Dr Joanne Rowland (PhD, MA, BA (Hons))

Senior Lecturer in Archaeology ; Archaeology and history of Egypt, Egyptian prehistory


An active field archaeologist, I have been working in the Nile Delta since 1998 on projects ranging in date from the Middle Palaeolithic and Neolithic to the Ptolemaic and Roman. I gained my PhD in Archaeology from the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, in 2004, with a dissertation topic connected with early complex societies in Egypt and the quantitative study of mortuary data in the eastern Nile Delta in the 4th-early 3rd millennium BC. I was a research fellow at the Research Lab for Archaeology (University of Oxford) on the Egyptian chronology project (2006-9), after which I moved to the Egyptian Department of the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels as a scientific collaborator for the renewed investigations of the Belgian Expedition to El Kab in southern Egypt. From 2010-16, I held the position of Junior Professor in Egyptian Archaeology at the Freie Universitaet Berlin. I am director of a fieldwork projects in the Nile Delta under the auspices of the Egypt Exploration Society, the Imbaba Prehistoric Survey and Deputy Director of the Naqada Regional Archaeological Survey and Site Management project in southern Egypt. Both projects have a strong archival research component and are committed to wide dissemination of our findings. I have been the Director of the Minufiyeh Archaeological Survey until 2023 which focussed on excavations at the central Delta site of Quesna, within a wider archaeological and environmental survey in collaboration in collaboration with Cairo University. All work is in cooperation with our colleagues at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Egypt.  I joined the School in 2016 and initiated new teaching areas within the archaeology and history of Egypt for UG and PG programmes. 

Read a short interview with Dr Rowland

Dr Rowland introduces her course 'Ancient Egyptian Religion and the Afterlife', part of the online MSc History

Research in a Nutshell with Dr Joanne Rowland - Egyptology 

External appointments

Chairperson of the Friends of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian and Sudanese Archaeology

Member of the Commission of the Later Prehistory of Northeast Africa, Poznan

Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland

Member of the BANEA Steering Committee

Member of the Editorial Board for ‘Prague Egyptological Studies’ at the Czech Institute of Egyptology, Charles University, Prague

External Examiner, Institute of Archaeology, University College London

Useful Links

The Naqada Regional Archaeological Survey and Site Management Project

https://www.ees.ac.uk/naqada; Twitter: @NaqadaS

Neolithic of the Nile Delta project and work at Merimde Beni Salama / Imbaba Prehistoric Survey

Undergraduate teaching

Undergraduate - Pre-honours

Course Organiser: 

  • Semester 2: Archaeology 2B - Archaeology in Action


Contributor to:

  • Semester 1: Archaeology 1A
  • Semester 1: Archaeology 2A
  • Semester 2: Archaeology 1B
  • The Human Skeleton


Undergraduate - Honours

  • Semester 1: The Archaeology and History of Egypt: the Early Dynastic until the end of the Middle Kingdom (c. 3100-1650 BC)
  • Semester 2: The Archaeology and History of Egypt: the Second Intermediate Period until the end of the Late Period (c. 1650-332 BC) 


Contributor to:

  • Semester 1: Archaeology in Practice
  • Alternate years: Early Roman Egypt (Classics)

Postgraduate teaching


  • Semester 1: Themes in Egyptian archaeology: the foundations of the state to the end of the Middle Kingdom   
  • Semester 2: Issues in Egyptian archaeology: the second Intermediate Period until the end of the Late Period (1650-332 BC)    


Postgraduate Online

Course Organiser/Co-organiser

  • Running Semester 1 2020-21: Ancient Egyptian Religion and the Afterlife
  • Semester 1: Research Skills for Archaeology and Classics (Core Course for 'Ancient Worlds'


Contributor to:

  • Semester 2 (2020-21): The Origins of Agriculture: Reconsidering the Neolithic

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Current PhD students supervised

