Ellen Morris

Assistant Professor

(212) 854-6023
219B Milbank Hall, Barnard
Office hours: Tuesday, Thursday 3:00-5:00pm

Curriculum Vitae
academia.edu Profile

Research Interests

  • Ancient Egyptian social history

  • International relations in the Late Bronze Age

  • Imperialism in the Ancient Near East

  • Sexuality and performance

  • Divine Kingship

  • Revolts, insurgency, & societal unrest

Ellen Morris has published two books and numerous articles on issues pertinent to ancient Egyptian imperialism. Her first book is entitled The Architecture of Imperialism: Military Bases and the Evolution of Foreign Policy in Egypt’s New Kingdom (Brill, 2005). Her second, Ancient Egyptian Imperialism (Wiley-Blackwell Press, 2018), engages the work of scholars of early empires in examining various instances of Egyptian imperialism from an explicitly cross-cultural perspective.

Morris’s ongoing research interests and other publications focus on topics such as the dynamics of political fragmentation, state formation, sexuality and sacred performance, international relations and diplomacy, retainer sacrifice, and divine kingship. She has excavated in the Nile Valley at Abydos and Mendes, and at the site of Amheida in the Dakhleh Oasis. Morris did her graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania and earned her B.A. from Barnard College in Ancient Studies. Classes that she teaches at Columbia University include The Archaeology of Egypt and Nubia, Egypt in the Classical World, and Identity and Society in Ancient Egypt.

Selected Publications


Ancient Egyptian Imperialism. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell Press.

The Architecture of Imperialism: Military Bases and the Evolution of Foreign Policy in Egypt’s New Kingdom. Probleme der Ägyptologie 22. Leiden: E.J. Brill.

Articles and Book Chapters

Théorie insulaire et affordances des oasis du désert égyptien, trans. Lise Garond. In Mer et désert de l’Antiquité à nos jours: visions croisées, ed. G. Tallet and T. Sauzeau. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 63-90.

Middle Kingdom clappers, dancers, birth magic, and the reinvention of ritual. In Company of Images: Modelling the Imaginary World of Middle Kingdom Egypt (2000-1500 BC), ed. Gianluca Miniaci, Marilina Betrò, Stephen Quirke. Leuven: Peeters Publishers, pp. 285-335. 

Prevention through deterrence along Egypt’s northeastern border. Or the politics of a weaponized desert. Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies 5.2: 133-147.

Exchange, extraction, and the politics of ideological money laundering in Egypt’s New Kingdom Empire. In Policies of Exchange: Political Systems and Modes of Interaction in the Aegean and the Near East in the 2nd Millennium B.C.E., Proceedings of the International Symposium at the University of Freiburg Institute for Archaeological Studies, 30th May-2nd June 2012, ed. B. Eder and R. Pruzsinszky. Oriental and European Archaeology v. 2. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences Press, pp. 167-190.

Egypt, Ugarit, the god Ba’al, and the puzzle of a royal rebuff. In The Crossroads II, Or There and Back Again. Proceedings of an International Conference on the Relations of Egypt and the Near East in the Bronze Age, Prague 15-18, 2014, ed. J. Mynářová. Prague: Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Arts, pp. 315-351.

Mitanni enslaved: prisoners of war, pride, and productivity in a new imperial regime. In Creativity and Innovation in the Reign of Hatshepsut, eds. J. Galan, B. M. Bryan, and P. F. Dorman. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 361-379.

(Un)Dying loyalty: meditations on retainer sacrifice in Ancient Egypt and elsewhere. In Violence and Civilization: Studies of Social Violence in History and Prehistory, ed. Rod Campbell. Providence: Joukowsky Institute Publications, pp. 61-93.

Propaganda and performance at the dawn of the state. In Experiencing Power, Generating Authority: Cosmos, Politics, and the Ideology of Kingship in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, ed. J. A. Hill, et al. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum Press, pp. 33-64.

Paddle dolls and performance in ancient Egypt. Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt 47: 71-103.

Insularity and island identity in the oases bordering Egypt’s Great Sand Sea. In Thebes and Beyond: Studies in Honour of Kent R. Weeks, ed. Zahi Hawass and Salima Ikram. Cairo: Supreme Council of Antiquities Press, pp. 129-144.

The pharaoh and pharaonic office. In The Blackwell Companion to Ancient Egypt, ed. A.B. Lloyd. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 201-217.

Opportunism in contested lands, B.C. and A.D. Or how Abdi-Ashirta, Aziru, and Padsha Khan Zadran got away with murder. Millions of Jubilees: Studies in Honor of David Silverman, vol. I, ed. Zahi Hawass and Jennifer Houser Wegner. Cairo: Supreme Council of Antiquities Press, pp. 413-438.