ESTELLE SHOHET BRETTMAN MEMORIAL LECTURE
Pavlos Geroulanos, former Minister of Culture and Tourism of Greece, on
"The Benaki Museum and the Greek Narrative: The Role of Culture in Crisis"
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Harry and Mildred Remis Auditorium (Auditorium 161)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Pavlos Geroulanos, former Minister of Culture and Tourism of Greece, discusses the role of culture in Greece’s economic crisis as presented at the Benaki Museum, the only museum in the world that covers Greek history and art from pre-historic times to today. As you walk its halls, you see invaluable artifacts covering nine millennia and experience how one period of Greek history links to another, how each period influenced and was influenced by cultures it came into contact with, and how this cultural continuum has contributed to the creation of the modern Greek state. This unique way of presenting the Greek narrative can play a significant role in facing and overcoming the economic crisis that still plagues the country.
To order tickets by phone, call 1-800-440-6975 ($6 processing fee applies); to order in person, visit any MFA ticket desk.
Additional information and directions to the museum at: www.mfa.org.
(Rome, March 20th, 2017). The Trastevere neighborhood in Rome, the low-lying area on the Tiber River's right bank below the precipitous slopes of the Janiculum and Monteverde, has been associated with Jews since the time of the ancient Roman Republic. The literary record is not extensive for Jews at the local level, but it is very old. Likewise, material traces of Jews in this region are largely restricted to artifacts from burial grounds, with the exception of some objects and texts from the early Modern era that today are housed in collections like Rome's Jewish Museum.
This trend of recovering essential data about Rome's Jewish communities of two millennia and more from mortuary remains continues with the announcement by Italian archaeologists during a March 20th press conference at the National Museum of Rome at Palazzo Massimo of their discovery of thirty-eight tombs from a Jewish cemetery in Trastevere which dates to the Late Medieval and Early Modern eras (fourteenth through early seventeenth centuries).
The excavations were carried out over a period of six years during the restoration of the Palazzo Leonori on the viale delle Mura Portuensi, the new administrative center of the Rome-based insurance agency, le Assicurazioni di Roma (AdiR). Digging to a depth of eight meters below the modern ground level in some spots, both inside and outside of the present day, Fascist-era structure, the archaeologists reached the site of the Campus Judaeorum, the "Field (cemetery) of the Jews", and even some Roman-era industrial remains, identified as the "Coraria Septimiana", the workspace instituted by the emperor Septimius Severus around the turn of the third century for the tanners' guild (it is worth noting that Rome's topography was linked always to its sustainability: this area was, in fact, the "Bufalara", the loading dock for animals, especially cattle, over a thousand years later).
The photographs in the March 22, 2017 edition of the Italian daily, Il Messaggero, show these tombs as individual troughs arranged in rows, or up against older ruins (which remained visible in the cemetery); the skeletons, for the most part of adult males, seem well-preserved, but they stand alone: a good part of what could be taken away from the site, like the headstones, was removed at the time new defensive walls for the city were built over the site, and the bodies themselves originally seem to have been encased in wooden coffins that have since disintegrated into the soil. Only one fragment of an epitaph in Hebrew emerged from the recent excavation, but others have come to light over the years, especially during the late nineteenth century, in a secondary use, as a 1625 edict of Pope Urban VIII not only forbade the erection of new tombstones, but also sanctioned the destruction of existing Jewish grave markers. As fate would have it, not even a decade later, the first published notice of an ancient Jewish catacomb, or underground cemetery, occurred in a posthumous work of Antonio Bosio, the Roma Sotterranea (1632-34), documenting the existence of an even earlier burial grounds for Roman Jews on the southern slope of the Monteverde, a mile or so from the Palazzo Leonori site, which Bosio was able to enter and partially explore in 1602. His account of the catacomb included, in fact, specific reference to the Trastevere cemetery, the Campo dei Giudei, that still retained its name and apparently - as we know now, thanks to the recent excavations - many of its graves.
The present study of the graves below the Palazzo Leonori involved many different specialists, who have contributed an important chapter in the history of the daily conditions for Jews under Papal Rule in Rome. This is the first time, in fact, that photographs and other documentation of the tombs have been made public, confirming that not all is lost of the hallowed grounds. Part of the archaeological site will be visible below glass in a covered courtyard, and can be visited upon request. Details are forthcoming from the Italian State Archaeological Offices (http://archeoroma.beniculturali.it/en).
Archaeologists working on behalf of the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma will share the results of recent excavations on the grounds of the Palazzo Leonori, the new seat of the insurance company AdiR, at Viale delle Mura Portuensi, 33, in Rome's 16th municipal district. An extensive restoration of the early 20th century structure provided the opportunity to dig deeper not only into the building's history, but also into that of the surrounding area close to the Tiber docks in Trastevere, today outside the walls, but once a threshold to Rome from the ancient Porta Portuensis, the fifth-century CE city gate demolished and rebuilt in its present location as Porta Portese by 1644.
Before and after the rebuilding of the Trastevere defences, a crooked plot of land on the right side of the street, behind the churches of S. Francesco a Ripa and San Biagio, was known as the "Campus Judaeorum" (or Campo/Orto dei Giudei, etc.). This "Field of the Jews" on the city's extremity was a Jewish cemetery, in use by the thirteenth century, and expropriated three centuries later in 1587 by Pope Urban VIII, not long after the institution of the Roman ghetto on the Tiber's left bank. Headstones and other artifacts were uprooted during the completion of a new wall circuit in 1644, during the pontificate of Innocent X, which seem to have used commemorative stones from the graveyard in their construction, while collectors pocketed the smaller goods. Like other burial grounds, the Trastevere site was within the city boundaries at the time it was in use, and owned and administered, at least in its final phase, by a Jewish charitable society, the Compagnia della carità e della morte Israelitica (Ghemiluth Chasadim).
Giambattista Nolli Map of Rome (1748): detail of the "Ortaccio degli Ebrei" outside of the seventeenth century Portuense gate.
The location of this Jewish cemetery is no mystery: it was behind the Church and Monastery of S. Francesco a Ripa, and reached the walls and gates of the ancient Porta Portese (roughly 500 meters beyond the actual gate, heading away from Rome's center: a good way to mark the site of the older gate today is to look across the river and see the walls on the left bank, going toward the Porta S. Paolo, which still follow the ancient circuit). On historic maps, the site looks grassy and empty, but actually it was close to a commercial zone, the "Bufalara" or loading dock for cattle, and not far from the well-trafficked via Portuense. Due to its proximity to the Tiber river, in fact, the area remained relatively uninhabited, well into the industrial age, for it was considered unhealthy to live so close to the fresh water marshes on such low and flood-prone grounds.
Even before the cemetery was dismantled in the late sixteenth century, and the Jews were obliged to move their burial activity to the slopes of the Aventine Hill overlooking the Circus Maximus, in an "Ortaccio degli Ebrei," that, in turn, fell out of use in the late nineteenth century, with subsequent oblivion by order of the Fascist regime in 1934, excavations at the Portuense gate by land owners and antiquarians brought up a number of inscribed marble capitals and sculpted fragments, as well as other types of Roman and Medieval era finds. The ruins of the "Gardens of Caesar" "Gardens of Gallus", and "Naumachia of Augustus" were believed to lie nearby, as well as an intriguing cult shrine to Syrian gods. Ancient building remains were especially visible in the early Modern period in the land cooperatively owned by Rome's Jews, but the uprooting of the Jewish cemetery itself might not have been all that systematic, as pieces of epitaphs in Hebrew (or reused grave markers in Greek and Latin, for Jewish burials during the Late Antique and Medieval periods) continued to turn up in subsequent building activity well into the 19th and early 20th centuries, though most of these inscribed rock tablets no longer seemed to be in situ to mark a grave.