  • Ahmad, Junaid
    • PhD
    • The archaeology of the Kaghan Valley, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
    • Principal Supervisor
  • Harrison,  Hannah
    • PhD 
    • Home is where the heart is: Infant burials in the houses of Ancient Egypt, c. 2055 BCE - 332 BCE                                                                                                                             
    • Co-supervisor, lead 
  • Grant, Kirsty
    • PhD
    • The Nocturnal Aspects of Horus
    • Co-supervisor, lead
  • Bridges, Alex
    • PhD
    • Iconoclasm in Early Christian Egypt
    • Co-supervisor
  • Lyell, Rebecca
    • PhD
    • Concept and development of the goddess Maat in ancient Egypt
    • Co-supervisor, lead

Research summary


  • Africa
  • Mediterranean
  • Near East


  • Ancient Civilisations
  • Culture
  • Landscapes & Monuments
  • Material Culture
  • Religion
  • Society


  • Prehistory
  • Early Historic
  • Antiquity

Research interests

  • The archaeology of the Nile Delta across prehistoric and historic periods
  • The processes of Neolithisation in the Near East and North Africa
  • The origins of complex societies within Egypt - with special interest in the analysis of mortuary practices from c. 5000-2500 BC
  • Archaeological field methods: the history of and developments within
  • Human-environmental relationships during prehistory
  • Egyptian state formation
  • Environmental survey and reconstruction of the palaeoenvironment in the Nile Delta
  • Chronology, including scientific dating methods


Another area of research in which I am engaged is environmental survey and reconstruction of the palaeoenvironment within the Delta, in conjunction with colleagues at Cairo University. Within this I am concerned with human-landscape relationships over time, and the impact of global climatic and local environmental change upon this relationship. 

Current research activities

My current research is focussed on a combination of new field investigations and archival research connected with the site of Merimde Beni Salama in the western Nile Delta. Merimde Beni Salama is the earliest farming village in North Africa, first settled by c. 5000 BC. There has been research activity at the site since 1928, with excavations having taken place from 1929-39 led by Hermann Junker for the Austrian West Delta Expedition, Zahi Hawass and Fekri Hassan in the 1970s, and by Josef Eiwanger for the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut from 1977-82. The archival based research (carried out as part of the TOPOI Excellence Cluster in Berlin’s ‘Neolithic of the Nile Delta’ project) is now collated within a spatial database together with site plans, and is in the process of being expanded to include data from all investigations at the site. This resource will help to address the issues of change and development over the course of the 5th millennium BC at the site, including the relationship of human groups with their natural environment and available resources.  Scientific methods not in use at the time of previous investigations in the region are being employed to re-analyse the museum-based material. So far this has included AMS radiocarbon measurements which are helping to refine the absolute chronology of Merimde Beni Salama, and help to re-evaluate the overall phasing of the site largely based on the relative ceramic chronology; also being used is organic residue analysis, which is revealing what these ceramic containers were actually used for.

A further important element of my research in the western Delta relates to the first movements of modern human groups through the region. Our recent investigations in spring 2016 have discovered new information about the local environment conditions in which our Middle Palaeolithic finds have been made, and OSL samples will provide new information as to the absolute date of these finds. 

Recently, also connected with my research into prehistoric and early historic Egypt, I have joined the teams of the Naqada Regional Archaeological Survey and Site Management Project, and the Kafr Hassan Dawood Project. Naqada is one of the key sites for understanding processes of Egyptian state formation, and Kafr Hassan Dawood is the largest Predynastic-Early Dynasty cemetery site in the Delta. 

Research projects

I am field director of two main projects based in the Nile Delta. The first project, the Imbaba Governorate Prehistoric Survey (2013-present) is focussed on the Middle Palaeolitlhic and the Neolithic evidence along the fringes of the western Delta. The project includes environmental survey, field survey and excavations at the site of the first farming village in North Africa, Merimde Beni Salama, as well as investigations across the broader region, including the Wadi el-Gamal Pleistocene Terraces. The most recent season during winter-spring 2016 saw the excavation of trenches on the Wadi el-Gamal (adjacent to the main Merimde Beni Salama site) which revealed further in situ Middle Palaeolithic finds first detected in summer 2015, as well as substantial new Neolithic activity. The Cultural Heritage Management plan at Merimde Beni Salama has recently included the successful completion of a protective wall at Merimde Beni Salama, with public engagement in terms of a community centre and information panels planned over the next two years.

I am also Deputy Director of the Naqada Regional Archaeologial Survey and Site Management Project (2018-present) which is focussed upon a strategy for protection and wider dissemination of in formation for the ancient site of Nubt, as well as across the Naqada region. 

