Department of History

Mapping Gog and Magog in the Medieval World: New Approaches to Ethnic, Religious and Political Discourses in Apocalyptic Thought

In the medieval world, the motif of the peoples of Gog and Magog – fierce mounted warriors according to Ezekiel 38/39 and Revelation 20 – provided a model for the way that people perceived the limits of the known world and its peoples. As these interpretations were embedded into dynamic and changing political landscapes, the use of the Gog-Magog motif was not consistent and it did not carry the same weight nor have the same meaning in different historical contexts. Even more so, the identification of new peoples as Gog and Magog, and the way this interpretation was placed in an apocalyptic framework, betrays an intellectual culture in which biblical models intersected with ethnic terminology, questions of political identity, geography and ethnography, as well as with intercultural contacts and migrations causing shifts in perceptions of the Other and the reorganization of space. 
The project aims to reconstruct the mind maps of medieval authors, the ways that different authors mentally projected apocalyptic attributes and borders onto the socio-political world around them. It analyzes socio-political interpretations together with exegetical traditions and geographical knowledge, paying special attention to questions of ethnic and political identity, of migration and mobility, of the perception of space and its limits. Using semantic network analysis and geo-visualization for examining the semantic fields that emerge from a study of late Roman, Carolingian and post-Carolingian source material may help to highlight the multi-relationality of apocalyptic thought.