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The University of Southampton
The Parkes Institute

The Montefiore Lecture 2024 | Jerusalem in Rome and Galilee: Encountering the Holy City in Jewish and Christian Mosaics Event

Montefiore Lecture
7 February 2024
Online via Zoom

For more information regarding this event, please email .

Event details

The city of Jerusalem has long been of vital importance to numerous religious groups, from antiquity to the present. But where did rank-and-file believers in the ancient world actually encounter images of the “Holy City” in their daily lives? And what cultural and social work did these images perform?

This lecture explores a wide range of depictions of Jerusalem in floor and wall mosaics produced during late antiquity (third to eighth centuries CE). During this period, which saw the emergence of both orthodox Christianity and novel forms of Judaism, visual representations of Jerusalem became increasingly prominent in the decoration of religious buildings throughout the Mediterranean, from the grand basilicas of Rome in the west to rural synagogues and churches in Palestine and Arabia in the east. We will show how images of Jerusalem bridged the great gaps in both space and time that separated the religious communities of late antiquity from Jerusalem and its glorious past. In the process, these images brought the visual presence of the Holy City into spaces of worship throughout the Roman Empire, thereby fostering memories of the past, hopes for the future, and forging networks of belonging that radiated out from this sacred center into the cities, towns, and even villages of the late Roman world.

About the Speakers

Karen Britt is Assistant Professor of Art History at Northwest Missouri State University. She completed a B.A. in Classics at the University of Cincinnati, an M.A. in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology at the University of Minnesota, and a Ph.D. in Art History at Indiana University. In her scholarship, Britt explores how architectural decoration, in particular mosaics, can illuminate culture and society in the late Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic worlds. Her research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the U.S. Department of State’s division of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the J. William Fulbright Foundation, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and the Council of American Overseas Research Centers. She has published in a variety of venues such as Mediterranean Studies, Journal of Roman Archaeology, Journal of Art Historiography, and Journal of Eastern Christian Studies. She is the mosaics specialist for the Huqoq Excavation Project.

Ra‘anan Boustan has been a Research Scholar in the Program in Judaic Studies at Princeton University since 2017. Before coming to Princeton, he was an Associate Professor in the Department of History at UCLA. Boustan’s work explores the dynamic intersections between Judaism and other Mediterranean religious traditions in late antiquity, with a special focus on the impact of Christianization on Jewish culture and society. In addition to publishing numerous articles and edited volumes, Boustan is the author of From Martyr to Mystic (2005) and co-author of The Elephant Mosaic Panel in the Synagogue at Huqoq (2017). He currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief of two international journals, Jewish Studies Quarterly and Studies in Late Antiquity. Boustan is the site historian for the Huqoq Excavation Project and collaborates with Dr. Karen Britt on the publication of the mosaic floor in the site’s late fourth-century synagogue.

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