Appeal for Programming Assistance for 2019-2020

The International Catacomb Society sold this historic, early 19th-century townhouse on Beacon Hill in Boston twenty years ago to finance its Shohet Scholars program. People ask us to provide more lectures, student grants, and other public programming. But we don't have another building to sell. Only with your help, we can do more.

All charitable contributions to International Catacomb Society (a registered 501(c)(3) on or before 30 June 2019, the end of our fiscal year, will help determine if any new programming can be launched in the 2019-2020. Some progress already made in that direction, but more is needed. Your generosity is appreciated:

Introducing the Shohet Scholars for 2019-2020

The officers and directors of the International Catacomb Society are pleased to announce the Shohet Scholars of 2019-2020:

Lily Vuong, Central Washington University: “The Apocryphal Mary in Text, Pictorial Art, and Iconography"

This project examines the ways in which Marian Apocryphal material culture (mosaics, sculptures, ivory carvings, book covers, illuminated manuscripts, physical space of churches, etc.) were used to reinforce early Christian devotion, faith, and piety. At the same time, it also aims to explore the reciprocal relationship between text and art, and how early Christian identities shaped by Marian apocryphal literature intersected with the identities of those who valued Marian material culture as a necessary component to their religious lives.

Kevin McGinnis, Stonehill College: “Does a Priestly People Have Priests?
Early Christian Leadership in its Polytheistic Context"

The research funded by this grant will contribute greatly to an analysis of how Christians came to represent their ecclesiastical leaders as priests from the third to sixth centuries C.E. The standard narrative of how the priesthood developed starts with the period of the Jesus movement and proceeds rather uncritically from there. This narrative has largely determined how early Christian art has been interpreted. This project will counter that narrative, in part through a comparison of Christian and Roman depictions of religious leaders. The ultimate goal is to show how, when, and why Christians appropriated the title ‘priest’.

Joan Breton Connolly, New York University“: Yeronisos – Meletis Necropolis Project, Peyia-Paphos District, Cyprus

This project calls for systematic excavation, documentation, preservation, and publication of a newly discovered rock-cut tomb at the Meletis Necropolis, southwestern Cyprus. Preliminary investigation suggests a family tomb established in the second century BCE under Ptolemaic Egyptian influence, continuing in use through Late Roman times. The tomb preserves a prime example of monumental funerary culture in Hellenistic Cyprus, Ptolemaic influence in the Paphian countryside, and the evolution of Alexandrian funerary display strategies into Roman times. Investigation of this unique sepulcher provides a vital first step in writing a comprehensive social and cultural history of Hellenistic/Roman rock-cut tombs in Cyprus and across the Mediterranean.

More Than Just Mosaics: ICS NYC Lecture on Latest Finds from the Huqoq Excavations in Israel, 13 April 2019 at 4:30 p.m.

More than Just Mosaics: The Ancient Synagogue at Huqoq in Israel's Galilee

Saturday, 13 April 2019, 4:30 p.m. (reception to follow)

Fordham University - Lincoln Center Campus
School of Law Building
Room 7-119 (Hill Conference Room)
150 West 62nd Street, New York, NY 10023 (map)

Since 2011, Professor Jodi Magness has been directing excavations in the ancient village of Huqoq in Israel's Galilee. The excavations have brought to light the remains of a monumental Late Roman (fifth century) synagogue building paved with stunning and unique mosaics, including biblical scenes and the first non-biblical story ever discovered decorating an ancient synagogue. In this slide-illustrated lecture, Professor Magness describes these exciting finds, including the discoveries made in last summer's season.

The Huqoq Project was awarded a Shohet Scholars grant from the International Catacomb Society in 2016, and Prof. Magness now serves on the Society's advisory board. For more information about Prof. Magness' work in progress at Huqoq, please visit:

The ICS NYC Lecture is co-sponsored by the Department of Theology and the Program in Jewish Studies at Fordham University.

