As Deputy Director for Collections & Research, Neal is strategic lead for the Museum’s research, impact and collections development, and manages the curatorial, research, collections management and documentation teams. Co-chair of the University’s Collections-Connections-Communities Strategic Research Initiative and co-director of Cambridge Visual Culture, he initiates and supports research collaborations with the wider University of Cambridge and beyond.
Holding a PhD in Egyptology (Cambridge, 2000), Neal’s research focuses on cultural entanglement and lived experience within the context of pharaonic imperialism in late second millennium BCE Nubia, as expressed through material and visual culture. Neal is currently coordinating the interpretation and publication of fieldwork of the British Museum Amara West Research Project, which he directed. An open source semantic web platform, Amara West ResearchSpace, was developed to provide full access to the project datasets and offer a different model of scholarly publication and knowledge production. Other research and publications have focused on Late Period Egypt, 30th dynasty temples, the role of elite individuals in sustaining pharaonic culture and urbanism in the Nile Delta.
Neal has also directed archaeological projects in Egypt (Samanud, Kom Firin), with significant community archaeology, educational, scientific and environmental research strands. This work was funded through significant grants from The Leverhulme Trust, British Academy, AHRC, the Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project and the Egypt Exploration Society.
Neal previously worked at the British Museum, as curator (2000-2011), Keeper of Egypt and Sudan (2012-2019) and Keeper of Nile Valley & Mediterranean Collections (2019-2021: Departments of Greece & Rome, and Egypt & Sudan), where he led and managed curators, collections management staff, archive and library staff and administrative/project staff. This included the conception and development of major exhibitions and displays. Neal directed the British Museum’s International Training Programme (2006-2011), which brought together curators from the Middle East, North Africa, South and East Asia, Oceania and the Americas for sills-sharing and network building. Neal also led capacity building programmes with institutions in India (CSMVS, Mumbai), Egypt (Egyptian Museum, Aswan Museum, Center for Documentation of Egyptian Antiquities) and Sudan (Sudan National Museum), and edited the online journal British Museum Studies in Ancient Egypt & Sudan (2007-2012).
Amara West ResearchSpace https://amara-west.researchspace.org/
Monographs and edited volumes
(edited with A. Stevens and M. Binder) 2017. Nubia in the New Kingdom. Lived experience, pharaonic control and indigenous traditions. British Museum Publications on Egypt and Sudan 3. Leuven, Paris, Bristol CT.
(with A. Stevens and M. Binder) (eds). 2014. Amara West. Living in Egyptian Nubia. London. www.britishmuseum.org/pdf/Amara_West_Living_in_Egyptian_Nubia.pdf
Kom Firin II: The urban fabric and landscape (British Museum Research Publications 192, in 2014). https://britishmuseum.iro.bl.uk/concern/books/64b350f6-3b06-4306-8dad-c008f35e50b4?locale=en
(edited with Claire Messenger and Shezza Edris) The International Training Programme. Towards a global network. London, British Museum, 2011.
Kom Firin I: The Ramesside temple and the site survey (British Museum Research Publication 170, 2008). https://britishmuseum.iro.bl.uk/concern/books/0107179b-c0c5-4f16-8b5b-aefd0f9176fc
The Gayer Anderson Cat (British Museum Objects in Focus, 2007)
A Naos of Nekhthorheb from Bubastis (British Museum Research Publications 156, 2006) https://britishmuseum.iro.bl.uk/concern/books/2023d947-0f82-4887-9e2e-34603a63ca30
Selected papers: Amara West
(with M. Binder, M. Buzon, J. Woodward, M. Macklin and A. Simonetti). Forthcoming. Maintaining empire: isotopic evidence for elite mobility in Nubia under pharaonic rule. (Under peer review)
(with T. Fushiya, P. Ryan, S. Abd Rabo and M. Saad). Forthcoming. Towards local agency: critical reflections on community engagement programmes at Abkanisa/Amara West, northern Sudan. Journal of Community Archaeology and Heritage.
