Joann Fletcher

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Joann Fletcher
Born (1966-08-30) 30 August 1966 (age 56)
TitleHonorary Visiting Professor
Academic background
EducationBarnsley College
Alma materUniversity College London
University of Manchester
ThesisAncient Egyptian Hair: a study in style, form, and function (1995)
Academic work

Joann Fletcher (born 30 August 1966) is an Egyptologist and an honorary visiting professor in the department of archaeology at the University of York. She has published a number of books and academic articles, including several on Cleopatra, and made numerous television and radio appearances. In 2003, she controversially claimed to have identified the mummy of Queen Nefertiti.

Early life and education

Fletcher was born on 30 August 1966 in Barnsley.[1][2][3] She was educated at Barnsley College, a sixth-form and further education college in Barnsley.[3] She studied ancient history and Egyptology at University College London, specializing in the Ptolemaic dynasty and Cleopatra, and also in ancient Egyptian hair, wigs, and forms of adornment.

She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 1987. Her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree completed in 1996 was undertaken at the University of Manchester, with the thesis on hair and wigs entitled "Ancient Egyptian Hair: a study in style, form, and function".[4][5]


Fletcher is honorary visiting professor in the Department of Archaeology at the University of York and Head of the Local Ambassador Programme at the Egypt Exploration Society.[6] She is a consultant Egyptologist for Harrogate Museums and Arts[7] and an archaeology consultant for the museums of Wigan and Barnsley,[8][9] for which she curated a trio of exhibitions in 2017–2018.[10]

In addition, she has contributed to galleries at the National Museum of Ireland, the Great North Museum in Newcastle, Sheffield’s Weston Park Museum, and Scarborough’s Rotunda Museum, as well as having made contributions to the Burrell Collection in Glasgow, a series of mummification exhibitions at Bolton, Burnley, Warrington, and Hull & East Riding museums, and she made contributions to Leiden's Rijksmuseum as part of their 1994 exhibition Clothing of the Pharaohs. In 2012, she and Dr. Stephen Buckley worked with Sheffield's Medico-Legal Centre to mummify a human body donor. They continued this long-term project with the Gordon Museum of Pathology at King's College London, where the body is housed, in line with the wishes of the individual and his family.[11]

In 2003, Fletcher designed the first UK GCSE-equivalent qualification in Egyptology on behalf of the government education body ABC Centra, a programme that ended in 2008. She is co-founder of the York University Mummy Research Group, with whom she has studied human remains from South America, Yemen, Italy, Ireland, the Canary Islands, and Egypt, including the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings. She has undertaken excavation work in Egypt, Yemen, and the UK, and has examined mummies both on-site and in collections around the world.

Fletcher writes for The Guardian newspaper and the BBC History Magazine and website (including major input into their multimedia project "Death in Sakkara", which won the New Media Award in 2005) and has made numerous appearances on television and radio. She was lead investigator and series consultant in the History Channel television series Mummy Forensics, was at the centre of Mummifying Alan: Egypt's Last Secret, a documentary for Channel 4 and Discovery, the subject of a long-term project she initiated with Dr. Stephen Buckley that rewrote the current understanding of mummification. As part of this documentary she won the 2011 Royal Television Society Award for Science and Natural History, the BAFTA Award for Specialist Factual programme, and an AIB (Association for International Broadcasting) Award for Best Science programme.

In 2015, she was the recipient of the prestigious ‘Surprise Award’ presented at the Proud of Barnsley Awards Ceremony and in 2016, she received the Freedom of the Borough of Barnsley for exceptional service to the Borough award.[12] Her publications include The Story of Egypt, Cleopatra the Great and The Search for Nefertiti, together with guidebooks, journal articles, and academic papers.[13]

Queen Nefertiti

In 2003, Fletcher and a multidisciplinary scientific team from the University of York, including the forensic anthropologist, Don Brothwell, took part in an expedition to the Valley of the Kings in Egypt that was sanctioned by Zahi Hawass, then head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA). The investigation pursued a hypothesis put forward by Fletcher that one of the three mummies studied could be the mummified body of Queen Nefertiti. All three of the mummified bodies had been found among a cache of mummies in tomb KV35 in 1898. The team's scientific findings supported this and the hypothesis was included in the official report submitted to Hawass and the SCA shortly after the 2003 expedition.[14] The expedition, the result of 12 years of research, was funded by the Discovery Channel, which also produced a documentary on the findings.

Fletcher's conclusions were dismissed by the majority of Egyptologists (some of whom previously claimed that the mummy in question was male who was young as fifteen years old, a theory now disproven),[15] and the evidence used to support Fletcher's theories was declared as insufficient, circumstantial, and inconclusive. Archaeology, a publication of the Archaeological Institute of America, asserted that Fletcher's "identification of the mummy in question as Nefertiti is balderdash".[16] Zahi Hawass, head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, subsequently banned her from working in Egypt because he said "Dr. Fletcher has broken the rules." Hawass explained this action in an article in the newspaper Al-Ahram:

"There are more than 300 foreign expeditions currently working in Egypt, and they all follow the same guidelines. We grant concessions to any scholar affiliate to a scientific or educational institution, and it has long been accepted code of ethics that any discovery made during excavations should first be reported to the SCA. By going first to the press with what might be considered a great discovery, Fletcher broke the bond made by York University with the Egyptian authorities. And by putting out in the popular media what is considered by most scholars to be an unsound theory, Fletcher has broken the rules and therefore, at least until we have reviewed the situation with her university, she must be banned from working in Egypt."[16]

According to The Times newspaper, British archaeologists "leapt to her defence", however, and they reported that the research team members stood by their findings.[17][18][19] The team members maintained that no rules were broken, on the basis that the official report submitted to the SCA included Fletcher's hypothesis, described by others as a 'discovery', and that Hawass had been informed of what was to be put forward in the television programme prior to the Discovery Channel documentary being aired.[20]

Soon, professional publications revealed that others, including a fierce critic at the time,[21] agreed with Professor Fletcher’s original identification,[22] and eventually, the Hawass ban was lifted. Fletcher resumed working in the Valley of the Kings in April 2008.

