Manar al-Athar is pleased to announce the launch of the Judith McKenzie Student Essay Prizes, named after its founder and first Director.
The facade of Deir, carved our of the rock

Petra – Deir (No. 462) البتراء – الدير Photo Credit: Otto Nieminen / Manar al-Athar (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


The Essay Prizes will be awarded yearly to outstanding essays on a site, building, inscription, mosaic, wider theme, and so on, featured on the Manar al-Athar website. They will consist of £200 for the winner and £100 for the second best. The winning essays will be published on the Manar al-Athar website.

Essay instructions

  • Essays should be built around 7 to 10 images from the Manar website.
  • Essay length should be between 750 and 1,000 words.
  • Essays should be submitted in English.
  • You should write for a general audience. This means that you should avoid things like technical terminology or detailed discussion of what scholars have said about a particular point.
  • Deadline: 23.59 on 11 January 2021.
  • Winners will be announced at the end of January 2021.


The competition is open to anybody who is studying for a degree in the academic year 2020-2021, to students at any institution, in any country, and in any discipline.

Submission of essays

  • Essays should be sent to
  • Entries should be submitted as either a Word document or a PDF.
  • You should include the name of an academic at your institution who will be able to confirm that you are a student in 2020-2021.

Please note that the Prize Committee will not be able to provide feedback on submissions.


Please send any enquiries to Please allow five working days for a response.

About Manar al-Athar

The Manar al-Athar photo-archive (, based in the Faculty of Classics at the University of Oxford, provides high-resolution, searchable images for teaching, research, publication, and heritage work. These images of archaeological sites, buildings and artworks, cover the areas of the former Roman Empire which later came under Islamic rule (such as Syro-Palestine/the Levant, Egypt and North Africa), and adjoining regions (such as Armenia and Georgia). The chronological range is from Alexander the Great (i.e. from about 300 BC) through the Islamic period.

The photo-archive is open-access so that it can be freely used by anyone anywhere in the world. Photographs can be freely downloaded as original high-resolution images (tif images) without water marks, making them immediately available in a format suitable for publication or research, simply by acknowledging the source. Material is labelled in both English and Arabic to facilitate regional use, with the main instructions also available in other languages. Manar al-Athar means ‘Guide to Archaeology’ in Arabic.

Manar al-Athar currently has c. 80 000 photographs online.  Strengths include Late Antiquity (AD 250–750), the period of transition from paganism to Christianity and, in turn, to Islam, especially religious buildings (temples, churches, synagogues, mosques) and monumental art (including floor mosaics); early Islamic art (paintings, mosaics, relief sculpture); Roman and early Islamic (Umayyad) architecture; Petra and Nabataean sites; and iconoclasm.

Manar al-Athar Photo Archive

TORCH Heritage Programme Homepage