Religious Dirt is the web presence of Douglas Boin.
Doug is a historian who investigates the people, cities, and beliefs of the Roman Empire. He is particularly keen on using material culture—the archaeological remains of the past—to recover lost or marginal voices. In all his writing, including his three books, he highlights how the stories told by this assortment of "stuff" upend many faith-based notions about the past, such as those associated with the supposedly triumphal rise of Christianity. He holds a special love for the people and city of Rome.
Doug's research and writing have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, at NBC news, and in the Spanish newspaper El País. He has also written for popular venues, with essays appearing at TIME ("What We Get Wrong about the Fall of Rome," originally published at the History News Network), Biblical Archaeology, BuzzFeed, Wonders & Marvels, OnFaith.co and The Chronicle of Higher Education. His advocacy on behalf of cultural heritage issues has been featured in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (with Thomas Finan) and The International New York Times.
In his scholarship, he has documented the restoration of temples and the display of gods during the politically divisive time of the later Roman Empire; shown that the life and legacy of Augustine and his mother, Monica, were not received as swiftly as faith history asserts; explained how the origin of the word "pagan" grew out of a contentious conversation about Christian cultural choices in the world after Constantine; and used the preservation of ancient statues to contextualize the radical changes Christian politicians were enacting in fourth- and fifth-century cities. He was the team lead for the collaborative Living Late Antiquity project, which launched in 2017. From 2010-2013 he taught in the Department of Classics at Georgetown University.
Doug received his B.A. in Classics from Georgetown University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Classics from The University of Texas at Austin. (You might also be surprised to learn he has twenty-one years of Catholic education, eight of which were spent in Jesuit schools.) A selection of his other writing appears at Medium. You can also learn more about his research at Saint Louis University's Department of History, at academia.edu and on YouTube. He divides his time between St. Louis and Austin, Texas.