Egittologia Pisa

19/12/2023 – International conference: “Being well in ancient Egypt”

We are pleased to announce the programme of the international conference “Being well in ancient Egypt: health and healing as interpretative instruments in the study of ancient societies”, organised by Profs Marilina Betrò and Gianluca Miniaci and Dr. Gabriele Mario Conte, and funded by Associazione VOLO with contributions from the University of Pisa.

The event will be held at Centro Congressi “Le Benedettine” (Piazza S. Paolo a Ripa d’Arno 16, Pisa) on 19 December 2023, and will be streamed live at:

The conference is part of the cycle “EST – Egyptological Seminars under the Tower“.


Recent historical events have confirmed the importance of health as a fundamental aspect of social, economic, and personal stability. The impact of diseases not only affects the human body, but also social dynamics, human relations, and the economy. Therefore, healing practice not only involves the medical knowledge but also the accessibility of treatments, the availability of remedies, the professionalism of the physician, and the general conception of health and illness. The conference aims at exploring the presence of health and medicine in the Egyptian society from different points of view: importance of human remains for the study of social dynamics; diffusion of healing instruments and knowledge in the social, urban and environmental context; social position of the actors of the healing process. The different perspectives offered by the lectures will provide new insights on the importance of medicine as a research tool to better understand ancient Egyptian society.


10.30–10.45 Welcome by Prof. Marilina Betrò (Università di Pisa)

Introduction: Towards an archaeology of health

10.45-11.30 Joanna Sofaer (University of Southampton), Theoretical and methodological challenges in addressing well-being in archaeology

Society through the human remains

11.30–12.15 Sonia Zakrzewski (University of Southampton), Palaeopathology, Identity, DisAbility and Eunuchism in Ptolemaic-Roman Egypt

12.15–13.00 Gretchen Dabbs (Southern Illinois University), What your skeleton can reveal about my life: Exploring social dynamics of health at Amarna

13.00-14.00 lunch break

Accessibility of medical knowledge: Texts and communities

14.00-14.45 Hans-Werner Fischer-Elfert (Universität Leipzig), Ancient Egyptian medicine beyond medical handbooks: A case study in practical ophthalmology

14.45-15.30 Gabriele Conte (Università di Pisa), Presence and accessibility of healing practitioners in ancient Egyptian communities

Traces of healing practices in the material culture

15.30-16.15 Gianluca Miniaci (Università di Pisa), “Words to be spoken over a crocodile in clay”: The entanglement between material culture and texts for body protection in ancient Egypt

Discussion and conclusion