Letter from the ICS Executive Board on Society Events and Programs in 2020

Boston, August 25, 2020

Dear friends and colleagues of the ICS:

We hope that you are keeping safe and well during these difficult times. The corona virus has upended our lives in ways that we could not have imagined six months ago. Just as pandemic dislocations have required us individually to adapt to a new reality, the International Catacomb Society, too, has had to make some adjustments.

À propos, two highly anticipated events supposed to have taken place this year will have to be rescheduled:

The meeting scheduled for May in New York, featuring a lecture by Professor Steven Fine, was a casualty of the lock-down.

The upcoming 40th ICS anniversary celebration, originally scheduled for October at the Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East (HMANE), will be postponed.

Both these events will take place at a time when it will be safe to meet.

In a happier development, not even a plague of biblical proportions could deter the Shohet Scholar committee from its appointed task. The committee completed its annual mission by awarding grants to two important archeological projects. It should be noted, however, that these awards will be distributed to cover a period of two years instead of the customary one year: http://www.catacombsociety.org/news-and-events/

Finally, board members will be relieved to know, even in this topsy-turvy world, that the new normal of meetings on Zoom will allow the annual ICS board meeting to take place in September. Please mark your calendars for the 26th proximo.

Details regarding all of the above will be available on our website: http://www.catacombsociety.org/

Until we meet again, please keep safe and well.

With our very best wishes on behalf of the ICS Executive Board,

Annewies van den Hoek, president
Philip Olander, secretary

Inquiries to: info@catacombsociety.org

Introducing the Shohet Scholars for 2020-2021

May 8, 2020

The Officers and Directors of the International Catacomb Society are pleased to announce the Shohet Scholars for 2020-2021:

Davide Tanasi (Associate Professor, University of South Florida, Department of History)
Title: The Digital afterlife of the Catacombs of Abbatija tad-Dejr at Rabat (Malta)
Abstract: The research aims at the reappraisal through the application of 3-D Scanning, Remote Sensing and 3-D Visualization of the multifaceted Maltese catacomb complex of Abbatija tad-Dejr, whose occupation phases range from Late Roman to Late Medieval period. The site is currently inaccessible and in derelict state and has not been subject to any excavation or new interpretative study since the 1930s. The production of a 3D model combined with a spatial analysis will produce an updated technical documentation necessary to characterize it. An interactive virtual replica of the complex and all it iconographic features will be made accessible on a web platform for public enjoyment.

Joan Connelly (Professor, Classics, New York University) and Monika Więch (Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences, Department of Classical Mediterranean Cultures)
Title: Yeronisos–Meletis Necropolis Project, Peyia, Paphos District, Cyprus
Abstract: The dozen spectacular rock-cut chamber tombs of the small cemetery of Meletis at Agios Georgios tis Pegeias near Paphos in Cyprus had been thought to be fully looted long ago. But the discovery in 2018 of a thirteenth tomb will forever change our understanding of burial practices within a wealthy sector of the local community during late Hellenistic through Roman times. This project calls for excavation, documentation, preservation, and publication of a family tomb established in the 1st century B.C.E. under Ptolemaic Egyptian influence and continuing in use until the 5–6th century C.E. Investigation of this unique sepulcher provides a rare opportunity for us to understand better the social and cultural history of rock-cut tombs in Cyprus and across the Mediterranean world.

We congratulate these scholars on the impact and quality of their work.

Sincerely, Prof. Annewies van den Hoek on behalf of the Shohet Scholars Program Committee

Call for Applicants to the 2020-2021 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 2020-2021. Submission deadline is January 15, 2020.

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, www.catacombsociety.org

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, 2020 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 2020-2021 academic year is January 15, 2020. The award announcement for the 2020-2021 academic year will be made by May 1, 2020, for funding to be disbursed on 15 July 2020. 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 here instructions and 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) catacombsociety.org.

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:  http://www.catacombsociety.org/give/

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
PER INFO E ISCRIZIONI - web: cerse.uniroma2.it
mail: colapicchioni@lettere.uniroma2.it - marcella.pisani@uniroma2.it - alessio.decristofaro@beniculturali.it
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: http://www.catacombsociety.org/who-we-are/.

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 sleonard@mfa.org or phone 617-369-3259.  The general public may reserve online at: https://www.mfa.org/programs/lectures-and-courses/aphrodisias-a-greek-city-in-roman-asia


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 ygadot@gmail.com Joe Uziel 052-4769768 joeuziel@gmail.com Yehiel Zelinger 052-4284840 yehiel@israntique.org.il.