Institut français
d’archéologie orientale du Caire


ERC ChrIs-cross

ERC Consolidator Grant ChrIs-cross

Entangled Christianities in Jerusalem and the Middle East: A cross-cultural bottom-up approach (12th-16th centuries)

PI: Camille Rouxpetel

ChrIs-cross has received funding from the EU’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement n°101124193. This project will produce the first comprehensive study of Christianities in Jerusalem and the Middle East from the 12th to the 16th c., in the face of shifting rulership structures, first Frankish, then Islamic, and religious affiliations. It will envisage them from a bottom-up, practice oriented and connected perspective, on the assumption that inter-Christian and Christian-Muslim relations were more conductive to fluidity than to boundary-setting. A multidisciplinary and multilingual team will study a forgotten and so far, inaccessible archive—the archives of the Christian Patriarchates in Jerusalem—and develop an overarching database including interactive maps and editing texts. Open-access metadata will be in English and Arabic. In so doing, it will resituate the history of Christianities within the Islamicate world by reassessing the concept of “minority”, historicise communities’ construction by comparing conquest-induced reconfigurations, with and without a change in religious dominance, and spatialise these processes by examining their interplay, with Jerusalem as a specific urban space in tension with the wider regional area.

The project has three main objectives: it aims to address the currently compartmentalised academic study of the diverse Frankish- and Islamic-ruled societies, by shifting the focus of inquiry from the internal history of separate groups to their areas of contact; to empower local Christian communities by documenting their deep-rootedness in these complex societies, and to contribute new knowledge of the diversity of the Islamic-ruled world as a historical reality by expanding digital inclusiveness. 

Exploiting existing scholarship yet in awareness of its blind spots, and using newer methods such as network analysis alongside tested and traditional skills such as codicology, ChrIs-cross should reconsider fundamentally previous understandings of Middle Eastern Christianities’ actual trajectories, legal, spatial, and existential, over more than four centuries (1099 to ca. 1550), thus under seemingly alien rulers—Franks then Muslims. By achieving its various objectives, ChrIs-cross will realize what arguably is an unprecedented exploration. The project decentres these communities away from their ecclesiastical capitals via its focus on the Holy Centre itself, Jerusalem, and envisages them from a bottom-up, practice-oriented, and connected perspective, recovering a complex and entangled reality, of coexistence and even regular cooperation, both across denominational boundaries and with Jerusalem’s rulers.

This ERC project has received preparatory funding from the French Research National Agency (ANR Tremplin ERC-CoG programme ANR-21-ERCC-0005-01 2021-2023 PI Camille Rouxpetel). It allowed Camille Rouxpetel and Alice Croq (specialist in Syriac and Arabic manuscripts, recruited as a postdoc) to conduct targeted forays in Jerusalem archives and cross-check them with data from Arabic and Syriac manuscripts listed at a preliminary stage in a draft database (SAMAD—The Syriac and Arabic Manuscript Database (8th-15th centuries).