Kathlyn (Kara) Cooney

A photo of Kathlyn (Kara) Cooney
E-mail: cooney@g.ucla.edu Office: Kaplan Hall 384

Professor; Chair, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures

Fields of Interest: Ancient Egypt and North Africa, Ancient Egyptian Art, Funerary Practices



  • PhD, Egyptian Art and Archaeology, Johns Hopkins University, 2002
  • BA,  German and Humanities, University of Texas at Austin, 1994


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 research investigates the socioeconomic and political turmoil that have plagued the period, ultimately affecting funerary and burial practices in ancient Egypt. This project has taken her around the world over the span of five to six years to study and document more than 300 coffins in collections around the world, including Cairo, London, Paris, Berlin, and Vatican City. Her first trade book, The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt is an illuminating biography of its least well-known female king and was published in 2014 by Crown Publishing Group. Her latest books include When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt (2018) and The Good Kings: Absolute Power in Ancient Egypt and the Modern World (2021), both published by National Geographic Press.



  • 2021 – “You’re In or You’re Out: The Inclusion or Exclusion of Sacred Royal Bodies in the Tomb of the 21st Dynasty High Priests of Amen,” in: The Sacred Body: Materializing the Divine Through Human Remains in Antiquity, Nicola Laneri, ed., Oxford and Philadelphia: Oxbow, 59-81.
  • 2021 – “Finding Nitocris: Patterns of Female Power at the End of the Old Kingdom,” in: One Who Loves Knowledge: Festschrift in Honor of Richard Jasnow. Material and Visual Culture of Ancient Egypt. Betsy Bryan, Tina di Cerbo, Mark Smith eds., Atlanta: Lockwood Press.
  • 2021 – “A Case Study of Multiple Coffin Reuse in the National Museums Scotland,” in: Katya Barbash and Kathlyn M. Cooney, eds., Afterlives of Egyptian History: A Festschrift for Edward Bleiberg, Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 143-152.
  • 2020 – “The Bab el Gasus Coffin Cache: Patterns of Reuse,” in Bab el Gasus in Context: International Colloquium, Lisbon, September 19-20 2016, Rogério Sousa, Kathlyn Cooney, and Alessia Amenta, eds., Gate of the Priests Series, L’Erma di Bretschneider (Rome), 109-136.
  • 2019 – MacLeod, Caroline Arbuckle and Kathlyn M. Cooney, “The layered life of JE26204: the construction and reuse of the coffins of Henuttawy,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 105 (2), 285-296.
  • 2019 – “Patterns of Coffin Reuse from Dynasties 19 to 22,” in Ancient Egyptian Coffins – Past – Present – Future, Dawson, Julie and Helen Strudwick (eds.), Oxbow Books (Oxford), 96-108.
  • 2018 – “Coffin reuse in the 21st Dynasty: a case study of the Bab el-Gasus coffins in the Egyptian Museum of Florence,” In Sousa, Rogério (ed.), The tomb of the priests of Amun: burial assemblages in the Egyptian Museum of Florence, Leiden; Boston: Brill, 492-514.
  • 2018 – “The End of the New Kingdom in Egypt: How Ancient Egyptian Funerary Materials Can Help Us Understand Society in Crisis,” in: The Ramesside Period in Egypt: Studies into Cultural and Historical Processes of the 19th and 20th Dynasties, Proceedings of the International Symposium Held at Heidelberg, 5th to 7th June, 2015, Ute Rummel and S. Kubisch, eds., Sonderschrift des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Abteilung Kairo, Wiesbaden.
  • 2018 – “Coffin Reuse in Dynasty 21: A Case Study of the Coffins in the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden,” in: The Coffins of the Priests of Amun: Egyptian coffins from the 21st Dynasty in the collection of the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, ed. Lara Weiss, Sidestone Press.
  • 2017 – “Reuse of Egyptian Coffins in the 21st Dynasty: Ritual Materialism in the Context of Scarcity,” in: The First Vatican Coffins Conference, 19-22 June, 2013. Conference Proceedings, Alessia Amenta, editor. Gregorian Museums, Vatican.
  • 2016 – “The Life of the Egyptian Coffin: Preliminary Report,” Backdirt, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology (University of California Los Angeles), 32-37.
  • 2016 – “Hergebruik van mummie-kisten in de 21e dynastie: De Eisen van Rituele Transformatie,” Mehen 2016/2017, 7-25.
  • 2015 – “Placating the Dead: Evidence of Social Crisis in 20th and 21st Dynasty Texts from Western Thebes,” in: Joyful in Thebes: Studies in Honor of Betsy M. Bryan, Richard Jasnow and Kathlyn Cooney, eds., Lockwood Press (Atlanta).
  • 2015 – “Coffins, Sarcophagi, and Cartonnage,” in: M. Hartwig, ed., A Companion to Egyptian Art, Wiley-Blackwell (Oxford), 269-292.
  • 2015 – “The Ongoing Study of Coffin Reuse in 21st Dynasty Egypt,” Backdirt, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology (University of California Los Angeles), 42-47. Co-authored with Marissa Stevens.
  •  2014 – “Private Sector Tomb Robbery and Funerary Arts Reuse according to West Theban Documentation,” in Deir el Medina Studies: Helsinki June 24 – 26 2009, Proceedings, ed. Jaana Toivari-Viitala, Turo Vartiainen, and Saara Uvanto. The Finnish Egyptological Society, Occasional Publications 2 (Helsinki), 16-28.
  • 2014 – “Ancient Egyptian Funerary Arts as Social Documents: Social Place, Reuse, and Working Towards a New Typology of 21st Dynasty Coffins,” in Body, Cosmos, and Eternity: New Research Trends in the Iconography and Symbolism of Ancient Egyptian Coffins, Rogério Sousa, editor, Archaeopress Egyptology 3 (Oxford), 45-66.
