When Women Ruled the World

October 28, 2021 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

View recorded event for a limited time Access ends November 18.

In the event that we reach Zoom capacity for this program, please log onto the Museum’s Facebook page to watch the talk live. 

A woman’s power in the ancient world (and perhaps even today) was always compromised from the outset, and this lecture by Dr. Kara Cooney will address the root causes of this social inequality. Given this social reality in the ancient world, how then did women negotiate their limited leadership roles? Were they able to rule “behind the throne” so to speak? How are we to find a woman’s power when it was so habitually cloaked by a man’s dominance? This lecture will address those questions and ask how much of this ancient reality still touches us today.

Kathlyn (Kara) Cooney is a professor of Egyptian Art and Architecture and Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA. Cooney’s research in coffin reuse, primarily focusing on the 21st Dynasty, is ongoing. Her book Recycling for Death will appear in the coming year with American University Press in Cairo. This research investigates the socioeconomic and political turmoil that has plagued the period, ultimately affecting funerary and burial practices in ancient Egypt. This project has taken her around the world over ten years to study and document more than 300 coffins in multiple collections, including Cairo, London, Paris, Berlin, and Vatican City. Her latest book, When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt, was published in 2018 by National Geographic Press. Her next book, The Good Kings: Absolute Power in Ancient Egypt and the Modern World appears with National Geographic Books in 2021.

Keep an eye out for our upcoming Art Unbound podcast program, titled Awkward Questions for Kara Cooney, where we will continue teasing out some of the challenging questions within the field of Egyptology and museum exhibitions.  Please submit your questions for Kara Cooney to pam.to/awkward.

This lecture is sponsored in part by the European American Art Council of the Portland Art Museum and the Mary Ausplund Tooze Endowed Visiting Professor of Islamic & Ancient Art Fund at Portland State University.


The Portland Art Museum is pleased to offer accommodations to ensure that our programs are accessible and inclusive. All spaces for this program are accessible by wheelchair. Assistive listening devices are also available for lectures. All restrooms have accessible stalls but no power doors. There are single-stall all-gender bathrooms available. Please ask staff for directions.

We will do our best to accommodate your needs when you arrive, however, we need 2-3 weeks advance notice for some specific requests. Please email requests to access@pam.org, or call 503-226-2811.

Dr. Kara Cooney