This unit will give students a comprehensive overview of the main archaeological sites in Egypt from Late Antiquity, looking at both communal monasteries and semi-anchoritic settlements, analysing their characteristic components and their evolution in time. Students will also study the representation of wall paintings presented in the most important monastic sites. This unit will also consider how textual information pertaining to the various theologies present in late antique Egypt is reflected in monastic architecture, as revealed archaeologically.

Unit code: AH8140A (Approved)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Foundational

Unit discipline: History

Proposing College: St Athanasius College

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Learning outcomes


Explain how to interpret an archaeological site and associated findings within an overall historical context.


Identify the main monuments and artefacts from Christian Egypt


Distinguish between different architectural techniques and patterns, and decorative art styles;


Analyse the relation between literary, archaeological, and art historic aspects


Critically evaluate the theological significance of monastic architecture


Lectures, classroom discussion, guided reading from set texts, additional reading resources and notes

Indicative Bibliography

  • Badawy, Alexander, Coptic Art and Archaeology, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1978.
  • Bolman, E., Monastic Visions. Wall Paintings in the Monastery of St. Antony at the Red Sea, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002.
  • Evelyn-White, Hugh, The Monasteries of Wadi ‘n Natrun, Part I-III, New York: Arno Press, 1926-33.
  • Frend, W. H. C., The Archaeology of Early Christianity, Minneapolis: Geoffrey Chapman, 1996.
  • Gabra, Gawdat, Coptic Monasteries: Egypt’s Monastic Art and Architecture, Cairo: The American University of Cairo Press, 2004.
  • Grossmann, Peter, Abu Mina, a Guide to the Ancient Pilgrimage Center, Cairo: German Archaeology Institute, 1986.
  • Lyster, William, The Cave Church of St. Paul the Hermit, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008.
  • Quibell, J. E., Excavations at Saqqara, v. 4. 1908-1909, 1909-1910. The Monastery of Apa Jeremias, Cairo, 1912.
  • Wilfong, T. G., Women of Jeme. Lives in a Coptic Town in Late Antique Egypt, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002.
  • Winlock, H. E. and W. E. Crum, The Monastery of Epiphanius at Thebes. 2 vols, New York, 1926.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Essay - Museum Catalogue

Written Assessment Task 3,000 words

3000 50.0
Oral Presentation - Individual

Presentation 1500 words

1500 25.0
Forum - Group

Written Assessment Task - Discussion 1,500 words

1500 25.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 30 Sep, 2019

Unit record last updated: 2020-10-30 19:16:47 +1100