Philo’s Mission to Rome: A Historical Archaeological View. Lecture in Berlin by ICS Directors Annewies van den Hoek & John J. Herrmann, Jr (December 7, 2017)

Philo's Mission to Rome: A Historical Archaeological View - Lecture (in English) by Annewies van den Hoek (Harvard University) and John J. Herrmann, Jr. (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
Thursday, December 07, 2017, 6:00 pm, in the Theological Faculty of Humboldt University, Burgstr. 26, 10178 Berlin, seminar room 117  Vortrag_vdHoek_071217 (invitation pdf)

In spite of its highly rhetorical character, Philo’s Legatio ad Gaium reflects a historical situation with real people and real places. New light can be shed on Philo’s embassy to the emperor Caligula in 38-39 CE by coupling the fields of archaeology and philology. Archaeologists have used Philo’s account in his Legatio to interpret excavated remains in Rome, and these remains can in turn offer some new perspectives on the philosopher-ambassador’s rhetoric. The emperor wanted veneration from the Jews and pampered Philo with access to his private retreat. However, Philo’s response to the luxurious setting, while not entirely indifferent, was not what the emperor expected.

Annewies van den Hoek taught at Harvard University (1989-2016) and is now retired. She wrote a monograph on Clement of Alexandria and Philo (1988), a Greek text edition of Clement's Stromateis IV (2001), and co-authored with John Herrmann: Pottery, Pavements, and Paradise (2013). She is currently preparing a commentary on Philo's De Cherubim.

John J. Herrmann, Jr. is Curator of Classical Art Emeritus of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and vice president of the Association for the Study of Marble and Other Stones in Antiquity (ASMOSIA). His articles, books, and contributions to catalogs catalog Greek, Roman, and Early Christian art and architectural decoration.

An Update on Early Christian Archaeology in Israel. Lecture by Prof. Joseph Patrich at the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology in Rome (November 24, 2017)

An Update on Early Christian Archaeology in Israel. 
Lecture by Prof. Joseph Patrich, Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.
Friday, November 24, 2017 at 5 p.m.
Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology
viale Napoleone III, 00185 - Rome, Italy
T. 06/4465574;;

PSU & Eisenbrauns Launch new book series on ancient Near East, the archaeology of the Mediterranean, and Jewish and Christian history and texts

(Source: PublishersWeekly): "The Pennsylvania State University Press (ICS note: whose Director is longtime ICS advisor and former executive board member, Patrick Alexander) and academic publisher Eisenbrauns have entered a partnership on a new imprint, Eisenbrauns, which will publish books from both presses on the ancient Near East, the archaeology of the Mediterranean, and Jewish and Christian history and texts.

The partnership arrives just a week ahead of the annual meetings of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) and the American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature (AAR/SBL). Both conferences for scholars of religion, ASOR will take place in Boston from Nov. 15-18, while AAR/SBL will take place in Boston as well from Nov. 18-21."

The new website for Eisenbrauns, now an imprint of PSU Press, is:

Photo: Penn State University Press Director Patrick Alexander in the Vigna Randanini catacombs with ICS Executive Director Jessica Dello Russo and colleagues.

Viterbi Visiting Professorship in Mediterranean Jewish Studies 2018-2019 at UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies

(Source: UCLA): The UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies invites applications for the Viterbi Visiting Professorship in Mediterranean Jewish Studies during the 2018-19 academic year. Rank is open; however, preference will be given to junior scholars, including post-doctoral students. The duration of the appointment will depend on rank, and includes the prospect of a full-year postdoctoral appointment. The successful candidate will be in residence at UCLA during the tenure of the appointment and is expected to teach undergraduate and graduate courses in his/her field of expertise. The candidate's research could focus on any dimension of the experience of Jews, including their interaction with other peoples and cultures, in the Mediterranean basin.

