Dr. Elizabeth Cummins to speak on humor and politics in ancient Egyptian art


Dr. Elizabeth A. Cummins will speak at Northwestern State University Wednesday, March 7 at 7 p.m. in Room 227 of Morrison Hall. Her topic is “Not Your Mummy’s Memes: Humor and Politics in New Kingdom Art.” This event is free and open to the public, though some humor may not be suitable for young children.

“Humor is not often the first topic to come to mind when one considers ancient Egypt,” said Cummins. “However, a group of papyri and ostraca, primarily dating to the time of the New Kingdom (1550-1070 BCE), depict a “topsy-turvy” world through the means of satire.”

According to Cummins, some images are thought to represent tales from oral tradition and insert animals into the roles of humans. Mice are seen as the elite, elegantly dressed in similar fashion to the ancient Egyptian nobility, while cats wait on them as servants.

“Were these images meant to directly challenge the position of the pharaoh?,” she said.

Cummins earned her Ph.D. in Art History at Emory University, her M.A. in Egyptology at the University of Memphis, Museum Certification at Tufts University (working with the Harvard University Egyptian Collection), and her B.A. at Loyola University in New Orleans.

Cummins’ lecture has been supported by a grant from the Committee for the Promotion of Latin in the Classical Association of the Middle West and South, by the Louisiana Scholars’ College and by the Iota Beta Chapter of Eta Sigma Phi, the National Classics Honor Society.