2017-2018 Shohet Scholars Awards

For Immediate Release
April 30, 2017

2017-2018 Shohet Scholars Awards

The officers and directors of the International Catacomb Society are pleased to announce the Shohet Scholars for 2017-2018:

Lindsey Mazurek (Memorial University, Newfoundland, Canada): “Mapping Religious Communities Across the Ancient Mediterranean: The Ostian Connectivity Project.”

This project examines the social ties that defined religious associations at Roman Ostia by charting the complex layers of relations that facilitated the movement of goods, people, and ideas in and out of Rome's port. By examining inscriptions related to Jewish, early Christian, Isiac, and Mithraic communities with social network analysis and GIS data, Dr. Mazurek’s research offers new social and spatial information about how religions were practiced under the Roman Empire. The Shohet Scholars grant will fund Dr. Mazurek’s first season of field research, which will include database expansion and digital mapping.

Ilenia Gradante (Römisches Institut der Goerres-Gesellschaft) and Davide Tanasi (University of South Florida): “Languages, formulas and identities in the Christian community of Syracuse in Sicily: the case of the Catacombs of S. Giovanni.”

The San Giovanni Catacombs are an impressive example of a Late Antiquity communal cemetery. Epigraphic formulas, linguistic choices and onomastic data prove that the local ruling class, clergymen and foreigners, preferred this cemetery: it was a society still influenced by classical reminiscences and yet able to express consciously its devotion to the new creed, on the basis of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The aim of the project is the systematic review and 3D digitization of published and unpublished epigraphic material from the cemetery, offering the first comprehensive survey of this community, published in an open access digital format.

Robert Tykot (University of South Florida) and Andrea Vianello (Independent Researcher): “Mobility in north-eastern Italy between the Late Roman and Byzantine periods: the view from stable isotopes.”

This ambitious and interdisciplinary research will carry out strontium isotope analyses for the first time on Late Roman and Byzantine individuals buried in southern Veneto and Emilia-Romagna in Italy to investigate the mobility of these ancient people at a time of great changes and migratory movements. The research will reveal social mobility in Veneto and Emilia-Romagna, the effective impact of Late Antiquity migrations across the region and provide the strongest clue yet on who founded Venice and who lived in the Byzantine Empire of Ravenna.

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


Annewies van den Hoek                                                      
Chair of the Shohet Scholar Program Committee           
Vice President, International Catacomb Society              

Jessica Dello Russo
Executive Director
International Catacomb Society

About the Shohet Scholars Program:

The Shohet Scholars Program of the International Catacomb Society (ICS) desires to support scholars of demonstrated promise and ability who are judged capable of producing significant, original research within the sphere of the Mediterranean world from the late Hellenistic Period to the end of the Roman Empire. Of special interest are interdisciplinary projects that approach traditional topics from new perspectives.

One or more Shohet Scholars will be selected each year and supported for a period of one year. 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.

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 the ICS website or contact ICS at shohetscholars@catacombsociety.org.

In Memoriam: International Catacomb Society Director John William Pye (1948-2016)

Excerpts from the tribute of International Catacomb Society President, Alfred Wolsky, to deceased board member John William Pye (1948-2016):

"I want to offer a few words regarding John William Pye, member of the International Catacomb Society Board of Directors, who was tragically and unexpectedly taken from us in the summer of 2016.

John was one of the best friends I've ever had.  I met him at Trinity College when we were students.  He was a year ahead of me.  After he graduated in 1970, he attended what was then known as ETS, the Episcopal Theological Seminary, now the Episcopal Divinity School, where he received a Master's in Divinity (M.Div).  He was very much devoted to his faith, and was deeply involved in all the church venues he attended, whether the Old North Church in Boston, or parishes in Weymouth, Quincy, or on Cape Cod.  Originally, he was involved primarily in outreach work: in college, he ran a program called "Give a Hand to a Boy."  Thereafter, for a number of years, he ran the Quincy Boys' Home, and stewarded many of his protégées out of the perilous and apparently hopeless environments which had previously fostered them, to placements in colleges or other professional training institutions, all done with a firm but generous and caring guidance, and with unique perception and skill which can only be classified as talent, even genius.  

Ticknor and Fields payment to author Celia Thaxter (Trinity College Library Collection, gift of John W. Pye).

It was during this time relatively early in his adult career that John intensified his book collecting interest and in the fashion which was typical of what he did, built up out of a very tight budget the second largest collection of Ticknor and Fields imprints in the world.  Ticknor and Fields as the Boston publishing house which published the first American editions of Charles Dickens, as well as, inter alia, Longfellow, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Alcott and Poe.  John's collection included royalty checks signed by Hawthorne and Poe, galley sheets from Longfellow's "Evangeline" with the author's handwritten corrections, and first editions of everything from Thoreau's Walden to Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, wherein the author insisted that the title of the book be printed in red ink!  John was also the foremost collector of Edward Arlington Robinson.  That collection had started while he was still in college.  With all these treasures in his possession, John became a major book dealer and vital presence in the annual Boston Antiquarian Book Fair, as well as a core member of such groups as the Massachusetts and Rhode Island Antiquarian Book Dealers Association.  

After he sold his huge Ticknor and Fields and Robinson collections to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, he moved to Brockton, Massachusetts, put in a swimming pool, and, on my influence, I am proud to say, began collecting books and other materials relating to Ancient Egypt.  I think it is fair to say that he became the leading ancient Egyptian category book dealer in the world.  His customers typically included collectors as devoted as himself and major universities and museums around the world.  He handled the dispersion of James H. Breasted's own book collection (I have in my possession a xerox he sent me of the original copy of Breasted's Ph.D. thesis written in Latin), sold original watercolors done by the archaeologist Howard Carter, and trafficked in diverse Egyptiana: shabitis, other small statuary and artifacts, all the while developing a consuming scholarly interest in his subject.  John was responsible for publishing some of George Reisner's work which had spent decades untouched in the basement of Boston's Museum of Fine Arts (MFA).  He was a main personality in the MFA's Friends of Egyptian Art and Trustee of the Watkinson Library in Hartford, Connecticut.  And John could mix effortlessly in any crowd, that is, until he became political...

From the International Catacomb Society perspective, we have lost a board member who brought with him a tremendous wealth of practical experience on diverse boards of both religious and lay outfits, of dealing with people of every background and persuasion, and, moreover, someone ready to lend his voice and strong opinions when needed during our meetings.  From my own viewpoint, I have lost a dear friend, and ask for a moment of silence in his honor and memory.  

- Alfred H. Wolsky, Esq, President, International Catacomb Society

 John William Pye obituary (link).


Passover/Pesach 2017: Elijah’s Chair

Chag Pesach sameach to all celebrating the Passover Feast, in commemoration of the liberation of the Jews from slavery in Ancient Egypt, and their enduring covenant with G-d.  
One of our favorite Passover traditions is the invitation to the the Prophet Elijah to pull up a chair, in a manner of speaking.  This is when a glass of wine is poured after the Seder Graces (the "fifth cup"), the door to the room is opened (or a window to the outside), and the Prophet is welcomed in.  Children watch closely to see if the wine has gone down in the glass, meaning Elijah has, in fact, graced the Seder with his presence.  They get so excited when it appears that the liquid has gone down a bit, as if someone has taken a sip!  Something does seem to happen.
Pardon the pun, but Elijah's chariot has crossed our path recently for a different reason, as we fine-tune the International Catacomb Society's DAPICS collections for your browsing pleasure.  The story is something of an Elijah mystery, too, on many levels.  It all started with an old drawing that, for a moment, we couldn't quite place: the caption said "Callisto":

Then, it hit us, as you no doubt were ready to point out, that "Callisto" was the default location for most catacombs in the area of the via Appia Antica until the De Rossi era, the mid-19th century. Of course, it was Domitilla!  In the so-called "Orpheus Chamber":

(Link to PCAS photo) 

Also in the caption for this image is the identification "Elijah taken up in a chariot of fire," although initially we went with "big shot chariot driver waving the mappa (actually held by a racing official)."  As the chamber name "Orpheus" indicates, the site of the fourth century CE is decorated with a mixed bag of motifs, Biblical-themed and otherwise.  The Elijah scene is on the chamber's right side, in the back lunette of an curved niche tomb (arcosolium), framed in the inner archway by a repetitive lattice-like motif.  The photograph in the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology archives reveals that images on the walls around the niche include a praying figure (orans) at left, Noah in the ark directly above the niche opening, and the resurrection of Lazarus (?) at right.  

Does the lunette scene really depict 2 Kings?  Elijah and faithful sidekick Elisha, who receives his mentor's cloak as it is dropped from the whirl wind or chariot of fire?  Is the other guy at right a stand-in for the "fifty prophets" who would acclaim Elisha as Elijah's successor?  It's hard to tell - loculi were cut into the wall at the bottom and top of the scene, eliminating Elijah's head as well as the backdrop (if any) between the figures at the sides, and the PCAS photograph in black and white (from a Wilpert image) does not provide higher resolution of the details.

Then the beauty of the new DAPICS search engine, still in beta, kicked in: we typed "Elijah" as the criterion and got some helpful hits.  The first was, obviously, the actual scene in the ICS's Joseph Wilpert Study Collection.  But there were others.  One we confess to having forgotten about completely is in the Catacombs of Marcellino e Pietro (ICS Historical Collections, n. 1212; also in the Wilpert):

The DAPICS search engine also came up with a more explicit Elijah scene in the wooden doors of Santa Sabina in Rome (422-440) - a good time to point out that ICS belies its name; it's not just "into" catacombs, but all cultural aspects of the age: 

(Screenshot of the Ascension of Elijah - Santa Sabina, copyrighted to Annewies van den Hoek).  

The Domitilla scene and tentative identification began to make more sense once we looked at the last group of images in the search results, variations on one scene, again in the back lunette of a tomb, though this time largely intact, in the via Latina/via Dino Compagni catacomb in Rome (ICS Historical Collections, n. 0276 - brighter on Google StreetView):

Here the figure at right emerges as a shepherd, tending to some oblivious sheep.  Four horses are galloping over the top of their heads, and Elisha, as an old man, dressed in spotted animal skins, extends both hands upward to receive the cloak being thrown to him by Elijah, already on his way.  Consistent with the overall quality of the Dino Compagni painting program, the figures are detailed and multi-dimensioned, only the shepherd is rendered a bit larger and more confidently than the other two, even though he and his sheep have little relevance to the Biblical narration.  What he shares in common with the Hebrew prophets is his presence in the wilderness outside of civilization.  The backdrop for all is a rocky outcropping pierced by a scattering of trees and scrubs.  The shepherd, lounging on a rock, stocked with tools and provisions, and seemingly not at all surprised by unfolding events, is the one most at home in the site.  A stand-in for a divine helper, like the angel giving Elijah a hand with the ascent in the Santa Sabina doors?  Or referring in some mystical capacity to the connection of nature to the divine? Or just stock imagery that fills the space? (some scholars do not even mention him).  We halt on the threshold of more speculative discussion, because part of the fun is awaiting the revelation.  May Elijah soon be among us!  And, in this Passover/Easter season, may peace and love be warmly received at all our tables.   



The Benaki Museum and the Greek Narrative: The Role of Culture in Crisis. 2017 Estelle Shohet Brettman Memorial Lecture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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.

Tombs from a Jewish Cemetery Identified in Trastevere District of Rome

(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). 

Sources: Laura Larcan, "Raffiora a Trastevere la necropoli degli Ebrei," in Il Messaggero, 22 marzo 2017, p. 55: http://www.ilmessaggero.it/roma/cronaca/trastevere_necropoli_ebrei-2332354.html; "Coraria Septimiana e Campus Iudeorum: Novita dai Recenti Scavi," International Catacomb Society, March 18th, 2017: http://www.catacombsociety.org/coraria-septimiana-e-campus-iudeorum-novita-dai-recenti-scavi-fuori-porta-portese/; Jessica Dello Russo, unpublished thesis.

Coraria Septimiana e Campus Iudeorum. Novità dai recenti scavi fuori Porta Portese

Invitation to the March 20, 2017 Press Conference at the Museo Nazionale Romano at Palazzo Massimo, Rome.

"Novità dai recenti scavi fuori Porta Portese", Lunedì 20 marzo Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Sala Conferenze, I piano, ore 9.30.

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).

(Author: Jessica Dello Russo)

Ad Multos Annos (et per tranquilla témpora)! Birthday wishes for ICS Advisor John Herrmann

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.

