Biographical Abstract

PETER PICCIONE is an Egyptologist and Near Eastern historian best known as a specialist in ancient Egyptian religion, culture, and language, particularly, Egyptian rituals and those daily-life activities that had specific religious meaning and connotation. Hence, he is an authority on Egyptian games, sporting and athletic activities, and aspects of medicine and medical practices. Since 1998, he holds a position on the faculty of History at the College of Charleston and its graduate unit, the University of Charleston, S.C. Previously, he has taught courses and lectured in Egyptian history, society, medicine, and language at Cornell College, the Oriental Institute Museum in Chicago, Northwestern University, and the Field Museum of Chicago. He is an experienced lecturer and commentator, having presented very many public lectures on the society and culture of ancient Egypt.

Peter earned his doctorate in Egyptology and Near Eastern Studies in 1990 at The Oriental Institute of The University of Chicago. He has lived and traveled widely in Egypt and the Middle East, performing research as an epigrapher and archaeologist for his own research projects, as well as for those of the University of Charleston, S.C., the Oriental Institute, and Northern Arizona University. He has also organized and guided many successful tours to Egypt for museums, research institutes, and interest groups. He has authored articles on Egyptian history, culture and language in peer-reviewed academic journals and publications, as well as the Internet, and he has presented many erudite papers on his research for academic societies and symposia. He is also active as a consultant on Egyptological issues to educational organizations (e.g., National Geographic Society), publishers, film and documentary producers, museums, and private and government agencies.

In recent years, he also has begun working in Egyptian landscape archaeology--even touching on geoarchaeology--adopting the methods and techniques of the earth sciences to understand how the Egyptians modified and adapted their environment, as well as the natural processes that shaped the Egyptian landscape and formed the archaeological sites. He works actively to apply geographical information systems and global positioning mapping to the methods of survey archaeology. Here his work has centered on the cemeteries of Western Thebes, where, he co-directs the On-line Geographical Information System for the Theban Necropolis, which is managed through the Santee-Cooper GIS Laboratory of the College of Charleston. The purposes of this project are: to map the private cemeteries of Western Thebes through ultra-high resolution satellite imagery; to input Egyptological and geographical data on the tombs into a geographical information system (GIS) database; and to make the data available to scholars via the World Wide Web. Related to that effort, he has instituted the Satellite Survey of Western Thebes Project, using differential Global Positioning System (GPS) methodologies to map and locate the tombs on the ground with extreme precision. The fieldwork was funded by the National Endowment for the Humaities, and the projects have been reported in local and national press. As a result, Peter is recognized increasingly as an authority on the geography and landscape of the necropolis of Western Thebes, and he is presently traveling around the U.S. for the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) selected him to its national lecture series for the lecture, "The Triumph of Will over Environment: The Ancient Egyptian Affinity for Megaprojects and Reshaping the Landscape."

In Egypt, Peter has also directed the Theban Tombs Publication Project, in which he and his team documented three rock-cut tombs in the cemeteries of Western Thebes, located across the Nile River from modern Luxor. This work includes archaeological and epigraphical survey and physical conservation of the structures.

Outside of Theban research, Peter's studies include an ancient Egyptian bat-and-ball game, for which he makes thematic associations with modern American baseball. On this topic, he has presented a series of national lectures for the AIA entitled, "Pharaoh at the Bat: Ancient Egyptian Bat and Ball, the Earliest Archetype of American Baseball," and he has presented his research at the National Symposium on Baseball in American Culture in Cooperstown, New York. Some of his illustrations and images of Egyptian bat and ball even hang in the Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame. This research has also been reported extensively in newspapers and magazines throughout the nation and even other parts of the world.

While he was still a graduate student in the 1980's, Peter gained recognition as the decipherer of the long-lost rules of the Egyptian board game, senet, which was the subject of his doctoral research, and which he licensed for commercial distribution under the name King Tut's Game®. At that time, his decipherment garnered much publicity in the international news media (UPI, Reuters, etc.). Future plans include completing his related erudite study, Gaming with the Gods: The Game of Senet and Ancient Egyptian Religious Beliefs.

Previously, Peter's work has been featured in various American and foreign newspapers and on television programs and documentaries, including the NBC "Today Show." His previous interview with the World Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation--about his epigraphic work in Luxor Temple--had been broadcast several times internationally. He has appeared as expert commentator on History Channel documentaries, including "The History of Sex (part 1)" as well as "The XY-Factor" (MPH Productions, Los Angeles), and London Weekend Television documentaries on reconstructive surgery in ancient Egypt. When he is not in Egypt, Peter makes his home in Charleston, S.C., where he teaches, writes, and lectures on Egyptian and Near Eastern history and civilizations.


rev. 10/2019