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Sunday, June 28, 2009

REVIEW: J. H. F. Dijkstra, Philae and the End of Ancient Egyptian Religion

J. H. F. Dijkstra, Philae and the End of Ancient Egyptian Religion: A Regional Study of Religious Transformation (298-642 CE). Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta, 173. Leuven: Peeters, 2008. Pp. xvii, 466. ISBN 9789042920316. €85.00.

Reviewed by Robert B. Gozzoli, University of Siam, Thailand (Robert.B.@siamu.ac.th)
Word count: 1171 words

Table of Contents

The book under analysis here is the revised PhD dissertation of the author, originally submitted in 2005 at the University of Groningen, under the title of Religious Encounters on the Southern Egyptian Frontier in Late Antiquity (p. x).1 For readers such as myself, an Egyptologist by formation with a small background in Coptic studies, this book is certainly a welcome contribution for it is a comprehensive analysis of the religious and social developments at Philae and in the First Cataract zone. The chronological boundaries are defined by the withdrawal of Egypt's southern border to Elephantine in 298 AD by Diocletian and the Arab conquest of Egypt. Within this scope, various sources are analysed and comprehensively studied in order to give a picture of how ancient Egyptian religion and the ''new'' religion merged in daily life. The book is set up by these initial questions: "What happened to the cults at Philae in the Late Antiquity? And what was the role played by Christianity on the island? Was Philae an exceptional case?" (p. 14).

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