In later years, an "Osteria degli Ebrei" existed in the vicinity, and a building marked by a Hebrew inscription escaped destruction on the vicolo delle Palme (today's vicolo dell'Atleta), in the heart of the Medieval "Contrada Synagoghe" or "Contrada Hebraeorum". But the "Campus Judaeorum," along with surrounding vineyards, were built over in the last century as trains and other types of vehicular traffic criss-crossed the zone.
Today, there seems to be a lot of asphalt over the grounds, but the San Francesco complex, rebuilt and enlarged in the seventeenth century, might preserve some material traces of the neighboring Jewish cemetery. It would be well worth hearing from the Italian authorities during a press conference at the National Roman Museum on March 20 what the next steps will be toward reclaiming more evidence of past Jewish populations in Rome, and how the on-going documentation of Jewish cemeteries relates to other urban developments over time.
Area between Palazzo Leonori and the Church of S. Francesco a Ripa in Trastevere, Rome (Google Maps).
The Fondazione per i Beni Culturali Ebraici in Italia Onlus (FBCEI) has launched a scholarship competition for original work on the Jewish cultural heritage of Italy's south (traditionally defined as the island territories of Sicily and Sardinia, along with the mainland regions of Abruzzo, Apulia, Basilicata, Campania, Calabria, Molise, and parts of Lazio south of Rome).
Researchers of any nation who have not reached 35 years of age are eligible to apply for the FBCEI grant for the academic year 2017-2018. Preference will be given to applicants already in possession of the Ph.D. or other type of specialist degree. The deadline to apply is April 28, 2017, at 12 noon. All application materials must be mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
International Catacomb Society directors and staff send warmest birthday wishes to Society advisor, Dr. John J. Herrmann, Jr, director emeritus of the Art of the Ancient World Collections at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. John has been a wonderful resource for the ICS for many years, and we hope for many years to come! As successor at the MFA to longtime Classical Art curator Cornelius Clarkson Vermeule III, an ICS founding director, John has stayed connected to ICS in all phases of its growth, from 1980 to the present, and, in recent years, has only increased his commitment to furthering its academic goals and making it live up to its potential as an international collective (if anything, raising the bar to new heights with his own extensive travels and research on Greco-Roman antiquities). We must work even harder to justify his faith in ICS's potential!
It is exciting also to share that John, together with his wife, ICS vice president Annewies van den Hoek, will be lecturing at the Shifting Frontiers in Late Antiquity Twelfth Biennial Conference: "The Fifth Century: Age of Transformation" at Yale Univeristy on Friday, March 24, 2017 on the topic "From Bowls to Lamps: Migration of motifs in African Red Slip ware" (click here for abstract). Well worth attending! Listening to John means you not only learn from one expert on Ancient material culture, but also receive what he learned from others, as part of an academic "family tree" that reaches back to Richard Krautheimer's generation, and beyond.
Best birthday wishes, and heartfelt thanks to John and his family on this special day (March 16, 2017)!
Image - John (left) and ICS Advisor, Prof. Paolo Liverani (Università degli Studi di Firenze) in Rome in February of 2017.
Seminario di presentazione dei risultati e tecnologie applicante negli interventi presso le Catacombe di Priscilla e Sant’Alessandro a Roma
24 marzo 2017 dalle 10:00 alle 13:00 - Salone del Restauro Ferrara, Fiere (Sala D, tra pad. 5 e 6).
Info: Beatrice Calosso 0694005364; web http://cobra.enea.it/events/.
Programma degli interventi:
ENEA Introduzione il progetto COBRA e gli interventi presso le catacombe. Relatore: Andrea Quintiliani. Ricercatore ENEA.
Introduzione sulle catacombe di Priscilla e di S. Alessandro (Roma): stato di conservazione e collaborazione con ENEA. Relatore: Barbara Mazzei, PhD / Pontificia Commissione di Archeologia Sacra.
