Denzey, Nicola 1966- (Nicola Frances Denzey)

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Denzey, Nicola 1966- (Nicola Frances Denzey)


Born January 27, 1966. Education: Princeton University, M.A., Ph.D., 1998.


Office—Department of Religious Studies, Brown University, 59 George St., Providence, RI 02912. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected].


Brown University, Providence, RI, visiting assistant professor. Has held appointments at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, as lecturer in the study of religion; Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME, as visiting assistant professor of history; and at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH.


The Bone Gatherers: The Lost Worlds of Early Christian Women, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 2007.


Nicola Denzey's The Bone Gatherers: The Lost Worlds of Early Christian Women explores the role these women played in collecting and interring the remains of people considered saintly. Denzey focuses particularly on Rome in the third and fourth centuries. For part of this era, according to Denzey, the bone-collecting women, some of them wealthy, held a place of leadership in the new Christian religion. Some of the burials took place on land owned by these women or in structures they built. Later in this period, particularly under Pope Damasus in the fourth century, the church hierarchy became exclusively male. Denzey bases her findings on visits to Rome's catacombs and other burial sites as well as on writings of the time. She includes photographs of the sites, some of which feature wall paintings.

Some critics characterized Denzey's work as speculative yet valuable. Denzey's prose paints vivid pictures of the sites she visits, remarked a Publishers Weekly reviewer, who noted that while there may be some objections to "her imaginative interpretations of the visual evidence … her densely layered inquiry is insightful and haunting." Anna M. Donnelly, writing in Library Journal, commented that "much of the story remains informed conjecture," but thought The Bone Gatherers nevertheless "will be a useful addition to academic and women's studies collections."



Library Journal, June 15, 2007, Anna M. Donnelly, review of The Bone Gatherers: The Lost Worlds of Early Christian Women, p. 75.

Publishers Weekly, May 28, 2007, review of The Bone Gatherers, p. 53.

Reference & Research Book News, February, 2008, review of The Bone Gatherers.


Harvard University Web site, (March 21, 2008).