Department of Ancient History

Emeritus Professor Samuel Lieu

ancient-staff samuelieuMA Cantab., DPhil. Oxford. FRAS, FRHistS, FSA, FAHA, FRSN
Inaugural Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Ancient History and President of the International Union of Academies

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I have a broad research interest in Ancient and Early Medieval History, especially in the study of the contacts between Ancient Civilizations across Central Asia. I am currently Co-Director of the UNESCO-sponsored Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum Project and I also have research projects on the military and religious history of the Late Roman East. I began my teaching career at Warwick University in the UK in 1976 and was promoted to a full Professorship in 1994 and appointed Director of the Centre for East Roman Studies. I joined the Department at Macquarie in 1996 as Professor of Ancient History and became Co-Director of the Ancient History Documentary Research Centre in 1998. Besides winning a succession of ARC Large and Discovery Project Grants, I have concentrated on developing younger scholars in researching in my many areas of interest and a number have succeeded to win academic appointments. My current major research project is on the history of Zayton (Quanzhou) in South China - a key port-city of the Maritime Silk Road at the time of Marco Polo and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I also conduct regular field surveys in Syria and S. Turkey. I am a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and represent the Australian Academy at the International Union of Academies.  I was awarded the title of Inaugural Distinguished Professor by Macquarie University in 2010, an dam a recipient of an Australian Research Council Discovery Outstanding Research Award (DORA) (i.e. a salaried Research Professorship) between January 2013 and December 2015.  I was also elected as a Bureau (i.e. Council) Member of Union Academique Internationale / International Union of Academics (2013-2017). In late 2015 I was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales.  I retired from being an Inaugural Distinguished Professor in March 2016 and am currently an Adjunct Professor at Macquarie University.  I am also a regular Visiting Fellow at Wolfson College, Cambridge and a Trustee of the Ancient India and Iran Trust, also at Cambridge. In 2017 I was elected President of the Brussels-based International Union of Academies (UAI: Union Académique Internationale) (2017-2021) and I am the first Asian-born scholar and the second Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities to hold this prestigious position.

External Appointments

  • Alexander Von Humboldt Research Fellow, Tübingen Universität (Inst. f. Antik. Judentum u. Hellenist. Religionsgeschichte) 1989-1990, 2002.
  • Leverhulme Visiting Professor (salaried), London University 2002-3.
  • Co-Director Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum Project (An international project funded by the British Academy, the Royal Swedish Academy of History and Letters, the Leverhulme Trust, the Australian Research Council etc.) 1994-.
  • Professorial Research Fellow, School of Oriental and African Studies, London University 2002-.
  • President of the International Union of Academies (Union Académique Internationale) (2017-2021)

Fellowships and Awards

  • Junior Research Fellow, Wolfson College, Oxford, 1974-1976.
  • Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1981 -
  • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, 1983 -
  • Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, 1989 -
  • Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, 1999-
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales, 2015 -
  • Centenary Medal 2002 (awarded by the Commonwealth Government for contribution to Classical and Oriental Studies)
  • President of the International Association of Manichaean Studies 2009-2013
  • Elected  Bureau (i.e. Council) Member of Union Academique Internationale / International Union of Academics (2013-2017).

Major Grants

British Academy

  • 1978 A Comparative study of Early Christian (Greek and Syriac) and Early Buddhist Chinese hagiography
  • 1984 Publication Grant (Manichaeism in the Later Roman Empire and Medieval China)
  • 1986 Libanius as a source for the history for the eastern frontier
  • 1988 The Artemii Passio as a source for fourth century history
  • 1990 Data-Base of Manichaean Texts and Dictionary of Manichaean Terms and Concepts (Major Research Grant)
  • 1990 Dictionary of Manichaean Terms and Concepts (Major Research Grant)
  • 1993 Visiting Professorship (for Prof. P. Nagel, Halle) for Centre for Research in East Roman Studies
  • 1994 Visiting Professorship (for Prof. A. van Tongerloo, Leuven) for Centre for Research in East Roman Studies
  • 1994-95 Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum - Greek and Chinese sections (Major Research Grant)
  • 1994 Visiting Professorship (for Dr. J. van Oort, Utrecht) for Centre for Research in East Roman Studies

Leverhulme Trust

  • 1991-92 Data-Base of Manichaean Texts (Major Award)

Nuffield Foundation

  • 1977 Rome and Persia (grant for innovative teaching)
  • 1978 The Holy Man in Early Byzantium and Medieval China (Social Sciences Award)
  • 1988 Urbanism in Hellenistic, Parthian and Roman Mesopotamia and Syria (ditto)

Royal Swedish Academy

  • 1990 Dictionary of Manichaean Terms and Concepts (Extraordinary award for international collaboration)

Seven Pillars of Wisdom Trust

  • 1990-98 Dictionary of Manichaean Terms and Concepts (Staff salary)

Society of Antiquaries

  • 1989-91 Data-Base of Manichaean Texts from Central Asia (equipment grant)

Wolfson Foundation

  • 1986 Roman Foreign Policy in the East from Severus Alexander to the Arab Conquest and the development of a frontier (major award in classics and historical geography for collaboration with Tel Aviv University Israel)

Australian Research Council

  • Large Grant : 1997-2000 (With I. M. F. Gardner and L. Eccles): Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum
  • Research Initiative: 1998: Pre-Islamic Central Asia
  • Large Grant : 2000-2002 (With Dr Erica Hunter): Manichaean Texts in Syriac.
  • International Research Exchange: 2001-03 (with Prof Nicholas Sims-Williams, FBA) Silk Road Language and Religion.
  • Discovery Project Grant: 2002-2004 (with I. M. F. Gardner and M. Franzmann) Manichaean and Nestorian Iconography at Quanzhou.
  • Discovery Project Grant: 2002-2009 (with I. M. F. Gardner and M. Franzmann) Mission and Inculturation: Manichaean and Nestorian Texts and Iconography in China.
  • Discovery Project Grant: 2010-2012 (with Gunner Mikkelsesn) China and the Mediterranean World
  • Discovery Project Grant and DORA: 2013-2015 (with Gunner Mikkelsesn) Manichaean Texts from China

Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation

  • Research Grant: 1997-2000 (with Prof. A. van Tongerloo) Manichaean texts and inscriptions from China.
  • Research Grant: 2002-2006 (with Prof. A. van Tongerloo) Manichaean and Nestorian inscriptions and Iconography from Quanzhou.
  • Research Grant 2006-2008 (with Dr Gunner Mikkelsen) Nestorian Epigraphical texts from China.
  • Research Grant 2016-2019 (with Dr Gunner Mikkelsen) Dictionary of Nestorian texts from China.



  • Manichaeism in the Later Roman Empire and Medieval China (Tübingen: Mohr, 1992).
  • Manichaeism in Mesopotamia and the Roman East, Religions in the Graeco-Roman World 118 (Leiden: Brill, 1994), 325pp.
  • with M. Dodgeon, The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars AD 226-363, (London: Routledge, 1991, revised paperback edn. 1994) 430pp., Reprinted with additional material 1996.
  • with D. A. S. Montserrat, From Constantine to Julian: Pagan and Byzantine Views (London: Routledge, 1996), 285pp.
  • Manichaeism in Central Asia and China, Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 27 (Leiden: Brill, 1998) 258 pp.
  • with D. A. S. Montserrat (edd.), Constantine History, Historiography and Legend (London: Routledge, 1998), 230pp.
  • with S. Clackson, E. D. C. Hunter and M. Vermes, Dictionary of Manichaean Texts I: Texts from the Roman Empire (Texts in Syriac, Greek, Coptic and Latin), Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum, Series Subsidia II, (Turnhout: Brepols, 1998) 282pp.
  • with M. Vermes: Hegemonius, Acta Archelai, Manichaean Studies IV (Turnhout: Brepols, 2001), ISBN 2-503-51156-2, 177pp.
  • with G. Greatrex, The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars (4-6th Cs.) (London: Routledge, 2002) ISBN 0-415-14687-9, 357pp.
  • with I. Gardner: Manichaean Texts from the Roman Empire (Cambridge UP, 2004)
  • S.N.C. Lieu et al. Medieval Christian and Manichaean Remains from Zayton (Quanzhou), Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum Series Archaeologica et Iconographica 2 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2012) pp. xi+310
  • with Gunner Mikkelsen, Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum Series Sinica I.1: Tractatus Manichaicus 摩尼教殘經, Text and Translation (Turnhout, Brepols, 2017)
  • with P. McKechnie (eds.) Aspects of the Roman East. Volume II - Papers in Honour of Professor Sir Fergus Millar FBA (Turnhout: Brepolis, 2016)
  • with G. Mikkelsen (eds.), Between Rome and China: History, Religions and Material Culture of the Silk Road, Silk Road Studies XVIII (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016)
  • with Morano, E., Hunter, E.C.D. and Pedersen, N. A. (eds.) Manichaeism East and West, (Series) Analecta Manichaica I (Turnhout: Brepols, 2017)


