This site offers several substantial resources. First, a list of new publications (online and print) on epigraphic culture of Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages, last updated in January 2014, and covering the years 2008-2013; second, a list of online only resources appearing during the same period, this time listed according to region: Britain/ASE/Ireland; Gaul/Rheinland; Iberia; Italy; North Africa; and the Balkans. Clearly, these represent mostly Latin inscriptions, although other languages from these regions, including Celtic, Neo-Punic, and Hebrew. The databases in these lists include some of the major projects better known to scholars of the earlier Roman Empire, such as Hispania Epigraphica. There is further information on, e.g., professional organizations, links to digitized reference works, and a few scholarly blog entries. The database Curse Tablets of Roman Britain also caught my eye – stay tuned!
This website of “Narrations Useful to the Soul,” a genre that flourished in Late Antique monasticism, has quietly been online since at least 2001, when it is cited by John Wortley, its author, in Dumbarton Oaks Papers 55. Is this one of the first online resources to be explicitly cited in an article on Late Antiquity? In any case, it is still available at the author’s personal webpage courtesy of the University of Manitoba, where he is an emeritus professor. The Repertoire consists of over 900 précis of “spiritual tales,” culled from a wide variety of Late Antique sources, selected primarily according to criterion of narrative form. The tales are ordered arbitrarily according to “W” numbers, and frequently cross-reference the entries of François Halkin in Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca (1957) and Novum Auctarium Bibliothecae Hagiographicae Graecae (1984), which one must consult for manuscript descriptions of unpublished texts. The great research benefit of the site (is it good for the soul?) is the ability to search these texts for content.
This site, part of Roger Pearse’s Tertullian.org, serves as both an introduction to the history and iconography of Mithraism suitable for undergraduate instruction and an extensive collection of primary sources useful for original research. In particular, all references to the cult in classical literature have been assembled, when possible in English translation. Even more impressively, the “Catalogue of Monuments and Images,” based on Maarten Vermaseran’s 2 volume work Corpus Inscriptionum et Monumentorum Religionis Mithraicae (The Hague, 1956), provides images when available of the diverse material sources for Mithraism, from paintings to architectural plans (some of the photographs are by Pearse). This is supplemented by a list of recent discoveries and sometimes their associated images, including the London Mithraeum uncovered in 2013. Although there is no search functionality, when one knows what to look for, or just feels like browsing, this is an exceptionally useful and convenient site. There is also a fascinating section on Mithras items (in some cases their identity is uncertain) for sale on eBay and elsewhere.
The goal of this project and website is “to bring academic work on late antiquity to wider attention, to compete with ‘Roman’ and ‘Medieval’ images of the European past.” The directors are Dr Luke Lavan and Dr. Ellen Swift of the University of Kent, who are joined by several doctoral students and collaborators. Its focus is on the reconstruction of everyday life in the late antique city through the visualization and reproduction of material culture, eschewing Constantinople (which already has a well-known site) for less famous but better excavated urban environments. The posts highlight various ongoing research featuring the re-presentation of material culture, giving informative summaries about the reproduction of garments; the design and function of spoons; analysis of spices; and the process of monastic basket weaving through plaited palm leaves. The site also notes that “by reconstructing the cities in a careful scholarly manner (rather than as a market-oriented film or a computer game) the work will hopefully form the basis for an inspiring and accurate evocation of the urban form and metropolitan atmosphere of the period.” This will be important as popular films on Late Antiquity slowly begin to proliferate: most famously Agora with its evocative depiction of Alexandria, but see now Katherine of Alexandria. Beyond the potential connections between visualization and popular or documentary films, this site is of great interest for those interested in the reconstruction of Late Antique materiality.
Shifting Frontiers XI at the University of Iowa, March 26-29 2015
Originally posted on Shifting Frontiers XI:
The Transformation of Poverty, Philanthropy, and Healthcare in Late Antiquity
Iowa City, IA, March 26-29, 2015.
The eleventh biennial Shifting Frontiers in Late Antiquity conference will take place at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA, March 26-29, 2015. The period of Late Antiquity (A.D. 200-700) witnessed great changes in respect to attitudes towards poverty, philanthropy, and healthcare. The conference aims to bring together scholars in order to explore these issues amidst global concerns over poverty and the provision of healthcare, and questions over the role of private philanthropy in effecting change within these areas. Two events in particular, the ascendency of Pope Francis to the papacy and the debate over the federal provision of healthcare in the United States, helped to inspire the conference’s goal of surveying how early Christians viewed, wrote upon, depicted, and grappled with these issues, and how they shaped…
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The Ammianus Marcellinus Online Project, led by Jan Willem Drijvers at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, is a developing resource on this central historian of Late Antiquity, whose virtues are extolled by authors both ancient and modern. It includes an introductory biography and bibliography on general works, as well as a list of editions, translations, commentaries, and concordances. The schematic representation of the structure of the Res Gestae, based partially on T.D. Barnes work in Ammianus Marcellinus and the Representation of Historical Reality (1988) is also helpful for presenting overviews in, say, graduate seminars or for assessing the scope of the extant work. Finally, there is a collection of original short essays by various contributors. This will be an important site of basic reference, and a useful complement to the ongoing “Dutch commentary” on Ammianus, in which Drijvers is involved.
The Corpus Coranicum is a long-standing research project at the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, under the direction of Prof. Angelika Neuwirth, established in 2007 and currently funded through 2025. Its ultimate goal is the production of a comprehensive commentary on the Qur’an, based on both the textual tradition, especially early manuscripts, and literary passages, including biblical traditions, which shed light on the context of its production. A beta version of the online commentary is now available. One can browse by sura and verse (displayed with a special font, “Coranica”), exploring a facsimile of the associated page(s) in the 1924 Cairo print edition; scanned black-and-white photographs of the associated page(s) in early manuscripts from the archive of G. Bergsträßer, assembled in the 1920s, lost, and sensationally rediscovered in 2008; variant readings; “Texte aus der Umwelt des Korans,” most frequently from the Hebrew Bible and New Testament (the latter given in Greek, not Syriac); and an associated commentary. Of course, this magisterial project is also a massive undertaking, and the final two sections are only available for certain verses. The “Texte aus der Umwelt,” in particular, is a wide-open field, and is currently the subject of intensive research, as evidenced especially by the recent creation of IQSA. As Qur’anic studies rapidly develops, there is no question that Corpus Coranicum will be an essential resource.