"My thought has always been that archaeology should be used as a tool to unveil history instead of being locked up in an ivory tower for the knowing few.  Also, that it should arouse interest in preserving the precious vestiges of our past before they vanish... (for) what seems locked in the past is really linked to the present."
- Estelle S. Brettman, Founder, International Catacomb Society

Since its founding in 1980, the International Catacomb Society has sponsored lectures that have brought scholars from around the world to lecture in the Boston area.

In November 1999, the International Catacomb Society announced their sponsorship of the Estelle Shohet Brettman Memorial Lecture Series at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in the Department of Art of the Ancient World. In 2005 the lecture series was permanently endowed. The series presents lectures and other programs dealing with the cultural, artistic, and religious history, and related archaeology of the ancient Mediterranean world, primarily the Roman Empire and its provinces during the period of the 5th century B.C.E. through the 7th century C.E.  All lectures are free and open to the public.

ICS also sponsors tours of ancient sites, and conferences and special lectures at member institutions.  Join ICS to receive advance notice of and priority access to these events.

Upcoming Events 

2024 - Annual Meeting of the ICS Board of Directors - TBA.

Past Events


8 December 2023 at 7 p.m. Shohet Scholar lecture by Joan Breton Connelly, NYU at Maliotis Community Center, Hellenic College, Holy Cross, Brookline, MA.

8 October 2023 at 2 p.m. Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors 2023 via Zoom invitation

Summer Lecture: "The Digital Afterlife of the Catacombs of Abbatija tad-Dejr at Rabat (Malta)", by past Shohet Scholar Prof. Davide Tanasi of the University of South Florida's Institute for Digital Exploration (IDEX). Friday, 2 June 2023, 1 p.m. (EDT). Watch here!

Winter Lecture: Anne Carson, "A Rustle of Catullus", Sunday, 29 January from 2-3pm at the Remis Auditorium in the Museum of Fine Arts. Carson will discuss Catullus in relation to the new and exciting inter-departmental exhibition “Making Past Present: Cy Twombly”, which combines modern art with the antiquities that inspired them. Event recording here (link).


1 October 2022 at 2 p.m.: Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors.

22 September 2022: Meeting of the Executive Board.

10 September 2022 at 10 a.m.: Meeting of the Shohet Scholars Grant Program Committee.

June 26, 2022. "Exploring the Catacombs of Rome: Old and New Research in the Roman Underground." Lecture by Norbert Zimmermann, German Archaeological Institute, Rome. 

-----> Watch this event on our YouTube Channel.

May 1, 2022. Panel discussion with recent recipients of the Shohet Scholars Grant:

  • Lily Vuong (Central Washington University): "The Apocryphal Mary in Text, Pictorial Art, and Iconography".
  • Ilenia Gradante (Oxford): “Languages, formulas and identities in the Christian community of Syracuse in Sicily: the case of the Catacombs of S. Giovanni.”
  • Lindsey Mazurek (Indiana University Bloomington): “Mapping Religious Communities Across the Ancient Mediterranean: The Ostian Connectivity Project"

-----> Watch this event on our YouTube Channel.

April 3, 2022. Panel discussion with recent recipients of the Shohet Scholars Grant:

  • Nathaniel DesRosiers (Stonehill College) : "Suns, Snakes and Altars: Religious Competition and Solar Cults"
  • Sarah Madole Lewis (City University of NY): "Searching for Roman Sarcophagi with Catacomb Contexts: Use, Reuse, and the Matter of Interpretation"
  • Daniel Ullucci (Stonehill College): "Physical Offerings and the Development of a Christian Elite"

-----> Watch this event on our YouTube Channel.

February 20, 2022. "What the Roman Catacombs Can Teach Us". Lecture by Prof. Nicola Denzey Lewis, the Margo L. Goldsmith Chair in Women's Studies in Religion at Claremont Graduate University. 

-----> Watch this event on our YouTube Channel.


September 19, 2021. Annual Board Meeting (via Zoom).

April 29, 2021. "The Other Israel. Samaritans, Jews, and Christians in Late Antiquity." Lecture by Prof. Steven Fine of Yeshiva University, Shohet Scholar '15. Co-sponsored by Fordham University Department of Theology.


October 22, 2019. "The Jerusalem Temple in Early Christian Imagination", lecture by Prof. Robin M. Jensen (vice-president ICS), Patrick O'Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame and expert on religious art in antiquity, Tuesday, at 6:30 p.m. at Grogan and Company, 20 Charles St, Boston, MA 02114. Reception and lecture are free and open to the public. Information: (617) 720-2020. Co-sponsored by Grogan and Company and the International Catacomb Society.