The Minufiyeh Archaeological Survey (2005-present) has been successful in bringing 50 findspots of archaeological material of historical periods to the map of the southern central Nile Delta. In addition to environmental survey and field walking survey, new investigations were instigated at the site of Quesna, which is dominated by Ptolemaic and Roman finds including the sacred falcon necropolis, and the cemetery, but has recently revealed a tomb dating to the the mid-3rd millennium BC (the 3rd Dynasty of the Old Kingdom). Both projects are international multi-disciplinary collaborations and have included field-training excercises for Egyptian and European students.


I am also a Friend of the project, https://www.medafrica-cam.org/people/

Current research interests

- The impact of early Egyptian archaeologists from Quft upon the development of research in prehistoric contexts in Egypt. - Regional settlement patterns and local/regional/international communications in and the Naqada area of southern Egypt. - The chronological span and complexity of human activity up to and including settlement at and around Merimde Beni Salama, Western Delta.

Knowledge exchange

I have been short-listed for the Newton Prize (August 2020 #NewtonPrize), for my project in collaboration with the French University in Egypt. https://www.newtonfund.ac.uk/news/latest-news/newton-prize-2020-shortlist-announced/

This project, 'Earliest Egypt' (2017-2019) supported by the Newton-Mosharafa programme of the British Council (in collaboration with the French University in Egypt) has raised the profile of prehistoric and early historic archaeology in Egypt through a series of training sessions, the launch of a new website, and publication of booklets and site leaflets, as well as a documentary on prehistoric and early historic Egypt.

The list below is a subset of the information held on the University of Edinburgh PURE system, and includes Books, Chapters, Articles and Conference contributions. For a full list, including details of other publication types (e.g. reviews), please see the Edinburgh Research Explorer page for Dr Joanne Rowland.

Books - Authored

Zakrzewski, S., Shortland, A. and Rowland, J. (2015) Science in the Study of Ancient Egypt. Abingdon: RoutledgeDOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315678696

Books - Edited

Rowland, J., Lucarini, G. and Tassie, G. (eds.) (2020) Revolutions. The Neolithisation of the Mediterranean Basin.Berlin: Edition TopoiDOI: https://doi.org/10.17171/3-68

Midant-Reynes, B., Tristant, Y., Rowland, J. and Hendrickx, S. (eds.) (2008) Egypt at its origins 2: Proceedings of the International Conference "Origin of the State. Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt", Toulouse, 5th-8th September 2005. Peeters


Woodman, N., Ikram, S. and Rowland, J. (2022) Environmental implications of Ptolemaic Period rodents and shrews from the Sacred Falcon Necropolis at Quesna, Egypt (Mammalia: Muridae and Soricidae). BMC Ecology and Evolution, 22(1)DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12862-022-02101-x

Woodman , N., Ikram, S. and Rowland, J. (2021) A new addition to the embalmed fauna of ancient Egypt: Güldenstaedt’s White-toothed Shrew, Crocidura gueldenstaedtii (Pallas, 1811) (Mammalia: Eulipotyphla: Soricidae). PLoS ONE, 16(4)DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0249377

Pennington, B., Sturt, F., Wilson, P., Rowland, J. and Brown, A. (2017) The fluvial evolution of the Holocene Nile Delta. Quaternary Science Reviews, 170, pp. 212-231DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2017.06.017

Rowland, J. and Bertini, L. (2016) The Neolithic within the context of northern Egypt: New results and perspectives from Merimde Beni Salama. Quaternary International, 410(A), pp. 160-172DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2016.02.014

Rowland, J. (2015) Prehistoric groups along the Western Nile Delta. Egyptian Archaeology, 47, pp. 37-39

Rowland, J. and Tassie, G. (2014) Prehistoric sites along the edge of the Western Nile Delta: Report on the results of the Imbaba Prehistoric Survey 2013-14. The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 100, pp. 49-66

Rowland, J., Ikram, S., Tassie, G. and Yeomans, L. (2013) The Sacred Falcon Necropolis of Djedhor(?) at Quesna: Recent investigations from 2006–2012. The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 99, pp. 53-84

