Location: The Oriental Institute, LaSalle Bank Room 1155 East 58th Street, Chicago
Saturday, March: 29, 2007:
Jennifer Westerfeld, "Coptic Graffiti and Early Christian Impressions of the Past"
Abstract: Spray-painted across walls or scratched onto the windows of subway cars, graffiti is often seen as a modern, urban phenomenon. However, the practice of writing graffiti actually goes back many thousands of years, and graffiti from the ancient world can be a valuable source of information for modern historians, giving us greater insight into how the ancients interacted with local landscapes. This talk will draw on recent fieldwork at Abydos and sites in Egypt's Kharga Oasis to discuss how Christian graffiti from the late antique period (roughly 350-750 CE) reflect changing attitudes towards sacred space and can help us reconstruct early Egyptian Christians' impressions of the Pharaonic monuments that still dominated the landscape at that time.
Bio: Jennifer Westerfeld is a Ph.D. candidate in Egyptology at the University of Chicago, where she is working on a dissertation that deals with social memory and the re-interpretation of pharaonic monuments in the Christian period. As a member of the Kharga Oasis Coptic Graffiti Project, she has been studying the Coptic graffiti from Kharga since 2004.