Feeding the 4000: Food production, population size and daily life at the White Monastery, Egypt

Lecture with Dr. Louise Blanke, Aarhus University

2015.02.04 | Christoffer Andresen

Date Mon 09 Mar
Time 14:15 16:00
Location Aarhus University, Jens Chr. Skous Vej 3, bygning 1453, lokale 415

A hagiographic text known as the Life of Shenoute provides the only known reference to the number of monastics living in a fifth-century community of three federated monasteries under Shenoute’s leadership. Recent archaeological explorations of the three sites not only reveal that the 4000 monastics suggested by the text is vastly exaggerated, but also question assumptions about food production, consumption and practices of daily life found in Shenoute’s own writings. This paper compares and contrasts the sources and discusses how we can maintain a critical approach, while at the same time making the best use of archaeology as well as texts in our studies of ancient monastic life.