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Missouri S&T historian uplifts women who shaped the study of ancient Egypt in new book

Missouri S&T historian Kathleen Sheppard and her forthcoming book "Women in the Valley of the Kings."
Courtesy / Sean Elliot
Missouri S&T historian Kathleen Sheppard and her forthcoming book "Women in the Valley of the Kings."

Most books that explore the field of Egyptology favor the work of men. But in its earliest days, women made critical contributions to the field by excavating Egypt’s deserts, collecting and cataloging ancient artifacts, and taking field notes.

Missouri S&T historian Kathleen Sheppard set out to overturn the male-dominated narrative of who built the field of Egyptology.

“When it came time to write a full history of Egyptology, the question was, ‘Who gets into the picture?’” Sheppard said. “I realized that it had to be about these women because they were fundamental. They were sort of the invisible folks. It was a need — this story must be told.”

In her forthcoming book, “Women in the Valley of the Kings: The Untold Story of Women Egyptologists in the Gilded Age,” Sheppard uplifts the early European women whose work was forgotten and intentionally marginalized.

Through narratives and rich archival evidence, Sheppard showcases the complex personal and professional lives of women who challenged gender roles and made a mark on how Ancient Egypt is understood today.

To learn more about the women shaped the study of Ancient Egypt, listen to the full St. Louis on the Air conversation on Apple Podcast, Spotify and YouTube, or click the play button below.

Work of early women Egyptologists celebrated in new book

Related Event 
What: St. Louis County Library Foundation’s Westfall Politics and History Series Presents Historian Kathleen Sheppard
When: 7 p.m. July 16
Where: Clark Family Branch (1640 S. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63131)

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Ulaa Kuziez, Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Roshae Hemmings is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr

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Ulaa Kuziez is a junior studying Journalism and Media at Saint Louis University. She enjoys storytelling and has worked with various student publications. In her free time, you can find her at local parks and libraries with her nephews.