Use or Reuse? Rethinking Mythological Sarcophagi in Catacomb Contexts: Lecture at the CAA 2017 Conference by Shohet Scholar Sarah Madole

College Art Association 2017 Conference Session: Ancient Sculpture in Context

Friday, February 17, 2017, 8:30AM–10:00AM, in the Beekman Parlor, 2d Floor, New York Hilton Midtown, New York City

Chairs: Anne Hrychuk Kontokosta, New York University; Peter De Staebler, Pratt Institute

Understanding the History of Greek Sculpture: What Neuroscience Can Add
John Onians, University of East Anglia

Portability, Versatility, and the Problem of Contextualization: In Search of Viewing Environments for the Small-Scale Divine Statuary of Roman Athens
Brian A. Martens, University of Oxford

Use or Reuse? Rethinking Mythological Sarcophagi in Catacomb Contexts
Sarah Madole, Borough of Manhattan Community College, The City University of New York

Eros and the Army (Constantinople and Context)
Benjamin Anderson, Cornell University

Link: http://conference.collegeart.org/programs/ancient-sculpture-in-context/

The Botany of Death in Ancient Rome: Lecture by ICS Director John Bodel (Budapest)

Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies Twelfth Colloquium Series
The Botany of Death in Ancient Rome, a lecture by John Bodel (Brown University)
Thursday, January 19, 2017 - 5:30pm to 7:00pm
Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies at Central European University
Gellner Room, Nador utca 9, Budapest, Hungary, 1051

Human mortality in the ancient Mediterranean world was closely linked with the rhythms of nature. Homer’s famous simile of the “generation of leaves” likening the lot of men to that of the leaves of deciduous trees, which by their regular deaths renew the life of the tree itself, provides one well-known illustration of this association (Iliad 6.146-149).  This paper explores the ways that plants—trees and flowers, in particular—figured in ancient Roman funerary ritual. The use of various woods during different stages of the burial rite, the prominence of foliage during the transitional phases of the ceremony, the presence of vegetal offerings in some graves, and the devotion of specific annual holidays to floral commemoration of the dead at tomb sites point not only to a general conformity of Roman ritual to Mediterranean patterns of assimilating human and botanical mortality but also to a more precisely coded use of plants in funerary ritual that is distinctive of Roman culture. A general overview of the role of botanical life in Roman funerary ritual will precede a more focused discussion of the specific uses of cypress, olive, and laurel in the burial rite, and of violet and rose blossoms in funerary commemoration.

John Bodel is W. Duncan MacMillan II Professor of Classics and Professor of History at Brown University. He currently serves also as Co-Director of the Program in Early Cultures. Bodel is the author of over fifty articles and is author or editor of nine volumes, including, most recently, Ancient Documents and their Contexts. First North American Congress of Greek and Latin Epigraphy (2011), with Nora Dimitrova (Boston 2015) and On Human Bondage: After Slavery and Social Death, with Walter Scheidel (Oxford 2016). His research focuses on ancient Roman social, economic, and cultural history, Roman epigraphy and Latin literature, especially of the empire. He has special interests in Roman religion, ancient slavery, funerals and burial customs, ancient writing systems, and Latin prose authors of the late Republic and early Empire. With Adele Scafuro, he edits the series Brill Studies in Greek and Roman Epigraphy, and since 1995, he has directed the U.S. Epigraphy Project, the purpose of which is to share information about Greek and Latin inscriptions in the USA (http://usepigraphy.brown.edu/).

International News Coverage of Shohet Scholars Steven Fine and Jodi Magness

The International Catacomb Society congratulates Shohet Scholars Steven Fine and Jodi Magness on the global impact of their pioneering and innovative work on Jewish archaeology and history:
An article by the Times of Israel highlights Fine's research on the Menorah, "the Western world’s oldest continuously used religious symbol": http://www.timesofisrael.com/7-facts-about-menorahs-the-most-enduring-symbol-of-the-jewish-people/.
LIve Science has listed the Huqoq mosaics (the scenes of Noah's Ark and the parting of the Red Sea), two of Magness' many discoveries on the site of a Byzantine-era synagogue, as one of the "The 9 Biggest Archaeological Discoveries of 2016": http://www.livescience.com/57314-biggest-archaeology-discoveries-2016.html (in fact, according to the article, most of the major discoveries of 2016 were made in Israel!).
The Shohet Scholars Program is an annual grant program of the International Catacomb Society for research on the Ancient Mediterranean from the Hellenistic Era to the Early Middle Ages. The next application deadline is January 15, 2017.  Information and application instructions are here.
#ShohetScholars @TimesofIsrael @YUNews @UNCCollege @LiveScience