October 5, 2019. "The Christian Reception of Philo’s Works in Alexandria," invited lecture by Prof. Annewies van den Hoek (president ICS) at the Matenadaran, Library and Mesrop Mashtots Research Institute of Ancient Manuscripts in Yerevan, Armenia, Saturday at 2:00pm.

April 13, 2019. "More Than Just Mosaics": The Latest Finds from the Huqoq Excavation in Israel. Lecture by Prof. Jodi Magness, Shohet Scholar, 2015-2016, on Saturday, 13 April at 4:30 p.m., with reception to follow. Fordham University Law School at Lincoln Center, Room 7-119 (Hill Conference Room), 150 West 62d Street, New York, NY (invitation)

March 14-17, 2019. The 13th Biennial meeting of Shifting Frontiers in Late Antiquity: “Communal Responses to Local Disaster: Economic, Environmental, Political, Religious” at Clarmont-McKenna College, Claremont, CA. Co-organizer is ICS director Nicola Denzey Lewis (link).


November 17-20, 2018. Society of Biblical Literature/American Academy of Religion Annual Conference in Denver, CO. Review Panel, "Early Jewish Christian Relations; Art and Religions of Antiquity," (19 November 2018, 1-3:30 p.m.) will discuss S. Fine, The Menorah (2016) and R. Jensen, The Cross (2017). Program book here (link).

December 2nd, 2018: Estelle Shohet Brettman Memorial Lecture in the Remis Auditorium in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Bert Smith, Lincoln Professor of Classical Archaeology and Art at Oxford University on "Aprodisias: A Greek City in Roman Asia". Free and open to the public by reservation. 

September 29, 2018 - Lectio Magistralis by Prof. Nicola Denzey Lewis, "Of Models and Men: Did Christianity Really ‘Rise’?" at the Italian Centre for Advanced Studies on Religions' (CISSR) Annual Meeting on Christian Origins, September 27 – 29, 2018 in Bertinoro, Italy. Program (link).

September 27, 2018: International Conference on the Cult of the Saints in Late Antiquity at Warsaw, Poland. Keynote speakers include iCS Vice President, Prof. Robin M. Jensen (Notre Dame), on "Icons as relics: the role of the portrait in the early cult of saints" (program).

September 15, 2018, from 10 a.m. - noon. ICS Annual Board Meeting, Hellenic College of Holy Cross, 50 Goddard Ave, Brookline, MA.

September 17, 2018, at 4:30 p.m. Holy Cross 175th Birthday Lecture: Dr. Robin Jensen, Endowed Professor and the Patrick O'Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, on "The Holy Cross: Symbol of Victory and Sign of Salvation." Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Library. (link).

July 17-28, 2018. COMCAR - Colloquium on Material Culture and Religion 2018 in Rome, Italy. ICS Director Nicola Denzey Lewis lecturing. Participants include past and present Shohet Scholars Michael Flexsenhar III and Nathaniel Des Rosiers. schedule link.

July 2018 17, 7-8:30 p.m.: The Temple: Old and New in Jewish and Christian Art. Public forum with ICS Vice President Robin Jensen and former Shohet Scholar Steven Fine at the Tantur Institute for Ecumenical Studies, Jerusalem. 

July 2, 2018. Berlin-Oxford Summer School, Humboldt University of Berlin. Prof. Annewies van den Hoek (Harvard, emerita), on "The Reception of the Book of Proverbs in Late Antiquity: Clement of Alexandria". 

July 2-6, 2018: 17th International Congress of Christian Archaeology at Utrecht University and the Radboud University Nijmegen (Netherlands). Co-organized by ICS Advisor, Prof. Sible De Blauuw, with presentations by ICS Vice President and CIAC National Committee Member (Annewies van den Hoek) and ICS advisors (John Herrmann, Zeev Weiss) (link).

June 18-29, 2018. Summer Program in Latin Epigraphy at the American Academy in Rome
Via Angelo Masina 5 - 00153, Rome T. 39 06 58461 Email:
Summer course in epigraphy led by ICS Director Prof. John Bodel of Brown University.

May 24-26, 2018, Hyatt Regency, Chicago - 2018 North American Patristics Society Annual Meeting, with presentations of ICS directors, Shohet Scholars alumni, and members.

May 24, 2018, 6:30-9 p.m. - "New Lives of Ancient Arts. An Evening with the International Catacomb Society." Grogan & Company, 20 Charles Street, Boston, MA. Link: Invitation May 24.

April 13, 2018, from 9:30-5:30 - First Millennium Network Spring colloquium: “The Materiality of Relics in the First Millennium” at the University of Maryland, College Park, Francis Scott Key (FSK), Room 0106. ICS Board Member Prof. Nicola Denzey Lewis presenting on "Saint Peter's Bones. Relics and Papal Power in Late Antique Rome". 

March 7, 2018, 7:00 p.m., Remis Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 2018 Estelle Shohet Brettman Memorial Conference. John Mck. Camp II, director of the Agora Excavations, Athens, and Niarchos Foundation Professor of Classics, Randolph-Macon College, will speak about “Daily Life in Ancient Athens: A View from the Agora”, addressing recent excavations, inscriptions, and ancient sourcesthat explore and illustrate the varied daily activities in the Athenian Agora, the center of the city. Event recording here (link).

February 15. 2018, 8 p.m. Robin M. Jensen, "The Archaeology of Early Christian Baptism," at the AIA Society Valparaiso (IN), Harre Union, Ballroom A, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN 46383. RSVP: 

February 7, 2018, 1:15-1:30: Jessica Dello Russo, "A Higher Distinction. The Tombs of Jews in Ancient Rome in Their Broader Topographical Settings". Paper at the Conference "Ricerche di Archeologia Cristiana, Tardoantichita' e Altomedioevo, Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana, viale Napoleone III, 1, Rome A3programma_RACTA2018.

February 6 at 5:30pm. Nicola Denzey-Lewis (Margo L. Goldsmith Chair in Women’s Studies in Religion, Claremont Graduate University): "Hercules and Alcestis in Rome’s Catacomb of Via Latina. A Subversive Reading". UCR Mediterranean Studies research and discussion group, Humanities & Social Sciences Building, 1500, University of California at Riverside.

Jan. 16, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.: Nicola Denzey Lewis on "Rethinking the Jewish Catacombs"
Sainer Auditorium, New College of Florida, 5800 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, FL.
Nicola Denzey Lewis, the Margo L. Goldsmith Professor of Women’s Studies in Religion at Claremont Graduate University. The lecture is sponsored by New College of Florida, The Klingenstein Chair of Judaic Studies and The Jay Rudolph Endowment. The public is welcome (video).

January 4-7, 2018: Archaeology Institute of America/Society of Classical Studies Joint Annual Meeting in Boston, MA.
Colloquium "New Approaches to the Catacombs of Rome" (Session 1J Friday, January 5, 8:00 - 10:30 am) with ICS directors John Bodel, Nicola Denzey Lewis, and Jessica Dello Russo, and past Shohet Scholars Sarah Madole and Daniel Ullucci.


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)

Late Antique Art and Local Micro-Identities. Colloquium at the Toledo Museum of Art with participation of ICS Vice-President Robin Jensen (Notre Dame).
Friday, December 8, 2017, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., in the Little Theatre. Program link.

November 18-21, 2017: Society of Biblical Literature (SBL)/American Academy of Religion Annual Conference in Boston, MA.
Art and Religions of Antiquity Program Unit on Religion Underground: art and material culture in the catacombs and funerary environments, will include presentations by several ICS directors, including Annewies van den Hoek, Robin Jensen, Nicola Denzey Lewis, and  Jessica Dello Russo, and former and current Shohet Scholars, ICS members from affiliate institutions, and collaborators.
Program link:

September 20, 2017: International Catacomb Society Development Committee Meeting.

September 9, 2017: International Catacomb Society Directors' Meeting.

June 14-16, 2017: Conference on "Shared Ritual Practices and Divided Historiography: Media, Phenomena, Topoi."  University of Erfurt, Max-Weber-Kolleg Research Centre on "Dynamics of Jewish Ritual Practices in Pluralistic Contexts from Antiquity to the Present."
ICS Board Member Nicola Denzey Lewis lecture: "Did the Jews of Ancient Rome Have Ritual?" Program: Flyer_JuedischeRituale_Juni2017_web.

June 25-29, 2017, Origeniana Duodecima, on the theme of Origen’s Legacy in the Holy Land–A Tale of Three Cities: Jerusalem, Caesarea and Bethlehem.
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mount Scopus Campus
Presentation by ICS Vice-President, Annewies van den Hoek (Harvard).
Program link:

May 29-May 31 (Master Class on June 1).  KNAW Academy Colloquium: Peter, Popes, and Politics. Expressions of power in the late antique and early mediaeval world
KNAW, The Trippenhuis, Kloveniersburgwal 29, 1011 JV Amsterdam
Keynote speech by ICS Advisor, Prof. Sible de Blaauw: "The Mausoleum of Leo the Great and its Implications" and talk by ICS Vice President, Prof. Annewies van den Hoek, "Peter without Paul: Aspects of the Primordial Role of Simon Peter in an Early Christian Context" and Nicola Denzey Lewis (TBA).