Corso di formazione in archeologia giudaica II edizione (2019): Insediamenti, luoghi di culto, cultura tra antichità e medioevo

Corso di formazione in archeologia giudaica II edizione: Insediamenti, luoghi di culto, cultura tra antichità e medioevo

Luogo: Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata, Macroarea di Lettere e Filosofia Via Columbia 1, 00133 Roma

Calendario delle lezioni (pdf -

6/03/2019, ore 15,00-17,00 Ed. B, Aula Riunioni IV piano
(Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei)
Gli Ebrei a Roma in età classica

7/03/2019, ore 14,30-18,30 Ed. B, Aula Riunioni II piano
Giancarlo Lacerenza
(Università degli Studi di Napoli L'Orientale)
Ebrei a Napoli nella tarda antichità: i sepolcreti e la sinagoga

Giovanna Di Giacomo
(Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata)
Le sinagoghe di Roma attraverso l’epigrafia

14/03/2019, ore 14,30-18,30 Ed. B, Aula Riunioni IV piano
Giancarlo Lacerenza
Rabbini, scribi e dottori della legge nell’Italia antica

Giovanni Gasbarri
(Center for the Study of Christianity - Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Immagine, idolo, icona: la figurazione nelle arti ebraiche e cristiane della Tarda Antichità

18/03/2019, ore 12,30-16,30 Ed. B, Aula Riunioni IV piano
Giovanni Di Stefano
(Università della Calabria)
Topografie urbane delle comunita' ebraiche della Sicilia medievale. I Casi di Ragusa e Scicli

Giuseppe Mandalà
(CSIC, Spanish National Research Council)
Palermo ebraica: fonti scritte, topografia e archeologia

21/03/2019, ore 14,30-18,30 Ed. A, Aula T 19
Javier Castaño
(CSIC, Spanish National Research Council)
La sinagoga come microcosmo nel territorio iberico medievale

Javier Castaño
Aspetti e problematiche della cultura materiale ispano-ebraica in età medievale

22/03/2019, ore 14,30-18,30 Ed. B, Aula Riunioni III piano
Juan Antonio Quirós Castillo
(University of the Basque Country)
Archeologia delle religioni minoritarie nella Spagna medievale

Juan Antonio Quirós Castillo
Archeologia degli Ebrei nella Spagna Cristiana: il caso degli ebrei alla luce del sito di Pancorbo

27/03/2019, ore 14,30-18,30 Ed. B, Aula Riunioni IV piano
Fausto Zevi
La sinagoga e gli Ebrei di Ostia antica

Enrico Tromba
(Istituto Superiore di Scienze Religiose Reggio Calabria)
La Sinagoga di Bova marina e le produzioni anforiche con bolli ebraici

28/03/2019, ore 14,30-18,30 Ed. B, Aula Riunioni III piano
Alessandro Campus
(Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata)
Epigrafia cultuale arcaica

Giovanni Gasbarri
La rappresentazione degli Ebrei nella cultura artistica bizantina

4/04/2019, ore 14,30-16,30 Ed.B, Aula Riunioni II piano
Myriam Silvera
(Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata)
I prodromi dell’espulsione degli Ebrei dalla Spagna

11/04/2019, ore 10,00
Marzia Di Mento
Visita guidata alla Sinagoga di Ostia antica

Il corso rilascia 6 cfu | Quota di iscrizione € 300,00
mail: - -
tel: 3939001716 - 3351320731

ICS a Fabulous Forty in 2019!

The International Catacomb Society strives to increase knowledge about the interconnections between Judaism, Christianity, and the surrounding ancient world by issuing grants, sponsoring lectures, and disseminating information and publications.

The attached brochure (in pdf) gives the essential information (a bird’s-eye view) of the work that the society does and the goals we would like to set for the future. We have a stellar team of professional board members and advisory board members that is truly international with colleagues from the US, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, and the UK:

We are looking for additional resources to grow our program of annual research grants for scholars. The last 18 years of research projects are listed in the brochure and on our website. A gift in any amount will help with the worthy projects that we are sure to receive in 2019. Should you wish to fund one or more of these projects, the ICS is happy to arrange for one of the grants to be entitled in your name or in honor of another individual.

