NEAF study day: From Latin One to Petra, Alexandria and Beyond – 30 November 2019 – School of Humanities NEAF study day: From Latin One to Petra, Alexandria and Beyond – 30 November 2019 – School of Humanities

NEAF study day: From Latin One to Petra, Alexandria and Beyond – 30 November 2019

From Latin One to Petra, Alexandria and Beyond: The extraordinary academic achievements of Dr Judith McKenzie


About Judith McKenzie

Judith Sheila McKenzie (1957 – 27 May 2019) was Associate Professor of Late Antique Egypt and the Holy Land at the University of Oxford. Judith was the director of the Manar Al-Athar project, an open access image archive of the Middle East.

Judith started her archaeological career in the Latin One Lecture Theatre at the University of Sydney, and as she states in her introduction to The Architecture of Petra, it was ‘one of the few places where both Near Eastern and Classical archaeology must be studied together’. Her works were ‘very much a product of the unique decade of teaching archaeology at Sydney’. Judith would go from here at Sydney to Oxford to continue to explore, research and then publish definitive works on Petra, on Alexandria and to untangle many of the threads that created the cultural fabric of the Graeco-Roman East.

She was an extraordinary researcher and writer but beyond this she was so giving, both personally and academically, to her colleagues and friends. Judith died in May 2019. She will be missed.

This study day is a small tribute to this outstanding archaeologist and her work from her friends at the University of Sydney.


Welcome and Introduction
Dr. Peta Seaton & Maree Browne

Judith and the Hellenistic World: Revealing Ptolemaic Alexandria
Dr. John Tidmarsh

The dashing conquests of Alexander the Great extended to the limits of the ‘known’ world. Following his death at Babylon in 323 BCE there arose several remarkable Hellenistic kingdoms whose flamboyant Macedonian rulers and opulent cities resulted in an almost complete break from the restricted world of the polis of Classical Greece.

Of all Alexander’s foundations—and indeed of all the Hellenistic cities—“Alexandria next to Egypt” was by far the richest and most cosmopolitan with the palaces of the Ptolemies, Temple of Serapis, Museum, Tomb of Alexander, the Pharos, and Library (to name but a few) a source of wonder for many in the Graeco-Roman world.

While it has generally been assumed by modern scholars that the architecture of Ptolemaic Alexandria was lost beyond recall, Judith’s painstaking study of its archaeological remains and (amongst other strands of evidence) has shown that this is, in fact, far from the case.

11.00: Morning Tea (provided)

Sydney to Alexandria via Pompeii and Petra
Prof Jean-Paul Descoeudres

To explain the striking similarities between some paintings of the Second Pompeian Style and the rock-cut façades in Petra, Karl Schefold had put forth the idea that both represented Alexandrian architecture. It was the starting point of Judith’s doctoral thesis on The Architecture at Petra : Its Chronology and Relationship to Second Style Pompeian Wall-painting, written under the late Anthony McNicoll’s and my supervision, submitted to the University of Sydney in 1985, and published in 1990 as the first volume in the British Academy Monographs in Archaeology series. I propose to have a look at some of the relevant monuments in both Pompeii and Petra.

12.15: Lunch (self-catered)

Memories of a fellow troglodyte in the rose red city
Angela Phippen

Angela accompanied Judith for four months on her first field trip to Petra and other Jordanian sites in 1981/1982. This talk will highlight aspects of that experience, both archaeological and non-archaeological.

Adventures, Bedouin and Caves: an ethnographic ABC of working with Judith in Petra in 1984
Dr. Pam Watson

Pam was Judith’s recording assistant in the spring of 1984 in Petra, living on site, documenting the facades and exploring features off the beaten track in an extraordinary landscape.

From Dolphins to Zodiacs: reinterpreting Kh et-Tannur
Dr. Kate da Costa

Judith McKenzie was a master of careful rereading and painstaking detective work of old and important projects. Aware that Nelson Glueck’s reconstruction of the temple at Kh et-Tannur was problematic; Kh et- Tannur is the famous Nabataean cult complex in Jordan, Judith decided to review the presentation of the site and beg!an to work on the paperwork Glueck had left behind. Additional unexpected finds of objects from Tannur in the basement of the Semitic Museum in Harvard, expanded the project still further. Just as she had done with the Serapeion in Alexandria, Judith’s exemplary scholarship has revolutionized our understanding of a key building of syncretic cult, bridging the east and the west.

2.45: Afternoon Tea (provided)

Judith’s Final Projects
Dr. Ross Burns

In recent years Judith spent much of her energy on two projects intended to widen the way in which students, researchers and the general public look at the Mediterranean world, freed of the fortress-like divisions in the past separating the cultures of Europe, North Africa and the Levant. Both projects were funded by large UK and EU grants and were based in the Classics Faculty at Oxford. Manar al-Athar is a huge photo database of freely available images of archaeological sites and buildings available without charge to students, researchers and the general public and covering a large swathe of the Mediterranean world: Her team has also been preparing a comprehensive survey of the available evidence (both archaeological and written) for what happened to the temples of the Roman era in later centuries, concentrating on the Levant.

Download the program as a PDF (456KB)


Everyone is welcome to attend the study day.

Click here to register

Madsen Building F09
Eastern Avenue,
The University of Sydney 2006

NEAF is part of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry (SOPHI).

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Nov 30 2019


All Day


This event is free

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Madsen Building F09


+61 2 9351 4151

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