Fascinated by Egyptology ever since she was a child, Janet H. Johnson has devoted her life to advancing the field. She first became interested in the subject because of her parents; she loved reading the books they brought home on Egyptian history and archaeology. Looking to learn more, Dr. Johnson enrolled at the University of Chicago. It was there that she began exploring the potentials of a career in Egyptology. She built up an expertise in Egyptian grammar and language and the status and roles of women in ancient Egypt, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1967 and a PhD in 1972. Dr. Johnson proceeded to join her alma mater as an instructor in Egyptology. Over the years, she served the institution as an assistant professor, associate professor, professor, and director of the Oriental Institute. She accepted the distinguished title of Morton D. Hull distinguished service professor in 2003, and has maintained it ever since.
Outside of the University of Chicago, Dr. Johnson held a number of research-related positions. She was notably a research associate in the Department of Anthropology at the Field Museum of Natural History from 2003 to 2008, 1994 to 1999, and 1980 to 1984. Dr. Johnson also obtained grants from the National Geographic Society, the National Endowment of the Humanities, and the Smithsonian Institution. She published her findings in “Demotic Verbal System,” “Quseir al-Qadim,” “Thus Wrote Onchsheshonqy,” and “Thus Wrote Onchsheshonqy, Third Edition.” Her efforts led her to be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from ARCE in 2018.
Despite all of her accomplishments, Dr. Johnson is most proud of her students. Many of them have developed into great friends and colleagues, and she is thrilled to be part of their journey. Dr. Johnson finds interacting with her peers to be very stimulating; they are always coming up with interesting questions and new points of view. Looking forward, she hopes to continue to discover more about Egyptology.