Dr. Bethany Lynn Simpson

Assistant Professor


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Ancient and Classical Art and Archaeology


Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 2014
M.A., University of California, Los Angeles, 2008
B.A., University of California, Berkeley, 2002 (High Honors)


Professor Bethany Simpson received her doctorate in Archaeology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and specializes in the material and visual cultures of the ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt. From 2016-2017 she was a postdoctoral fellow with the Getty Research Institute, participating in their “Classical World in Context” research program, which focused on cultural transmission of art and material culture between the Classical Mediterranean and Near Eastern cultural groups.

In addition to archaeological work in Greece and Italy, she has been part of an ongoing research project in the Egyptian Fayum region since 2008. In 2015, she became director of the Northeast Fayum Lakeshore Project, which investigates several ancient sites, including the ancient town of Karanis (Kom Aushim). The goal of the project is to examine the chronological development of life in the Fayum from the early Ptolemaic Period to Late Antiquity (roughly 300 BCE to 600 CE), with various team members investigating agricultural activities and food preparation, climate change and adaptation strategies, trade and social networking, and daily life interactions with art and visual culture. It is currently supported in part by a grant from the Rust Family Foundation.

Dr. Simpson’s research focuses on the role of domestic architecture in providing the context for how people view the art and visual culture of daily life, with special emphasis on multicultural communities of the Roman Empire. Along with multiple articles based on her archaeological projects, she has a current monograph project focusing on wall paintings of Greco-Roman Egypt, exploring how the display of religious imagery was used to foster social cohesion within families as well as strengthen communal ties between occupants and visitors to domestic spaces. She has also participated in many symposia and conferences, and has a contribution in the forthcoming publication of the Cornell University’s conference proceedings, ‘Better To Dwell in Your Own Small House’: Households of Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt In Context.

Research Interests

Art and Archaeology of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East; Greco-Roman Egypt; domestic architecture; urban environment and spatial planning; daily life of the ancient world; wall painting; polytheistic religion in Late Antiquity


Simpson, Bethany. Karanis: 2002-2015 Excavations of a Greco-Roman Town in the Egyptian Fayyum. 3 volume book manuscript, (Forthcoming)

Simpson, Bethany. Social Negotiations in Neighborhood Access Management: Late Roman Karanis, Egypt. Book manuscript, (Forthcoming)

Simpson, Bethany. “Smiting, Sacrifice, and Sainthood: the Egyptian Influence on Scenes of Violence in Early Christian Art.” Article in British Museum Studies in Ancient Egypt and Sudan, (Forthcoming)

Heinrich, F., M. Rizzetto, N. Shin, E. Cole, and B. Simpson, “The Economy and Environment of Ptolemaic and Roman Al-Qārah al-Ḥamrā, Egypt: Archaeobotanical, Anthracological, and Zooarchaeological Results.” Article in British Museum Studies in Ancient Egypt and Sudan, (Forthcoming)

Simpson, Bethany. “Neighborhood networks: The Civic and Social Organization of Accessways in Ancient Karanis.” Households in Context: Dwelling in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt. Cornell University Press (Forthcoming)

Simpson, Bethany. Reviews for Bryn Mawr Classical Review (2017.67.2) of A. Boozer, Amheida II: a late Romano-Egyptian House in the Dakhla Oasis, and of R. Bagnall, N. Aravecchia, R. Cribiore, P. Davoli, O. Kaper, and S. McFadden, An Oasis City

Simpson, Bethany. Review for the Journal of Roman Studies (JRS 107:472–73) of E. O’Connell (ed), Egypt in the First Millennium AD: Perspectives from New Field Work, 2017


Simpson, Bethany. “Recent Results from the Graeco-Roman Village of Qarah el-Hamra in Fayum, Egypt.” Co-authored with E. Cole (presenter). Archaeological Institute of America annual meeting. Toronto, Canada, January 5–8, 2018     

Simpson, Bethany. “Reconsidering Settlement on the North Shore of Lake Qarun.” Co-authored and presented with E. Cole. Fayum Archaeology Conference, German Archaeological Institute, Cairo. October 29, 2018

Simpson, Bethany. “Digitizing Digs: Combining 20th and 21st Century Excavation Archives from the Fayum, Egypt.” Digital Publication in Mediterranean Archaeology: Current Practice and Common Goals. Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University. October 20, 2017    

Simpson, Bethany. “Neighborhood Gods: Interacting with Divine Images in the Houses and Shrines of Greco-Roman Egypt,” Workshop for the Getty Research Institute, Getty Villa Museum, Malibu, CA. February 2, 2017

Funded Research Projects and Grants

Archaeology Grant, Rust Family Foundation, Fairfield, Connecticut, 2020, 2017