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dr. M.E.S. (Marlena) Whiting

Faculty of Humanities
Capaciteitsgroep Geschiedenis

Visiting address
  • Kloveniersburgwal 48
  • Room number: D 0.07
Postal address
  • Postbus 1610
    1000 BP Amsterdam
Contact details
  • Gendering Sacred Space

    Gendering Sacred Space: Female Networks, Patronage, and Ritual Experience in Early Christian Pilgrimage

    From 324 CE to the seventh century, we can identify, by name, a dozen women who travelled across Christendom in pursuit of spiritual encounters. While these women are central to the discussion of early Christian pilgrimage (a practice that prompted key developments in art, communications, and the economy), it has primarily been in terms of what they can tell us about pilgrimage in general, without reference to their gender. My project will shift the focus onto them specifically as female pilgrims, and how being female made their experiences unique, rather than paradigmatic of pilgrimage as a whole.
    In this project I employ textual sources and archaeology to analyse three aspects of female pilgrimage: networks, patronage, and the ‘lived’ experience of women on pilgrimage both as travellers and as worshippers. This will significantly change our understanding of pilgrimage as a gendered act, and shed light on how women experienced moving through both geographic and social space in this most quintessential of early Christian devotional acts.

    This project is funded by a Veni Grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)

  • Publications

    ‘Monastery Hostels in Late Antique Syria, Palestine and Transjordan’ in  Z.T. Fiema, J. Frösén and M. Holappa, eds, Petra – The Mountain of Aaron II: The Nabataean Sanctuary and the Byzantine Monastery (Helsinki, 2016), 108-13.

    ‘Catalog of Selected Registered and Other Finds’ with A. Lehtinen in Z. T. Fiema, J. Frösén and M. Holappa (eds), Petra – The Mountain of Aaron II: The Nabataean Sanctuary and the Byzantine Monastery (Helsinki, 2016), 369-79.

    ‘Asceticism and Hospitality as Patronage in the Late Antique Holy Land: the examples of Paula and Melania the Elder’ in M.E. Mullett, M. Grünbart, G. Fingarova, M. Savage, L. Theis, eds, Female Founders in Byzantium and Beyond (Vienna, 2013), pp. 73-83.

    'Mount Nebo’ in R. Bagnall and K. Brodersen, eds, The Encyclopedia of Ancient History (2012).

    ‘The Metal Objects from the Church and Chapel’ with S. Pouta in J. Frösén and Z. Fiema, eds, Petra – The Monastery of Aaron. Volume 1: The Church and Chapel (Helsinki, 2008), pp. 393-404.

  • Non-specialist publications

    Khirbet et-Tannur was a religious sanctuary of the Nabataeans, ancient Arabs whose capital was the rose-red rock-cut city of Petra in Jordan. Excavated in 1937, the temple sculptures from Khirbet et-Tannur are in important public collections fo the Jordan Museum and the Cincinnati Art Museum. Nelson Glueck's fascinating scientific finds from the dig were buried deeply in the Harvard Semitic Museum until they were unearthed by scholars decades later in 2002. New research on his discoveries and the site's sculpture by a team of experts illuminates the religious practices and art of the Nabataeans. This "gem of a small Nabataean temple" has a fascinating story that is now being brought to new light.

    ISBN-13: 978-0995494619

    Available for purchase via Amazon.

  • Publications


    • Whiting, M. (2017). A River Runs Through It: The Role of the Tigris and Euphrates in Transport and Communication in Late Antiquity. In T. Papacostas, & M. Parani (Eds.), Discipuli Dona Ferentes: Glimpses of Byzantium in honour of Marlia Mundell Mango (pp. 37-67). (Byzantios: Studies in Byzantine History and Civilization; Vol. 11). Turnhout: Brepols. [details]
    • Whiting, M. (2017). Gift of the Orontes: Fluvial landscapes of northwest Syria in late antiquity. In T. V. Franconi (Ed.), Fluvial Landscapes of the Roman World (pp. 127-137). (JRA Supplementary Series; Vol. 104). Portsmouth, RI: Journal of Roman Archaeology. [details]
    • Whiting, M. (2017). The kastron and fortifications of Androna northeast of Hama: [Review of: C. Strube (2015) Al Andarin, das antike Androna: Oberflächenbefunde und Grabungsergebnisse: die beiden Umfassungsmauern und das Kastron]. Journal of Roman archaeology, 30, 930-932. [details]
    • Whiting, M. (2017). [Review of: L. Lemcke (2016) Imperial Transportation and Communication from the Third to the Late Fourth Century: The Golden Age of the cursus publicus]. Plekos - Elektronische Zeitschrift für Rezensionen und Berichte zur Erforschung der Spätantike, 19, 357-365.


