02-28-2019: Book Salon: Writing on the Wall: Graffiti and the Forgotten Jews of Antiquity

Book Salon: Writing on the Wall: Graffiti and the Forgotten Jews of Antiquity

Thursday, February 28th at 6:00 PM in Room 9206/9207 of the Graduate Center, CUNY

Join Professors Karen B. Stern (History, Brooklyn College), Robert Hoyland (Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, NYU), and Annette Y. Reed (Hebrew & Judaic Studies, NYU) for a conversation about Stern’s new book Writing on the Wall: Graffiti and the Forgotten Jews of Antiquity, which explores the scarce direct clues about the everyday lives and beliefs of ordinary Jews in antiquity. Prevailing perspectives on ancient Jewish life have been shaped largely by the voices of intellectual and social elites, preserved in the writings of Philo and Josephus and the rabbinic texts of the Mishnah and Talmud. Commissioned art, architecture, and formal inscriptions displayed on tombs and synagogues equally reflect the sensibilities of their influential patrons. The perspectives and sentiments of nonelite Jews, by contrast, have mostly disappeared from the historical record. Focusing on these forgotten Jews of antiquity, Writing on the Wall takes an unprecedented look at the vernacular inscriptions and drawings they left behind and sheds new light on the richness of their quotidian lives.

Karen B. Stern is Associate Professor of History at Brooklyn College. She conducts research across disciplines of archaeology, history and religion and teaches courses on Mediterranean cultural history and material culture of Jews in the Greek and Roman worlds. She has conducted field research throughout the Mediterranean and has excavated in Petra (Jordan), Sepphoris (Israel), and ancient Pylos and the Athenian Agora (Greece). Having taught at Dartmouth College, USC and Brown University, she served as a research fellow of the NEH, Albright Institute of Archaeological Research (Jerusalem), Getty Villa and Center for Jewish Studies at Harvard University. She has been invited to speak at universities including Tel Aviv University, Boston University, Oxford University, Columbia University and Bard Graduate Center. The Daily Beast, Atlas Obscura, NPR, Guardian, Ha’aretz, and Chinese CCTV have featured her work.

Professor Robert Hoyland is Professor of Late Antique and Early Islamic Middle Eastern History at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at NYU, and Professor Annette Y. Reed is Associate Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at NYU.