With many thanks and all best wishes for 2019.

International Catacomb Society Directors (2019)

John Ambrose, SkillSoft, Nashua, NH
Max Bernheimer, Christie’s, New York, NY
Jennifer Berry, Boston Public Schools, Boston, MA
Matthew Berry, MD, Los Angeles, CA
John Bodel, Brown University, Providence, RI
Joan Branham, Providence College, Providence, RI
Jessica Dello Russo, International Catacomb Society, Boston, MA
Nicola Denzy Lewis, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA
Annewies van den Hoek , Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Robin M. Jensen, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN
Philip Olander, Medford, MA
Arthur Urbano, Providence College, Providence, RI
Alfred Wolsky, Esq., Arlington, MA
Pamela Worstell, Esq., Wayland, MA

Aphrodisias: A Greek City in Roman Asia – Estelle Shohet Brettman Memorial Lecture on 2 December 2018

The next Estelle Shohet Brettman Memorial Lecture will be held on Sunday, December 2nd, 2018 in the Remis Auditorium in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. This year's lecturer will be Bert Smith, Lincoln Professor of Classical Archaeology and Art at Oxford University.

Aphrodisias is one of the best-preserved Greek-Roman sites in modern Turkey. The city was famous for its cult of Aphrodite and its marble sculptors. Recent work has uncovered an urban park with a 170-meter-long pool at its center. Its excavation has revealed the pool’s long life, from the 1st to the 6th century AD, as well as astonishing remains of high-quality statue monuments. Dr. Smith has directed the excavation and research of the site since 1991.

Date: Sunday, December 2nd, 2018 from Time: 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Location: Harry and Mildred Remis Auditorium (Auditorium 161), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

This is a free lecture but tickets are limited. ICS members are requested to please RSVP directly to Stacey Leonard by Friday, November 30th via email or phone 617-369-3259.  The general public may reserve online at:

Catacombs of Villa Torlonia Exhibit Tour and Lectures in Jerusalem on 11 October 2018

The 2018 edition of the conference, "New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and Its Region," includes lectures on recent work in the Jewish Catacombs of Villa Torlonia in Rome and a tour of a photography exhibit of the site after excavation and conservation work beginning in 2016. Both talks are given during the second session on "Internments and Interred: Form and Identity in Burials from Rome to Jerusalem and Back", chaired by Prof. Lilhi Habax, starting Thursday, 11 October at 11:30 a.m. in the Dan Wassong Auditorium in the Mount Scopus Campus of Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Italian archaeologists Drs. Daniela Rossi and Marzia Di Mento, representing Rome's Archaeological Superintendency, will speak first on "The Catacombs of Villa Torlonia in Light of Recent Conservation Works". The second lecture, "On the Conservation of the Tombs and Documentation of the Temple Menorahs in Villa Torlonia, Rome," is presented by Israeli Antiquities Authority officials and collaborators, Drs. Yuval Baruch, Alexander Wiegmann, Amir Genach, and Ronny Reich. Following a lunch break, photographers Jacopo Brugioni and Raffaele Coniglio will lead a tour in English of their photographic exhibition "The Jewish Catacombs of Villa Torlonia, Rome" on display at the conference site. The ancient cemetery used by Jews, below the grounds of a public park, has long been closed to the public and off-limits even to many scholars. It is anticipated that small group access might be possible starting in 2019, also the centenary of the catacomb's discovery, following efforts to stabilize the underground site's microclimate and physical plant and to ensure Jewish burial of any human remains according to modern Orthodox practice and in concordance with Italian law n. 101 of March 8, 1989, guaranteeing the civil rights of Jews in the Republic of Italy and the freedom of worship according to conscience. The task of reburying the ancient bones or moving them, when necessary, to new locations has been carried out by volunteers with the Israel-based rescue and recovery organization Zaka at the behest of the Italian rabbinate, which considers halakhic treatment of the bones a priority in any study the site. In the course of the burial and rebuilding operations, new artifacts and structural details have emerged, including clearer views of the scratched and painted inscriptions and other markings on tombs, all in course of study and publication. These no doubt will be the main focus of the lectures and photo exhibit in Jerusalem next week.

