Meredith Brand is the W. Benson Harer Egyptology Scholar in Residence for 2022, the fourth Egyptologist to visit and teach at Cal State San Bernardino since the start of the visiting scholar program in 2018. 

She currently teaches classes in the departments of history and anthropology, and is working to promote the Egyptian collection at the Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art (RAFFMA). 

On April 5 at 1 p.m., Brand will present a keynote talk at RAFFMA, “Making Millions of Pots: How the Cult in Ancient Egypt Met Its Demand for Pottery.” The talk will explore the economic side of the temple ritual by looking at the complex industry that provided beer jars and small offering dishes for cultic activity.

“We are so very happy to be able to host an amazing scholar like Dr. Meredith Brand at CSUSB,” said associate professor of history and Benson and Pamela Harer Fellow in Egyptology, Kate Liszka. “Her presence at CSUSB provides our students with an unparalleled opportunity to learn from the best. And it also helps to build our burgeoning, unique undergraduate program in Egyptology.” 

Brand is sharing her specialization in the ancient economy of Egypt with CSUSB students in her course, “A World Without Money: The Economy of Ancient Egypt and the Near East.” In the course, students learn to interpret the ancient sources to understand how production, consumption and trade occurred before the invention of coin money. This class is valuable to students because it examines social, political and economic issues that are still relevant today. 

Learning about ancient Egypt’s economy has been incredibly fun and insightful!” Erika Kelley, a CSUSB senior history major, said. “Understanding how their economy worked, what resources and materials made up their economy, and how it affected not only their civilization but the ancient world in general has made understanding the inner workings of the ancient world much easier.

“It has also provided me with a new way of looking at the artifacts and documents left behind by the ancient Egyptians,” Kelley said. “They no longer are just pretty or religious objects; they have economic and social weight to them as well. I am really happy that I decided to take this class.”

Brand is also working closely with RAFFMA to help promote the Ancient Egyptian collection to the outside world. She created all new educational video materials about labor in the ancient Egyptian afterlife by looking at shabtis (small statuettes that magically came to life in the afterworld to do work on behalf of the deceased), and participated in a podcast talking about what ancient Egyptian pottery can reveal about their society.

Brand received her BA (’06) in Egyptology from the American University in Cairo, and her MA (’08) and Ph.D. (’19) in Egyptian Archaeology from the University of Toronto.

She currently teaches a variety of courses centering on ancient Egypt, archaeology and the history of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo’s Rhetoric and Composition Department, Core Curriculum, and the Department of Sociology, Egyptology, and Anthropology.

Her research focuses on understanding the economy of ancient Egypt in terms of daily life, labor and industry, and the economics of religious practice. Brand uses pottery to address ancient economies, employing diverse methodologies in ceramic analysis, including scientific analysis of clay.

She has been the ceramicist on several excavations in Egypt and is a co-director and chief ceramicist for the Wadi el-Hudi Expedition to Egypt. Brand is currently working on a monograph based on her doctoral dissertation, “Socio-Economic Context of Votive Pottery Production at Abydos, Egypt,” which compares the economics of pottery production for private pilgrimage cults and temple ritual at one of Egypt’s most important religious sites.

Brand also promotes archaeological science and Egyptology to the public in television and journalism. She was a freelance archaeological science writer for the publications Nature Middle East and Mada Masr. More recently, she has appeared in several archaeology TV shows for NatGeo and Discovery Science.

CSUSB is the only Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and one of the only state schools in the United States in which students can earn a certificate in Egyptology and take advanced classes in that subject.