Felege-Selam Yirga: The Chronicle of John of Nikiu

Professor Yirga from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will hold a seminar on the Chronicle written by the Egyptian Coptic bishop John of Nikiu.

The Chronicle of John of Nikiu is important for mentioning historical details which are otherwise not known/not documented in other sources and it extends from the period of Adam and Eve to the end of the Muslim conquest of Egypt.

Professor Yirga is a historian of the Late Antique/Early Medieval Near East and Red Sea regions. He is particularly interested in the study of early Byzantine historiography, and how people who did not live under the Roman empire (particularly post-Roman Copts, Syrians, and medieval/early modern Ethiopians) remembered it and used its memory to forge their own religious and political identities. He conducts his research through the study of the transmission and reuse of historical and hagiographic texts from Greek into Classical Ethiopic (Gə’əz), Coptic, and Syriac. Yirga is currently working on his first monograph, which is an expansion of his dissertation, The Chronicle of John of Nikiu: Historical Writing in Post-Roman Egypt. This yet unnamed project will examine how the first generation of people who lived in lands that had formerly been under the dominion of Rome (whom he has dubbed post-Romans) remembered the Roman empire, and how their reactions to the sudden withdrawal of the Roman state affected the expression of their social and cultural identity.

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