    • Whiting, M. E. S. (2016). Monastery Hostels in Late Antique Syria, Palestine and Transjordan. In Z. T. Fiema, J. Frösén, & M. Holappa (Eds.), Petra – The Mountain of Aaron II: The Nabataean Sanctuary and the Byzantine Monastery (pp. 108-13). Helsinki.



    • Whiting, M. (2017). Accommodating Female Pilgrims in the Late Antique Holy Land. In Acteurs et actrices de l’hospitalité dans l’Antiquité méditerranéenne: 14-15 octobre et 15-16 décembre 2016, ENS de Lyon HospitAm. [details]


    • Whiting, M. E. S. (2017). Egeria - Exploring the Holy Land in the 4th century AD. Paper presented at Crossroads: Travelling through the Middle Ages, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
    • Whiting, M. E. S. (2017). Respecting the Monastic Paradox: Spatial Divisions and Hierarchies Between Monastery and Hostel in the Late Antique Near East. Paper presented at Les lieux de l’hospitalité dans l’Antiquité méditerranéenne, Rome, Italy.


    • Whiting, M. E. S. (2016). Female Networks of Hospitality in the Late Antique Holy Land. Paper presented at Acteurs et actrices de l'hospitalité dans l'Antiquité méditerranéenne, Lyon, France.

    • Whiting, M. E. S. (2016). Facilitating Female Pilgrimage: Female Monastic communities and early Christian pilgrim Networks. Paper presented at Monastic Journeys from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages Religious Aspirations, Political Goals and Economic Concerns, Vienna, Austria.
    • Whiting, M. E. S. (2016). Female Pilgrims in the Early Christian Holy Land: Virtuous Ladies or Viragos?. Paper presented at Byzantine Studies Conference, United States.
    • Whiting, M. E. S. (2016). From the Imperial City to the Holy City: Plural Environments & Braided Networks Connecting Late Antique Asia Minor & the Levant. Paper presented at ANAMED Fellows’ Symposium, Istanbul, Turkey.
    • Whiting, M. E. S. (2016). Prayers in the Rock: Pilgrim Graffiti in the Late Antique Holy Land. Paper presented at Fleeting Testimonies of Urban Life. Graffiti and other Transient Writings from Antiquity to the Present , Amsterdam, Netherlands.
    • Whiting, M. E. S. (2016). “The monastic paradox : negotiating monastic seclusion and pilgrim hospitality in the Late Antique Near East. Paper presented at Normes et institutions de l'hospitalité dans l'Antiquité méditerranéenne : regards sur l'Antiquité tardive, Rome, Italy.
    • Whiting, M. E. S. (2018). Gender, Archaeology, and Pilgrimage in the Late Antique Near East. Paper presented at ASOR Annual Meeting , Denver, United States.
    • Whiting, M. E. S. (2018). Gendering the cult of saints: female worshippers for female saints?. Paper presented at The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity, Warsaw, Poland.
    • Whiting, M. E. S. (2018). Holy Men and Lay Women: Rules of Hospitality and Piety in the Late Antique Near East. Paper presented at Hospitalité et régulation sociale et politique dans l’Antiquité méditerranéenne: penser le singulier et le collectif, Lyon, France.
    • Whiting, M. E. S. (2018). Pilgrims and the Sea: Maritime Communications Networks and Holy Land Pilgrimage in Late Antiquity. Paper presented at Seafaring, Mobility and the Mediterranean in Late Antiquity (ca. 150 – 700 CE), Finland.
    • Whiting, M. E. S. (2018). Remembering the Rose Red City: Pilgrimage, storytelling, and the shaping of Byzantine Petra. Paper presented at International Medieval Congress Leeds 2018, .
    • Whiting, M. E. S. (2019). “Lived religion” and women’s popular piety in the early Byzantine period. Paper presented at XVIII Jornadas de Bizancio, XVIII Conference on Byzantine Studies, Barcelona, Spain.

    This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library or the Pure staff of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
  • Ancillary activities
    No known ancillary activities