Biblical Archaeology Forum

BAFtitle

The Biblical Archaeology Forum (BAF) begins its thirty-fifth year this autumn. This season we will welcome presentations from Johns Hopkins Egyptologist Betsy Bryan, a scholar of early Judaism Lawrence Schiffman of NYU, and George Washington University professor Eric Cline discussing excavations at Megiddo (Biblical Armageddon). A National Geographic archaeologist will update us on the restoration of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We will also be joined by the husband and wife team of Eric and Carol Meyer of Duke University; and by Christopher Gregg of George Mason University, who will lead us on a tour of the Roman Forum as it was in antiquity.

Please join us for a series of eight scholarly lectures on the latest archaeological research findings and related fields such as history, art, and texts of ancient times in the Near East and Eastern Mediterranean. No reservations.

Fees per lecture are
free – high school students;
$5 – Residents of CES Life Communities, college students, and co-sponsors;
$8 – BASONOVA & Bender JCC members, a
$10 – the general public.
Pay at the door – cash or check only

To subscribe to the entire 8 session lecture series for $48, or for more information, please contact BAF.JCCGW@gmail.com.

2019-2020 SEASON

 

Ancient Roman Baths: Centers for Political Propaganda Wednesday, September 18th - 8:00 PM
Restoration at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre Wednesday, October 23rd - 8:00 PM
The Late Bronze Age Palaces of Hazor Tuesday, November 19th - 8:00 PM
Monument, Memory and Cultural Identity in the Roman Forum Wednesday, December 11th - 8:00 PM
From Sectarianism to Consensus: The Rise of Rabbinic Judaism Sunday, February 23rd - 8:00 PM
The Battle of Kadesh Wednesday, March 25th - 8:00 PM
Archaeology in Israel: Where the Past Meets the Present Wednesday, April 22nd - 8:00 PM
Digging Up Armageddon: The Search for the Lost City of Solomon Wednesday, May 27th - 8:00 PM

Ancient Roman Baths: Centers for Political Propaganda

Wednesday, September 18th
8:00 PM

Ancient Roman Baths: Centers for Political Propaganda | Maryl Gensheimer

Public bathing was a highlight of the day and a major social event throughout the Roman Empire.  Join us for an illustrated exploration of one of the largest and best-preserved Roman bath complexes, the Baths of Caracalla (inaugurated 216 CE).

Its monumental construction required 2,000 tons of material every day for six years, employed thousands of laborers and held up to 1,600 bathers. The complex included a central cold room, a double pool of tepid water, and a sauna, as well as two gyms where wrestling and boxing were practiced. The building contained an Olympic-sized, roofless swimming pool with bronze mirrors mounted overhead to direct sunlight into the pool area.

An analysis of the Baths’ extensive decorative program, particularly the free-standing sculptures and mosaics, illuminates the monument’s original appearance and also addresses the ways in which decorative materials and motifs were carefully chosen by Emperor Caracalla as political propaganda to consolidate his power and popular reputation.

Maryl Gensheimer is Assistant Professor of Roman Art and Archaeology at the University of Maryland.

Fees per lecture are
free – high school students;
$5 – Residents of CES Life Communities, college students, and co-sponsors;
$8 – BASONOVA & Bender JCC members, a
$10 – the general public.
Pay at the door – cash or check only

To subscribe to the entire 8 session lecture series for $48, or for more information, please contact BAF.JCCGW@gmail.com.

Restoration at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Wednesday, October 23rd
8:00 PM

Restoration at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Kristen Romey

Since 2016, a team from National Geographic has been documenting the restoration of the Edicule at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Christian quarter of Jerusalem. Considered the holiest site in Christianity, the Edicule (a small chapel within the Church) is traditionally ascribed to contain the empty tomb of Jesus of Nazareth.

The Church has been a major Christian pilgrimage destination since its creation in the fourth century CE, as the traditional site of the burial and resurrection of Jesus according to the New Testament: thus, its original Greek name, Church of the Resurrection.

This presentation will illustrate the restoration of the Edicule and demonstrate what science has revealed about the origins and construction of the monument. Also presented will be updates on the next phases of restoration work that are about to take place at the Holy Sepulchre.

Kristin Romey is an editor and writer covering archaeology and culture for the National Geographic Society

Please join us for a series of eight scholarly lectures on the latest archaeological research findings and related fields such as history, art, and texts of ancient times in the Near East and Eastern Mediterranean. No reservations.

