Dr Louise Blanke
Lecturer in Late Antique Archaeology
Director of HCA Writing Centre
Affiliated research centres
I had my first infatuation with the past when I, at the age of nine, visited Crete and became entranced by the sewage systems at Knossos. With a choice between plumbing and archaeology, I chose to study Near Eastern Archaeology at the University of Copenhagen, where I did my BA, MA and PhD. Upon completing my degrees, I moved west for a series of postdocs, at Aarhus University (2015-16), at Oxford (sponsored by the Danish Carlsberg Foundation) (2016-19), and finally at Cambridge (2019). I joined the University of Edinburgh in September 2019.
Summary of research interestsPlaces:
- Near East
- Ancient Civilisations
- Economic History
- Landscapes & Monuments
- Material Culture
I am specialised in the archaeology of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially Egypt and Jordan. I am particularly interested in the emergency of Christianity and Islam and their impact on economy, built environment, and material culture in both urban and rural settings.
I am an active field archaeologist with extensive experience from a wide variety of (mainly late antique and early medieval) sites in Jordan, Egypt, Denmark and Qatar. I direct the ongoing Late Antique Jarash Project, which examines the development of a residential neighbourhood in Jarash’s southwest district over the longue durée. My fieldwork in Egypt includes a survey of the Coptic remains at the North Tombs at Amarna and survey and excavation of the three monasteries that in Late Antiquity comprised the White Monastery federation (directed by Gillian Pyke and Stephen J. Davis respectively).
Current research activities
I am currently working towards completion of two research projects. The first of these, which is entitled Christians lives in a Muslim world: social and economic transition in Egypt’s monastic communities (500-1000 CE) examines the religious and economic roles of monastic communities in the long Late Antiquity. It addresses the transformations to the organisation of monasteries that occurred in the wake of the Arab conquest and asks why some monasteries continued to thieve while other monasteries disappeared. My first book, An archaeology of Egyptian monasticism: settlement, economy and daily life at the White Monastery Federation marks the culmination of several years of field work and research at a number of monastic sites in Egypt. A co-edited (with Jennifer Cromwell) volume on the monastic economies in Egypt and Palestine is underway.
I am also co-editing a volume entitled The City as Palimpsest with Suna Cagaptay, Edward Coghill, and Elizabeth Key Fowden. This volume is the product of a conference held in Istanbul in May 2019, which was organised by Cambridge University’s ERC funded Impact of the Ancient City Project (directed by Andrew Wallace Hadril).
My ongoing field work in Jarash, Jordan, and the subprojects deriving from this field work is my main current research focus.
Roman Art and Archaeology
The Transformation of the Roman World
Classical Archaeology in the Field and in the Museum
The City in the Late Antique Mediterranean World
The Near East from Justinian to the Fall of the Umayyads
The Archaeology of Late Antique Religion
Approaches to the Long Late Antiquity
Skills and Methods in Classics
2019. Blanke, L. An Archaeology of Egyptian Monasticism: Settlement, Economy and Daily Life of the White Monastery Federation. New Haven: Yale Egyptological Publications (2019).
Accepted. Blanke, L. and J. Cromwell (eds.). Monastic Economies in Late Antique Egypt and Palestine, Cambridge University Press.
2022. E. Key Fowden, S. Çağaptay, Edward Zychowicz-Coghill and L. Blanke (eds.), Cities as palimpsests? Responses to antiquity in eastern Mediterranean urbanism, Oxford: Oxbow Books. (2022)
Accepted. T. Penn and L. Blanke, ‘A mould blown flask with Christian symbols found at Jarash, Jordan’, Journal of Glass Studies.
2020. Blanke, L. “A farewell to foricae: changing attitudes towards public latrines in the late antique Near East and Asia Minor,” Antiquité Tardive.
2019. Blanke, L. En uvildig helgen: 1300 års pilgrimsfærd til Ægyptens Hvide Kloster. Sfinx.
2018. Jensen Søe, M., P. Nejsum, F. Valeir Seerholm, B. Lund Fredensborg, R. Habraken, K. Haase, M. M. Hald, R. Simonsen, F. Højlund, L. Blanke, I. Merkyte, E. Willerslev and C. Kapel. “Ancient DNA from latrines reveals past parasites and diets,” PLOS ONE.
2017. Rattenborg, R. and L. Blanke. “Jarash in the Islamic Ages (ca. 700-1200 CE): a critical review,” Levant 49.3, 312-332.
2017. Blanke, L. “Et nyt dansk forskningsprojekt i Jarash (Jordan),” Sfinx 40.3, 4-9.
2016. Blanke, L. “Trois latrines publiques dans la Jérash de l’Antiquité tardive (Jordanie),” Médiévales 70: 43-58.
2015. Blanke, L. “Washing the masses, washing the self: An architectural study of the Central Bathhouse in Gerasa,” Syria 92: 85-104.