Conference organizers: Yuval Gadot 052-5776674 Joe Uziel 052-4769768 Yehiel Zelinger 052-4284840

Call for Applicants to the 2019-2020 Shohet Scholars Grant Program for Research on the Ancient Mediterranean

The Shohet Scholars Grant Program of the International Catacomb Society is now accepting applications to the Shohet Scholars cohort of 2019-2020. Submission deadline is January 15, 2019 (11:59 p.m. EST).

This annual grant program funds research on the Ancient Mediterranean from the Hellenistic Era to the Early Middle Ages. Shohet Scholars may do their research in the fields of archaeology, art history, classical studies, history, comparative religions, or related subjects. Of special interest are interdisciplinary projects that approach traditional topics from new perspectives.

One or more Shohet Scholars will be selected each year. The primary intent of the grant is to support significant, innovative research that can be completed and reported upon within and shortly after the award period. Grants may be made to seed innovative approaches and new ideas or to cover specific expenses or phases of a larger project under the direction of the applicant. At this time, awards in the range of $2,000 to $30,000 will be made. The Shohet Scholars Program reserves the right not to make a grant in a year in which there are no applications meeting the requirements of the program. A complete history of past and present Shohet Scholars awards is available on the ICS webpage,

Scholars of all institutional affiliations and independent scholars may apply for Shohet Scholar funding if they are individual or institutional members of the ICS at the time of the application submission deadline of January 15, 2019 and in possession of a doctoral degree or the equivalent. Preference will be given to applicants in the early postdoctoral or launching stage of their careers (i.e., persons awarded the doctorate within six years prior to the application deadline).

Non-U.S. citizens may apply if a co-applicant is a legal permanent resident (i.e. already in possession of "green card" or Form I-551) or native or naturalized citizen of the U.S.A., meets all eligibility requirements, and has a genuinely collaborative and credited leadership role in the proposal. Co-applicants must submit as individuals all the necessary forms except for the research proposal, list of permissions, and budget proposal, which may be filed jointly.

Employees, contractors, and members of the Board of Directors or Advisory Board of the ICS and their families are ineligible. No applicant will be denied consideration or selection because of race, religion, or ethnic origin. Any fraudulent misrepresentation of self and information about a proposal will result in a disqualification.

Reporting Requirements
Shohet Scholar grant recipients are expected to: 1. acknowledge the Shohet Scholars Program of the International Catacomb Society in all publications and activities that are funded in part or in whole with the award with direct notification to the Society when these events occur and 2. provide the Shohet Scholarship Committee no later than three months after the end of the fellowship year with a brief, illustrated report of the work carried out or in course, suitable for publication on the ICS website.

Deadlines and Decisions
The application deadline for the 2018-2019 academic year is January 15, 2019. The award announcement for the 2019-2020 academic year will be made by May 1, 2019, for funding to be disbursed on 15 July 2019. Please note: starting in 2018, all funding is awarded directly to the USA-based awardee, for distribution among project co-applicants and collaborators. The ICS will no longer wire or transfer money to bank accounts outside of the USA.

Click here for application forms and instructions and here for assistance.

Questions ?
If you have any questions about the suitability of proposed projects, application procedures, or any other matters related to the Shohet Scholars Program, please consult our FAQ page or contact us at shohetscholars (at)

2018 Annual Meeting Update: ICS Directors Elect New President and Board for 2018-2021

The Annual Directors' Meeting of the International Catacomb Society was held on Saturday, 15 September 2018, in a meeting hall generously provided by colleagues at Hellenic College/Holy Cross Seminary in Brookline, MA. 

In addition to strategic planning for 2019 and various committee reports (scholarships, finance, website, and archives), elections were held for the society's executive officers and directors for 2018-2021. As a result, the current list of ICS directors reveals two major changes: a new president of ICS, Prof. Annewies van den Hoek, and new director, Jessica Dello Russo, who fills the vacancy left by ICS founding director Florence Z. Wolsky (1923-2018).

