Noël Duval Has Died

The distinguished French archaeologist Noël Duval has died. Born in 1929, he was a professor at Paris-Sorbonne University where he taught Late Antiquity and Byzantine Art. A defining personality in French archaeology for decades, he will be remembered, among much else, for his three-volume Les premiers monuments chrétiens de la France.

Obituary by the President of the Association pour l’Antiquité Tardive:

“Chers amis,

C’est avec beaucoup d’émotion et une très grande tristesse que je dois vous annoncer le décès de notre président d’honneur, Noël Duval, gravement malade depuis plusieurs années, survenu mercredi matin. Vous savez le rôle qu’il a joué dans la fondation de notre association et de la revue, deux entreprises qui lui tenaient profondément à coeur, la place éminente qu’il a tenue au sein de la communauté scientifique et son inlassable activité au service de l’archéologie de l’antiquité tardive, en Afrique du nord tout particulièrement. Même si nous ne le voyions plus parmi nous depuis longtemps, sa disparition nous touche profondément. Ses travaux stimuleront longtemps encore encore la réflexion scientifique. L’Association lui doit beaucoup et lui rendra hommage.

François Baratte

Hendrik Hess Doctorate

Hendrik Hess has taken his doctorate at the University of Bonn with a thesis about the self-concept of the Gallo-Roman elite. The book is to be published next year as “Das Selbstverständnis der gallo-römischen Oberschicht im historischen Diskursraum von Sidonius Apollinaris bis Gregor von Tours. Übergang, Hybridität, Latenz“ as one of the Ergänzungsbände zum Reallexikon der germanischen Altertumskunde.

Die Studie fragt nach dem Selbstverständnis der gallo-römischen Oberschicht in der zweiten Hälfte des 5. bis zum Ende des 6. Jahrhunderts. In dieser Zeit der Neuordnung Galliens zwischen Imperium Romanum und der Bildung der Reiche der Visigoten, Burgunder und Franken gingen alte Gewissheiten verloren und neue entstanden, die Verfügungsmacht über materielle und immaterielle Ressourcen wechselte, Vorstellungen und Wahrnehmungsmuster änderten sich. Diese Dynamik spiegelt sich auch in der Veränderung des kulturellen, sozialen und politischen Wissens über die eigene gesellschaftliche Gruppe wieder. Die römische Oberschicht Galliens erscheint trotz der Umwälzungen jedoch keineswegs rückwärtsgewandt oder konservativ. Vielmehr zeigten sich schon die epistolographischen Übergangsrömer des 5. Jahrhunderts pragmatisch in Bezug auf ihr Selbstverständnis, das im Verlauf der Untersuchungszeit hybride Formen annahm und schließlich lediglich latent weiterexistierte.

Doctorate Alison John

Alison John has completed her doctorate at the University of Edinburgh (supervisors Gavin Kelly and Lucy Grig) and will graduate this November. Her thesis, Learning and Power: A Cultural History of Education in Late Antique Gaul engaged with Sidonius and his world, and considered his perceptions of the changes taking place around him.



This thesis examines the shifting practices and attitudes toward classical education in late antique Gaul, with a focus on the fourth to early sixth centuries. Throughout this period Gallo-Romans witnessed political, economic, and cultural upheavals, and the eventual disappearance of Roman political power in Gaul. John explores the role traditional literary schools of grammar and rhetoric played in the politics and society of late antique Gaul, and the changing value of such educational pursuits among Gallo-Roman aristocrats throughout this period. Since literary education had long been a central part of elite Roman identity, examining the ways that Gallo-Roman aristocrats participated in and patronized education amid the shifting political, cultural, and religious contexts of the period can help us to understand the overall transformations of the late antique west.

John offers a fresh interpretation of the history of the classical schools of grammar and rhetoric in Gaul. Its analysis shows how the eventual decline of classical schools in Gaul is linked indirectly to changes in political structures and the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century. John argues that without the superstructure of the Roman empire, classical education could not survive indefinitely. Throughout late antiquity and in post-imperial Gaul, although neither the barbarian kingdoms nor the Church directly caused the decline of classical schools, these new structures of power that replaced the unified empire did not encourage or support a cultural and political climate in which grammatical and rhetorical training was valued. Such political changes transformed the perceptions of the value and role of classical education and resulted in the eventual end of the schools of grammar and rhetoric in Gaul.

New: Brill Early Christianity Online

The new Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity (BEEC) focuses on the history of early Christianity, covering texts, authors, and ideas. The BEEC aims both to provide a critical review of the methods used in Early Christian Studies and also to update the history of scholarship.

The print publication consisting of six volumes is scheduled for early 2022. The content available already in advance of that date comes with the launch the online version of the BEEC (abbreviated EECO). This year some 300 articles will be published on Brill’s online platform and updates of the online version are envisaged on a regular basis.

Doctorate Lucie Desbrosses

Lucie Desbrosses has got her doctorate at the University of Besançon (supervisor Stéphane Ratti). The title of her thesis is: ‘Sidoine Apollinaire et la Gaule chrétienne au Ve siècle’.

Abstract: ‘This dissertation investigates how Sidonius Apollinaris’ poetry and letters shed light on the Christian identity of Gaul in Late Antiquity, and how the author takes part in defining it. It focuses on Christian reactions to traditional culture and the “pagan” background in particular, paying special attention to claims of renunciation and to actual comprises with past patterns. It first of all paints a picture of fifth-century Christianity in Gaul, studying how, and how deeply, the religio nova had penetrated the Gallic provinces, pointing out the remains of heterodox and “pagan” beliefs. It also examines the cultural (dis)continuity in the individual transition from lay status to conversio and clerical status, for which Sidonius, belonging to the lay social élite, and then to the clerical sphere, is a key figure. It pays special attention to writing poetry to enhance Christian identity, but also to express one’s nostalgic attachment to the ancient world, its literature, its culture, and its past pleasures.’

Email address


Reading Sidonius’ Epistles

Michael Hanaghan has written a monograph on Sidonius’ Epistles, about to be published by Cambridge University Press in January 2019. From the blurb in the catalogue:

‘This book provides a fuller understanding of [Sidonius’] contribution to Latin literature, as a careful arranger of his self-image, a perceptive exploiter of narrative dynamics, and an influential figure in Late Antique Gaul.’

Michael is currently employed by the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, at the Institute for Religion & Critical Enquiry. Email: