Memorial colloquium to honor Egyptologist William Kelly Simpson

The contributions of late Yale Professor William Kelly Simpson  ’47, ’48 M.A., Ph.D. ’54 to the field of Egyptology and Near Eastern studies will be recognized during a colloquium in his memory on Saturday, Oct. 7.

Simpson died on March 24, 2017 at the age of 89. He joined the Yale faculty as an assistant professor of Near Eastern languages and literatures in 1958 and became a full professor in 1965, which he held until his retirement in 2004. During his tenure at Yale, he also served for nearly 20 years as curator of Egyptian and ancient Near Eastern art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. During his time there, he reopened the museum’s excavation at Giza.  While at Yale, he lead a joint team from the University of Pennsylvania and Yale to Toshka and Arminna as part of the UNESCO campaign to save the Nubian monuments to excavate Egyptianizing tombs and Late Meroitic cemeteries and later to Abydos to work on the Middle Kingdom remains there. From 1967 to 1970, Simpson served as chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Literatures at Yale.

William Kelly Simpson reading and smoking a pipe.

The William Kelly Memorial Colloquium will take place 1-7 p.m. in the Mineral Hall of the Peabody Museum of Natural History, 170 Whitney Ave. It will feature talks by Yale scholars and others in the field of Egyptology and Near Eastern history and studies, including Joseph Manning, the William Kelly and Marilyn M. Simpson Professor of Classics and History; John C. Darnell, professor of Egyptology at Yale; Christina Geisen, a postdoctoral associate in Egyptology at Yale; Lawrence Berman of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; Juan Carlos Moreno Garcia of the French Center for Scientific Research in Paris France; Hans-Werner Fischer-Elfert of the University of Leipzig in Germany; and Janet Richards of the University of Michigan. Tamar Gendler, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Scinces at Yale, will give an introductory address, and Stephen Davis, director of the William K. and Marilyn M. Simpson Egyptology Endowment, will provide concluding remarks. In addition, Tobias K. Seggerman, a nephew of Simpson, will offer a family remembrance of his uncle.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit

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