May 25-May 27, 2017: Annual Meeting of the North American Patristics Society
Hyatt Regency, Chicago NAPS-2017-Digital-Program
ICS Vice President, Prof. Robin M. Jensen, will lecture on "Cemetery Churches: Their Function, Community, and Relationship to Urban Basilicas".

March 24 - 26, 2017.  Twelfth Biennial Conference on Shifting Frontiers in Late Antiquity at Yale University on the topic of “The Fifth Century: Age of Transformation,”  with presentations by ICS directors and current members.  Program link.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
The Benaki Museum and the Greek Narrative: The Role of Culture in Crisis
2017 Estelle Shohet Brettman Memorial Lecture
Harry and Mildred Remis Auditorium (Auditorium 161)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Event recording here (link).

February 15-18, 2017 (various times)
College Art Association Annual Conference
New York Hilton Midtown, New York, NY
ICS members presenting (program).

Thursday, January 26 & Friday, January 27
Department of Art History, Boston University
Seminars on Late Antiquity by ICS Executive Director, Jessica Dello Russo

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

January 5-8, 2017, Toronto (Canada).  ICS Directors and Members presenting at the Joint Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) and the Society for Classical Studies (SCS). Programs: (AIA) and (SCS)


November 19-22, 2016 in San Antonio, TX (various times)
Presentations by ICS Directors, Advisors, and Members at the 2016 SBL/AAR Annual Conference

November 16-19, 2016, La Cantera Resort and SpaSan Antonio, TX (various times)
ASOR Annual Conference, including presentations by ICS Advisors and Members.
The program schedule is on:

Friday, September 30, 2016, 4-6 p.m.  Celebration in honor of retiring Harvard Divinity School professor, Annewies van den Hoek, with remarks by Prof. Robin M. Jensen of Notre Dame (Professors van den Hoek and Jensen are Vice Presidents of the ICS).  Braun Room, Andover Hall, Harvard Divinity School, 45 Francis Ave, Cambridge, MA.

Saturday, October 1, 2016, 1-3 p.m.  Directors' Meeting of the International Catacomb Society, Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, 50 Goddard Avenue, Brookline, MA.

Saturday, October 1, 2016, 10 a.m. - noon.  8th annual joint meeting of the Boston and Providence Patristics Groups.  Speaker: Prof. Georgia Frank (Colgate University) on “Petrification and Portability: Monks as Statues in Early Byzantium.”  Location: Theology Dept. Seminar Room
St. Catherine of Siena Hall, Providence College, 1 Cunningham Sq., Providence, RI 02918.  Please contact ICS Director Arthur Urbano for more information (

Friday, September 26, 2016.  Showing of Karen Audette’s documentary “The Nike Chariot Earring,” which tells the amazing story of how a mystery was solved and how the earring was found by Florence Wolsky, co-founder and long-time board member of the ICS. The documentary is part of the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival at the Brattle Theater in Cambridge.

Thursday, May 5, 2016 12:30 to 2 p.m. (Brooklyn College, NY)
Christianity Underground: Death, Ritual and the Catacombs of Ancient Rome
Nicola Denzey Lewis (Brown University) & Jessica Dello Russo (Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana)
Amersfort Lounge, 2nd Floor Brooklyn College Student Center Campus Road and East 27th Street, Brooklyn, NY  Flyer
For information: 718.951.5847

Saturday, February 27, 2016, 12-2 p.m.  Directors' Meeting of the International Catacomb Society, Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, 50 Goddard Avenue, Brookline, MA.


Friday, December 17, 2015, at 2:00 pm, Université de Bordeaux
Kevin Salesse, anthropologie des Populations Passées et Présentes, Université de Bordeaux
"Isotope archaeo-biogeochemistry , reconstruction of diet and mobility patterns, and biocultural interactions. Mass graves of the Catacomb of Saints Peter and Marcellinus (Rome 1st-3rd cent. AD)".

Thursday, December 3, 2015, 10-12 noon, Room 2241, Nyack College, 2 Washington Street, New York, NY
NYACK Graduate Program in Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins Colloquia Series on Reading the New Testament as Second Temple Jewish Literature
10-10:40: Jessica Dello Russo. "Figures in the Shadows: Contextualizing Jewish Tombs in the Catacombs of Rome"
10:40-11:20: Steven Notley. "Pontius Pilate: Discordant Images in a Historical Portrait"
11:20-12:00: Steven Fine. "Between Paidea and Sinai: Torah Shrines and the Visual Culture of Diaspora Jews"
Free and Open to the Public

Monday, November 9, 2015, 5-6:30 p.m., Andover Hall, Harvard Divinity School
Professor Christoph Markschies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany
"Demons and Diseases"
Lecture co-sponsored with Harvard Divinity School and the Boston Area Patristics Group.

October 25, 2015, 2-3 p.m., Alfond Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Professor Anthony Tuck, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
"Poggio Civitate: Life and Death of an Etruscan Hill Town"
Estelle Shohet Brettman Memorial Lecture Series
Click here for more information. Event photos (link)

October 15, 2015, 7:30 p.m., Rabinowitz Room, Library, Harvard Divinity School
Professor Annewies van den Hoek, Harvard Divinity School
"Female Splendor: The Role and Meaning of Twelve Women Saints in the Apse of the Euphrasian Basilica of Porec (Parentium)"
Co-sponsored with the Boston Area Patristics Group

September 26, 2015 (Providence College, Providence, RI)
International Catacomb Society Symposium and Annual Meeting
Co-sponsored with the Providence College School of Art and Sciences, the Center for Catholic and Dominican Studies, and the Jewish-Catholic Theological Exchange Committee
Presentations by previous Shohet Scholars:
Arthur Urbano (Providence College): "Wisdom Made Visible: Iconography and the Fashioning of Philosophical Culture in Late Antiquity"
Nicola Denzey Lewis (Brown University & Princeton University): "Catacomb Religion: Uncovering Ordinary Christianity in the Centuries Before and After Constantine"
John R. Levison (Southern Methodist University): "The Historical Roots of Early Christian Pneumatology"
Lee M. Jefferson and Thomas McCollough (Centre College): "The Christian Veneration Complex at Khirbet Qana”
For pictures, see:

September 6, 2015, Via Appia Pignatelli, 4, Rome, Italy
Marzia Di Mento, Dora Cirone, Tom Rankin, ISAR
Giornata Europea della Cultura Ebraica 2015
Co-sponsored with the Fondazione per i Beni Culturali Ebraici in Italia and the International Society for the Archaeology, Art and Architecture of Rome

May 30, 2015, Via Appia Pignatelli, 4, Rome, Italy
Marzia Di Mento, Tom Rankin, ISAR
Atlas Obscura Day Tour the Jewish Catacomb of Vigna Randanini
Co-sponsored by the International Society for the Archaeology, Art and Architecture of Rome

April 9, 2015, Rabinowitz Room, Harvard Divinity School
David Gurevich, Fulbright Post-Doctoral Fellow, Harvard University
“Archaeology and Anthropology of Pilgrimage Movements”
Lecture co-sponsored with Boston Area Patristics Group

March 8, 2015, Alfond Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Gregory Nagy, Professor of Classics, Harvard University
“Considering Homer”
Estelle Shohet Brettman Memorial Lecture Series.


April 13, 2014, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Kenneth Lapatin, Associate Curator of Antiquities, Getty Villa
“Carvers and Collectors: The Lasting Allure of Ancient Gems”.


March 17, 2013, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Elizabeth Bolman, Tyler School of Art, Temple University
“The Red Monastery Church and the Angelic Life in Christian Upper Egypt”.


November 5, 2011, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
“Aphrodite and the Gods of Love: A Symposium”
The symposium is made possible with endowment support from the International Catacomb Society Fund.
“Aphrodite and the Gods of Love, A Symposium” was held in conjunction with the MFA exhibition "Aphrodite and the Gods of Love" (on view in the Torf Gallery from October 26, 2011 to February 20, 2012), the first devoted to the ancient goddess. An international team of experts, drawn largely from the contributors to the exhibition catalogue presented papers on different aspects of this complicated goddess: her cults and ancestors, the philosophy of beauty, and Eros.


October 1, 2010, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Deborah Carlson, Texas A&M University
“Tracking the Destination of a Marble Column Lost at Sea: The Shipwreck at Kizilburun, Turkey”
International Catacomb Society Lecture.


November 22, 2008, Sheraton Boston Hotel, SBL Annual Meeting
Colum Hourihane, Director of the Index of Christian Art, Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University
“Reinterpreting the Enigma: Pontius Pilate in Early Christian Art”
International Catacomb Society Lecture.

October 5, 2008, Remis Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Miranda Marvin, Professor of Art and Classical Studies, Wellesley College and author of Language of the Muses: The Dialogue between Greek and Roman Sculpture
“Looking at Ancient Sculpture with New Eyes”.

April 6, 2008, Remis Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Jas Elsner, Humfry Payne Senior Research Fellow, Corpus Christi College, Oxford
“Pharaoh’s Army Got Drownded”: Some Reflections on Jewish and Roman Geneaologies in Early Christian Art”.


March 30, 2007, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Joseph Rife, Classics Department, Macalester College
“Society, Ritual, and Death at a Port in Roman Greece: Finds from the Kenchreai Cemetery Near Corinth”
Shohet Scholars Program Grant Recipient Lecture.


November 19, 2006, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Marjorie Venit, Professor of Ancient Mediterranean Art History and Archaeology, University of Maryland
“Images of the Afterlife in the Monumental Tombs of Greco-Roman Alexandria”.

March 5, 2006, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Jorge Silvetti of Machado Silvetti Associates; Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Design; Principal in Charge of Design of the Getty Villa
“Reimagining the Getty Villa”.


November 16, 2005, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Sharon Salvadori
“The Early Christian Orant: The Remaking of an Image in Late Antique Rome”
Shohet Scholars Program Grant Recipient Lecture.

May 22–24, 2005, University of Chicago Divinity School
The Shohet Conference on Roman, Jewish and Christian Burials
“Commemorating the Dead: Texts and Artifacts in Context” (program).

April 3, 2005, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Richard Brilliant, Anna S. Garbedian Professor in the Humanities,
Columbia University
“Hope that Unlocks the Gates of Hades: Roman Funerary Arts”.


March 21, 2004 , Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Donald Kyle, Professor of History,
University of Texas, Arlington
“Revisiting the Ancient Olympic Games: Gods, Athletes, and Spectators”.


March 2, 2003, Remis Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Adrienne Mayor, Classical folklorist and author of The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times
“The Monster of Troy: Fossil Discoveries in Classical Antiquity”
Adrienne Mayor will discuss the heroes and monsters of classical mythology and ancient perceptions of fossil remains in the light of modern scientific and archaeological research.  her exciting insight that a scene on a 6th century BCE Corinthian vase in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is the earliest depiction of a fossil in ancient art is leading to a new understanding of the background and origins of many well-known Greek and Roman myths.


October 27, 2002, Remis Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
William Tronzo, Professor of Art History, Tulane University
“The Catacomb on Via Latina Twenty Years Later”
Discovered in 1955, the Via Latina Catacomb is the richest and most unusual ensemble of architecture and painting surviving from fourth-century Rome. Its varied and ornate chambers are decorated with elaborate wall paintings, which show a mix of Old and New Testament themes and pagan subject matter. William Tronzo, whose study of the site began over twenty years ago, guides the audience through the catacomb and the historical issues surrounding it.

March 10, 2002, Remis Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Olga Palagia, Professor of Classical Archaeology, Department of Archaeology and Art History, Athens University
“Master of Classical Greek Sculpture: Scopas and Boston” (text of lecture)
Scopas, once of the great Greek sculptors and architects of the 4th century BCE, gained fame for his work on the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, and eventually recognition as an important influence on the High Classical style and development of European Art. Professor Palagia reviews his career and points out the stylistic links between his work and sculptures in the MFA's collection, including a masterful bronze head of a goddess.

January 13, 2002, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Jodi Magness, Associate Professor,
Departments of Classics and Art History, Tufts University
“Jerusalem in the Time of Herod the Great”
In this lecture, Prof. Magness reviews the history of Jerusalem between the first century b.c.e. and the first century c.e. and discusses the most prominent archaeological remains, including richly decorated houses, the city’s fortification system, and Temple Mount, which was rebuilt by Herod. She also addresses Jewish burial customs in Jerusalem, including the problem of the location of Jesus’s tomb.


December 3, 2000, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Thomas F. Mathews, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
“A Clash of Gods: Christian versus Pagan Icons”
Icons, panel paintings of sacred subjects, are most often associated with Christian Byzantium, but are not unique to it.  This lecture considers early Christian art in the broader context of the surrounding Graeco-Roman and Jewish world, and examines how early Christian and pagan art borrowed from - and often competed with - each other.

March 26, 2000, Baltimore Hebrew University
Symposium on Jews and Christians in Ancient Rome
The symposium was sponsored by the BHU Program in the History of Jewish-Christian Relations and cosponsored by the International Catacomb Society and the Walters Art Gallery. The speakers were John Hanson, St. Mary’s Seminary and University on Jews and Christians in First Century Rome; Steven Fine, Baltimore Hebrew University on Jews in Ancient Rome: Archaeological and Rabbinic Sources; and Gary Vikan, The Walters Art Gallery, on Christians in Ancient Rome and their Art.

Before 2000

November 21, 1999, 61 Beacon Street, Boston, MA
International Catacomb Society SBL/AAR Reception.

November 9, 1997, Andover Newton Theological School
Bernadette Brooten, Brandeis University
“Women as Leaders in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity”. Event photographs (link).

1996, Yeshiva University Museum, New York City, New York
Casts of ancient inscriptions from Vaults of Memory on display in the museum exhibit Sacred Realm: The Emergence of the Synagogue in the. Ancient World, curated by Steven Fine.