Television and radio appearances

  • 1991: Midweek (Egyptian Hair and Cosmetics), BBC Radio 4 (21.2.91)
  • 1998: Post-Mortem: Egypt Uncovered, SC4/Discovery
  • 1999: Mystery of the Mummies: Cave Mummies of the Canary Islands, Union Pictures/Channel 4
  • 1999: Big Breakfast interview, Channel 4 (21.6.99)
  • 1999: Face of the Pharaoh, MBC/National Geographic
  • 1999: Midweek (Mummies), BBC Radio 4 (9.6.99)
  • 2000: Private Lives of the Pharaohs, 3-part series, TV6/Channel 4
  • 2000: Face Values: the story of cosmetics, Black Inc./Discovery
  • 2000: The Oldest Mummies in the World: the Chinchorro, Cicada/Discovery
  • 2001: Terry Jones’ Hidden History of Egypt, Seventh Art/BBC
  • 2001: Terry Jones’ Surprising History of Sex and Love, Seventh Art/BBC
  • 2002: Who Murdered Tutankhamen: Revealed, Atlantic/Discovery/Channel 5
  • 2002: The Immortals of Ancient Sheba: the Yemeni Mummies, Juniper/National Geographic/Channel 4
  • 2002: The True Curse of the Mummy, Stone City Films/Channel 5
  • 2002: Pyramid (interactive), BBC Digital Channel
  • 2003: The Black Mummy of Libya, Fulcrum/Channel 5
  • 2003: Nefertiti Revealed, Atlantic/Discovery/Channel 5
  • 2003: Carvilius: the Mummy of Rome, GA&A/National Geographic
  • 2003: Ancient Egyptians, WalltoWall/Channel 4
  • 2003: The Making of Ancient Egyptians, WalltoWall/Channel 4
  • 2003: Everywoman, World Service Radio (14.6.03)
  • 2005: Death In Sakkara, BBC Interactive
  • 2005: The Myth, the Magic, and the Mummy’s Curse, BBC Interactive Museum exhibition
  • 2005: New research on the life and death of Irt-yruw, Tyne-Tees news (16.11.05)
  • 2006: Timewatch: Bog Bodies, BBC
  • 2006: The Mummies of Hull Museum, BBC Look North (3.3.06)
  • 2006: The Bog Bodies of Ireland, 60 Minutes News, Australia (22.3.06)
  • 2007: My Yorkshire, ITV Yorkshire
  • 2008: Mummy Forensics, 6-part series (Lead Investigator and Series Consultant), History Channel
  • 2008: Cleopatra the Great, BBC Radio York morning show (14.5.08)
  • 2010: ‘A History of the World in a Hundred Objects’: the Anubis Mask, the Inlaid Eye, BBC Radio York (18.1.10 7am, 24.1.10 11am, 16.2.10 10.45pm and 8.4.10 11am) (26.5.10)
  • 2011: Mummifying Alan: Egypt’s Last Secret, Blink/Channel 4/Discovery
  • 2012: ‘Death Cult: Bog Bodies of Ireland’ (Ancient X Files) series WAG TV for National Geographic Channel
  • 2013: Ancient Egypt: Life and Death in the Valley of the Kings (2-part series; Writer/Presenter), BBC/Lion TV.
  • 2013: Life and Death in the Valley of the Kings (Writer/Presenter), BBC Learning Zone/Lion TV
  • 2013: Radio 5 Live with Richard Bacon (2.15-3pm), BBC Radio 5 (26.2.13)
  • 2013: Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 4 (22.3.13)
  • 2013: Barnsley Museum Opening, Look North and BBC Radio Sheffield 27.6.13[23]
  • 2013: "Museum of Curiosity", Episode 1 of series 6, BBC Radio 4 (30.9.13)[24]
  • 2014: Egypt's Lost Queens (Writer/Presenter), BBC/Lion TV
  • 2014: Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 4 (3.9.14)
  • 2015: "Seventy Million Animal Mummies: Egypt’s Dark Secret", Horizon, BBC2
  • 2015: The Amazing History of Egypt, BBC History Magazine podcast[25]
  • 2015: The Radio 2 Arts Show with Claudia Winkleman, BBC Radio 2 (2.10.15)[26]
  • 2015: Midweek, BBC Radio 4 (21.10.15)[27]
  • 2015: Radio 4 in Four: Most Po Radio 4pular, BBC Radio 4[28]
  • 2015: Symbols and Secrets, The Forum, BBC World Service (12.12.15)[29]
  • 2016: Immortal Egypt with Joann Fletcher (4-part series; Writer/Presenter), BBC/Lion TV
  • 2016: A Good Read, BBC Radio 4 (12.7.16)[30]
  • 2016: Tattoos in Africa, Al-Jazeera Online
  • 2017: Women in History Debate, BBC History Magazine podcast[31]
  • 2017: The Egypt Centre Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, promotional video[32]
  • 2017: Professors at Play: Assassins Creed Origins, internet broadcast (14.11), KM[33]
  • 2018: ‘BBC Civilisations Festival in South Yorkshire’, BBC Radio Sheffield (7.3.18)
  • 2018: BBC Civilisations festival (with Margaret Mountford), The Star[34]
  • 2018: ‘Bolton’s Egypt: new museum galleries’, BBC 1 North-West Tonight (21.9.18)[35]
  • 2019: Egypt's Unexplained Files (10 part series), Discovery Science (360 Productions/Discovery)
  • 2020: PM Show, BBC Radio 4 (24.1.20)

Fletcher is notable for her strong Yorkshire accent. In a 2004 interview she said,: "I've even been criticised because I'm a female in my thirties and have a Barnsley accent, but then if you don't conform to the stereotype of a tweed-clad Egyptologist with the appearance of someone aged around 83, your work becomes the target for attack.[36][37]

Selected works

  • Fletcher, Joann (1998). Oils and perfumes of ancient Egypt. London: British Museum Press. ISBN 9780714127033.
  • Fletcher, Joann (2000). Egypt's Sun King: Amenhotep III. London: Duncan Baird. ISBN 9781900131094.
  • Fletcher, Joann (2002). The Egyptian book of living and dying. London: Duncan Baird. ISBN 9781903296868.
  • Fletcher, Joann (2004). The search for Nefertiti: the true story of a remarkable discovery. London: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 9780340833049.