2014. Davis, S., G. Pyke, E. Davison, M. Farag, and D. Schriever with contributions by L. Blanke. “Left Behind: A Recent Discovery of Manuscript Fragments in the White Monastery Church,” Journal of Coptic Studies 16: 69-87.
2013. Brooks Hedstrom, D. and E. Bolman with contributions by M. Abdel Rahim, L. Blanke, S. Mohammed, T. Herbich, G. Pyke, T. Musacchio and M. Khalifa (2013). “The White Monatery Federation Project. Survey and Mapping at the Monastery of Apa Shenoute (Dayr al.Anba Shinuda), Sohag, 2005-2007,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 66-67: 333-364.
2010. Davis, S. with contributions by L. Blanke, E. Bolman, D. Brooks Hedstrom, M. Burgoyne, T. Herbich, B. Layton, S. Mohammed, G. Pyke and P. Sheehan. “Archaeology at the White Monastery, 2005-2010,” Coptica 9: 25-58.
2010. Bolman, E., S. Davis, and G. Pyke with contributions by M. Abdel Rahim, L. Blanke, D. Brooks Hedstrom, W. Dolling, F.M. El-Anthony, D. McCormack, M. Khalifa, S. Mohammed, P. Sheehan, A. Stevens and N. Warner. “Shenoute and a Recently Discovered Tomb Chapel at the White Monastery,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 18:3: 453-462.
2005. Damgaard, K. and L. Blanke. “Moskeen i Jarash,” Sfinx 28.3.
2004. Damgaard, K. and L. Blanke. “The Islamic Jarash Project. A Preliminary Report on the First Two Seasons of Fieldwork,” Assemblage 8. Sheffield University Graduate Journal of Archaeology 8.
Accepted. Blanke, L. and Cromwell, J.A., ‘Monastic Economies in Late Antique Egypt and Palestine: Past, Present and Future’, in L. Blanke and J.A. Cromwell (eds.), Monastic Economies in Late Antique Egypt and Palestine, Cambridge University Press.
2022. Blanke, L. and A.G. Walmsley, ‘Resilient cities: renewal after disaster in three late antique towns of the East Mediterranean’, in J. Martinez Jimínez and S. Ottewill-Soulsby (eds.) Remembering and Forgetting the Ancient City, Oxford: Oxbow Books.
2022. Blanke, L. ‘(Re)constructing Jerash: History, historiography and the making of the ancient city’ in E. Key Fowden, S. Çağaptay, Edward Zychowicz-Coghill and L. Blanke (eds.), Cities as palimpsests? Erasure, exposure and other responses to the past in eastern Mediterranean urbanism, submitted to Cambridge University Press
2022. Key Fowden, E., S. Çağaptay, Edward Zychowicz-Coghill and L. Blanke ‘Historical distance, physical presence and the living past of cities’, in E. Key Fowden, S. Çağaptay, Edward Zychowicz-Coghill and L. Blanke (eds.), Cities as palimpsests? Erasure, exposure and other responses to the past in eastern Mediterranean urbanism, submitted to Cambridge University Press
2020. Blanke, L. “Pricing salvation: visitation, donation and the monastic economies in late antique and early Islamic Egypt,” in A. Collar and T.M. Kristensen (eds.) Going, Gathering and Giving. Economies of Sacred Travel in the Ancient Mediterranean. Leiden: Brill.
2018. Blanke, L. “Abbasid Jerash reconsidered: suburban life in southwest Jerash over the longue durée,” in Achim Lichtenberger and Rubina Raja (eds.) The Archaeology and History of Jerash. 110 years of excavation, Jordan. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 39-58.
2017. Blanke, L. “The Allure of the Saint: Late Antique Pilgrimage to the Monastery of St Shenoute,” in edited by T.M. Kristensen and W. Friese (eds.), Excavating Pilgrimage, Ashgate Studies in Pilgrimage.
2016. Blanke, L. “Life on the Desert’s Edge: The Water Supply of a Late Antique Monastery in Egypt,” in J. Kuhlmann Madsen, N.O. Andersen and I. Thuesen (eds.) Water of Life. Copenhagen: Orbis.
Accepted. Blanke, L., K.B. Brunner, J. Martínez Jiménez, L. Lodwich, P.T. Nagy, R. Pappalardo, R. Rattenborg, H. Strehle, A. Vernet, M. Whiting and R. Whiting., ‘A millenium of unbroken habitation in Jarash’s southwest district: The 2017 season of the Late Antique Jarash Project’, Annual of the Department of Antiquity of Jordan 61.
2022. Blanke, L., H. Barnes, K. Brunner, M. Brøndgaard Jensen, L. Goossens, R. Knieß, A. Mellah, R. Pappalardo D. Pilz and A. Vernet. ’Excavation and magnetic prospection in Jarash’s southwest district: the 2015 and 2016 seasons of the Late Antique Jarash Project. Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 60, 585-606.