  • 2014 – “A 21st Dynasty Coffin Fragment in Private Collection in Leiden,” A Workman’s Progress: Studies in the Village of Deir el-Medina and Other Documents from Western Thebes in Honour of Rob Demarée, B.J.J. Haring, O.E. Kaper, and R. van Walsem, editors. Egyptologische Uitgaven, Netherlands Institute of the Near East, Leiden, Peeters (Leuven), 21-32.
  • 2012 – “Apprenticeship and Figured Ostraca from the Ancient Egyptian Village of Deir el-Medina,” inArchaeology and Apprenticeship: Body Knowledge, Identity, and Communities of Practice, W. Wendrich, ed., University of Arizona Press Press (Tucson), 145-170.
  • “Coffin Reuse in the 21st Dynasty: How and Why did the Egyptians reuse the Body Containers of their Ancestors?” Backdirt, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology (University of California Los Angeles), 22-33.
  • 2012 – “Objectifying the Body: The Increased Value of the Ancient Egyptian Mummy during the Socioeconomic Crisis of Dynasty Twenty-one,” in: J. Papadopoulos and G. Urton, eds., The Construction of Value in the Ancient World, Cotsen Institute Press (Los Angeles): 139-159.
  • 2012 – “The Woman who Would be King,” Lapham’s Quarterly V,4 (fall 2012) edition entitled Politics: 216-221.
  • 2011 – “Changing burial practices at the end of the New Kingdom: Defensive Adaptations in Tomb Commissions, Coffin Commissions, Coffin Decoration, and Mummification,” Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt 47: 3-44.
  • 2010 – “Gender Transformation and the Egyptian Coffin: A Ramesside Case Study,” Near Eastern Archaeology 73/4: 2-15.
  • 2009 – “Where does the Masculine Begin and the Feminine End? The Merging of the Two Genders in Egyptian Coffins during the Ramesside Period,” in: Ehrenmord und Emanzipation: Die Geschlechterfrage in Ritualen von Parallelgesellschaften, B. Heininger, ed., LIT Verlag (Münster): 99-124.
  • 2008 – “The Fragmentation of the Female: Re-gendered Funerary Equipment as a Means of Rebirth,” in: Sex and Gender in Ancient Egypt, C. Graves-Brown, ed., Classical Press of Wales (Swansea): 1-25.
  • 2008 – “The Social and Economic Aspects of Funerary Arts in Ancient Egypt: How much did a Coffin Cost?” in: To Live Forever: Egyptian Treasures from the Brooklyn Museum of Art, E. Bleiberg, ed. (New York), 110-141.
  • 2008 – “Profit or Exploitation? The Production of Private Ramesside Tombs within the West Theban Funerary Economy,” Journal of Egyptian History 1 (2008): 79-115.
  • 2008 – “Androgynous Bronze Figurines in Storage at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art,” in: Sue H. D’Auria, ed., Servant of Mut. Studies in Honor of
    Richard A. Fazzini
    . Probleme der Ägyptologie series, 28. (Leiden): 63-72.
  • 2008 – “The Functional Materialism of Death: a Case Study of Funerary Material in the Ramesside Period,” in: Das Heilige und die Ware, IBAES VII, M. Fitzenreiter, ed., Golden House Publications (London): 273-299.
  • 2007 – “The Ancient Egyptian Labor Force,” in: The Egyptian World, T. Wilkinson, ed., Routledge Press (London).
  • 2006 – “An Informal Workshop: Textual Evidence for Private Funerary Art Production in the Ramesside Period,” in: Living and Writing in Deir el MedineSocio-historical Embodiment of Deir el Medine Texts, July 2004, Aegyptiaca Helvetica series 19, Andreas Dorn and Tobias Hoffmann, eds. (Basel): 43-56.
  • 2005 – “The Daily Offering Meal in the Ritual of Amenhotep I: An Instance of the Local Adaptation of Cult Liturgy,” co-authored with J. Brett McClain, Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions 5, 41-79.
  • 2005 – “Zwischen Ägyptologie und Afrozentrismus,” Ma’at. Archäologie Ägyptens 2, 6-11.
  • 2005 – “Scarabs in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Part I: Intimate Protection or Distributed Propaganda? Scarabs in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art,” co-authored with Johnna Tyrrell, PalArch, Netherlands Scientific Journal 4, 1 (October): 1-13.
  • 2005 – “Scarabs in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Part II: Catalogue of Scarabs in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art,” co-authored with Johnna Tyrrell, PalArch, Netherlands Scientific Journal 4, 1 (October): 15-98.
  • 2002 – “The Value of Art in New Kingdom Egypt: the Commission of Private Funerary Arts in the Ramesside Period,” Center: Journal of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art 22: 69-73.
  • 2002 – “Prologue” in: The Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt, Betsy M. Bryan and Erik Hornung, eds. (Washington, D.C.): xi-xiv.
  • 2000 – “The Edifice of Taharqa:  Ritual Function and the Role of the King,” Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt 37: 15-47.


  • Women and Power in Ancient World (Ancient Near East 15)
  • Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt, Predynastic Period to New Kingdom (Ancient Near East/Art History CM101A)
  • Ancient Egyptian Civilization (Ancient Near East/History M103A)
  • Late Egyptian (Ancient Near East 210)
  • Seminar: Ancient Egypt (Ancient Near East 220)
  • Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt, Predynastic Period to New Kingdom (Ancient Near East C267A)
  • Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt, New Kingdom to Greco-Roman Period (Ancient Near East C267B)