Professor Jo Fletcher
Yorkshire's Egyptian Queen
Professor Joann Fletcher is a British Egyptologist and BAFTA award-winning TV personality who has gained recognition for her contributions both to the field of archaeology and for her popular television documentaries about Egypt and the ancient world.
Born in Barnsley in 1966, she studied Egyptology and Ancient History at University College London, and then received her PhD from the University of Manchester where she also gained a certificate in Arabic and Arab Studies. She is now Honorary Professor in the Department of Archaeology at the University of York, Lead Ambassador for the Egypt Exploration Society, Chair of Trustees for Scarborough Museums and Galleries and patron of Barnsley Museums & Heritage Trust.
Jo at Harrogate Museum (courtesy: Harrogate Museums & Arts)
She is also advisor to Harrogate Museums and Arts and the Museum of Wigan Life, guest curator at the museums of Barnsley, Harrogate and Scarborough, and president and patron of several UK-based Egyptology and history societies.
As an accomplished scholar and researcher, and mentor on the Egypt Exploration Society’s MESA Scheme (Mentoring for Egyptian & Sudanese Authors) Jo has published numerous articles and books on many aspects of ancient history mainly focused on Egypt but also covering the ancient Near East, Greece and Rome. She's also contributed chapters to major guidebooks, articles for The Guardian, The Telegraph and BBC History Magazine and is also consultant for Dorling Kindersley's Ancient Egypt titles [see Jo’s PUBLICATIONS ON HER SHOP PAGE].
Jo and her 'Story of Egypt' and 'Search for Nefertiti' books at Books by the Beach Literary Festival in Scarborough (courtesy: Books by the Beach)
Jo has also had articles published in The Guardian, Telegraph, on the BBC's History website and BBC History Magazine.
Among Jo's archaeological projects at sites in the UK, Yemen and Egypt, she’s undertaken research in museums around the world, from Turin's Egyptian Museum to Cairo University's Medical School Museum. She also co-founded the University of York's Mummy Research Group with the late Professor Don Brothwell, and has studied human remains in the UK, Ireland, Italy, Yemen and Egypt, including the mummified remains of Egypt's royal women Nefertiti (Revisiting the Amarna Royals: Part 1 | TESSA (egyptiansociety.co.za) and Nefertari (Queen Nefertari, the Royal Spouse of Pharaoh Ramses II: A Multidisciplinary Investigation of the Mummified Remains Found in Her Tomb (QV66) | PLOS ONE), and the married couple Kha and Merit (Shedding New Light on the 18th Dynasty Mummies of the Royal Architect Kha and His Spouse Merit | PLOS ON),
Jo at the Abu Simbel temple of Nefertari (copyright: Lion Television)
Yet in addition to her academic work, she is also well-known for her engaging and entertaining television documentaries, which have explored ancient Egyptian culture, daily life and funerary practices, with a focus on mummification not only in Egypt but around the ancient world.
Stephen and Jo studying X-rays (copyright: AETN)
Her down-to-earth and enthusiastic approach has made her a popular figure among audiences of all ages, and she has become a familiar face to viewers and listeners around the world. Appearing regularly on BBC Radio (BBC Radio 4 - The Museum of Curiosity, Series 6, Watson, Fletcher, Blashford-Snell and BBC Radio 4 - Radio 4 in Four, Were the Ancient Egyptians really that advanced?) and on popular documentaries on the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, Channel 4 & 5 and the BBC's Horizon and Timewatch series, she was lead investigator and consultant on the History Channel's 'Mummy Forensics' series and for 'Terry Jones’ Hidden History of Egypt' guided the ex-Monty Python star around Egypt's key sites.
Jo & Terry Jones on the Nile (courtesy: P. Grabsky/Seventh Art)
‘Mummy Forensics’ series montage (courtesy F. Salamone)
Yet she is best known as the writer/presenter of the BBC's 'Ancient Egypt: Life and Death in the Valley of the Kings' (BBC Two - Ancient Egypt - Life and Death in the Valley of the Kings, Original Series, Life), 'Egypt's Lost Queens' (BBC Two - Egypt's Lost Queens) and 'Immortal Egypt with Joann Fletcher' (BBC Two - Immortal Egypt with Joann Fletcher).