2018. Blanke, L. “The Late Antique Jarash Project,” in John D.M. Green, Barbara A. Porter and China B. Shelton (eds.) Archaeology in Jordan Newsletter: 2016 and 2017. The American Center of Oriental Research, 31-32.
2016. Blanke, L. “The Late Antique Jarash Project,” in Barbara A. Porter, Glenn J. Corbett and Donald R. Keller (eds.) Archaeology in Jordan 2014 and 2015. American Journal of Archaeology 120.4: 643-645.
2015. Blanke, L., H. Barnes, M. Broendgaard Jensen, R. Rattenborg and E. Thing. “The 2011 season of the Late Antique Jarash Project – Results from the Survey Southwest of the Umayyad Congregational Mosque,” Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan.
2012. Blanke, L. and A. Walmsley. “Islamic Jarash Project,” in Archaeology in Jordan, 2010 and 2011 seasons, edited by D. Keller and C. Tuttle. American Journal of Archaeology.
2011. Blanke, L., P. Lorien and R. Rattenborg. “Changing Cityscapes in Central Jarash – Between Late Antiquity and the Abbasid Period,” Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 54: 311-327.
2011. Bolman, E., S. Davis, L. Cesaris, F.M. El-Anthony, G. Pyke, E. Ricchi, A. Sucato and N. Warner with contributions by M. Abdel Rahim, L. Blanke, W. Dolling, M. Khalif, S. Mohammed and A. Stevens. “The Tomb of Shenoute? More Results from the White Monastery (Dayr Anba Shenouda), Sohag,” Bulletin of the American Research Center in Egypt 198: 31-38.
2010. Pyke, G., L. Blanke and M. Ownby. “Panehsy Church Project 2009-10: Settlement Survey,” in Tell al-Amarna, 2010, edited by B. Kemp. Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 96: 1-30.
2010. Blanke, L. and A. Walmsley. “Islamic Jarash Project,” in Archaeology in Jordan, 2008 and 2009 seasons, edited by D. Keller and C. Tuttle. American Journal of Archaeology 114: 505-545.
2008. Bolman, E., L. Blanke, D. Brooks-Hedstrom, M. Khalifa, C. Meurice, S. Mohammed, G. Pyke and P. Sheehan. “Late Antique and Medieval Painted Decoration at the White Monastery (Dayr al-Abiad), Sohag,” Bulletin of the American Research Center in Egypt.
2008. Walmsley, A., F. Bessard, L. Blanke, K. Damgaard, A. Mellah, L. Roenje and I. Simpson. “A Mosque, Shops and Bath in Central Jarash: The 2007 Season of the Islamic Jarash Project,” Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 52.
2007. Blanke, L. “A Newly Discovered Bathhouse in Byzantine Jarash; An Archaeological Interpretation,” The RAG (Roman Archaeology Group) 2.3.
2007. Blanke, L., K. Damgaard, I. Simpson and A. Walmsley. “From Bathhouse to Congregational Mosque: further discoveries on the urban history of Islamic Jarash,” Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 51: 177-97.
2005. Barnes, H., L. Blanke, K. Damgaard, I. Simpson, M. Soerensen and A. Walmsley. “From ‘Guard House’ to Congregational Mosque:recent discoveries on the urban history of Islamic Jarash,” Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 50.
2019. Blanke, L. “Monasteries, late antique,” The Encyclopaedia of Ancient History. Wiley Blackwell Online. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/9781444338386.wbeah30525
2022. Review of A. Lichtenberger and R. Raja (eds.), 2018, Middle Islamic Jerash (9th Century – 15th Century). Archaeology and History of an Ayyubid-Mamluk settlement. Turnhout: Brepols, Histara. http://histara.sorbonne.fr/cr.php?cr=3553
2022. Review of O’Connell, E.R. (ed.), 2020, Abydos in the First Millennium AD, British Museum Publications on Egypt and Sudan 9, Leuven, Paris, Bristol, CT: Peeters, Topoi
2022. Review of A. Yasur-Landau, E.H. Cline, and T.M. Rowan (eds.), The Social Archaeology of the Levant. From Prehistory to the Present. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019. Strata: Journal of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society 39, 213-217.
2018. Review of Burns, R. Aleppo. A History. Cities of the ancient world. London, New York: Routhledge, 2017, xx, 340 p. Bryn Mawr Classical Review. http://www.bmcreview.org/2018/01/20180104.html
2016. Review of Lavan, L. and Mulryan, M. (eds.) Field Methods and Post-Excavation Techniques in Late Antique Archaeology. Late Antique Archaeology, 9. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2015, xiv, 687 p. Bryn Mawr Classical Review. http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2016/2016-11-42.html