We continue our lecture series with a talk on Friday, February 23, at 7 pm on Of Fish and Vendors: The Khnum Temple Graffiti ProjectWe look forward to seeing you there! To view the lecture poster, click here.


Dr. Jitse Dijkhstra (University of Ottawa)


Friday, February 23 at 7 pm


Koffler House Auditorium, Room 108

569 Spadina Crescent, UofT campus


In antiquity, it was common practice for visitors to leave graffiti on the walls of Egyptian temples during festivals or on other occasions. Like modern graffiti, graffiti from Egyptian temples often consist of informal writings, but unlike today these ancient graffiti have usually been incised with religious intentions. They are therefore a treasure trove for the study of the personal piety of ordinary visitors of temples in Ancient Egypt. In this paper, we will concentrate on the 195 graffiti recorded on the forecourt of the temple of Khnum at Elephantine, one of the most imposing temple complexes in southern Egypt. The forecourt formed a forum-like open space lined with huge statues of Egyptian gods alongside Roman emperors and was accessible to both priests and laymen, at least during festivals. We will discover what the graffiti tell us about the activities of these people and about the use and reuse of the terrain over several centuries.

Author Bio

Jitse Dijkstra‘s research centers round the question how religion became transformed in Late Antiquity. In order to answer this question, he focuses on the particular regional and local context of religious transformation rather than on the ideological and general story. Trained as a papyrologist but multidisciplinary in approach, his main interest is Late Antique Egypt. He is the author of a monograph on the religious transformation in the First Cataract region, southern Egypt, in particular at the island of Philae, and a study of the graffiti in the temple of Isis at Aswan, where he has conducted field work from 2001 onwards. (Profile: U Ottawa)

(Photo of speaker: U Ottawa)


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