Sam Powell

Sam Powell

Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology
Doctoral Researcher

Contact details


  • MA in Egyptian Material Culture (Swansea University)
  • MA in Archaeology (UCL)
  • BA in Egyptology and Ancient History (Swansea University)


I have volunteered at the Egypt Centre, Swansea for many years, contributing to the running of conferences (such as CIPEG 2018, and Wonderful Things 2019, 2020, and 2021). I assist with care of the collection, researching objects, carrying out condition checks, and assisting researchers with queries. I also moderate the Egypt Centre’s online lectures and classes since March 2020.

Doctoral research

PhD title
Ancient Egyptian wooden funerary figures in UK collections as a reflection of societal shifts from the end of the Old Kingdom to the Late Middle Kingdom (2350-1802 BCE).
Dr Leire Olabarria and Professor Henry Chapman
Classics and Ancient History PhD/MA by Research (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)


My research builds upon an existing Masters dissertation, reassigning probable dating and geographical origins to wooden funerary figures held by the Egypt Centre, Swansea University, expanding the dataset to all examples known in UK institutions. Such figures were the main source of providing continued sustenance for the deceased from the end of the Old Kingdom, replacing tomb relief and physical food offerings, thus representing an important aspect of funerary beliefs for the ancient Egyptians. Through studying the trends in the activities being carried out by the figures, and the shifts in the quality and quantity of figures produced, I will explore whether the diversification of activities portrayed can be seen to echo the concerns of the living; for instance, does an increase in scenes of food production correlate with periods of scarcity?

The First Intermediate Period was traditionally viewed by historians as a time of economic chaos and artistic decline, yet this does not seem to correlate with the stylistic evolution and variation of funerary figures. Rather, this instability can be seen as a desire for greater security in the afterlife with a range and quantity of funerary figures, as opposed to the uncertainty of reliance on the living to maintain one’s funerary cult during times of social and economic upheaval.

Other activities

I am an associate member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (ACIfA) since 2011, co-chair and events officer for the Friends of the Egypt Centre, and a member of the Egypt Exploration Society since 2017 (including being a local representative) I am a recipient of the Stanley Ray scholarship for PhD study, and winner of the Welsh Regional Marsh Award for Museum Learning 2020.