Rowland, J. and Phillips, R. (2012) Survey strategy in disturbed landscapes: A case study from the Nile Delta. Journal for Ancient Studies, 3

Dee, M., Rowland, J., Higham, T., Shortland, A., Brock, F., Harris, S. and Ramsey, C. (2012) Synchronising radiocarbon dating and the Egyptian historical chronology by improved sample selection. Antiquity, 86, pp. 868-883DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003598X00047979

Rowland, J. (2011) An Old Kingdom mastaba and the results of continued investigations at Quesna in 2010. The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 97, pp. 11-30

Dee, M., Brock, F., Harris, S., Ramsey, C., Shortland, A., Higham, T. and Rowland, J. (2010) Investigating the likelihood of a reservoir offset in the radiocarbon record for ancient Egypt. Journal of Archaeological Science, 37(4), pp. 687-693DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2009.09.003

Rowland, J., Inskip, S. and Zakrzewski, S. (2010) The Ptolemaic-Roman Cemetery at the Quesna Archaeological Area. The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 96, pp. 31-48

Rowland, J., Maříková Vlčková, P., Hendrickx, S., Herbich, T., Claes, W. and Huyge, D. (2009) Old Kingdom settlement remains at Elkab (Upper Egypt) preliminary report on the 2009 field season. Bulletin des Musées Royaux D’Art et D’Histoire , 80, pp. 21-50

Dee, M., Bronk Ramsey, C., Shortland, A., Higham, T. and Rowland, J. (2009) Reanalysis of the Chronological Discrepancies obtained by the Old and Middle Kingdom Monuments Project’. Radiocarbon: An International Journal of Cosmogenic Isotope Research, 51(3), pp. 1061-1070DOI: https://doi.org/10.2458/azu_js_rc.51.3563

Rowland, J., Edinborough, K., Phillipps, R. and El-Senussi, A. (2009) The Delta survey: Minufiyeh Province, 2008-9. The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 95, pp. 35-49

Rowland, J. (2008) The Ptolemaic-Roman cemetery at the Quesna Archaeological area. The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 94, pp. 69-93

Rowland, J. (2007) The Delta Survey: Minufiyeh Province, 2006-2007. The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 93, pp. 65-77

Rowland, J. (2006) The EES Delta Survey: Report for 2004-2005. The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 92, pp. 1-13

Hassan, F., Tassie, G., Tucker, T. and Rowland, J. (2004) Social dynamics at the Late Predynastic to Early Dynastic Site of Kafr Hassan Dawood, East Delta, Egypt. Archéo-nil, 13, pp. 37-46


Bernbeck, R., Heit, I., Kaiser, E., Pollock, S., Rowland, J., Russo, E., Schier, W. and Tassie, G. (2021) Temporalities in the study of mobility. In: Knitter, D., Schier, W. and Schütt, B. (eds.) Spatial Environment and Conceptual Design: The concept of social ecology as a means to integrate humanities and science in landscape archaeological research.Edition Topoi, pp. 83-106DOI: https://doi.org/10.17171/3-74

Rowland, J. (2020) New perspectives and methods applied to the "known" settlement of Merimde Beni Salama, Western Nile Delta. In: Rowland, J., Tassie, G. and Lucarini, G. (eds.) Revolutions: The Neolithisation of the Mediterranean Basin: The Transition to Food Producing Economies in North Africa and Southern Europe and the Levant. Berlin: Edition Topoi, pp. 169-183DOI: https://doi.org/10.17171/3-68

Tassie, G., Rowland, J. and van Wetering, J. (2020) The past, present and future of the Naqada region. In: Stevenson, A. and van Wetering, J. (eds.) The Many Histories of Naqada: Archaeology and Heritage in an Upper Egyptian Region.Golden House Publications, pp. 157-171

Rowland, J. (2007) Excavating the early cemeteries of Egypt: el Amrah, el Mahasna, Hu and Abadiyeh. In: Spencer, P. (ed.) The Egypt Exploration Society: The Early Years. London: The Egypt Exploration Society, pp. 168-197

Conference contribution

Rowland, J. (2021) New perspectives on activity areas within the village and wider landscape at Merimde Beni Salama. In:  Egypt at its Origins 6: Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference 'Origin of the State. Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt', Vienna, 10th - 15th September 2017. Leuven: Peeters, Leuven, pp. 657-682DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv2crj2bh.40