Recruitment period is November 1st, 2017 through January 12th, 2018. Link to apply is here (link).
If you apply to this recruitment by January 12th, 2018, you will have until January 15th, 2018 to complete your application. Review of Applications will begin January 15, 2018 and candidates will be considered until the position is filled. For more information contact 

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age or protected veteran status. For the complete University of California nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy see: UC Nondiscrimination & Affirmative Action Policy. (

Catacombs at Beth She’arim, Cultural Heritage Management in Jordan & Iron Age Diet: ICS Advisor Talks at the 2017 ASOR (Boston, November 15-18, 2017)

Two members of ICS's advisory board, Prof. Joseph Greene of the Harvard Semitic Museum and Prof. Zeev Weiss of the Institute of Archaeology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, are presenting at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research. ASOR-Program-2017-online.

Session 5C Cultural Heritage Management: Methods, Practices, and Case Studies I.
Thursday, November 25, 8:20. Joseph Greene (Harvard University), “Cultural Resource Management in Jordan, 30 Years On” (20 min.) Glenn J. Corbett (American Center of Oriental Research), presiding.

Joseph Greene (Harvard University), “Cultural Resource Management in Jordan, 30 Years On”

Abstract: This is a retrospective on cultural resource management in Jordan over the past three decades, 1987–2017. The Jordan Cultural Resource Management (CRM) Project began in 1987, jointly supported by the American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Department of Antiquities of Jordan (DAJ). The idea for the CRM Project grew out of a desire to help ACOR cope with the increasingly urgent calls from the DAJ for assistance with archaeological rescue. In the mid-1980s, a building boom in Amman and the expansion of roadways and other infrastructure throughout the Kingdom had overwhelmed the DAJ’s slender resources. In its original conception, however, the CRM Project was not aimed primarily at meeting the need for more emergency excavations (although the CRM Project did conduct a rescue project on the Amman Citadel), but rather at promoting coordination between the DAJ and the various ministries and departments concerned with economic development, infrastructure expansion, and local, regional, and national planning. In the following decades, the CRM Project evolved under successive directors, sponsors, and funders into other aspects of CRM: computerized site inventories (JADIS; MEGA-Jordan), cultural heritage management capacity building, tourism-based site reconstructions, and local income-generating enterprises. Simultaneously, Jordanian universities created programs to train students in CRM and to conduct archaeological rescue, site rehabilitation, and monument reconstruction. As a result, after three decades the expression “cultural resource management” is no longer the foreign phrase it was in Jordan in 1987.

Thursday, November 25, 3:40. Session 7D: Archaeology of Jordan I.  Marta D’Andrea (Sapienza University of Rome) and M. Barbara Reeves (Queen’s University), presiding. 

Wilma Wetterstrom (Semitic Museum, Harvard University; Ancient Egypt Research Associates) and Joseph Greene (Semitic Museum, Harvard University), “Unpublished Plant Remains from Tell el-Kheleifeh Provide New Insights into an Edomite Entrepôt”

Abstract: Glueck’s 1938–1940 excavations at Tell el-Kheleifeh produced archaeobotanical and geological collections not included in Pratico’s 1993 publication of the architecture, pottery, epigraphy, and metallurgy from the site. The unpublished plant remains, part of the Nelson Glueck–ASOR Archive at the Semitic Museum, Harvard University, are now being studied by Wilma Wetterstrom. These remains, nearly all charred, open a new window onto Tell el-Kheleifeh. They include foods to be expected at any Iron Age Near Eastern settlement: barley, wheat, dates, and figs. The figs—a liter of exceptionally well preserved fruits—suggest the possibility of local cultivation. Plump and free of wrinkles, they appear to have been burned while fresh. Since fresh figs are perishable it is unlikely that they were imported but rather grown locally, tended by hand-watering. The barley, over 9,000 charred hulled grains found in a pot along with minute quantities of wheat and chaff, may have been cultivated locally as well. Rainfall runoff could have supported cereal farming in this semi-arid region (Ramsay and Parker 2016). Also present are woody species, which offer clues to local conditions. Charred palm timbers suggest limited access to true trees. Fragments of burnt fuel comprise a variety of species rather than one or two woods, suggesting that firewood came mainly from shrubs and small trees found in the Wadi Arabah.