Notes and references


  1. ^ "Weekend birthdays". The Guardian. 30 August 2014. p. 55.
  2. ^ Date information sourced from Library of Congress Authorities data, via corresponding WorldCat Identities linked authority file (LAF).
  3. ^ a b "College return for Dr Joann Fletcher". 22 January 2015. Archived from the original on 27 January 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  4. ^ "Professor Joann Fletcher". Department of Archaeology. University of York. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  5. ^ Fletcher, Amy Joann (1995). "Ancient Egyptian hair: a study in style, form and function". E-Thesis Online Service. The British Library. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  6. ^ Local Ambassador Programme, Egypt Exploration Society. Retrieved 16 January 2021
  7. ^ "Daily Life in Ancient Egypt". 21 January 2014.
  8. ^ "Wigan museum gallery named after York staff". University of York. 10 October 2016.
  9. ^ "York Joann".
  10. ^ "Ancient Egypt exhibition pulls in the crowds". Barnsley Museums and Heritage Trust. 12 March 2018.
  11. ^ "Museum's final resting place for modern mummy".
  12. ^ "Leading citizens set to receive honorary freedom of the borough". Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  13. ^ "Joann Fletcher – Archaeology, The University of York". University of York. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  14. ^ "/ "Stephen Buckley – Archaeology, The University of York". University of York. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  15. ^ Hawass, Zahi; Gad, Y. Z.; Ismail, S.; Khairat, R.; Fathalla, D.; Hasan, N.; Ahmed, A.; Elleithy, H.; Ball, M.; Gaballah, F.; Wasef, S.; Fateen, M.; Amer, H.; Gostner, P.; Selim, A.; Zink, A.; Pusch, C. M. (2010). "Ancestry and Pathology in King Tutankhamun's Family". JAMA. 303 (7): 638–647. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.121. PMID 20159872.
  16. ^ a b Mark Rose, "Where's Nefertiti?", Archaeology, 16 September 2004.
  17. ^ "In the news: Joann Fletcher | Times Higher Education (THE)". Times Higher Education. 29 August 2003. Retrieved 12 January 2016.(subscription required)
  18. ^ "History – Ancient History in depth: The End of the Amarna Period". BBC. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  19. ^ Rose, Mark (16 February 2010). "Tut: Disease and DNA News – Archaeology Magazine Archive". Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  20. ^ Ian Parker, "The Pharaoh: Is Zahi Hawass bad for Egyptology?", The New Yorker, 16 November 2009.
  21. ^ "Where's Nefertiti? - Archaeology Magazine Archive".
  22. ^ Nile Magazine 14, June–July 2018, p. 46–55 (and Editorial, p. 3) – to cite below
  23. ^ "Neolithic axe head in new museum Experience Barnsley". BBC. 27 June 2013.
  24. ^ "Watson, Fletcher, Blashford-Snell".
  25. ^ "The amazing history of Egypt". HistoryExtra. 7 January 2016.
  26. ^ "Fact Not Fiction".
  27. ^ "Dawn French, Wilfred Frost, Professor Joann Fletcher, Nikita Salmon". Midweek. BBC.
  28. ^ "BBC Radio 4 – Radio 4 in Four, Were the Ancient Egyptians really that advanced?". BBC. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  29. ^ "BBC World Service – The Forum, Symbols, Signs, and Secrets. What symbols tell us about ourselves". BBC. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  30. ^ "BBC Radio 4 – A Good Read, Joann Fletcher and Damian Barr". BBC. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  31. ^ "What's it like to be a female historian in the 21st century?". HistoryExtra. Retrieved 7 July 2020. Video: women in history panel discussion
  32. ^ "Introduction to The Egypt Centre, Swansea". Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  33. ^ "Archaeology Professors Play: Assassin's Creed: Origins". Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  34. ^ "Live with The Apprentice icon Margaret Mountford and TV Egyptologist Joanne Fletcher". Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  35. ^ "BBC One – North West Tonight, Evening News, 21/09/2018". BBC. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  36. ^
  37. ^

External links