Over 100 articles in international and refereed journals, encyclopaedias and Festschriften. The latest include:

  • 'Byzantium Persia and China - interstate relations on the eve of the Islamic Conquest', in D. Christian and C. Benjamin (edd.) Realms of the Silk Road, Silk Road Studies IV (Turnhout 2000): 47-66.
  • 'A new figurative representation of Mani?', in Studia Manichaica: IV. Internationaler Kongreß zum Manichäismus, Berlin, 14.-18. Juli 1997, Eds. Ronald E. Emmerick et alii, Berichte und Abhandlungen, Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften Sonderband 4, (Berlin 2000): 380-86.
  • 'Students and Scholars in Late Roman East', in Roy MacCleod (ed.), The Library of Alexandria - Centre of Learning in the Ancient World, (London 2000): 127-42.
  • 'Nestorian angels and other Christian and Manichaean remains on the South China Coast', in S. Lieu and C. Benjamin, (edd.) Silk Road Studies VI: Walls and Frontiers (Turnhout 2002): 1-17.
  • 'From Turfan to Dunhuang - Manichaean Cosmogony in Chinese Texts', in D. Durkin-Meisterernst et al. eds. Turfan Revisited - The First Century of Research into the Arts and Cultures of the Silk Road (Berlin: Ditrich Reimer Verlag), pp. 169-75.
  • 'Libanius and Higher Education at Antioch' in Sandwell, I and Huskinson, J. eds. Culture and Society in Later Roman Antioch, Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2004, pp. 13-23.
  • 'Manichaean Terms in Syriac: Some Observations on their Transmission and Transformation', Aram Periodical 16 (2004) 129-40. ISSN 0959-4213
  • 'Select Palmyrene Inscriptions' Silk Road Studies X: From Palmyra to Zayton, (Turnhout 2005) pp. 27-188.
  • 'Constantine in Legendary Literature' in N. Lenski ed. The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine (Cambridge 2006), pp. 298-324.
  • '"My Church is superior ..." Mani's missionary statement in Coptic and Middle Persian', in P.-H. Poirer, (ed.), P.-H. Poirier, Coptica - Gnostica - Manichaica. Mélanges Wolf-Peter Funk, (Quebec, Laval University Press, 2006) pp. 519-27.
  • "Christianity and Manichaeism" in R. Norris (ed.) The Cambridge History of Christianity, Vol. 2 Constantine to c. 600 (Cambridge, 2007) 279-95.
  • "Manichaeism and the Fathers" in S. Ashbrook Harvey and D. G. Hunter (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies (Oxford and NY: Oxford University Press, 2008) 221-36.
  • "Manichaean art and architecture along the Silk Road", in Parry, K. (ed), Art, Architecture and Religion along the Silk Road, Silk Road Studies XII (Turnhout: Brepols, 2008, publ. 2009), 79-101.
  • "Epigraphica Nestoriana Serica" in Sundermann, W., Hintze, A. and de Blois, F. (eds) Exegisti monumenta (Wiesbaden, 2009), 227-245.
  • Lieu, S. N. C., "Medieval Manichaean and Nestorian Remains in the Zayton (Quanzhou) of Marco Polo" in J. BeDuhn (ed.) New Light on Manichaeism (Leiden: Brill, 2009) 181-200.
  • with J. Sheldon, "Simplicius on Manichaean Cosmogony", in J. A van den Berg et al. (eds.) 'In Search of Truth': Augustine, Manichaeism and other Gnosticism, Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 74 (Leiden: Brill, 2011) 217-228.
  • "Nestorian Mission in Mongol China" in M. Garlick and M. Sbodniek (eds.) Eastern Christianity, Judaism and Islam between the Death of Muhammad and Tamerlane (632-1405), Bratislava: Institute of Oriental Studies, (Bratislava, 2011) 211-236 with 5 plates.  