Thursday, November 15, 4:20-6:30. Session 4J: New Discoveries at Beth She‘arim, Hancock. Adi Erlich (University of Haifa), presiding.

Zeev Weiss (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem), “Beth She‘arim and Beyond: Urban Necropoleis in Roman and Late Antique Galilee” (15 min.)

Abstract: The Beth She‘arim necropolis is central to the study of Jewish society in late antiquity. Over thirty catacombs have been excavated to date, and presumably there are more that have not yet been uncovered. The uniqueness of this necropolis lies in its number of graves, their variety, and the quality of the finds, which include many burial inscriptions in Greek and Aramaic as well
as artistic portrayals incised in stone and in relief. This paper will focus on the necropolis at Beth She‘arim but will also examine—owing to its status as a patriarchal burial site—whether its finds are more varied or of a higher quality than those from other sites in Roman and late antique Galilee, or whether the archaeological finds from these other Galilean sites are modest and therefore present an asymmetric picture of the burial and burial practices in the region.
In light of the evidence, it will be argued that the wealth of architectural, artistic, and epigraphic discoveries from the Beth She‘arim necropolis should not be compared to those from rural settlements, but to the material found in the necropoleis of Tiberias and Sepphoris, the two main urban centers reflecting wealth and culture in Roman Galilee. Such a comparison changes the parameters of the equation and provides important observations regarding the nature, size, and magnitude of the urban Galilean necropoleis beyond Beth She‘arim.

Jewish Catacombs of Villa Torlonia Restoration Underway in 2017

Construction notice outside of work area, identifying "works of extreme urgency for securing the site."

The Jewish catacombs located below the Villa Torlonia on the via Nomentana in Rome are being structurally reinforced and secured by the construction engineering firm Imar srl in anticipation of a possible public opening of the ancient burial site. The company was awarded the government contract in 2013, but administrative issues within Italy's Fine Arts Ministry, delays in government funding, and unresolved questions about the site's static condition pushed back the start of the project until 2017. This preliminary phase of a larger project to study and restore the Jewish cemetery has opened a long-closed entrance first excavated in 1973-1974 that leads to a series of painted tombs most likely dating to the mid-fourth century CE. Other air shafts and the staircase to the site's lower levels also are being examined and reinforced to meet safety codes and air quality controls. The work is being supervised by a regional inspector for the Soprintendenza Speciale Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio, Dr. Daniela Rossi, who has directed work in other historic Jewish cemeteries in Rome, most recently the Medieval Campus Judaeorum near Porta Portese in Trastevere, and a conservator for the same commission, Dr. Ines Arletti, with assistance from professional archaeologists and other technicians. The Union of Italian Jewish Communities and Jewish Community of Rome also play an active role as consultants and contributors to the project to ensure that the tomb restoration does not violate Halakha and contributes positively toward the survival of a uniquely  Jewish and national cultural treasure. Future work with financing from the Fine Arts Ministry is expected to clean the wall paintings and analyze in greater detail all site artifacts, including inscriptions still in situ. No announcement has been made regarding possible tours of the catacombs, but it is not to be excluded that an opening event will coincide with the centenary of the Jewish site's discovery in  foundations for a new carriage house in 1918-1919. (Jessica Dello Russo, November 6, 2017)


Corso di formazione sui luoghi dei santi a Roma. Memorie e reliquie, con visite guidate esclusive alle catacombe dei Ss. Pietro e Marcellino