Fees per lecture are
free – high school students;
$5 – Residents of CES Life Communities, college students, and co-sponsors;
$8 – BASONOVA & Bender JCC members, a
$10 – the general public.
Pay at the door – cash or check only

To subscribe to the entire 8 session lecture series for $48, or for more information, please contact BAF.JCCGW@gmail.com.

The Late Bronze Age Palaces of Hazor

Tuesday, November 19th
8:00 PM

The Late Bronze Age Palaces of Hazor

Shlomit Bechar

Tel Hazor is the largest biblical-era site in modern-day Israel.  It emerged as an impressive urban Canaanite settlement during the Middle Bronze Age.  Its inhabitants developed close ties with the northern Levantine kingdoms in Syrian and Lebanon. During the Late Bronze Age, Hazor residents also established a strong connection with the Egyptian empire.

This illustrated presentation will focus on two monumental royal buildings, both dating to the Late Bronze Age.  One structure is a large ceremonial building located in the center of the acropolis, while the other is the administrative palace of Hazor.

Some of the most important and impressive finds of Hazor in particular, and in Israel in general, were unearthed in these buildings. The importance of these structures and their contents in understanding Hazor in the Late Bronze Age political and commercial spheres will be the focus of this lecture.

Shlomit Bechar, Hebrew University and co-director of excavations at Hazor.

Fees per lecture are
free – high school students;
$5 – Residents of CES Life Communities, college students, and co-sponsors;
$8 – BASONOVA & Bender JCC members, a
$10 – the general public.
Pay at the door – cash or check only

To subscribe to the entire 8 session lecture series for $48, or for more information, please contact BAF.JCCGW@gmail.com.

Roman Forum. The reconstruction of the 19th century. Painter Becchetti. Watercolour.

Monument, Memory and Cultural Identity in the Roman Forum

Christopher Gregg

From its beginnings as a humble village to its height as a metropolis that ruled the Mediterranean, the city of Rome had as its geographic and social center the Roman Forum.

The Forum was the stage on which statesmen such as Cicero and Julius Caesar played out their games of intrigue which helped determine the fate of the Republic.  When that fate was sealed and the Republic gave way to Empire, the Forum remained the traditional heart of the Roman people even as its political significance changed drastically.

Against its architectural and historical backdrop, Emperors attempted to maintain the façade of republican rule by investing themselves in the visual history of Rome.  Even cities under Roman control emulated the Forum in order to demonstrate their loyalty.

This illustrated talk will chart the development of the Forum: from its marshy origins as a graveyard to the monument-crowded area conquered by barbarians.  Using select monuments and ancient texts, we will make this rich and complex section of the ancient city unfold for the modern viewer.

Christopher Gregg is Assistant Professor of History and Art History at George Mason University

Please join us for a series of eight scholarly lectures on the latest archaeological research findings and related fields such as history, art, and texts of ancient times in the Near East and Eastern Mediterranean. No reservations.

Fees per lecture are
free – high school students;
$5 – Residents of CES Life Communities, college students, and co-sponsors;
$8 – BASONOVA & Bender JCC members, a
$10 – the general public.
Pay at the door – cash or check only

To subscribe to the entire 8 session lecture series for $48, or for more information, please contact BAF.JCCGW@gmail.com.

From Sectarianism to Consensus: The Rise of Rabbinic Judaism | Lawrence Schiffman

The late Second Temple period (second century BCE onward) was an era of spiritual and religious ferment that manifested itself in a variety of Jewish groups such as the Sadducees, Essenes, Pharisees, Zealots, Nazarenes, and Boethusians. Each sect had their own approach to Jewish Law, religious and national identity, and social constructs.

The competition between these groups eventually helped to bring about the Great Revolt against Rome (66-73 CE) and the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. In the aftermath of the destruction, a consensus eventually emerged around rabbinic Judaism that would sustain the Jewish people for two millennia.

Based on both textual sources and archaeological discoveries, this presentation reconstructs the nature and trajectory of this process and its testimony to the vitality of the Jewish tradition.

Lawrence Schiffman is the Judge Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University and Director of the Global Institute for Advanced Research in Jewish Studies.

Fees per lecture are
free – high school students;
$5 – Residents of CES Life Communities, college students, and co-sponsors;
$8 – BASONOVA & Bender JCC members, a
$10 – the general public.
Pay at the door – cash or check only

To subscribe to the entire 8 session lecture series for $48, or for more information, please contact BAF.JCCGW@gmail.com.