Annewies van den Hoek (President) taught Greek and Latin literature at Harvard Divinity School from 1989 until her retirement in 2016 and is now a Research Associate at the Harvard Semitic Museum. She is the author of several monographs, including Clement of Alexandria and Philo (1988), and a critical edition of Clement's Stromateis IV (2001), with another textual commentary in progress on Philo's De Cherubim. In addition to her textual studies, she researches and publishes extensively on ancient art and archaeology. With her husband John Herrmann she organized an exhibition of African Red slip pottery that was shown at Harvard Divinity School and traveled to Austin and New Haven with a catalog entitled: Light From the Age of Augustine. Late Antique Ceramics From North Africa, 2nd edition, University of Texas at Austin and Harvard University, 2003. She co-authored with John Herrmann a book entitled: Pottery, Pavements, and Paradise (2013). Dr. van den Hoek also cooperates in research projects on ancient marbles from North Africa and other areas of the Mediterranean, with grants from the Kress Foundation and American Institute for Maghrib Studies (AIMS). A close colleague of ICS founding director and chairman, Cornelius C. Vermeule, Dr. van den Hoek became involved in the ICS in the 1990's, and has long been one of the most active and influential members of its board.

Jessica Dello Russo (Director) first heard about ICS as a Harvard undergraduate and, not long after college graduation, rang the doorbell of its Beacon Street headquarters to see what was inside. Welcomed by then-society director Amy K. Hirschfeld and archivist Victoria Crammer, she offered on the spot to check up on the Jewish catacomb situation, as she was about to return to Rome, where she had been interning for the Associated Press. Her inquiries sparked a curiosity to learn more about Rome's ancient Jewish sites, and thanks to partial funding from ICS for tuition and travel, Dello Russo completed doctoral work at the Vatican's Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology with research on tomb typologies employed by Jews in Ancient Rome, the preliminary results of which she reported to ICS in the series "Roma Subterranea Judaica". She has been Executive Director of ICS since 2015, and continues to study and publish on the tombs of Jews and others in Italy during Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. She says, "It is a tremendous honor to take Florence's place on the ICS board - I confess that, as a child, I was rather afraid of her - especially when she thought my grubby little hands were closing in on some priceless MFA antique - to someone very young, she could seem most severe, but, later, getting to know her better at the ICS, and working to prepare in its final form the book she helped to write on the catacombs of Rome, it was impossible not to admire Florence's vocation to Classical scholarship and deep loyalty to the society she helped found."

The ICS will not remain Wolsky-less: Florence's son, and ICS president emeritus, Alfred Wolsky, will remain on the board. Collectively, mother and son have given over half a century of dedicated service to ICS.

The International Catacomb Society is a registered 501(c)(3) corporation, founded in 1980 with a registered office in Boston, Massachusetts. The Board of Directors manages the properties and affairs of this non-profit corporation, as stated in the ICS By-Laws (link).

Photo: President of the ICS, Dr. Annewies van den Hoek, and President Emeritus, Alfred Wolsky, Esq.

13 October 2018 – Vatican’s 1st “Catacomb Day” at Rome

The Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archaeology, the Vatican office responsible for the study, maintenance, and upkeep of underground cemeteries, better known as "catacombs", maintained by tradition as Christian cult sites, in collaboration with the Vicariate of Rome's Pilgrimage Office, is sponsoring a "Catacomb Day" on Saturday, 13 October 2018 (during festivities in Rome for Pope Paul VI's canonization on Sunday, 14 October 2018). In addition to free admission to all the catacombs open to the public (new in 2018 is the re-opening of those at San Lorenzo), special thematic tours, workshops, and concerts, also free of charge, will be held throughout the day at many catacomb sites. The event series will open with the inauguration of an exhibit in honor of the new Saint Paul VI, “Bere alle Sorgenti”. Paolo VI e le Catacombe, in a renovated mausoleum above the Catacombs of Callisto, and conclude with Mass in the Basilica of St. Sebastian's on the via Appia Antica, presided over by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Commission. 

For information, consult the attached program or contact the PCAS at: