Thomas Laver

PhD Candidate in Late Antique and Early Islamic History
Thomas Laver

My PhD focuses on the economic organisation of Egyptian monasteries, and their central role within the rural economy during the 4th to 9th centuries, with a particular emphasis on using papyrological sources and quantitative methods.

I completed my BA (Hons) in History & Economics at the University of Oxford in 2020, writing my undergraduate thesis on 'The Financial Affairs of the Monastery of Apa Apollo at Bawit 500-900AD', graduating with first class honours. I then went on to complete an MSt in Late Antique and Byzantine Studies in 2021, also at the University of Oxford, under the supervision of Professors Phil Booth and Marek Jankowiak, continuing to work on the economic history of the Near East, with a particular focus on Egypt.

Aside from my work on monastic papyri, I'm interested in the economic and social history of the Near East more generally during the Late Antique and early Islamic periods, as well as on attempting to recover the lives of women from papyri and other sources from this period.

During Michaelmas 2022 I held a position as a Visiting Researcher at the 'Centre for Late Antique, Islamic, and Byzantine Studies' in the University of Edinburgh.

I teach on the following papers from the History Tripos:

Part I:

  • Outline Paper 1: Ancient and Medieval States and Societies over the First Millennium - Supervisor & Lecturer

Part II:

  • The Transformation of the Roman World, AD 284-476 (Classics / History) - Supervisor
  • The Near East in the Age of Justinian and Muhammad, AD 527-700 - Supervisor & Lecturer

Papers presented:

'Rural Egyptian Monasteries in the Late Antique Wine Economy: Acquisition, Efficiency, and Exchange' - Wine and Institutions in the Ancient World International Congress & Book Project, Ghent (7-8 December, 2023)

'Hundreds or Thousands? Tricky Questions of Monastic Population at Bala'izah, Bawit, and Beyond' - 30th International Congress of Papyrology, Paris (25-30 July 2022)

'Monks, Priests, and the Ideals of Local Administration in Late Antique Egypt' - 24th International Graduate Conference of the Oxford University Byzantine Society (25-26 February 2022) 

‘Holy Civil Servants – Monks and Monasteries as Key Elements Of The Roman Fiscal Infrastructure in 6th Century Egypt’ – Securing Power in the Sixth-Century Roman Empire Workshop, University of Cambridge (7-8 December 2021)

'The Female Monks of Aphrodito as Intermediaries for Women and Children at a Village’s Margins' – 5th Annual Edinburgh Late Antique, Islamic and Byzantine Studies Graduate Conference 2021 (04-06 November 2021)


Abstract Selection & Session Chair - 23rd International Graduate Conference of the Oxford University Byzantine Society (26-28 February 2021) 

Papers presented:

'Sailing Expeditions, Employee Incentives, and Moral Hazard on Byzantine Egyptian Estates' - Cambridge Medieval History Graduate Workshop (16 November 2023) 

'Wine Production and Exchange in Late Antique Egyptian Monasteries: A Micro-Economic Analysis' - Cambridge Economic and Social History Graduate Workshop (13 November 2023)

'Commercially Active Monasticism in the Papyrus Archives of Byzantine Aphrodito' - Centre for Manuscripts and Text Cultures Lunchtime Colloquium (8 February 2022)


Tags & Themes


St. John's College



Laver, T., 'The Development and Usage of the Greek and Coptic Term Papa in Ecclesiastical and Monastic Contexts', The Journal of Juristic Papyrology 52 (2022), pp. 55-101

Laver, T., Review of The uncertain past: probability in ancient history, ed. by M. Lavan, D. Jew, & B. Danon. Bryn Mawr Classical Review (2023). Available online: