Darlene L. Brooks Hedstrom, Wittenberg University Kenneth E. Wray Endowed Chair in the Humanities and professor of history, has been awarded the prize for Best Popular Book on Archaeology for her most recent book, The Monastic Landscape of Late Antique Egypt: An Archaeological Reconstruction (Cambridge University Press, 2017). The award, which carries a prize of $500, is presented biennially by the Biblical Archaeology Society (BAS).
In its announcement of the 2019 Publication Awards Winners, the BAS described Brooks Hedstrom’s book as offering “a new approach to the study of monasticism in Egypt, presented in a very accessible and engaging style that bridges both popular and scholarly audiences.”
“This is exactly what Dar's book does, and it is a real thrill to have her win this award,” said Chris Raffensperger, associate professor of history and department chair. “It is a testament to the hard work and scholarship that she put into the research and writing, as well as a comment about how she is able to make the history and archaeology of 1,000 years ago relevant and interesting to the modern reader.”
As a Byzantinist scholar, Brooks Hedstrom focuses her research on monastic archaeology, monastic studies, the archaeology of cooking and kitchens, and mud brick architecture. In her prize-winning book, she argues that in addition to the literary record provided by early monastic writers, one must also consider the natural environment and the “built” environment in order to fully understand Egyptian monasticism.
According to its website, the BAS “was founded in 1974 as a nonprofit, nondenominational, educational organization dedicated to the dissemination of information about archaeology in the Bible lands.”
Raffensperger believes this recognition “by a prominent international organization….is tremendously good publicity for the reputation of Wittenberg as a place where one can be a scholar as well as a teacher.”
A trained archaeologist who is committed to involving students in hands-on history, Brooks Hedstrom is director of Wittenberg’s archaeology program as well as principal investigator for the Columbia Street Cemetery Project in Springfield and the Wittenberg University Campus Archaeology Project. She also serves as senior archaeological consultant for the Yale Monastic Archaeology Project – North.
Judges of the 2019 BAS archaeology book prizes included Ann E. Killebrew, associate professor of classics and ancient Mediterranean studies, Jewish studies, and anthropology at The Pennsylvania State University, Eric M. Meyers, Bernice and Morton Lerner emeritus professor in Judaic studies at Duke University, and Steven Ortiz, professor of archaeology and biblical backgrounds at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.