Corso di formazione per le guide di Roma organizzato da ufficio catechistico e Ufficio delle confraternite.
VICARIATO DI ROMA - Ufficio per le Aggregazioni Laicali e le Confraternite - Ufficio Catechistico - FEDERAGIT
Corso di formazione sui luoghi dei santi a Roma. Memorie e reliquie
Il corso e' aratuito e si terrà presso la Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini in Roma – Piazza dell’Oro, 1, da martedì 14 novembre 2017
Tutti gli incontri si terranno dalle ore 17,30 alle ore 20,00. Il corso è totalmente gratuito. Si richiede la frequenza per il rilascio dell’attestato di partecipazione.
Iscrizioni: dalle ore 16 alle 17,15 del 14 novembre 2017, primo giorno del corso. Non saranno ammessi partecipanti alla II Sessione che non abbiano partecipato alla prima.
TEL. O6. 6988.6239 (LUN.-VEN. 9-12)
FAX 06.6988.6494 (H. 24)



14 novembre 2017
-Presentazione del Corso, mons. Antonio Interguglielmi
-Le reliquie della Passione del Salvatore, dott. Mario Prignano
-Le reliquie degli Apostoli, dott. Paolo Vannoni

21 novembre
Le reliquie dei Martiri, dott.ssa Raffaella Giuliani

28 novembre
Le reliquie dei Santi ed i luoghi in cui vissero, dott.ssa Patrizia Morelli, dott. Silverio Saulle e mons. Antonio Interguglielmi

5 dicembre
San Paolo e le origini della Riforma. Alla ricerca di un comune cammino, mons. Andrea Lonardo


16 gennaio 2018
L’Impero Romano ed il cristianesimo primitivo. Note per la presentazione del Colosseo e dei Fori Imperiali, mons. Andrea Lonardo

23 gennaio
Visita gratuita alla Cappella Sistina per i partecipanti al corso, mons. Andrea Lonardo

30 gennaio
Visite guidate esclusive alle catacombe dei Ss. Pietro e Marcellino per i partecipanti al corso, dott.ssa Raffaella Giuliani

Dopo la Pentecoste, a Gerusalemme sono martirizzati Stefano, Giacomo il Maggiore e Giacomo il
Minore; gli altri apostoli si disperdono per diffondere il Vangelo e Pietro e Paolo sono accolti benevolmente nell’Urbe.
La capitale dell’Impero diverrà così la sede di Pietro, e la Chiesa, su di lui edificata secondo le parole del Redentore, sarà il centro della missione evangelizzatrice fino agli estremi confini della terra.
Ciò avverrà tra molti ostacoli, il primo dei quali è la cruenta repressione di Nerone, che bagnerà del sangue di molti martiri il suolo della città, che santa Caterina da Siena percorrendone le strade affermava di sentir ribollire.
Con il passare dei secoli e dei millenni Roma accoglie le più preziose e significative reliquie della Passione del Salvatore, degli Apostoli e di innumerevoli Martiri e Santi.
Delle loro memorie e reliquie il corso di formazione intende offrire itinerari di visita nelle chiese del Centro Storico ove sono custodite, fornendo le essenziali note biografiche e l’indicazione dei luoghi nei quali - secondo la documentazione storica e la tradizione – questi amici di Dio hanno vissuto ed operato, ed esponendo infine i modi e i tempi del loro arrivo in città.
Il Vicariato desidera così partecipare all’accrescimento delle conoscenze delle Guide turistiche, dei catechisti e dei cultori dei santi e delle reliquie per la loro più estesa venerazione.
Si presentano inoltre le Lettere di San Paolo e le origini della Riforma con lo stato odierno del cammino comune. Ai partecipanti sarà riservata la partecipazione a visite di luoghi di alta risonanza spirituale e artistica.