(with F. Rademakers, J. Auenmueller, K. Fulcer, M. Lehmann, F. Vanhaecke, P. Degryse). “Metals and pigments at Amara West: Cross-craft perspectives on practices and provisioning in New Kingdom Nubia”. (Under peer review)
(with K. Fulcher, R. Stacey and J. Budka). “Polysaccharide Paint Binding Media at Two Pharaonic Settlements in Nubia”. Heritage 2022, 5, 2028–2040. https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage5030106
(with P. Ryan, M. Kordofani, M. Saad, M. Hassan, M. Dalton, C Cartwright). “Nubian Agricultural Practices, Crops and Foods: Changes in Living Memory on Ernetta Island, Northern Sudan”. Economic Botany 2022. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12231-022-09545-8
(with K. Fulcher, R. Siddall, T.F. Emmett) “Multi-Scale Characterization of Unusual Green and Blue Pigments from the Pharaonic Town of Amara West, Nubia”. Heritage 2021, 4, 2563–2579. https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage4030145
(with K. Fulcher and R. Stacey) “Bitumen from the Dead Sea in early Iron Age Nubia”. Nature Scientific Reports 2020: 10: 8309. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-64209-8
(with M. Spataro, A. Garnett, A. Shapland, and H. Mommsen). “Mycenaean pottery from Amara West (Nubia, Sudan)”. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 11 (2019), 683–697. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-017-0552-z
“Building on new ground: the foundation of a colonial town at Amara West”. In Spencer, N., A. Stevens and M. Binder (eds). Nubia in the New Kingdom. Lived experience, pharaonic control and indigenous traditions. British Museum Publications on Egypt and Sudan 3. Leuven, Paris, Bristol CT (2017), 323–55.
(with A. Stevens and M. Binder). “Introduction: History and historiography of a colonial entanglement, and the shaping of new archaeologies for Nubia in the New Kingdom.” In Spencer, N., A. Stevens and M. Binder (eds). Nubia in the New Kingdom. Lived experience, pharaonic control and indigenous traditions. British Museum Publications on Egypt and Sudan 3. Leuven, Paris, Bristol CT (2017), 1–61.
(with J. Woodward, M. Macklin, M. Binder, M. Dalton, S. Hay and A. Hardy) “Living with a changing river and desert landscape at Amara West”. In Spencer, N., A. Stevens and M. Binder (eds). Nubia in the New Kingdom. Lived experience, pharaonic control and indigenous traditions. British Museum Publications on Egypt and Sudan 3. Leuven, Paris, Bristol CT (2017), 227–57.
(with R. Parkinson) “The Teaching of Amenemhat I at Amara West: Egyptian literary culture in Upper Nubia”. In Spencer, N., A. Stevens and M. Binder (eds). Nubia in the New Kingdom. Lived experience, pharaonic control and indigenous traditions. British Museum Publications on Egypt and Sudan 3. Leuven, Paris, Bristol CT (2017), 213–23.
(with Woodward, J., Macklin, M. Fielding, L., Millar, I., Welsby, D. and Williams, M. “Shifting sediment sources in the world's longest river: A strontium isotope record for the Holocene Nile”, Quaternary Science Reviews 130 (2015): 124–40.
“Amara West: House and neighbourhood in Egyptian Nubia”. In M. Müller (ed.), Household studies in complex societies: (Micro)archaeological and textual approaches. Oriental Institute Seminars 10. Chicago (2015), 169–210.
"Amara West: considerations on urban life in occupied Kush", in D. A. Welsby and J. R. Anderson (eds), Proceedings of the 12th International Conference for Nubian Studies. Leuven. British Museum Publications on Egypt and Sudan 1. Leuven (2014), 457–85.