Rowland, J. (2020) Human-environmental relationships within Neolithic adaptations. In:  The Gift of the Nile? Ancient Egypt and the Environment. Arizona : University of Arizona Press, pp. 67-86

Rowland, J. and Tassie, G. (2018) A new funerary monument dating to the reign of Khaba: The Quesna mastaba in the context of the Early Dynastic-Old Kingdom mortuary landscape in Lower Egypt. In:  Abusir and Saqqara in the Year 2015: Proceedings of the Conference held in Prague (June 22-26, 2015). Prague: Czech Institute of Egyptology, pp. 369-389

Rowland, J. and Billing, N. (2015) Recently discovered blocks in the central Delta village of Kom el-Ahmar, Minuf. In: Proceedings of the Tenth International Congress of Egyptologists, University of the Aegean, Rhodes 22-29 May 2008.Peeters, pp. 101-110

Rowland, J. (2014) Interregional exchange: The evidence from Kafr Hassan Dawood, East Delta. In:  The Nile Delta as a Centre for Cultural Interactions between Upper Egypt and the Southern Levant in the 4th millennium B.C., Studies of African Archaeology. Poznań Archaeological Museum, pp. 269-298

Rowland, J. (2013) Problems and possibilities for achieving absolute dates from early dynastic contexts. In: Radiocarbon and the Chronologies of Ancient Egypt. Oxbow Books

Rowland, J. and Strutt, M. (2012) Geophysical survey and sub-surface investigations at Quesna and Kom el-Ahmar (Minuf), Governorate of Minufiyeh: An integrated strategy for mapping and understanding the sub-surface remains of mortuary, sacred and domestic contexts. In:  Achievements and Problems of Modern Egyptology: International Conference, Moscow, September 29-October 2, 2009. Russian Academy of Sciences: Center for Egyptological Studies, pp. 328-345

Rowland, J. and Hamdan, M. (2012) The Holocene evolution of the Quesna turtle back: Geological evolution and archaeological relationships within the Nile Delta. In:  Prehistory of Northeastern Africa, New Ideas and Discoveries: Studies in African Archaeology. Poznań Archaeological Museum

Rowland, J. (2009) Building bridges between radiocarbon, relative and historical chronologies: The case of early Egypt. In:  Chronology and Archaeology in Ancient Egypt: The Third Millennium BC. Prague: Czech Institute of Egyptology

Rowland, J. (2007) Death and the Origins of Egypt: Mortuary variability as an indicator of socio-political change during the Late Predynastic to Early Dynastic period. In:  Proceedings of the Ninth International Congress of Egyptologists, Grenoble, 6-12 September 2004. Peeters, Leuven, pp. 1629-1643

Rowland, J. (2006) Grave consequences: Developing analytical methods to elucidate patterns of social differentiation at early Egyptian cemetery sites. In:  The Old Kingdom Art and Archaeology: Proceedings of the Conference held in Prague May 31-June 4, 2004. Prague: Czech Institute of Egyptology, pp. 297-313

Rowland, J. (2005) The application of mortuary data to the problem of social transformation in the Delta from the terminal predynastic to the early dynastic period. In:  Egypt at its Origins, Studies in Memory of Barbara Adams: Proceedings of the International Conference "Origin of the State. Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt", Krakow, 28th August - 1st September 2002. Leuven: Peeters, Leuven, pp. 991-1007

Rowland, J. (2005) The transition to state society in Egypt: Problems and possibilities of applying mortuary evidence. In:  Proceedings of Current Research in Egyptology II, Liverpool 2001. Current Research in Egyptology, pp. 57-63

Rowland, J. (2003) The computerised database and potential for a geographic information system at Kafr Hassan Dawood. In:  Egyptology at the Dawn of the Twenty-first century: Proceedings of the Eighth International Congress of Egyptologists, Cairo, 2000. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, pp. 416-423

Rowland, J. (2003) Trends in burial evidence: Evaluating expectations for the regional and temporal distribution of mortuary behaviour in Predynastic Egypt. In:  Current Research in Egyptology III. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports, pp. 63-68