Rhakotis Book Prize Shortlist

The Rhakotis Book Prize is the highlight of the year for many people in the field of classics and ancient history. It began as a prize celebrating the best work engaging with Graeco-Roman Egypt, but has since broadened to explore the classics beyond Greece and Rome. 

This year the panel went to Scott’s restaurant in London for a socially distanced outdoor long lunch, and after much deliberation, the following shortlist has been announced:


Venus & Aphrodite by Bettany Hughes

The history of the powerful goddess of love though the many millennia of her reign. It is not Aphrodite whom we discover in these pages, but humanity itself in all its beauty.


Piranesei Drawings: Drawings of Antiquity by Sarah Vowles

An astonishing work which reveals a less known side of the master engraver. 


Cairo Since 1900: an Architectural Guide by Mohamed Elshahed 

A reappraisal of Cairo’s rich and varied modern architecture. 


Sarpedon Krater by Nigel Spivey 

A story of art history, archeology, love and intrigue set in the ambrosial hills of Etruria and amongst the well heeled cognisati of New York. 

The Sarpedon Krater Cover
The Sarpedon Krater


Square Haunting by Francesca Wade

A group biography which tells the story of five brilliant women who made London their home in the first decades of the twentieth century. 



The Celestial Hunter by Roberto Calasso

A profound book exploring our relationship with the gods and the animals 



A People’s History of Classics: Class and Greco-Roman Antiquity in Britain and Ireland 1689 to 1939 by Edith Hall and Henry Stead

Posh white people love the classics, but what about the rest of us? A fascinating book that becomes even more relevant read during a deadly pandemic made worse by an incompetent racist enabled by his love of the classics. 



Full Longlist

Ancient Egyptian Magic by Christina Riggs

What is magic? A fun look at a very serious subject. 


Egyptomaniacs by Nicky Nielsen

Exploring the west’s fascination with Egypt.


The Riddle of the Rosetta: How an English Polymath and a French Polyglot Discovered the Meaning of Egyptian Hieroglyphs by Jed Z Buchwald

Although some medieval Egyptian scholars may have been able to read hieroglyphs, it was a technology lost to the West until the European conquests of Egypt in the Nineteenth Century.


How to Be a Bad Emperor: An Ancient Guide to Truly Terrible Leaders 

Excerpts of Suetonius revelling in the worst bits of some very evil men.


The Rise of Coptic: Egyptian Versus Greek in Late Antiquity by Jean-Luc Fournet 

Has there been a finer language than Coptic? Probably not but this book examines the languages of early medieval Egypt in accessible but scholarly detail.

Award Ceremony

The winner will be announced in late December 2020.