  • "Places of Nestorian presence, ways of dissemination: Continental and maritime "silk roads" in China" in K. Korschorke (ed.) Historische Etappen der Globalisierung in christentumsgeschichtlicher Perspektive (Phases of Globalization in the History of Christian Church), Proceedings of the Fifth International Munich-Freising Conference / 5. Internationale München-Freising-Konferenz (18.-20.2.2011) (Wiesbaden: Harrasowitz, 2012), 39-58.
  • "'Where the faint traces grow less faint ...' - Recent Research on the Manichaean Shrine (Cao'an) in Fujian (S. China)", in M. Knüppel, (ed.) Gnostica et Manichaica. FS Aloïs van Tongerloo (Wiesbaden: Harrasowitz, 2013) 65-75.
  • "The diffusion, persecution and transformation of Manichaeism in Late Antiquity and pre-Modern China" in Arietta Papaconstantinou, with Neil McLynn and Daniel L. Schwartz (eds.) Conversion in Late Antiquity: Christianity, Islam, and Beyond (Ashgate, 2105) 123-139.
  • "'The Graves of Gallipoli'" ­­- 'Mad Franks' in Charles Bean's own copy of the Anzac Book' Ancient History 41-44 (2011-2014, publ. 2015) 127-46.
  • "Da Qin 大秦 and Fulin 拂林 - the Chinese Names for Rome" in S.N.C. Lieu and G. Mikkelsen (eds.), Between Rome and China: History, Religions and Material Culture of the Silk Road, Silk Road Studies XVIII (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016) 123-146.
  • with J. Sheldon, "'Damn the Dardanelles!' (Admiral Lord Fisher, 5th May, 1915) - Vel Onomastica Callipolitana" in S.N.C. Lieu and P. McKechnie (eds.) Aspects of the Roman East. Volume II - Papers in Honour of Professor Sir Fergus Millar FBA (Turnhout: Brepolis, 2016) 146-191.
  • "In the Name of Jesus - Observations on the term 'Jesus the Messiah' in Christian and Manichaean texts from Central Asia A. van den Kerchove et Luciana Gabriela Soares Santoprete (eds.), Gnose et manichéisme (Turnhout: Brepols, 2017) 385-398
  • "Manichaeism East and West' (Presidential Address)" in S.N.C. Lieu et al. (eds.) Manichaeism East and West, Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum Analecta 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2017) 144-58.
  • "Imperialism and Language - Observations on bilingual inscriptions from Palmyra" in K. H. Keimer and G. Davis (eds.) Registers and Modes of Communication in the Ancient Near East - Getting the Message Across (London: Routeldge 2007) 85-121.
  • "West of Parthia" in D. Durkin-Meisterernst and N. Sims-Williams (eds.) Zur lichten Heimat - Studien zu Manichäismus, Iranistik und Zentralasienkunde im Gedenken an Werner Sundermann. Herausgegeben von einem Team "Turfanforschung", Iranica 25 (Harrasowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden, 2017) 285-304.
  • "From Kallipolis to Gallipoli- What is in a Name" in Text and the Material World, Essays in Honour of Graeme Clarke, Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology, PB 185, edited by Elizabeth Minchin and Heather Jackson (Uppsala, Astrom Editions 2017) 243-54
  • "'The Serpent from Persia': Manichaeism in Rome and China", in H.-J. Kim, F.J. Versaet and S.F. Adalı (eds), Eurasian Empires in Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages - Contact and Exchange between the Graeco-Roman World, Inner Asia and China (Cambridge: CUP) 174-202.



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