Fotogrammetria e ricostruzione 3D mediante tecnologie Low-Cost ed elaborazione di immagini con tecnica SfM nelle Catacombe di Priscilla e Sant’Alessandro. Relatore: Marialuisa Mongelli, Ricercatrice ENEA.
Studio preliminare mediante scanner laser RGB-ITR e LIF della Cappella greca. Relatore: Massimiliano Guarneri, Ricercatore ENEA.
Caratterizzazione mediante fluorescenza x dei pigmenti delle pitture murali nella CappellaGreca. Relatore: Claudio Seccaroni, Ricercatore ENEA.
Misure di vibrazione ambientale presso le Catacombe di Priscilla. Relatore: Vincenzo Fioriti, Ricercatore ENEA
Indagine termografica finalizzata alla determinazione dello stato di conservazione del supporto pittorico. Relatore: Angelo Tatì, Tecnico ENEA; Franca Persia, Ricercatrice ENEA.
Caratterizzazione spettroscopica mediante LIF Scanning e Raman applicata ad affreschi nelle catacombe di S. Alessandro. Relatore: Adriana Puiu, Ricercatrice ENEA; Martina Romani, Università di Roma Tor Vergata
Conclusioni. Relatore: Roberta Fantoni, Ricercatrice ENEA.
Il programma del Salone del Restauro di Ferrara (22 al 24 marzo 2017) e' qui.
The Italian catacombs contain epitaphs and paintings of many women of noble virtues, much loved and respected, including Jewish women known in Greek as "Ast(h)er", but no direct reference to the Esther (Hadassah) of the Hebrew Bible (JIWE 1, nn. 47 & 136(?); JIWE 2, nn. 91, 140, & 278; one possible reference to the Megillat Esther in a Jewish epitaph in Sicily, JIWE 1.143). The Persian queen is not the only formidable female of Scripture absent from these sites: try to find a Judith, Deborah, or Rahab. That said, Eve and Susanna are present within largely Christian contexts in these cemeteries, as well as Mary, mother of Jesus, and most probably the Samaritan woman at the well. And Esther's triumph was known and promulgated at this time: a third-century CE synagogue at Dura Europos in Syria vividly depicts episodes of Mordechai and Esther's struggle against the devious Haman, from which the Jewish feast of Purim gets its name, a reference to the פור, or "lots" that Haman drew to determine the date upon which all Jews in the kingdom would be killed.
Not only for this is Esther a special figure to the International Catacomb Society. The "Hebrew name" of the society's founder and longtime executive director, Estelle Shohet Brettman, was Esther: like many 20th century Jews, children or grandchildren of immigrants to America, she went by a name that opened the way (so it was thought) to the mainstream of society. Brettman was always conscious of her Jewishness, but steadfast as well in the belief that Judaism played a defining role not only in the formation of a uniquely American culture but also in so many other periods of history, from Antiquity to modern times. She looked to ancient Judaism, especially post-Temple Judaism, as a time of struggle, but also of success for Jews in new surroundings, not unlike that which her family had experienced in Boston, founded as a "new Jerusalem" but hardly one for practicing Jews.
It's close to sundown and the beginning of the celebration. L’Chaim! A freilichen purim, as Estelle's ancestors would say. Our best to you all on the Feast of Purim 2017 (Adar 14, 5777).
Estelle Shohet Brettman photographing in the catacombs of Rome.
Estelle Shohet Brettman at the opening of her photographic exhibition on the catacombs of Rome.
The Shohet family (circa 1913) on the North Slope of Beacon Hill of Boston.
In addition to field school participants, ISAR is also actively seeking partners for the project, "Signum Vortumni: the Tarquins and Rome, an excavation in the Roman Forum at the base of the Palatine Hill." The aim of this initiative is to uncover and understand signs of Etruscan cultural and religious influence which gave rise to the birth of Roman civilization. More information on how to team up with ISAR on its work in Rome can be found in the attached brochure: SV_fundraising.
