Department of Ancient History

Emeritus Professor Samuel Lieu

ancient-staff samuelieuMA Cantab., DPhil. Oxford. FRAS, FRHistS, FSA, FAHA, FRSN
Professor of Ancient History and Co-Deputy Director Ancient Cultures Research Centre

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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.

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-.

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.

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.



  • 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


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.



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