Egyptological journals—periodical publications containing scholarly articles, notes, and reviews—have been an essential component in the development of Egyptology as a discipline; they have allowed scholars to present their research to colleagues in a timely fashion before monographic publication. Although Egyptologists often publish their work in more general scholarly journals relating to the ancient Near East, specialized Egyptological journals have been (and continue to be) their venue of choice. Although often closely identified with their place of origin, Egyptological journals are generally international, attracting contributors from throughout the scholarly community. Increasingly, specialist journals have come to play an important role in the professional development and advancement of Egyptologists, while nonspecialist journals in Egyptology heighten the profile of the discipline.

In the earliest years of Egyptology, scholars disseminated their findings primarily through monographic publication (often in the form of published “letters” to eminent scholars of the day) or through articles in journals addressed to a more general academic audience. It was not until the mid-nineteenth century that specialist journals began to appear; the earliest major Egyptological journal was Zeitschrift für Aegyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde, founded by Heinrich Brugsch in 1863 and edited for much of its earliest phase by Richard Lepsius. Other Egyptological journals followed in subsequent decades, most notably the French Revue égyptologique, founded by Eugène Revillout, and Recueil de travaux relatifs à la philologie et à l'archéologie égyptiennes et assyriennes, founded by Gaston Maspero. Much English-language work in Egyptology, beginning in the second half of the nineteenth century, was published in the Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology. The turn of the twentieth century saw the beginning of a number of important Egyptological journals, many of which are still published. In Egypt, the Service des Antiquités and the Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale initiated publication of, respectively, the Annales and the Bulletin, both of which have remained important venues for Egyptological publication. The Italian journal Aegyptus also first appeared in the early part of the century; although emphasizing papyrology, Aegyptus also published articles relevant to earlier periods of study. In 1914, two major journals were founded in England: the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology and Ancient Egypt. The former is the official organ of the Egypt Exploration Society and one of the most important Egyptological journals; the latter did not survive its founder, W. M. Flinders Petrie. These two journals illustrate opposing trends in Egyptological journals in general—the journal as official publication of a learned society versus the journal as platform for its founder and primary contributor. American Egyptology saw the publication of the relatively short-lived Mizraim, a journal devoted to Egyptology, papyrology, and ancient law, with Nathaniel Reich as editor and primary contributor. The Belgian Fondation Égyptologique Reine Élisabeth began publishing Chronique d'Égypte before World War II as a forum for scholarship in pharaonic, Greco-Roman, and Christian Egypt, a function it still fills. The French journal Revue de l'Égypte ancienne lasted for only one year (1932), but it gave rise to the more durable Revue d'égyptologie, which remains one of the most important Egyptological journals today.

World War II had an enormous impact on Egyptological journals, both in terms of restrictions on output and in terms of the divided loyalties of an international community of scholars. Most journals experienced limitations in size and frequency, and some suspended publication altogether during the war. The postwar period has seen an enormous increase in journals devoted, entirely or in part, to ancient Egypt, as well as the resurgence of existing journals. Thus, the postwar Studien zur altägyptischen Kultur is a major venue for scholarly publication, while the Cairo-based Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts became especially important for Egyptian archaeology. In North America, where Egyptological articles had previously tended to appear in more general ancient Near East-related journals, such as the Journal of Near Eastern Studies and the Journal of the American Oriental Society, a postwar boom began in organization-based journals such as the Journal for the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities, Bulletin of the Egyptological Seminar, and Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt. Egyptological journals of the 1980s and 1990s have placed more emphasis on Greco-Roman and Christian Egypt. Enchoria: Zeitschrift für Demotistik und Koptologie has filled a pressing need for a journal specific to the later stages of the Egyptian language, while a few papyrological journals (like the Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists) are interacting more and more with Egyptology. Increasing numbers of specialist journals within Egyptology are dealing with language (Lingua Aegyptia) or ceramics (Bulletin de liaison du Groupe International d'Étude de la Céramique Égyptienne; Cahiers de la Céramique Égyptienne). The proliferation of Egyptological journals in the second half of the twentieth century is not an unmixed blessing to the scholar; although an unprecedented amount of information is available to Egyptologists, it becomes increasingly impossible for any one person to master the literature of the field.

A postwar trend in journals printed from camera-ready copy for quick distribution and regular publication is exemplified in Göttinger Miszellen: Beiträge zur ägyptologischen Diskussion. Göttinger Miszellen's founders, Jürgen Horn and Friederich Junge, set it up in 1972 as an experiment in encouraging discussion among Egyptologists, and it remains an essential and prolific journal that has done much to facilitate new work among scholars. Other journals have followed this model (e.g., Discussions in Egyptology), but tend, on the whole, to attract more work by outsiders than by Egyptologists. Journals begun by students have had a lively if erratic history since the 1980s; Sarapis, originating at the University of Chicago, and Wepwawet, from University College in London, both combined articles by graduate students with contributions by more established scholars. By their nature, journals intended for discussion rather than definitive publication are often not refereed; while this can facilitate debate among scholars, the increasing emphasis on publication in refereed journals for the purposes of tenure and promotion in the academic world may make scholars less likely to contribute to such publications.

At present, Egyptological journals face an unpredictable future. The ever-increasing interest by nonspecialists has created a demand for journals that are accessible, but with a scholarly foundation. Two very different journals—KMT: A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt and Egyptian Archaeology—illustrate the ways that Egyptologists are seeking to meet the demand for more popular periodicals with accessible articles, reports from the field, and current news. In contrast to the demand for popular Egyptological publications, specialist Egyptological journals have suffered from rising publication costs, declining library subscriptions, loss of government subsidies, and an overall decrease in academic sponsorship. Many academic disciplines confronted with similar challenges have turned to the Internet as a cheap and easy means of distributing articles. (Bryn Mawr Classical Reviews, which sometimes features book reviews of Egyptological publications, is a good case in point). Some journals, such as Studien zur altägyptischen Kultur and Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists, have turned to the Internet for dissemination of related materials, such as their index, but Egyptological journals in general have not yet taken full advantage of the possibilities of electronic publication and distribution. Online discussion groups devoted to Egyptology, such as Ancient Near East (ANE) and the Egyptologist's Electronic Forum (EEF), have come closest to realizing the potential of modern technology, but they do not fulfill many of the aims of Egyptological journals.

See also REFERENCE WORKS.

Bibliography

  • Beinlich-Seeber, Christine. “Reihen und Zeitschriften.” In Bibliographie Altägypten 1822–1946. (Ägyptologische Abhandlungen 61.1–3.) 3 vols. Wiesbaden, 1998. Volume 1, pages 3–145, is a monumental survey of journals in which Egyptological articles were published between 1822 and 1946.
  • Bierbrier, M. L., ed. Who Was Who in Egyptology. 3d ed. London, 1995. A patient reader can extract much information about the history of Egyptological journals from this standard reference to the lives and careers of Egyptologists.
  • Horn, J., and F. Junge. “Eine neue Zeitschrift-Warum?” Göttinger Miszellen 1 (1972), 3–5. A description of the rationale behind Göttinger Miszellen, by its founders, which addresses the need for journals promoting discussion of Egyptological topics.

Terry G. Wilfong