Personal profile


Motivated by post-colonial theory, gender studies and socio-cultural history, scholars approach ancient Egyptian identity through reliefs, sculptures and literature. But these media represent the urban elite, and exclude the larger society and peripheral communities, leading to biased and restricted results. Responding to such imbalance, this three-year project will trace socio-cultural biographies of diverse non-elite individuals by decoding their visual communication, inscribed within the world’s largest ancient quarry ‘Kheny’:

How is Kheny acting as a mediating canvas for the biographies of the quarry workers and their visual expressions?

The material includes 10,000 petroglyphs (‘Quarry Art’) from c. 2700 BCE to 200 CE when the quarry was active. The main aims are to 1) assess the socio-cultural and discoursing agency of Quarry Art; 2) discern social systems and processes; identities and daily life; 3) digitally record unique and threatened panels for long-term preservation. To do so, the theory of social semiotics will be revised from language-driven to material-driven research, with Quarry Art as the mediator. Project leader, M. Nilsson (Lund University), runs the Swedish expedition in Egypt since 2012, and has intimate knowledge and access to the material. A research assistant and technician at HumLab will offer digital expertiese. The work will have international impact by its new approach to Egyptology, Anthropological rock art research, and Communication science.

UKÄ subject classification

  • Classical Archaeology and Ancient History
  • Archaeology


Dive into the research topics where Maria Nilsson is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles

Collaborations the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or
  • Animals of Ancient Kheny: The Rupestrian Collection

    Nilsson, M., Ward, J. & Wyatt, J., 2023 Oct, Animals in Religion, Economy and Daily Life of Ancient Egypt and beyond. Pirelli, R., Pubblico, M. D. & Ikram, S. (eds.). Naples: Unior Press, p. 271–290 20 p. (Studi Africanistici - Serie Egittologica ; vol. 4).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

    Open Access
  • Greek Inscriptions on the East Bank

    Nilsson, M., Ward, J. & Almásy, A., 2023 May 24, Leiden: Brill. 356 p. (The Swedish Expedition to Gebel el-Silsila)

    Research output: Book/ReportBookResearchpeer-review

    Open Access
  • A Baroque Period: Gebel el-Silsila at the End of the 18th Dynasty

    Billing, N., Martinez, P., Nilsson, M. & Ward, J., 2023, ICE XII: Proceedings of the Twelfth International Congress of Egyptologists, 3rd - 8th November 2019, Cairo. el-Aguizy, O. & Kasparian, B. (eds.). Cairo: IFAO, p. 365-372 8 p. (Bibliothèque générale (BiGen); no. 71).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

  • Quarryscape Epigraphy: Feet and Sandals as Private Attestations at Gebel el-Silsila – Shatt el-Rigal

    Nilsson, M. & Ward, J., 2023, Rock inscriptions and graffiti from Ancient Egypt: A companion to Secondary Epigraphy. Ragazzoli, C., Hassan, K. & Salvador, C. (eds.). Cairo: IFAO, p. 137–170 (Bibliothèque d'étude ; vol. 182)(IF; vol. 1266).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPaper in conference proceedingpeer-review

  • A decade of loving Kheny: Ten year Anniversary of the Gebel el-Silsila Project

    Nilsson, M. & Ward, J., 2022 Jan, Ancient Egypt Magazine, 22:3, 129, p. 16-23 8 p.

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publication or newspaperSpecialist publication articlePopular science