This unit combines intensive study with an immersive cultural experience. Students will explore the main archaeological sites in Egypt: Ancient (pagan), Late Antique (Christian), and Islamic, looking at the ways in which society, culture and religion transitioned and assimilated from one civilisation to the next and the use and re-use of sacred space. Students will also explore in depth the sites where the monastic movement first developed and flourished in the 4th and 5th centuries and are still in existence today. Students will analyse their characteristic components, including wall paintings, and their evolution over time. Students will examine how primary textual information is reflected architecturally, archaeologically, and culturally. The assessments build upon prior knowledge from associated units together with the experience of the study tour that engages with the archaeological, geographical, historical, cultural and theological context of the history of Egypt, with particular emphasis on the first millennium A.D.

Unit code: AH3510A

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit discipline: History

Delivery Mode: Intensive

Proposing College: St Athanasius College

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Learning outcomes


Research and summarise the archaeological, geographical, cultural, religious and historical context of one Coptic site on the itinerary of the tour.


Critically articulate the relationship between the archaeological record and the primary texts.


Identify the main monuments and artefacts explored and analyse the relation between literary, archaeological, and art historic aspects.


Critically evaluate how Egyptian religious practices and culture have transitioned and assimilated from pharaonic to Coptic to Islamic eras.

Unit sequence

Successful completion of one or more of the following units: AH1140A, AH1400A, CH1100A, CH1200A, CH1440A, CH2410A, CH2530A, CH3500A.


Prior to the tour, there will be some lectures, seminars and information pertaining to the site in the itinerary. An immersion experience in Egypt visiting pharaonic, (predominantly) Coptic and Islamic sites and reading related primary texts. During the tour there will be engagement at particular sites with experts in the field, and collaborative discussion, seminars and reflection by participants.

Indicative Bibliography

Bolman, E., Monastic Visions. Wall Paintings in the Monastery of St. Antony at the Red Sea, New Haven: Yale UP, 2002.

Evelyn-White, Hugh, The Monasteries of Wadi ‘n Natrun, Part I-III, New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1926-33.

Frend, W. H. C., The Archaeology of Early Christianity, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996.

Gabra, Gawdat, Coptic Civilization: Two Thousand Years of Christianity in Egypt. Cairo: AUC Press, 2014.

Gabra, Gawdat, Coptic Monasteries: Egypt’s Monastic Art and Architecture. Cairo: AUC Press, 2004.

Grossmann, Peter, Abu Mina, a Guide to the Ancient Pilgrimage Center, Leiden: Brill, 1986.

Lyster, William, The Cave Church of St. Paul the Hermit. New Haven: Yale UP, 2008.

Meinardus, Otto. Coptic Saints and Pilgrimage. Cairo: AUC Press, 2008.

Quibell, J. E., Excavations at Saqqara, v. 4. 1908-1909, 1909-1910. The Monastery of Apa Jeremias, Cairo: IFAO, 1912.

Wilfong, T. G., Women of Jeme. Lives in a Coptic Town in Late Antique Egypt, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Essay 3000 60.0
Journal 2000 40.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Prof Albert Haddad on 12 May, 2022

Unit record last updated: 2022-05-12 17:04:06 +1000