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Blood on the Floor: Depictions of Violence in Synagogue Mosaics from Roman Palestine
January 22, 2020 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm$18
ABOUT THIS LECTURE: The ongoing excavations in the fifth-century synagogue at Huqoq in lower Galilee have revealed a series of impressive floor mosaics. Several of the panels employ martial or violent imagery or refer to narratives in which the Israelites or Jews inflict violence on their enemies. This
presentation considers how idioms of violence in mosaic art served as a resource for Jewish
communal self-fashioning in late Roman Palestine.
ABOUT THIS SPEAKER: Ra‘anan Boustan is a Research Scholar in the Program in Judaic Studies at Princeton University. Before coming to Princeton, he was Associate Professor of Ancient and Jewish
History at the University of California, Los Angeles. Boustan completed his B.A. in Classics at
Brown University in 1994 and received a graduate degree in Classics and Religious Studies from
the University of Amsterdam during his stay in the Netherlands as a Fulbright Fellow in
1994–95. In 2004, he completed his Ph.D. in the Department of Religion at Princeton University.
He held a prestigious Harrington Fellowship in 2011–12 in the Department of Religious Studies
at the University of Texas at Austin and has twice been a fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced
Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania (2003–4 and 2007–8).
Boustan is the author of From Martyr to Mystic: Rabbinic Martyrology and the Making of
Merkavah Mysticism (2005) and co-author of The Elephant Mosaic Panel in the Synagogue at
Huqoq (2017). He has co-edited eight books or special issues of journals and has published his
work in leading journals such as Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, Harvard
Theological Review, The Jewish Quarterly Review, and Medieval Encounters. He also co-edits
the journal Jewish Studies Quarterly.
Boustan’s current research and teaching explore 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 late antiquity. Boustan is currently writing a
book entitled The Holy Remains: Tokens of Cult and Kingship between Jews and Christians in
Late Antiquity, which traces the afterlives of sacred objects associated with the biblical past
within the Jewish and Christian cultures of late antiquity. In addition, he is the site historian for
the Huqoq Excavation Project in Lower Galilee and collaborates with Dr. Karen Britt on the
publication of the newly discovered mosaic floor of the Huqoq synagogue.