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Tracking Religious Conversion through Onomastics in Late Antiquity and Beyond

10.12.2020 - 12.12.2020

Im Rahmen eines Test Topic findet im Dezember 2020 ein Workshop statt, der das Thema der Konversion in der Spätantike behandelt. Im Zentrum der Forschung steht die Frage, inwieweit die Namensforschung Rückschlüsse auf einen Religionswechsel, insbesondere zum Christentum und zum Islam, erlaubt.

The aim of this workshop is to discuss the theoretical and practical problems surrounding tracking religious change based on onomastic data. The main focus will be on the Mediterranean in Late Antiquity (ca. 300–800 AD), especially on conversion to Christianity and Islam, but comparative examples from other regions and periods will also be presented. The workshop will scrutinise methodological questions: how shall we understand and define conversion? When does a name bear a religious significance? How to deal with ambiguities in this respect, such as names common in all Abrahamic religions? What kind of sources can be fruitfully used to track religious changes through onomastics? How to deal with datasets, especially in the context of digital humanities? What kind of statistical methods are the most helpful to analyse them? What kind of evidence and which methodologies can help to move beyond pure statistics and assess the social context of religious conversion? An important aim of the workshop is to induce a dialogue between experts of various fields dealing with this topic. The workshop is generously financed by the Berliner Antike-Kolleg in the framework of the Test Topics 2020 program.

The conference will take place online via Zoom on 10–12 December 2020.

Please register at: sekretariat@berliner-antike-kolleg.org

Join Zoom Meeting: https://hu-berlin.zoom.us/j/81398800686


10 December (Thursday)

Lajos Berkes (Berlin): Introduction               

Cilliers Breytenbach (Berlin/Stellenbosch): Names for Christians in Lycaonia and Attica. The value of comparison

Dan Dana (Lyon): Onomastics of the soldiers of the late Roman army in the Balkano-Danubian provinces


Christian C. Sahner (Oxford): Using name change to study phases of conversion to Islam in rural areas

Lajos Berkes (Berlin): Identifying converts to Islam in the papyrological record of 7th–8th-century Egypt

11 December (Friday)

Mark Depauw (Leuven): Trismegistos People and a quantitative approach to societal changes

David Frankfurter (Boston): Onomastic change and the dynamics of Christianization


Stephen Mitchell (Berlin): Semitic names and religious affiliation in Roman and late Roman Phrygia

Korshi Dosoo (Würzburg): Magical names: Tracing religious changes in magical texts

12 December (Saturday)

Grzegorz Ochała (Leiden): Who is who in medieval Nubia: recognising identities in indigenous Nubian written sources

Arnaud Lestremau: Imponant nomina christianorum. Converting men, converting names in Anglo-Saxon England


Georgios C. Liakopoulos (Jena):The incorporation of local Christian dignitaries of Balkan origin in the Ottoman administration. An anthroponymic study of the Ottoman taxation cadastres

Final discussion

Zeit & Ort

10.12.2020 - 12.12.2020

Online via Zoom