Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten and Nefertiti


This evocative period is marked by exciting - but enigmatic - archaeological discoveries and academic controversy. What actually did happen at Tell el Amarna? Did Akhenaten enjoy a sole reign or did he share the throne with his father? Was Akhenaten’s new capital a utopia or an armed camp ruled by a tyrant? Was Nefertiti a silent partner or did she actually rule as a pharaoh?We consider new - but disputed - DNA tests on the royal mummies. We examine the evidence and review the controversies. The reign ends with disaster and the accession of Tutankhamun. The course includes visits to the magnificent Egyptian collections in Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, and the British Museum in London.   

Programme details

Seminars meet each weekday morning, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study, or exploring the many places of interest in and around the city.

The onset of Revolution. This occurred during the reign of the ‘Dazzling Sun Disk’, the pharaoh Amenhotep 111. The accession of his son Akhenaten challenges and changes traditional beliefs on religion, art, and the nature of kingship. There is now only one god – the Aten – and Akhenaten is his son.

Akhenaten abandons Thebes founding a new capital and cult centre for his god at Amarna. It is adorned with magnificent palaces, temples and tombs. The revolution created a new art with classical idealism distorted into wholly new forms. Lovely paintings show a naturalism surely borrowed from Crete. 

An archive of state documents reveal a sophisticated world of international diplomacy. Letters from royal courts at Anatolia, Babylon, Crete, Mycenae and the Levant document dynastic marriages and international trade Tragedy and death in Amarna is accompanied by rebellion abroad. The dream turns sour, the revolution fails.

We visit the British Museum in London to examine the evidence and the art which documents the origins of the ‘Amarna Revolution’.

The end of the reign and death of the king. Amarna is abandoned. What happened to Nefertiti? The ephemeral Smenkhare and the accession of Tutankhamun. We visit the magnificent Egyptian collection in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford which contains some of the principal sculptures and paintings from this period.

Field trips
Destinations: The British Museum, London; Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
Excursion rating: Moderate - up to two hours' walk on even ground or up to an hour's walk on rough and/or steep ground or up lots of stairs and steps.


Description Costs
Fee option 1 (single en suite accom and meals) £1715.00
Fee option 2 (single standard accom and meals) £1520.00
Fee option 3 (twin en suite accom and meals) £1617.50
Fee option 4 (double en suite accom and meals) £1617.50
Fee option 5 (twin set standard accom and meals) £1520.00
Fee option 6 (no accom; incl lunch and dinner) £1200.00


All fees are charged on a per week, per person basis.

Please be aware that all payments made via non-UK credit/debit cards and bank accounts are subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

Payment terms

  • If enrolling online: full payment by credit/debit card at the time of booking.
  • If submitting an application form: full payment online by credit/debit card or via bank transfer within 30 days of invoice date.

Cancellations and refunds

1. Cancellation by you

Participants who wish to cancel must inform the Programme Administrator in writing: by email to, or by post to The Oxford Experience, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, OXFORD, OX1 2JA, UK.

The following cancellation and refund policy applies in all cases:

  • Cancellation within 14 days of online enrolment / payment of fees – full refund of all fees paid.

  • Cancellations received up to and including 30 April 2022 – OUDCE will retain an administration fee of £100 per week booked; all other fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received between 1-31 May 2022 – OUDCE will retain 60% of the fees paid; the remaining 40% of fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received on and after 1 June 2022 - no refunds will be made.

Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

2. Cancellation by us

OUDCE reserves the right to cancel a course where there is good reason, for example, if exceptionally low enrolment would make it educationally unviable. In these cases we will refund the course fees that you have already paid. If we cancel a course, our liability is limited to the fees that we have received from you; this means that we will not compensate you for any pre-booked travel costs or any other expenses incurred.

Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

The status of this course will be reviewed on 1 May 2022. If it is likely that the course may be cancelled, all those affected will be notified by email within 7 days; if you have not heard from OUDCE by 8 May 2022, you should assume that your course will be running. You may wish to delay finalising your travel arrangements until after this date.

3. Travel insurance

You need to purchase travel insurance to cover the programme fee, travel costs, and any other expenses incurred.


Mr Michael Duigan

Michael Duigan has taught ancient history and art history at the City Literary Institute, London University Birkbeck College and OUDCE for many years.

Teaching methods

Participants will be taught in seminar groups of up to 12 people. Elements of this teaching will normally include mini lectures and presentations by tutors and tutor-led class discussions.

Assessment methods

There are no assessments for this course.


Registratioin closes on 1 May 2022.

Please note: most courses fill up fast so early registration is strongly recommended.

Single accommodation and non-residential places may be booked online by clicking on the “Book now” button in the “Course details” box at the top right-hand side of the course page.

If you experience any difficulties enrolling online please contact the Programme Administrator at

Those requiring twin or double accommodation should complete an application form as these rooms cannot be booked online. Completed forms should be sent:

Level and demands

The Oxford Experience is aimed at non-specialists: no prior knowledge is required, and classes are pitched at an introductory level. The courses are designed for an international audience aged 18 and over.


During your course, you will stay in typical Oxford student accommodation at Christ Church in buildings which range from the 18th to the 20th century.

Participants should note that bedrooms are modestly-furnished, do not have air-conditioning and are arranged on a staircase of four or five floors.

The following types of accommodation are available:

  • Single en suite

  • Single standard

  • Twin en suite

  • Double en suite

  • Standard ‘twin set’.

En suite rooms include private bathroom facilities (shower, washbasin and toilet). Standard rooms have their own washbasin and shaver point but bathroom facilities are shared. ‘Twin sets’ comprise two single rooms opening off a sitting room.

Please note that only single accommodation may be booked online; those requiring twin or double accommodation should complete an application form. (See “Application”.)

Please indicate your accommodation preferences (either online or on your application form), together with a note of any mobility problems.

We regret that we are unable to offer you accommodation at Christ Church prior to or following your course. Additionally, family or friends who are not enrolled in the programme cannot be accommodated in college.

We also offer places on a non-residential basis whereby participants can take classes and have meals (lunch and dinner) at the college, having arranged their own accommodation elsewhere.