(with Michela Spataro and Marie Millet) “The New Kingdom settlement of Amara West (Nubia, Sudan): mineralogical and chemical investigation of the ceramics”, Archaeological and Anthropological Science. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12520-014-0199-y
(with Binder, M., Roberts, C., Antoine, D. & Cartwright, C). 2014. “On the Antiquity of Cancer: Evidence for Metastatic Carcinoma in a Young Man from Ancient Nubia (c. 1200BC)”. PLOS One. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0090924
“Creating and re-shaping Egypt in Kush: responses at Amara West”, in Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections 6/1 (2014), 42–61. https://journals.uair.arizona.edu/index.php/jaei/article/view/18030/0
(with Michaela Binder) “The bioarchaeology of Amara West in Nubia: Investigating the impacts of political, cultural and environmental change on health and diet in D. Antoine & A. Fletcher, Regarding the Dead: the research and display of human remains (British Museum Research Publications 197), 123–36. https://britishmuseum.iro.bl.uk/concern/books/d02dbeea-78a2-4fb1-ba41-3497e4970147
(with Philippa Ryan and Caroline Cartwright) “Archaeobotanical research in a pharaonic town in ancient Nubia”, British Museum Technical Research Bulletin 6 (2012), 97-106
(with Jamie Woodward and Mark Macklin) “Re-assessing the abandonment of Amara West: the impact of a changing Nile?”, Sudan & Nubia 16 (2012): 37–43. http://www.sudarchrs.org.uk/resources/publications/?attachment_id=927
“Nubian architecture in an Egyptian town? Building E12.11 at Amara West”, Sudan & Nubia 14 (2010), 15–24. http://www.sudarchrs.org.uk/resources/publications/?attachment_id=895
(with Michaela Binder and Marie Millet), “Cemetery D at Amara West: the Ramesside Period and its aftermath”, Sudan & Nubia 14 (2010), 25–44 http://www.sudarchrs.org.uk/resources/publications/?attachment_id=886
“Cemeteries and a late Ramesside suburb at Amara West“, Sudan & Nubia 13 (2009), 47-61 http://www.sudarchrs.org.uk/resources/publications/?attachment_id=895
Selected papers: other
“Kom Firin: witnessing the transformation of the Egyptian urban fabric in the 6th-5th centuries BC”. In S. Marchi (ed), Les Maisons-Tours en Égypte durant la Basse Époque, les Périodes Ptolémaïque et Romaine. NeHeT 2 (2014), 157–79. http://sfe-egyptologie.fr/NEHET/NeHeT%202-09-SPENCER.pdf
“Ancient Egyptian sources” in Edwards, J., Spencer, N. and Laurenson, P. “The Singer and Applause by Edward Onslow Ford”, Tate In Focus (2013) http://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/edward-onslow-ford
“Sustaining Egyptian culture? Non-royal initiatives in Late Period temple building”, in L. Bareš, F. Coppens and K. Smoláriková (eds), Egypt in transition. Social and religious development of Egypt in the first millennium BCE (Prague, 2011), 441–90.
“Ramesside rodomontade and a usurpation on the western Delta frontier’, in M. Collier and S. Snape (eds), Ramesside Studies in Honour of Kenneth Kitchen (Bolton, 2009), 307–18.
“Kom Firin after the New Kingdom”, in Ikram, S. and Dodson, A. (eds), Beyond the Horizon:
Studies in Egyptian Art, Archaeology and History in Honour of Barry J. Kemp, I (Cairo, 2008), 505–34.
“Samanud: the urban context”, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 87 (2001), 23−31.
“The Epigraphic Survey of Samanud”, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 85 (1999): 55–83.
“The temple of Onuris-Shu in Samanud”, Egyptian Archaeology 14 (1999): 7–9.
Downing College (bye-fellow)
Sudan Archaeological Research Society (Committee)
Museo Egizio, Turin (Scientific Committee)
Member: Egypt Exploration Society, Society for Nubian Studies