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Victor Ghica

DEChriM – A Platform for the Study of Early Egyptian Christianity

Coinciding with the launch of the new website for MF is the publication of the website of DEChriM, ‘Deconstructing Early Christian Metanarratives’, the ERC project directed by Professor Victor Ghica. As well as being a platform for the centralisation of news and information related to the DEChriM project, the primary purpose of the website is to host two databases – 4CARE, the ‘Fourth Century Archaeological Record of Egypt’, and SKOS, the ‘South Kharga Oasis Survey’. 

4CARE is a repository of all material traces of early Egyptian Christianity dated (or datable) to the fourth century CE. This includes built remnants, i.e., churches and monasteries, as well as movable and immovable artefacts, including textual material, such as papyri, ostraca, and graffiti, as well as non-textual material, comprising ceramic, textiles, jewelry etc. The database is formatted as a GIS database, meaning these material traces are associated with their geographic location. As the product of ongoing work of the members of DEChriM, 4CARE will thus continue to be updated throughout the course of the remaining three years of the project.

 

SKOS, a project of the Institut français d’archéologie oriental (IFAO) is also a GIS database, comprising the results of the largest scale archaeological survey ever conducted in Egypt, covering an area of c. 5500km2. Unlike 4CARE, SKOS is not exclusively related to fourth century Christianity, nor exclusively to Christianity. Instead, it spans the entirety of human history in the southern area of the Kharga Oasis. Despite the time, effort and dedication required to complete such a survey, the results were never published due to the untimely death of Michel Wuttmann, the director and driving force behind the project. After being somewhat forgotten, interest was reignited through DEChriM, which was able to provide a platform and financing for the finalisation of the project, which, in addition to the database, will include two printed volumes.

 

These two GIS databases are intended to become indispensable reference points for scholars studying not only early Christian material culture, though that is indeed the priority of DEChriM, but also the material culture of Egypt more broadly, with the developmental history of the Kharga Oasis encapsulated, at least in part, by SKOS.