, and museum practice. Past students have completed theses on human remains in museums, and the history of museums.

Examples of modules taught

  • ART-2Z13 Displaying the Past
  • ART-3Y28 Cleopatra’s Egypt
  • ART-MA67 Unwrapping Ancient Egypt
  • ART-MU01 Critical Perspectives in Museum Studies

External Activities and Indicators of Esteem

  • Editor-in-Chief, Archaeology, Oxford Handbooks Online, Oxford University Press
  • Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London
  • Evans-Pritchard Lecturer, All Souls College, Oxford (Trinity Term 2012)
  • Visiting Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford (Hilary Term 2015)