ake engsheden

Åke Engsheden


Visa sidan på svenska
Works at Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies
Telephone 08-16 33 66
Visiting address Wallenberglaboratoriet, Lilla Frescativägen 7
Postal address Institutionen för arkeologi och antikens kultur 106 91 Stockholm Stockholm


I am the PI of the research project “Digital Archive of Coptic Ostraca in Sweden”. The project extends for three years and is supported by RJ – The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation. It aims at making available the collections of Coptic ostraca kept by Swedish institutions, first and foremost the collection of Museum Gustavianum in Uppsala. Ostraca are potsherds or limestone flakes, which were used for writing texts, mostly of a temporary character. Coptic is the language of Christian Egypt and was written with the Greek alphabet supplemented by a number of signs stemming from earlier indigenous scripts. The texts can generally be dated to the time between 600 and 800 AD. The material mostly consists of letters, tax receipts, promissory notes, and other kinds of juristic texts. Most texts come from the area around Thebes in Upper Egypt (modern Luxor). Thus these texts constitute important sources for the understanding of everyday life in Late Antique Egypt. Throughout the period covered by these documents, one can observe the transition from the Byzantine period to the early Islamic caliphate.

Dr. Andreas Winkler and Docent Åke Engsheden are involved in the project as researchers, both having a PhD in Egyptology. Photos of the ostraca and the related metadata will be entered into the museum database and integrated into international databases by the conclusion of the project. All the texts will in addition be transcribed and translated into English in order to make the collections more widely available.

Key words

Hieroglyphs, Egyptology, Graeco-Roman Egypt, Late Antiquity, Toponymy.

Brief CV

2014-15 Visiting professor in Egyptology at NENU (Changchun, People’s Republic of China)
2011-12 Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter at Johannes Gutenberg-Universität in Mainz
2006-08 Membre à titre étranger at IFAO, Cairo (Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale)
2006-2013 Researcher at Uppsala University
2002 PhD at Uppsala University (Egyptology)

Studies in Uppsala, Copenhagen and Cologne


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2016. Åke Engsheden. Décrire, imaginer, construire l'espace, 117-135
  • 2016. Åke Engsheden. Medusa. Svensk tidsskrift för antiken 37 (4), 7-15
  • 2016. Åke Engsheden. UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, 1-10

    From 404 BCE - 394 CE hieroglyphic texts were in general composed in the high-status language variety termed Traditional Egyptian. This was used exclusively in religious and sacerdotal contexts and is as such opposed to Demotic, which served both as a spoken and as a written language. Traditional Egyptian is a reflex of how the late scribes perceived the classical language. The result is a morphologically impoverished Egyptian (in comparison with the classical language), in combination with a phonology that corresponds largely to Demotic. Traditional Egyptian served as a vehicle for many new compositions, in particular religious inscriptions in temples and on papyri, but also funerary, historical, and autobiographical texts. Meanwhile, older texts in the classical language continued to be copied: as long as there are no reliable means of dating texts according to linguistic criteria, it remains difficult to establish the exact corpus of texts written in Traditional Egyptian.

  • 2016. Åke Engsheden. Chronique d'Égypte 91 (182), 285-333
  • 2015. Åke Engsheden. Medusa. Svensk tidsskrift för antiken 36 (1), 17-24
Show all publications by Åke Engsheden at Stockholm University

Last updated: November 17, 2018

Bookmark and share Tell a friend