“Menorah – in Memory of Estelle”. A Janet Shapero Rete-Chrome with a Catacomb Connection

Boston-area artist Janet Shapero is displaying recent works in her signature technique of Rete-Chrome at the Waltham Open Studios on November 4 & 5, 2017. Shapero's studio address is 144 Moody Street, Building 4, 2d floor, Studio 1. Artist Web site:

ICS founder, Estelle Brettman, was a friend of Shapero's parents, and traveled with Shapero to Sicily in 1978. The trip left a lasting impression on Shapero, who many years later created Rete-Chrome works incorporating Jewish motifs, like those on the ancient artifacts Brettman identified and photographed in archaeological sites around the Mediterranean. Shapero's account of her travels with Estelle Brettman is shared below (with permission of the author):

Menorah 1 – In Memory of Estelle - Image 30” X 10” Ground 42” X 13” „ 2013. 

"This Rete-Chrome features the silhouette of a menorah – a candelabrum with a central stem and three branches on each side. The menorah is an ancient and contemporary Jewish symbol. How does it relate to bones – and ossuaries, you might ask. Here is the story.

Estelle Brettman, a dear family friend came with me at the beginning of my second sojourn in Italy. My first year-long stay in Italy was as a RISD student on the European Honors program. I intended to return for another year to apprentice with Italian marble and wood carving artisans. The one year turned into seven – but that’s another story.

Estelle and I rented a car and visited ancient sites in Sicily. Although trained as a marine biologist, Estelle had a great interest in antiquity. At the time, she was a docent and lecturer on the iconography of ancient gems at the MFA, Boston.

While exploring the catacombs carved into the cliffs near the town of Palazzolo-Acreide, Sicily, we discovered something that dramatically altered Estelle’s thinking.

As we wove our way through a network of dark caves with only one flashlight between our guide, Estelle, and me, one of us tripped on a stone. When we directed our light to that stone, we saw the incised image of a menorah. It was as if it had been placed there for Estelle to find. This was a remarkable find as these catacombs were known to be Christian burial grounds – not Jewish burial grounds. The unexpected menorah propelled Estelle into an extensive investigation of Jewish Catacombs and shared Jewish, Early Christian and Pagan iconography. A few years later, Estelle founded the International Catacomb Society.

Estelle also created the exhibit Vaults of Memory: Jewish and Christian Imagery in the Catacombs of Rome, which consisted of photographs, inscriptions, and objects relating to Jewish, Christian, and Pagan funerary art in the Roman catacombs. The exhibition was shown in Boston, New York, Rome, and elsewhere.

Unfortunately Estelle died before she was able to complete the extensive scholarly manuscript that she was working on about the catacombs. In her honor, each year at the Boston MFA, the Estelle Shohet Brettman Memorial Lecture Series sponsors a talk on some aspect of the cultural, artistic, and/or religious history of the ancient Mediterranean world." (Janet Shapero)

Rete-Chrome – (Pronounced rět-ě-krōm): is derived from rete, Latin for net; and chrome, Greek for color. Unlike traditional paintings on canvas,Rete-Chromes take advantage of light and shadow that filter through the woven surface. I apply thin layers of pigment directly and indirectly onto an open-weave backing to construct images of varying translucencies. Ranging in size from miniature to monumental, Rete-Chromes have been widely exhibited as individual pieces, groupings, and elements in larger installations.

Book presentation: I cicli affrescati paleocristiani di San Pietro in Vaticano e San Paolo fuori le mura by Cecilia Proverbio (9 novembre 2017)

(Fonte: Brepols): La S.V. è invitata alla presentazione del volume: I cicli affrescati paleocristiani di San Pietro in Vaticano e San Paolo fuori le mura Proposte di lettura di Cecilia Proverbio
Giovedì 9 novembre, ore 17:00 Pontificia Università Gregoriana, Piazza della Pilotta 4, 00187 Roma, Aula C009 Interventi di Jean Pierre Caillet, Université Paris Ouest Serena Romano, Université de Lausanne Moderatore: Lydia Salviucci Insolera, Pontificia Università Gregoriana