November 14, 1995, Andover Newton Theological School
Symposium on Recent Research on Ritual Explorations and Art of the Jewish and Christian Catacombs with Robin M. Jensen, Annewies van den Hoek, John J. Herrman, and Bruce Beck, and the Estelle Shohet Brettman Memorial Lecture by Leonard Rutgers, Utrecht University
“The Jewish Catacombs of Ancient Rome: New Insights and Perspectives”
Co-sponsored with The Andover-Newton Theological School. Event photographs (link)

October 23, 1994, Rosovsky Hall, Riesman Center for Harvard-Radcliffe Hillel
Lisa Kahn, University of Tulsa
“King Herod’s Caesarea: Political Dream or Religious Nightmare”
Co-sponsored by Harvard-Radcliffe Hillel & Archaeological Institute of America, Boston Chapter
Prof. Khan presents an overview of the important site of Caesarea Maritima in Israel. One of the most ambitious construction projects in history, the seaside city expressed the lust for power and fame of the Idumanean prince installed by the Romans in the 1st century BCE as king over the Jews. She focuses especially on Herod's building projects, including new discoveries of the remains of a Herodian Roman temple of great size and beauty which once overlooked the harbor.
Event photographs (link)

May 11, 1994-August 30, 1994, Bible Lands Museum, Jerusalem
Exhibit: Vaults of Memory: Jewish and Christian Imagery in the Catacombs of Rome"
In conjunction with the second anniversary of the Bible Lands Museum
Event photographs (link) & Exhibit catalog (link)

March 7, 1993, Yenching Library Auditorium, Harvard University
Walter Persegati, Former Secretary General and Treasurer of the Vatican Museums, International Coordinator, Patrons and Friends of the Vatican Museums
“Michelangelo Rediscovered: The Cleaning of Michelangelo’s Frescoes in the Sistine Chapel”.
1st Estelle Shohet Brettman Memorial Lecture
Event photographs (link)

1992-1994, Harvard Semitic Museum, Harvard Univeristy
Exhibition of "Vaults of Memory: Jewish and Christian Imagery in the Catacombs of Rome".

April 5, 1992, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University
Magen Broshi, Curator, Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum
New Scholarship on the Dead Sea Scrolls
Including a preview of the Semitic Museum installation of the ICS exhibit, "Vaults of Memory"

April 25, 1990, Hebrew College
Marisa de Spagnolis, Director of the Office of Excavations of Nocera and Sarno, Italy
“New Light on the Role of Women in the Ancient Synagogues of the Roman Empire”
Co-sponsored with Hebrew College
Inaugural Lecture of the International Catacomb Society's Commemorative Founders' Lecture Series in Memory of Dr. Mark D. Altschule, Lt. Gen. James M. Gavin, Louise LaGorce Hickey, and Robert M. Morrison
Dr. Marisa de' Spagnolis Conticello, Director of the Office of Excavations of Nocera and Sarno in Southern Italy, will discuss her recent find of inscriptions providing new information on the role of women in the ancient synagogue. This discovery also reveals the existence of a hitherto unknown synagogue of the Roman period.
Text of Lecture & Letter of Estelle S. Brettman to the Jewish Advocate Lecture (link)

April 22, 1990, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Baldassare Conticello, Superintendent of Archaeology at Pompeii
“Rediscovering Pompeii: A New Interdisciplinary Approach”
Co-sponsored with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Dr. Baldassare Conticello, Superintendent of Archaeology at Pompeii and Vice President for European Affairs for the International Catacomb Society, will speak on recent discoveries and new technologies at Pompeii.
Event photographs (link)

September, 1989, Spertus Museum of Judaica, Chicago
Estelle Shohet Brettman, Executive Director, International Catacomb Society
Introduction to the exhibit "Vaults of Memory" on display from September, 1989 to January, 1990, at the Spertus Museum of Judaica, Chicago
Event photographs (link)

October 6, 1987, Rabb Lecture Hall, Boston Public Library
Cornelius C. Vermeule III, Curator of Classical Art, Museum of Fine Art, Boston
“The Graeco-Roman Background for Jewish Art in the Roman Empire”

September 17, 1987, Rabb Lecture Hall, Boston Public Library
Moshe Dothan, Professor of Archaeology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
"An Image of the Sun God in an Ancient Synagogue at Hamat Tiberias".
Co-sponsored with Hebrew College and the Archaeological Institute of America, Boston Society

September 15, 1987, Rabb Lecture Hall, Boston Public Library
Walter Persegati, Secretary General and Treasurer of the Vatican Museums, and
Estelle Shohet Brettman, Executive Director, International Catacomb Society
"Vaults of Memory: Roots and Origins"
Opening of augmented exhibition of "Vaults of Memory: Jewish and Christian Imagery in the Catacombs of Rome"
Event photographs (link)

Janury, 1986, Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, California
Exhibition of "Vaults of Memory: Jewish and Christian Imagery in the Catacombs of Rome"
Event photographs (link)

December 1, 1985 - December 10, 1985, Rome and environs
Estelle S. Brettman et al.
"Volte della Memoria" Tour
Tours of the Latium coastline; Ostia Antica; Cerveteri Etruscan Necropolis; Vatican Necropolis; Papal Palace and Museums; Vatican Secret Archives; Jewish Catacomb of Vigna Randanini; Catacombs of San Sebastiano and SS. Pietro e Marcellino; and Jewish Ghetto of Rome
Event photographs (link)

November 6 1985-December 5, 1985, National Museum of Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome, Italy
"Volte della Memoria: Immagini da Roma Sotterranea"
Exhibit of the International Catacomb Society
Event photographs (link)

April 12, 1984, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC
Estelle S. Brettman, Executive Director, International Catacomb Society
“Scholars, Saints, Scrolls, and the Hereafter”
Lecture in conjunction with Vaults of Memory exhibit.  Event photographs (link)

December 7, 1983, Francis A. Countway Library, Harvard Medical School
Estelle S. Brettman, Executive Director, International Catacomb Society
Lecture to the Countway Associates of Harvard Medical School

September 25, 1981-December 15, 1981, Kelsey Museum of Ancient and Medieval Archaeology, University of Michigan
Exhibit of "Vaults of Memory: Jewish and Christian Imagery in the Catacombs of Rome"Estelle S. Brettman Lecture (link)

April, 1980, Vatican Museums
Estelle S. Brettman, Executive Director, International Catacomb Society
"Greek and Latin Inscriptions from the Jewish Catacombs of Rome"
Lecture to the American Jewish Congress Peace Mission Group
Event photograph (link)

1980, Radcliffe College
Estelle S. Brettman
"Judaism and Christianity in the Catacombs of Rome"
35th Reunion Dinner of Radcliffe College, Harvard University, Class of 1945

January 6, 1980, Rabb Lecture Hall, Boston Public Library
Estelle S. Brettman
“Judaism and Christianity in the Catacombs of Rome”

January 2, 1980, Hebrew College, Brookline, MA
Fr. Cesare Colafemmina
“The Jews in Southern Italy” (text)

December 28, 1979, Boston, MA
American Institute of Archaeology (AIA) Centennial Meeting
Letizia Pitigliani, Accademia Tiberina
"The Roman Jewish Catacombs"

December 28, 1979, Boston, MA
Colloquium: "Diaspora Judaism Under the Roman Empire: Recent Archaeological Evidence"
American Institute of Archaeology (AIA) Centennial Meeting
AIA Deputy Coordinator: Estelle S. Brettman
A. T. Kraabel, University of Minnesota, Presiding
Cesare Colafemmina, Universita' di Bari
"The Jewish Catacombs of Venosa"
Dean L. Moe, Stobi Excavations
"The Synagogues of Stobi, Yugoslavia"
A. T. Kraabel, University of Minnesota
"The Jewish Communities of Western Asia Minor"
Eric M. Meyers, Duke University
"Galilean Synagogues and the Eastern Diaspora"
Jacob Neusner, Brown University, Respondent

December 10, 1979 - February 11, 1980
Boston Public Library - Copley Square, Boston, MA
Judaism and Christianity in the Catacombs of Rome
Exhibit curated by Estelle S. Brettman, Florence Z. Wolsky, Cornelius C. Vermeule, III and Richard Zonghi for the Centennial of the Archaeological Institute of America
"Estelle Shohet Brettman organized and lectured on "Judaism and Christianity in the Catacombs of Rome," an exhibit of rare photographs of Judeo-Christian symbols held at the Boston Public Library from Dec. 10, 1979 through Jan. 31, 1980. The exhibit was part of a salute to the centennial observance of the Archaeological Institute of America. Ms. Brettman, a gallery instructor and special lecturer with the Museum of Fine Arts, and program director of the Archaeological Institute's Boston Society, took most of the photographs herself in the Roman catacombs by special permission of the Vatican."

November 20, 1979, Temple Emanuel, Newton, MA
Estelle Shohet Brettman
“Motifs and Symbols in the Jewish Catacombs of Italy”
Sponsored by the Combined Adult Education Program of Newton, MA synagogues

November 4, 1979, Harvard Semitic Museum, Cambridge, MA
Estelle Shohet Brettman, "Judeo-Christian Symbols in the Catacombs of Italy"
Sunday Sherries Series on Semitic Cultures

September 25, 1979, Hebrew College, Brookline, MA
Estelle Shohet Brettman
"Archaeology: An Unveiling of History"
Sponsored by the New England Women's Association of Hebrew College

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