Dr Judith McKenzie

I studied Archaeology, alongside Chemistry and English (Greek and Ancient History) at the University of Sydney, where I also completed my PhD. I lived in a cave in the rock-cut city of Petra in Jordan while working on my PhD and The Architecture of Petra. I was Annual Scholar of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem. In 1987, I came to Oxford, where I subsequently began work on The Architecture of Alexandria and Egypt 300 BC–AD 700 at St Hugh's College, while Rhys-Davids Junior Research Fellow, followed by a British Academy Post-doctoral Research Fellow. I became a Queen Elizabeth Fellow at the University of Sydney and spent a year at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. Since 2003 I have been director of the Khirbet et-Tannur Nabataean Temple Project www.classics.ox.ac.uk/khirbet-et-tannur-nabataean-temple-project.html. In 2012 I established the open-access Manar al-Athar photo-archive http://www.manar-al-athar.ox.ac.uk/ , while working on the Leverhulme Trust Research Project Late Antique Egypt and the Holy Land: Archaeology, History, and Religious Change www.classics.ox.ac.uk/late-antique-egypt-holyland.html (PI Neil McLynn). Since September 2016, I have been Principal Investigator of the project, Monumental Art of the Christian and Early Islamic East: Cultural Identities and Classical Heritage, www.classics.ox.ac.uk/monumental-art-of-the-christian-and-early-islamic-east.html for which I was awarded an ERC Advanced Grant.

My interest in the architecture, sculpture, and religion of the Nabataeans, the desert tribe of the 3rd century BC to 6th century AD, and their capital Petra began with my work on the architecture of Petra, focusing on the city's larger facades and the free-standing buildings, and on the tombs at Medain Saleh. I demonstrated that the main classical influence on the architecture of Petra in the 1st centuries BC and AD came from Alexandria. That led me to more extensively explore the architecture of Alexandria and Egypt, from Alexander the Great to after the Islamic Conquest. Her re-examination of Nabataean sculpture for the 2003 Petra exhibition in New York resulted in the Khirbet et-Tannur Nabataean Temple Project www.classics.ox.ac.uk/khirbet-et-tannur-nabataean-temple-project.html , when I discovered that the scientific finds from Nelson Glueck's 1937 excavations of the temple were in the Semitic Museum, Harvard University. Studying those finds led me into Nabataean religious practice and iconography. My study of the late antique Ethiopian Garima Gospel illuminations arose as a result of the depictions of architecture in them, some of which have Alexandrian connections, alongside Ethiopian ones.

My experience working in Syro-Palestine/the Levant and Egypt, since 1981, led to my interest in the continuity, as well as change, which occurred at religious sites in the region in late antiquity (AD 250–750), through the transition of the dominant religion from paganism to Christianity and, in turn, to Islam, resulting in collaboration with Neil McLynn on the Leverhulme Trust Research Project Late Antique Egypt and the Holy Land: Archaeology, History, and Religious Change www.classics.ox.ac.uk/late-antique-egypt-holyland.html .In response to scholars working in the region needing photographs of buildings and art at sites which they could not readily visit, I established the open-access photo-archive www.manar-al-athar.ox.ac.uk in order to present the extensive visual record of sites collected. Since then, many of these monuments have been damaged or are endangered, making these records increasingly important. Many of these buildings are (or were) decorated with monumental scenes, on wall-mosaics, floor mosaics, wall-paintings, and relief sculptures. These artworks became the subject of my current ERC project, Monumental Art of the Christian and Early Islamic East: Cultural Identities and Classical Heritage.

Greco-Roman and Late Antique East and Egypt; Alexandria; Petra; Religious continuity and change; Architecture, art, sculpture.

Full Publications: judith-mckenzie-publications.pdf

Selected Publications:

  • Bayt Farhi and the Sephardic Palaces of Ottoman Damascus in the Late 18th and 19th Centuries

  • The Garima Gospels Early Illuminated Gospel Books from Ethiopia

  • The world of the Garima Gospels

  • The Context of the Khirbet et-Tannur Zodiac, Jordan

  • "Glass Tesserae from Hagios Polyeuktos, Constantinople: their Early Byzantine Affiliations

  • The Nabataean Temple at Khirbet et-Tannur, Jordan, Volume 1: Architecture and Religion. Final Report on Nelson Glueck’s 1937 Excavation

  • The Nabataean Temple at Khirbet et-Tannur, Jordan, Volume 2: Cultic Offerings, Vessels, and other Specialist Reports. Final Report on Nelson Glueck’s 1937 Excavation

  • The Alexandrian Tychaion: A Pantheon?

  • Alexandria on the barada: the Mosaics of the Great Mosque in Damascus

  • More
List of site pages