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Mark Humphries: Christians and the Egyptian Temples at the End of Antiquity

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“They were jeering at the idols … they consigned them to the flames.” Christians and the Egyptian temples at the end of antiquity

About this Event

Friends of the Egypt Centre lecture


One of the big questions about the end of the ancient world is how the worship of the old gods came to an end in the face of the rising popularity and institutional power of Christianity. This lecture will explore this question for Egypt. There is a rich seam of Christian literature from or about Egypt that relates dramatic tales of Christians, usually monks, ransacking temples. But how reliable is the picture provided by such accounts? And to what extent can these processes be traced in what remains of the temples themselves?


Mark Humphries is a specialist in the history of Late Antiquity, the period stretching from the third century to the seventh that saw dramatic transformations of the ancient world. These included the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West and the emergence of new states and societies, and the disappearance of the ancient religions known as ‘paganism’ and the emergence of the new faiths of Christianity and Islam. He studies these transformations in a way that emphasises connections and interactions between the Mediterranean world of the Roman Empire and neighbouring regions of Eurasia and Africa. He publishes widely on all aspects of the history and culture of the period. He is an editor of the acclaimed Liverpool University Press series Translated Texts for Historians, which produces volumes of sources for the period 300-800, and he is the area editor for Late Antiquity and Byzantium for the Encyclopedia of Ancient History. He has been Professor of Ancient History at Swansea University since 2007, having previously held positions at Maynooth, Manchester, St Andrews, and Leicester.