Jo filming 'Ancient Egypt: Life & Death in the Valley of the Kings' with cameraman David Langan (credit: Lion Television).
Egyptologist Nermine Sami taking Jo around Alexandria for episode 4 of ‘Immortal Egypt’ (courtesy Dr. Amr Aboulfath)
Jo and her partner Dr Stephen Buckley, who live on the Yorkshire coast, were also lead scientists on the 2011 Channel 4 documentary 'Mummifying Alan: Egypt’s Last Secret', in which they mummified body donor Alan Billis to replicate the rediscovered secrets of the complex ancient process. Working with colleagues at Sheffield’s Medico-Legal Centre and Kings College London (The Modern Mummy | Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine | King’s College London (kcl.ac.uk), their film won a BAFTA and awards from the Royal Television Society and Association for International Broadcasting (Mummifying Alan wins Bafta - News and events, University of York).
Stephen and Jo with the BAFTA for 'Mummifying Alan' (copyright: K. Fletcher)
The couple were also part of the scientific team which recreated the exact vocal sound of the ancient Egyptian priest Nesyamun, 'the Leeds Mummy' (Synthesis of a Vocal Sound from the 3,000 year old Mummy, Nesyamun ‘True of Voice’ | Scientific Reports (nature.com). By using a vocal tract organ and a 3D printout of his larynx, scanned at Leeds General Infirmary, the team were able to restore a vocal sound for the first time in 3,000 years (Journal Top 100 (nature.com).
Stephen & Jo in the Egyptology gallery at the Museum of Wigan Life (courtesy: Wigan Council)
Jo’s work has been widely recognised and she has received awards and honours for her contributions to the field of archaeology, from a New Media award for the BBC and Preloaded's popular 'Death in Sakkara' project (BBC media award - Archaeology, University of York) to the Egyptology gallery at the Museum of Wigan Life named after her and Stephen (Wigan gallery - Archaeology, University of York). She was also invited to help unveil an English Heritage blue plaque to the Egypt Exploration Society founder (and Jo’s hero) Amelia Edwards (Amelia Edwards Blue Plaque unveiled | Egypt Exploration Society (ees.ac.uk), and to officially open the new ‘Bolton’s Egypt’ galleries at Bolton Museum with Dr. Margaret Mountford (York archaeologist opens new-look Bolton museum - News and events, University of York). Yet Jo’s proudest achievement was receiving the Freedom of the Borough of her hometown Barnsley (Four 'eminent' citizens made Honorary Freemen of Barnsley - BBC News).
Dr. Mountford and Jo in the new Bolton’s Egypt galleries (courtesy Bolton Council)
As an active and prominent figure in the world of Egyptology, Jo is a regular speaker at events (https://www.historyextra.com/period/ancient-egypt/the-amazing-history-of-egypt/), conferences (In the beginning the mummy was | Al-Masri Al-Youm (almasryalyoum.com), universities (Egyptian Female Pharoahs Rule - News - Hamilton College) and the Egyptology societies of which she is patron. She also continues her work with local schools and education providers (Q&A with an Egyptologist - Twinkl NewsRoom - Twinkl), and for the last 20 years has curated numerous museum exhibitions, from Harrogate’s ‘Treasures of Ancient Egypt’ and Scarborough’s ‘Resurrecting Ancient Egypt: a Monumental Yorkshire Journey’ to five exhibitions for Barnsley (https://www.bmht.org/news/ancient-egypt-exhibition-pulls-in-the-crowds/) from ‘The Romans are Coming’ (http://www.york.ac.uk/archaeology/news-and-events/news/external/news2013/friends-romans.../) to their most recent ‘Tut ’22: the Life of Tutankhamun’ which welcomed over 28,000 visitors in the first three months alone.
Jo taking Prince Edward around Experience Barnsley Museum (copyright: Barnsley Council).
And continuing her work over the last 40 years, she remains a passionate advocate for the preservation of Egyptian culture and heritage, her long term project 'Ancient Egypt in Yorkshire' (Five artefacts of ancient Egypt that can be found in Britain | Radio Times) bringing together the two places she loves most in the world.