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Philippika Prize for Svenja Nagel

11. Jul. 2016

Svenja Nagel, associate member of the Cluster, has received the Philippika Prize by publishing house Harrassowitz for her outstanding Ph.D. thesis on the expansion of the cult of Isis in the Roman Empire. The awarding ceremony was held on July 8 at Heidelberg University.

The prize-winning thesis is entitled “Die Ausbreitung des Isiskultes im Römischen Reich: Tradition und Transformation auf dem Weg von Ägypten nach Rom. Eine Untersuchung zur Entwicklung des Isiskultes im Griechisch-Römischen Ägypten und zu seiner Adaption in Rom und dem westlichen Mittelmeerraum” (The Expansion of the Cult of Isis in the Roman Empire: Tradition and Transformation on the Way from Egypt to Rome. An Analysis of the Development of the Cult of Isis in Graeco-Roman Egypt and its Adaptation in the Western Mediterranean). In her work, Svenja Nagel analysed the transfer, adaptation and transformation of the Egyptian goddess Isis and her cult on the way from East to West. In the Hellenistic and Roman Imperial periods the Isis cult successively spread around the whole Mediterranean. Earlier studies mostly focused on Greek and Latin texts as well as archaeological evidence from outside Egypt, while excluding earlier and especially contemporary material from the goddess’ country of origin itself.

To enhance the understanding of the Roman Isis cult in different regions, Svenja Nagel collected for the first time the numerous sources on Isis from Graeco-Roman Egypt and provided them with detailed comments. On the basis of this analysis, the second part of the dissertation sheds new light on partly well-known monuments and sources in the Western Roman Empire, and re-evaluates the Roman Isis cult as well as the literary works of Plutarchus and Apuleius with regard to the Egyptian sources.

Svenja Nagel was Ph.D Candidate with a scholarship in Cluster’s Project D7 “Oriental Cults” from January 2009 to December 2011. From November 2012 to September 2015, she was involved in research project MC 10Cultural Plurality and the Fusion of Traditions between East and West", specifically in subproject "The Magic of Transculturality". Her work focuses on Egyptian religion, especially in the Graeco-Roman Period with its various cultural influences. Her main interests are Hieroglyphic temple inscriptions and the Greek and Demotic magical papyri.

The prize honoured to Svenja Nagel is called “Philippika. Altertumswissenschaftliche Abhandlungen. Contributions to the Study of Ancient World Cultures”. The works of the annual prize’s awardees constitute the book series by Harrassowitz publishing house under the same name. Harrassowitz Verlag publishes about 250 scholarly books and periodicals each year on Oriental, Slavic as well as Book and Library Studies, and holds a stock of about 3,000 different titles. The award is in recognition of outstanding dissertations with multidisciplinary researching approach in the field of classical studies.

The awarding ceremony for Svenja Nagel took place on Friday, July 8 at the lecture hall of the Centre for Ancient Studies at Heidelberg University.


  • picture: Frederik Oly