Olivia Kirk

Olivia Kirk

Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology
Doctoral Researcher

Contact details


'I began my academic journey at Birmingham in 2016, graduating in 2019 with a First-Class degree in Ancient History. I decided to continue my educational development at Birmingham and completed a MA in Antiquity: Classics and Ancient History achieving a Distinction.

Doctoral research


My proposed research is built upon my previous MA dissertation completed at the University of Birmingham in 2022 titled ‘Constructing Egypt: A Study of the effect of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century World Views on the Interpretation of Bovine Iconography from Predynastic Egypt’. A main contention of this study concentrated on the notion that material culture has been repeatedly constructed, deconstructed, and reconstructed to serve the contemporary world views of individuals, social groups, as well as prevailing scholarly trends. I was influenced by Elliott Colla’s Conflicted Antiquities (2007) and Alice Stevenson’s Scattered Finds (2019), both of which work to dissect the influence of contemporary world views on the material culture of Ancient Egypt.

I aim to build upon this previous work to offer a more rounded and detailed exploration of this concept through the investigation of the effect a single individual can have on modern audiences’ understanding of Ancient Egyptian material culture. To explore this idea in my PhD, I intend to utilise a case study centred around William Flinders Petrie and predynastic bovine iconography. Employing museum collections of the UK, I will seek to recontextualize and update these interpretations, exploring the impact of Petrie's findings on modern audiences' understanding of Ancient Egyptian material culture.