I CICLI AFFRESCATI PALEOCRISTIANI DI SAN PIETRO IN VATICANO E SAN PAOLO FUORI LE MURA PROPOSTE DI LETTURA Cecilia Proverbio Series: Bibliothèque de l’Antiquité Tardive 33 [440 p., 189 b/w + 80 colour ill., 216 x 280 mm, 2016, PB, ISBN 978‐2‐503‐56793‐8] Lo studio approfondisce attraverso fonti antiche e moderne le decorazioni narrative affrescate nelle basiliche di S. Pietro in Vaticano e S. Paolo fuori le mura. Il volume analizza la decorazione delle basiliche paleocristiane di S. Pietro in Vaticano e S. Paolo fuori le mura, considerati due fra i maggiori poli cultuali della Roma tardoantica. Edificati in momenti diversi del IV secolo, entrambi gli edifici sono noti nella loro conformazione e nelle caratteristiche principali, ma molti punti rimangono ancora da chiarire a proposito della decorazione interna in tempi prossimi alla loro fondazione. Attraverso sistemi integrati di fonti scritte e figurate, risalenti in massima parte ad epoca moderna, è possibile ricostruire l’aspetto che entrambi gli edifici avevano in un periodo precedente alla loro distruzione, avvenuta con tempi e modalità differenti. Un aspetto particolare della decorazione di entrambi gli edifici era costituito dalla presenza di cicli affrescati che decoravano le pareti della navata centrale, incentrati sulle storie dell’Antico e del Nuovo Testamento. Lo studio esamina nello specifico queste narrazioni figurate, individuando le analogie di tematica e svolgimento che interessavano le storie veterotestamentarie e le differenze che invece caratterizzavano i cicli neotestamentari, arrivando a formulare alcune nuove ipotesi in merito all’epoca di realizzazione e alle motivazioni che hanno portato ad una differenziazione di soggetto nei cicli dedicati al Nuovo Testamento.

Fieldwork in Late Antique Archaeology – Burial & Funerary Practice (November 25, 2017)

(Shohet Scholar of 2005, Prof. Joseph Rife, presenting on cemetery excavations in Greece).

Birkbeck College, London, Saturday 25th November 2017
This seminar reviews the state of funerary archaeology across the late antique world, providing an up-to-date overview of the latest discoveries in the field and in the lab, organised in terms of a series of regional portraits, from the cemeteries of Britain to the caves of Egypt.

10.00-10.30 Paul Booth (Oxford Archaeology) - Southern Britain
10.30-11.00 Sadie Watson* (Museum of London Arch.) - London
11.00-11.30 Jake Weekes (Canterbury Arch. Trust) -Canterbury

*Western Mediterranean*
11.50-12.20 Mauro Puddu (Cambridge) - Sardinia
12.20-12.40 Alexandra Chavarria* (Padua) - Northern Italy
12.40-13.10 Kaja Stembeger (KCL) - Slovenia

*Africa and Egypt*
14:00-14:30 Anna Leone* (Durham) - Africa
14:30-15:00 Elisabeth O'Connell (British Museum) - Egypt

*East Mediterranean*
15:20-15:40 Joseph Rife# (Vanderbildt) - Greece
15:40-16:10 Sophie Moore (Brown) - Asia Minor
16.10-16.40 Ádám Bollók (HAS, Budapest) - The Near East
16:45-17.00 John Pearce (KCL) - Conclusion

The conference will be held at Birkbeck College. All are welcome. Admission 15 GBP; Students / OAPs 7.5 GBP.
To register write to before 20th November. Papers marked * = read in absentia. # = via skype.

Venue: B35 Lecture Theatre inside Birkbeck College, Malet Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7HX. Metro: Russell Square.
Conveners: L.Lavan, M.Mulryan (Kent), T.Penn (Edin.), R.Darley (Birkbeck). Sponsors: Birkbeck, Virtual Centre for Late Antiquity, J.Beale, Brill.

Dr Michael Mulryan
Editor - Late Antique Archaeology
Honorary Research Fellow
Centre for Late Antique Archaeology
University of Kent