English / Arabic
Between Monastery and Society in Late Antique Coptic Egypt
The archaeological remains of the Egyptian desert bear witness to a curious phenomenon. In Late Antiquity (3rd-8th centuries CE), monks and hermits populated the desolated landscape, living as brethren in large walled communities and residing in caves and abandoned Pharaonic-period tombs. Traditionally perceived in terms of rejection of and isolation from the surrounding world, the social and economic interaction with contemporary societies is a poorly understood element of monastic life.
The White Monastery in Sohag and the Coptic reuse of Pharaonic-period tombs at Tell al-Amarna form the centre of an extensive examination using modern archaeological research combined with comparative anthropological investigations of living monasteries. A focus on commercial production, religious consumption and the organisation of monastic space offers a new approach to monasteries as an integral part of contemporary society and life. Thereby, monasteries are brought back from the isolation of the desert and into our broader understanding of the social world of Late Antiquity.
Director, Panehsy Church Project
Archaeological Director, White Monastery Project
Director, White Monastery Project
Professor of Religious Studies, Yale University
Director, Red Monastery Project
Associate Professor, Temple University