Abstract: Synagogues as Design for the Divine: Jewish Cultural Identity and Constructions of Sacred Space in the Ancient Mediterranean World


This lecture considers the relationship between the institution of the synagogue and the cultural history of Jewish populations throughout the Greco-Roman world. Review of inscriptions, mosaics, wall paintings, and decorative architecture from synagogues from ancient North Africa, Syria, Israel, Italy, and Asia Minor will demonstrate the unity and diversity of artistic and cultural practices among Mediterranean Jewish populations. This lecture will also consider connections between the developments of synagogues, the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and complex relationships between Jewish and neighboring Greek, Roman, and Christian populations throughout the ancient Mediterranean.

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