The Battle of Kadesh

Wednesday, March 25th
8:00 PM

The Battle of Kadesh | Betsy Bryan

The Battle of Kadesh, sometimes called the first world war, featured one of the largest-ever chariot battles. It was fought in 1275 B.C.E. in present-day Syria between the Egyptians under Pharaoh Ramses II, and the Hittites under King Muwatalli II who were supported by eighteen of their allies and vassal states.

The invasion by Ramses II sought to wrest Syria from the Hittites and recapture the Hittite-held city of Kadesh. Ramses II led his forces into an ambush by 2,500 Hittite chariots, lured by Hittite spies who gave false information to their Egyptian captors.

The battle may be the earliest military action recorded in detail, mostly from Egyptian sources which proclaimed the siege a great victory for Ramses II. Some historians disagree and proclaim the encounter a Hittite victory as Ramses failed to achieve his military objective. A draw?

This illustrated lecture will lay the predicate for the Battle, follow the contours of the military engagement and discuss its aftermath.

Betsy Bryan is the Alexander Badawy Chair in Egyptian Art and Archaeology at Johns Hopkins University

Fees per lecture are
free – high school students;
$5 – Residents of CES Life Communities, college students, and co-sponsors;
$8 – BASONOVA & Bender JCC members, a
$10 – the general public.
Pay at the door – cash or check only

To subscribe to the entire 8 session lecture series for $48, or for more information, please contact BAF.JCCGW@gmail.com.

Archaeology in Israel: Where the Past Meets the Present | Eric Meyers and Carol Meyers

Archaeology is commonly understood as the study of past human life undertaken by analyzing material remains. What is not usually recognized is that the archaeological quest for the past is inevitably shaped by the excavators’ present environment. Moreover, archaeology can serve a variety of purposes, in addition to the recovery of ancient cultures.

This presentation will analyze findings at several ancient key sites in Israel to illustrate the intersection between the discoveries there and the pressures of the modern world. Highlighted excavation sites include Masada, Hazor, Beth Alpha (on the northern slopes of the Gilboa mountains near Beit She’an), Jerusalem, and Sepphoris (located in the Galilee). The excavation of these well-known sites – all national parks in Israel – exemplify the ways excavators respond to contemporary issues and problems.

Eric Meyers is an emeritus professor in Judaic Studies at Duke University

Carol Meyers is an emeritus professor of Religious Studies at Duke University

Fees per lecture are
free – high school students;
$5 – Residents of CES Life Communities, college students, and co-sponsors;
$8 – BASONOVA & Bender JCC members, a
$10 – the general public.
Pay at the door – cash or check only

To subscribe to the entire 8 session lecture series for $48, or for more information, please contact BAF.JCCGW@gmail.com.

Digging Up Armageddon: The Search for the Lost City of Solomon | Eric Cline

Kathe Schwartzberg Memorial Lecture

In 1925 archaeologists from the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute began a fourteen-year excavation of the ancient site of Megiddo (biblical Armageddon), one of the most important cities in biblical times. A consequential 15th century BCE battle was fought there by Pharaoh Thutmose III against a Canaanite coalition. Another famous battle was waged there in 609 BCE between Egypt and the Kingdom of Judah, in which King Josiah fell.

Unfortunately, official publications from the Oriental Institute provide scant details behind their amazing discoveries, which include “Solomon’s Stables” uncovered among twenty-six layers of ruins.

Some of the more compelling episodes in Chicago’s search for Solomon’s city at Megiddo will be presented in this illustrated lecture, drawn from a treasure trove of more than three decades worth of letters, cablegrams, cards, notes, and diaries. These materials shed substantial, often surprising light on the internal workings of the excavations and its discoveries, situated against the backdrop of the Great Depression and the growing troubles of the British Mandate between the two world wars.

Eric Cline is a professor of ancient history and archaeology at George Washington University. His new book, Digging Up Armageddon, will be available for purchase and signing.

Fees per lecture are
free – high school students;
$5 – Residents of CES Life Communities, college students, and co-sponsors;
$8 – BASONOVA & Bender JCC members, a
$10 – the general public.
Pay at the door – cash or check only

To subscribe to the entire 8 session lecture series for $48, or for more information, please contact BAF.JCCGW@gmail.com.