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AHIS2253 – Transition and Renewal: Religion in Roman and Late Antique Egypt

2020 – Session 1, Online with attendance for exam, North Ryde

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, any references to assessment tasks and on-campus delivery may no longer be up-to-date on this page.

Students should consult iLearn for revised unit information.

Find out more about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and potential impacts staff and students

General Information

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Unit convenor and teaching staff Unit convenor and teaching staff Convener
Rachel Yuen-Collingridge
Rachel Yuen-Collingridge
Credit points Credit points
Prerequisites Prerequisites
40cp at 1000 level or above
Corequisites Corequisites
Co-badged status Co-badged status
Unit description Unit description

This unit surveys religion in Egypt from the Roman conquest in 30 BCE to the start of the Abbasid caliphate in 750 CE, set against the background of the Roman Empire’s relationship with the religious and cultural traditions of Egypt, and with emergent Christianity. It examines the refocussing of the traditional Egyptian cults in the Roman period and their eventual decline; the operation of the Roman Imperial cult and Graeco-Roman cults in Egypt; Neoplatonic, Neopythagorean and other philosophical developments; the rise, spread of Christianity in all its forms, and its eventual dominance; and the coming of Islam after the Arab conquest of 642. In examining the transition of Egyptian traditions to a new phase in the millennium after the conquest of Alexander in 332 BCE and the renewal of Egyptian literary and religious traditions in the Roman and late antique periods, it sets the study of religion in this period in the historical context of the multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic, and ‘colonial’ society of first millennium CE Egypt.

Important Academic Dates

Information about important academic dates including deadlines for withdrawing from units are available at https://students.mq.edu.au/important-dates

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • ULO1: Identify evidence for religious interaction in Egypt from c. 30 BCE to c. 750 CE in its historical and cultural context
  • ULO2: Assess sources within their historical context, to understand the characteristics of their particular type or genre.
  • ULO3: Reflect critically on how the history of cultural and religious interaction has shaped our view of the past.
  • ULO4: Rigorously assess perspectives on accommodation and integration in multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic, and multi-religious societies
  • ULO5: Classify and interpret ancient documentary, literary, and artifactual material
  • ULO6: Apply skills in using bibliographical resources, research tools, databases, and online resources to the study of the ancient world.
  • ULO7: Effectively utilise communication skills appropriate to academic presentations and discussions

Assessment Tasks

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Assessment details are no longer provided here as a result of changes due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Students should consult iLearn for revised unit information.

Find out more about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and potential impacts staff and students

Delivery and Resources

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Any references to on-campus delivery below may no longer be relevant due to COVID-19.

Please check here for updated delivery information: https://ask.mq.edu.au/account/pub/display/unit_status

Lectures, Seminars, and Tutorials

The lectures in this unit will cover the history of first millennium Egypt, concentrating on political and religious developments in this period. In the seminars, students will discuss as a cohort issues pertaining to our interpretation and study of ancient Egypt; there will be small amount of reading each week for seminars, but the discussion will mainly be based on students' personal reflections on the issues under discussion that week. Tutorials will focus on interpretation of the ancient sources, with a number of ancient sources, sometimes accompanied by related modern discussions of them, to be read each week and a worksheet supporting that reading.

  • Lectures for this unit will take place every Tuesday from 2–3pm in 12 Second Way – 435 Active Learning Space.
    • The lectures will be recorded for external students and placed on the Echo360 System along with the Lecture slides.
  • Seminars for this unit will take place every Tuesday from 3–4pm in 12 Second Way – 435 Active Learning Space.
    • Seminars will not be recorded: a weekly video webinar with associated discussion forum on the unit iLearn site will take the place of the seminars for external students only.
  • Tutorials for this unit will take place every Tuesday from 4–5pm in 12 Second Way – 435 Active Learning Space.
    • Tutorials will not be recorded: a weekly discussion forum on the unit iLearn site will take the place of the tutorials for external students.

Engagement in fora (external students)

Participation in the online webinar and tutorial discussion fora will help prepare for the mid semester quiz, the exam, and is essential for the debate. Discussion fora will only be kept open for the scheduled Week; no late postings (i.e. postings after mid-day Friday of that week) will be read. Keeping up with the recorded lectures is important to keep on top of the vital background to the assessments. The discussion fora are there to help you ask questions about the weekly worksheets and thus prepare for the mid semester quiz and the final exam. Questions about issues from the worksheets should be addressed in these fora. 


There is no textbook for this unit. Required readings will be available via Leganto on the Macquarie University Library Website, and on the iLearn page.

Technology Used

The unit has an iLearn page which can be accessed at https://ilearn.mq.edu.au/login/index.php. PC and internet access are therefore required. Basic computer skills (e.g., internet browsing) and skills in word processing are also a requirement. Material for this unit may be delivered via the unit iLearn page. The lectures will be recorded for external students. Both the plagiarism quiz and the mid semester quiz will be delivered online and will require computer and internet access.

Unit Schedule

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

The unit schedule/topics and any references to on-campus delivery below may no longer be relevant due to COVID-19. Please consult iLearn for latest details, and check here for updated delivery information: https://ask.mq.edu.au/account/pub/display/unit_status






Overview: What is a ‘nation’?

 Egypt and us

Introductions and Assessment


Greeks and Egyptians in the first millennium BCE

Textual Criticism

First Contact


Ptolemaic Egypt


The Priestly Decrees (Plagiarism Quiz opens)


Roman Egypt I: Augustus to Severus


Roman Views of Egypt


Religion I: Egyptian Religion in Graeco-Roman Egypt



Divination in Roman Egypt (Plagiarism Quiz due)


Roman Egypt II: Severus to Diocletian


Mid Semester Quiz


Religion II: Judaism and Christianity in Roman Egypt

Affect Theory

The early history of Christianity in Egypt


Roman Egypt III: Constantine to Leo


Essay Writing Week


Religion IV: Athanasius and monasticism

The mysterious Orient

The life and death of Hypatia


Roman Egypt IV: Leo to ’Amr Ibn al-’As

Museums, objects, and Ethics

Egyptian Religion in Late Antiquity: hagiography and the rhetoric of survival.


History IV: Egypt in the Islamic world


Child donation texts


Religion V: Christianity and Islam

 Egypt then and now

Contemporary sources on the Arab conquest of Egypt




Summing up

Debate and Final Discussion

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Students seeking more policy resources can visit the Student Policy Gateway (https://students.mq.edu.au/support/study/student-policy-gateway). It is your one-stop-shop for the key policies you need to know about throughout your undergraduate student journey.

If you would like to see all the policies relevant to Learning and Teaching visit Policy Central (https://staff.mq.edu.au/work/strategy-planning-and-governance/university-policies-and-procedures/policy-central).

Student Code of Conduct

Macquarie University students have a responsibility to be familiar with the Student Code of Conduct: https://students.mq.edu.au/study/getting-started/student-conduct​


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Equity Support

Students with a disability are encouraged to contact the Disability Service who can provide appropriate help with any issues that arise during their studies.

IT Help

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