The 49th Annual Conference of the Association for Jewish Studies will be held December 17-19, 2017 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Washington, DC. The deadline for submission of proposals is Thursday, May 4, 2017.
1. Jewish History and Culture in Antiquity
The division of the history of the Jews and Judaism in the Persian, Greco-Roman, and Byzantine period invites scholars to think about the larger historiographic and cultural contexts in which we write and interpret the Jewish past. In 2017 we would be particularly excited by the following themes, and also invite you to suggest sessions and individual lectures that suit your own interests and talents:
- The Jerusalem Temple: History, Tradition, and Culture. Ranging from literary studies to archaeology, cultural history to political history, we invite a range of new studies on the Temple and the continued engagement with it by Jews from Cyrus to Mohammed.
- Samaritanism and Judaism in Greco-Roman Antiquity. Recent scholarship and discoveries have invigorated research on Jewish-Samaritan (and sometimes Christian) relations in Greco-Roman antiquity.
- Josephus: Between Jewish Studies, Classics, and Religious Studies. This suggestion broaches the disciplinary perspectives on Josephus, and the ways that disciplinarity affects and is affected by Josephan scholarship. Questions might include issues of terminology (Jewish War vs. Judaean War) and larger theoretical issues.
- Purity, Holiness and Ritual in Ancient Judaism. Recent scholarship has shown particular interest in issues of purity and their ritual expression. It is hoped that this session will inspire consideration of these issues.
- Jewish Burial in Roman Antiquity. Discoveries across the Roman world, together with new methodological perspectives, have invigorated the study of Jewish burial practices. It is hoped that this session will serve as a catalyst for further discussion.
Division Chair: Steven Fine (Yeshiva University): email@example.com
2. Bible and the History of Biblical Interpretation
Literature of the Bible; world of the Bible; early post-Biblical literature (Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Dead Sea Scrolls); interpretation of the Bible from antiquity to modern times; all areas of critical biblical scholarship and history of interpretation
2017 Suggested Themes:
- The Museum of the Bible
- The Bible in Synagogue Art: From Ancient Mosaics to Modern Tapestries
- New Archaeological Discoveries – New Biblical Interpretations
- Continuum or Discontinuity: Moving from Inner-textual Biblical Interpretation to Rabbinic Exegesis
Yitzhak Berger (Hunter College): firstname.lastname@example.org
Jonathan Kaplan (University of Texas at Austin): email@example.com
AJS 2017 Important Dates and Deadlines
March 1, 2017: Proposal submission site available
May 4, 2017: Deadline for submission of conference proposals
August 2017: E-mail notification of conference proposal status
September 2017: Conference schedule posted online
November 15, 2017: Deadline for meal requests and pre-conference registration
November 15, 2017: Deadline for securing hotel room at the Marriott Marquis Washington, DC at reduced conference rate
All proposals must be submitted electronically via the AJS website. This site will be available for submissions from Wednesday, March 1, 2017 through Thursday, May 4, 2017. Questions should be directed to the AJS staff at firstname.lastname@example.org
Via Appia Antica Cancelli Aperti Primavera 2017: Da lunedì 6 marzo 2017 saranno aperte le prenotazioni on-line per i sette nuovi appuntamenti di Cancelli Aperti le visite in luoghi non ancora aperti al pubblico con regolarità, compresi il sepolcro degli Equinozi, la Memoria Apostolorum, il Museo della Torretta, le Ville Romane sotto San Sebastiano, e il Forte Appia Antica.
Per partecipare è obbligatoria la prenotazione: http://www.parcoappiaantica.it/home/servizi/news/98-cancelli-aperti-primavera-2017-da-lunedi-6-marzo-saranno-aperte-le-prenotazioni-on-line.
