Sacred Spectating: Monastic Architecture and Spirituality in Late Antique Egypt


Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowships in the History of Art


Art and Art History


“Sacred Spectating” traces the history of an ascetic practice that fostered visionary experiences of the supernatural, and uncovers ties to the longstanding tradition of pilgrimage in the Mediterranean region. This project situates sacred spectating in architectural environments of late antiquity, from the third to the ninth centuries CE, designed to cultivate it. The focal point is the Red Monastery, the best-preserved late antique painted church sanctuary in the Mediterranean region, located in Egypt. The project asserts the artistic and cultural vitality of late antique Egypt, and shows that the ancient network of pilgrimage roads linking Africa and the Mediterranean invigorated the early generations of Christian monks who lived on the edge of the Nile River Valley. The project engages broad conversations about the agency of sacred spaces and provides a new foundation for cross-cultural analyses of visual experiences of the divine.