Living the Dream: 27 Years of Fieldwork in the Egyptian Sahara

Free Public Lecture

Living the Dream: 27 Years of Fieldwork in the Egyptian Sahara

This is a story of living the dream; achieving what Dr Gillian Bowen once considered impossible. By telling her story, she hopes to inspire not only young academics, but also students of all ages, particularly those who feel disillusioned and that a fulfilling career is out of reach. From an early age she was fascinated by the ancient world and dreamed of working in that field. In 1980, thanks to Whitlam’s free access to higher education, she joined numerous other mature-age students and began to study Ancient History at Monash University. Following her Honours year, a fortuitous meeting with Colin Hope and a subsequent invitation to join his archaeological team in Egypt’s Dakhleh Oasis, led to the fulfilment of a life-long passion: excavating in Egypt. It also provided her with an ideal PhD topic.

In this talk Bowen will look at the highlights of her research in Dakhleh Oasis, which focuses upon the early Christian monuments of the region. It includes an introduction to the ancient village of Kellis which was abandoned at the end of the 4th century and preserves some of the earliest surviving churches as well as a wealth of evidence of everyday life. Bowen will also look at our interaction with the local communities and the men we rely on to undertake the hard excavation work.


  • Dr Gillian Bowen
    Dr Gillian Bowen, Adjunct Research Fellow