Il costo della visita è di 8 euro (il pagamento avviene contestualmente alla prenotazione). Sarà possibile acquistare un massimo di 2 biglietti a persona per ciascuna visita. I biglietti non sono rimborsabili, sarà invece possibile cedere il proprio tagliando di accesso comunicando preventivamente la variazione dei nominativi via mail scrivendo a: email@example.com.
DOMENICA 19 MARZO
Il sepolcro degli Equinozi
In occasione dell’Equinozio di Primavera uno dei più significativi sepolcri ipogei della via Appia, all’interno di una proprietà privata, viene aperto al pubblico. Massimo 30 persone. Ore 14,45: via Appia antica 187 a (superata via Cinque Torri, altezza vicolo di Tor Carbone) L'eccezionale sequenza di monumenti dell'area di S. Sebastiano nel corso dei secoli.
SABATO 25 MARZO
Dalla "Memoria apostolorum" alla Basilica di S. Sebastiano
Visita alla scoperta della navata laterale dell'antica Basilica apostolorum, generalmente non accessibile al pubblico, e della Basilica di S. Sebastiano, con le sue straordinarie opere d'arte. Massimo 30 persone. Ore 10,30: ingresso Basilica di S. Sebastiano, via Appia antica 136.
SABATO 1° APRILE 2.
Le “Ville” romane sotto S. Sebastiano
Aprono le porte ai visitatori le suggestive strutture di età imperiale romana denominate "Villa grande" e "Villa piccola", con affreschi e mosaici, conservate nel sottosuolo della Basilica di S. Sebastiano, a conclusione dei recenti restauri. Massimo 12 persone a turno. Ore 10 e ore 11,30: ingresso Basilica di S. Sebastiano, via Appia antica 136.
SABATO 8 APRILE
I Giganti dell'Acqua
Il complesso monumentale costituito dai grandiosi resti degli Acquedotti Claudio, Marcio e Felice, fiancheggiati da una strada basolata di servizio, all'interno del Centro Sportivo della Banca d’Italia in via Tuscolana, apre le porte al pubblico. Visita guidata a cura del dott. Antonio Insalaco. Massimo 40 persone. Ore 10.30: Largo Bastia n. 29.
VENERDI' 28 APRILE
Il Forte Appia antica
Il primo forte ad essere edificato sul lato sinistro del Tevere, nell’ambito del “Campo trincerato” di Roma, cintura di strutture militari costruite a partire dal 1877 per la difesa della capitale, viene aperto ai visitatori. Visita realizzata in collaborazione con con l'Associazione di promozione sociale "Progetto Forti" http://progettoforti.wix.com/progettoforti#!forte-appia-antica/c8q Massimo 30 persone. Torcia individuale. Ore 10: Appia antica Caffè, incrocio via Appia antica/via di Cecilia Metella.
SABATO 6 MAGGIO
I vigneti del Principe
Passeggiata alla scoperta dell'VIII miglio dell'Appia, dalla "Berretta del Prete" al Tempio di Ercole, con visita alla storica Tenuta di Fiorano del Principe Boncompagni Ludovisi. Massimo 30 persone. Ore 10,30: via di Fioranello 19.
SABATO 20 MAGGIO
I primi Cristiani al Museo della Torretta
Passeggiata all'interno del comprensorio delle Catacombe di S. Callisto, con visita guidata al nuovo Museo della Torretta, che, con una selezione di preziosi reperti del III e IV sec. d.C., documenta la conversione al cristianesimo durante la tarda antichità. Massimo 20 persone. Ore 10: via Appia antica 78.
Le visite di Cancelli Aperti sono state rese possibili grazie alla preziosa collaborazione e disponibilità di: Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo, Sovraintendenza ai Beni Culturali di Roma Capitale, Catacombe di S. Sebastiano, Catacombe di S. Callisto, Pontificia Commissione di Archeologia Sacra, Re.S.I.A. Aeronautica Militare, proprietà Banca d'Italia, Boncompagni Ludovisi, Greco, Passarelli.