Department of Egyptology and Assyriology

WORKSHOP: Rethinking the Origins: The Departure of Ancient Egyptian as a Branch From the Afroasiatic Family?

The Department of Egyptology and Assyriology at Brown University invites you to the interdisciplinary workshop Rethinking the Origins which will take place on April 13-15, 2018 at RI Hall 108, 60 George Street, Providence, RI 02912 (the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World).

If you would like to attend this event, we would appreciate it if you registered for the workshop by sending an email with your name to

Rethinking the Origins: the Departure of Ancient Egyptian as a Branch from the Afroasiatic Family is a workshop that seeks to gather world-leading experts on the Ancient Egyptian, Semitic and other Afroasiatic languages, as well as historical linguists in order to discuss an issue that has never been properly addressed in such an interdisciplinary environment: the real position of ancient Egyptian in the Afroasiatic language family. The workshop aims to explore language-specific questions from a phonological, lexical, and morpho-syntactic point of view in order to engage scholars in a linguistic debate on the origins of the earliest codified languages of Africa and the Near East. The main research question concerns the necessity for a new internal classification of the Afroasiatic languages with respect to the position of ancient Egyptian inside this family. In fact, could Pre-Egyptian be the sister, rather than a daughter, of the Proto-Afroasiatic language? 

Friday April 13, 2018 

  • 5:30pm-6:00pm: Welcome and introduction by Dr. James Allen (Brown University)
  • 6:00pm-7:00pm: Keynote lecture Proto-Semitic and Egyptian by Dr. John Huehnergard (University of Texas at Austin)

Saturday April 14, 2018  

  • 8:30am-9:00am: Registration
  • 9:00am-11:30am: Session 1: Phonology
          Dr. Antonio Loprieno (University of Basel) How Many Afroasiatic Origins for Ancient Egyptian?
          Dr. Aren Wilson-Wright (University of Zurich)  Rethinking the Relationship between Egyptian and Semitic:     the Phonological Evidence
          (Presentation Via Skype: Dr. Christopher Ehret (University of California, Los Angeles)  Revisiting Afroasiatic Subclassification)
  • 11:30am-1:30pm: Lunch break
  • 1:30pm-3:10pm: Session 2: Lexicon
          Dr. Jean Winand (University of Liège) Understanding the Egyptian Lexicon with(out) Comparison       
          Dr. Zygmunt Frajzyngier 
    (University of Colorado) Functions Encoded in the Grammatical System and Related Lexicon in Consideration of Genetic Relationship, representing himself and co-author Dr. Michael Avina (University of Colorado)
  • 3:10pm-5:00pm: reception (open to registered attendees)  

Sunday April 15, 2018  

  • 9:00am-11:30am: Session 1: Morphosyntax 
           Dr. Andréas Stauder (École Pratique des Hautes Études) Earlier Egyptian Morphology in Afroasiatic Perspective 
           Dr. Vit Bubenik (Memorial University of Newfoundland)  Reconstructing Proto-Semitic Nominal and Verbal Systems in the Context of Afroasiatic Languages
            Dr. Lameen Souag (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)  Restructured or Archaic? The Hunt for Shared Morphological Innovations
  • 11:30am-1:30pm: Lunch break
  • 1:30pm-4:00pm: Session 2: Where do we go from here? 
            Dr. Chelsea Sanker (Brown University) Shared Innovations and Independent Developments: Issues in Placing Egyptian
            Dr. Elsa Oréal (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) What Is a Family? The Case of Ancient Egyptian and Its Sister Languages
            Dr. Gonzalo Rubio (Pennsylvania State University)  A Tree in the Family Oasis: Phenotype, Genotype and the Limits of Reverse Engineering
  • 4:00pm-5:00pm: Concluding remarks by Dr. Leo Depuydt (Brown University) and goodbye

The Department of Egyptology and Assyriology at Brown University is proud to co-sponsor Rethinking the Origins workshop with the Department of Early Cultures, the Department of Classics, the Department of Middle East Studies, the Cogut Institute for the Humanities, the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE), and ARCE New England. The main organizers of the workshop are Silvia Štubňová ( and Victoria Almansa-Villatoro ( Please send any inquiries directly to them.  

We look forward to welcoming you all at the Workshop on the 13-15